My mother was enticing, she wanted warmth, and
as the good son I am, I felt compelled to go along. (It may have
been me enticing.)
28/3 1996. After a relatively short flight, with a stopover on one of the Canary Islands, we were in Banjul, Gambia. On the runway we were greeted by dancers and singers. Into the buses, and around to the hotels. We were the only ones going on the river safari and all the way to the Bungalow Beach Hotel. Luxury beyond all expatiations. Actually, the two apartments on both sides of ours have gold taps and are usually used by royals.
29. Early the next morning we were
picked up by a bus and our little company of 12, started our journey
in through The Gambia (The The is to avoid confutations with Sambia),
on the southern side of the Gambia River. Our travel companions were
experienced globetrotters, our one guide a native, who has lived in
Denmark for some years.
In the middle of the afternoon we arrived at Kendapa Camp. A short walk through the overheated landscape (43C in the shade, maybe 75C in the sun). We end down at the river's mangrove. Here are snails and four-eyes. The camp offered a crocodile zoo, where there were also pools with huge four-eyes. There was also a pool for humans.
As the temperature drops at 17, we were loaded onto a Land Rover, and got a long drive beyond the scorched salt plain, through the green bushes, between termites, over vadas, under and through branches, and past Terminal 3, which just are 3 twigs and 4 palm leaves. The air was still as hot, you couldn't sit on the roof of the Land Rover; it was like sitting in front of a giant blow dryer.
In the evening, communal dining was arranged. Here, as elsewhere, it was mainly fish and chickens with vegetables and peanut sauce on the menu. Afterwards there was a dance performance - yes - yes - then you got to bed early. The "rooms" were small round clay huts, with something reminiscent of a bed.
30. Early the next morning there is a botanical expedition led by a local. We were 4-5 guests, following him down through the village, and out through the fields. We end up at a "nursery" where our guide tells us about the plants. Both farmed and local plants.
Well back to camp we got breakfast. Then it
was into the bus, and into The Gambia. Despite driving on the main
road, we met nothing but a few crowded buses, no trucks or passenger
Room for 36, we were 12 = good room. There is
something special about sitting on the deck of such a boat, with a
cool drink in hand, looking at the river's varying wildlife and
plant life, while the seductive scents of the galley pierce the
31-4. The next days are spend with visits to villages along the river. At first, it seemed strange that the villages did not lie completely down by the river, but snared on the other side of a hill or a dense forest. The explanation is logical: this is one of the most used slave gathering sites (Kunta Kinda (Roots) just came from here).
The only settlements out to the river are a
couple of peanut mills. It is out of season so they are deserted. So
is the river, with the exception of a handful of hollowed-out tree
trunks with local fishermen.
The visits to the villages were interrupted by zodiac expeditions of tributaries and around small islands. There is a wide range of herons, cormorants, kingfishers, storks and other species that cannot be identified. On the muddy shore, we see fresh traces of crocodiles.
I got a minor shock when suddenly a fish
landed on my lap. Four eyes crabs and crabs are found in copious
amounts on the banks, and fish are clearly seen in the relatively
On the shore we saw monkeys, among others a
Chimpanzees, wild boars, deer, a selection of different jungle and
beach birds, monitors and other animals. The air above us was
patrolled by vultures and eagles.
As we passed Kendapa Camp, we got the owner's wife and girlfriends on board. African upper class; tall, beautiful women in brightly coloured clothes, with many heavy gold jewellery around their arms and neck, and a sea of well-behaved children. They seized the shade of the sun deck, but they are available for the afternoon sun. The wooden deck is so hot, that you can't even walk 3 steps without footwear. A soda bottle that has been in the shade for a few hours, is so hot it is uncomfortable to hug it. My brass belt buckle gave red marks on the forearms, without being in the sun.
We get ashore, but continue the adventures in Diary 2