Our visit to West Africa was very special to us, and we would definitely suggest anybody sailing from the Canaries to Cape Verde to make a stop here (just make sure to check vaccination requirements and malaria risk) – it’s so different and will challenge your perception of the world in ways that the “normal” cruising destinations do not. None of us had ever visited Sub-Saharan Africa before this trip, and we have learned a lot. We have seen a little part of the incredible wild life this continent has to offer, heard about the history of these countries and talked to some very interesting people, offering views of the world so different to ours. Continue reading
The anchorage at Oyster Creek was full of life; here, tourists start their trip when they go on the river or in the mangroves by boat, and on land there’s load of little cafes, clothes vendors etc. We wanted to go and visit the holy crocodiles in the Kachikally Crocodile Pool, and again we decided to walk to our destination, much to the bewilderment of the many, many taxi drivers who offered us a ride on the way there. The road took us through yet another protected nature area – which seemed to be where the people from the city dumped their garbage.
The Baboon Islands in the Gambia River is a nature reserve where you’re not allowed to anchor, so we made sure to stay outside of the park limits, but anchored close enough to see the hippos through our binoculars. And as darkness fell, the animals started to come alive and we could hear their deep roars around us. A bit scary actually, when you cannot see a thing, but soon it stopped again and we were alone with the fireflies in the dark. Continue reading
As we made our way further up the river, the water became fresher and the wildlife changed. In the saltwater section, the river banks had been covered in mangrove, but now the vegetation became more like a jungle, and we were beginning to feel like we were sailing in an African movie set. As the sun started to set, the air became alive with birds returning home and as we motored on to find an anchorage for the night, we were all on deck to watch the spectacle. Continue reading
The Gambia River was calm as we motored against the tide towards James Island. Dolphins followed along the boat in the heat, and the river was so wide we could barely make out the land on both sides. In the afternoon we anchored in lee of the tiny island, which is the place from where the slaves were shipped out from the Gambia. The island has been renamed to Kunta Kinteh Island, named after the main character in the famous “Roots” novel by Alex Haley. According to the novel, Kunta Kinteh lived in the village Jufureh on the north bank of the Gambia River not far from the island, and was sold as a slave from the island. Despite of the fact that the historic accuracy of the novel has long ago been disproved, the Jufureh village are now making good money from the tourists by arranging “Kunta Kinteh history tours”, and for example presenting the visitors to the last living descendant of Kunta Kinteh. Can’t really blame them, it’s a cool story either way. Continue reading
The water around the Lamin Lodge, where we were anchored, was completely calm, as it was surrounded by mangroves. We made our way in to the lodge, a restaurant that looks like it was inspired by the movie “Hook”. Here, a number of colorful former fishing boats were moored, ready to take tourists on trips in the mangroves. We got our dinghy tied up and made our way to the restaurant to celebrate our arrival in the Gambia. It was nice to get into the shade of the open air restaurant, and when we received our food we soon had the attention of the monkeys living in the place, ready to grab some food if you don’t pay attention. One of them had figured out how to hide behind Esben’s back without being seen, and wait until he could quickly take something from the plate. Unfortunately for him, we made Esben aware of the wannabe thief, and Esben scared him away. Continue reading
To our surprise there was no wind on our trip from Dakar towards Banjul in the Gambia, so we had to motor through the night, making it difficult for me to sleep while Esben was on night watch. “Vibe, come quick!” he suddenly yelled. “There’s nets all around!”. I hurried up, and he was right, there was flags everywhere, with maybe 10 meters between them. We agreed that Esben would go to the front of the boat and try and find us a way through with the light, while I steered. We did not at all feel like getting the prop trapped in a net, having to cut it out and discussing with a group of angry fishermen. The risk of getting trapped isn’t great as we have a long keel that protects the propeller, but we were not ready to take a chance. For a couple of hours, we worked together to maneuver in the maze, but finally we seemed to be away from the nets and I went back below to get a bit of sleep before I was on watch. We realized later that it was the water by the entrance to the Saloum river where the many nets had been. Continue reading