Day 1: Dakar (Senegal); ferry to Isle de Goree. We begin our tour by taking a ferry to Isle de Goree, a small and peaceful island without any traffic. We make a walking tour of Isle de Goree. A busy trading centre during the 18th and 19th centuries, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You may feel you have been transported in time to the Mediterranean because of the island’s charming colonial-style houses, wrought-iron balconies, narrow streets and brightly coloured bougainvillea. Le Castel is situated on a rocky plateau from where there are good views across to Dakar. The fortifications date back to different periods. Also worth visiting is the Slave House originally built in 1786. Overnight Guest House.
Day 2: Ferry to Dakar; drive to St. Louis. This morning we return to the mainland by ferry and drive to Lac Rose – the Pink Lake. This large shallow lagoon is extremely salty and is also renowned for its pink tinge, due to the high concentrations of minerals in the water. We continue north to St. Louis. Overnight Standard Hotel Included meals: Breakfast.
Day 3: In St. Louis; visit Djoudj National Park. St. Louis is a marvellous old town full of 19th century French colonial buildings. St. Louis was the first French settlement in Africa and the Headquarters of Senegambia (the term used to describe the whole region). By the late 18th century it was a busy port and trading centre. On our second day in St. Louis we’ll explore by calesh (horse-drawn carriage) and include a visit to Djoudj National Park.
Regarded as one of the most important bird reserves in the world, it provides the first major water source for migratory birds after their long and gruelling flight over the Sahara desert. We travel by motorised boat along the complex network of channels which lead off the Senegal River. The bird count reaches millions, some species are prevalent such as pelicans – there are as many as 15,000 in the park.
We may see them performing an amazing display of synchronised diving for fish and will see a breeding colony. Around three million birds pass through the park annually which includes 400 different species – herons, white-breasted cormorants, spoonbills, jacanas, Egyptian geese, West African fish eagles and flamingos to name but a few. You may also see crocodile, wild hog, monitor lizard and water python. Overnight Standard Hotel Included meals: Breakfast.
Day 4: In St Louis; visit Langue de Barbarie NP. Today we plan to visit the Langue de Barbarie National Park, home to waterbirds such as flamingoes, pelicans, cormorants, herons, egrets and ducks. From November to April they are joined by many more migratory birds from Europe. The afternoon is left free for you to follow your own interests. Overnight Standard Hotel Included meals: Breakfast.
Day 5: Drive and ferry to Georgetown (Gambia). Early this morning we head to the Gambia. En route we stop to view the overwhelming mosque in Touba, the sacred focus of the Mouride Islamic brotherhood. Their founder Amadou Bamba, Senegal’s most famous and influential ‘marabout’ (holy man), is buried here and pilgrims visit the town all year round.
We try to pass through here on a Friday when the Mosque is busy with worshippers. Continuing through the town of Kaolack we enter the Gambia and head east following the route of the river to our night’s accommodation near Georgetown which was an important administrative centre during the colonial period. It may be possible to experience local traditional dancing after dinner. Overnight Basic Hotel Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner.
Day 6: Cruise on Gambia River; visit Wassu Stone Circles. The Gambia River flows along the entire length of the country for 300 miles from east to west into the Atlantic Ocean. Slave ships once travelled along its course exporting slaves. We spend the next two days cruising downstream, in a converted groundnut boat, passing tropical forest, bamboo groves, rice paddies and mangrove swamps. Amongst the varied fauna present in this area are monkeys, hippos, crocodiles and of course a great number of bird species. The banks of the river have been inhabited since 2000BC. On the first day we will visit the Wassu Stone Circles by bush taxi.
There are several circles each consisting of about 10 to 24, reddishbrown stones between one and 2.5m high and weighing several tons. These were once burial sites dating back to 500 to 1000 AD, however very little is known about the people who were buried here and the stones still present a mystery to archaeologists. 1 night on board a motor cruiser. Facilities on board are simple with a western-style WC, a small kitchen and bar. At night we sleep on the upper deck on mattresses, whilst during the day you can relax on deck in the sun or below under shade. Overnight Accommodation on Boat Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 7: Cruise to Tendaba. Today we continue our gentle cruise downstream enjoying the flora and wildlife of the river banks as we go. Finally we arrive in the small settlement of Tendaba on the Gambia’s south bank. On arrival we leave our boat and check in to our accommodation for the next two nights on the shores of the Gambia river. whilst staying at Tendaba you may have the opportunity to visit a local school in a nearby village. Overnight Basic Hotel Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 8: At Tendaba; Kiang West and Baobolong Wetland Reserve. This morning we take a game drive in Kiang West National Park. One of the largest protected areas in Gambia, it boasts the largest and most diverse animal population in the country among is mangrove, grass and woodland. During our time here we look out for baboons, colobus monkey, warthog, marsh mongoose and bushbuck.
Later this afternoon we make another excursion to nearby Boabolong Wetland Reserve by boat. A tributary of the Gambia River, the Bao Bolong is most famous for its birdlife with more than 250 species in the area, including the impressive martial eagle and the bateleur. Overnight Basic Hotel Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9: Drive to Saloum Delta (Senegal). Today we cross the river once more to Farafenni and return to Senegal. Continuing via Toubakouta we reach the Saloum Delta National Park. This evening you may wish to join other guests to the park on an optional boat excursion. Overnight Hotel Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 10: In Saloum Delta National Park, pirogue trip; north through the Delta. This morning we cross the Sine-Saloum delta by traditional pirogues (motorised canoe) for approximately 4-5 hours. We weave our way through the maze of wide channels, past mangroves, open forests, sand islands and villages built on islands constructed with oyster shells. We may also chance upon pelicans and flamingos. Overnight Hotel Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 11: Drive via Fadiout to Dakar. Leaving Saloum Delta National Park this morning, we finally make our way back to Dakar. En route we visit Fadiout fishing village built on a small island. Many buildings on the island are composed of oyster and clam shells. The inhabitants are both Muslim and Christian and live together peacefully. The Christian cemetery, built on a huge, ancient, shell mound is worth a visit. On arrival in Dakar there should be time to explore this vibrant city.
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