by sheilanewton on 25/04/12 at 5:07 pm
A Tourist’s experience of Cruising the River Gambia and visiting Bijilo Forest Park.
Our ‘brief of pelicans’ weren’t just lazing about on the river: some of them were perched on the branches of the mangroves, waving about in the air to regain their balance!
As we disembarked and waved a fond farewell to our very special crew, Hattib drove us back to our hotel via Kunta Kinteh’s restaurant where we had drinks and raised our glasses to a fine day out on the river. It was unforgettable.
BAJILO FOREST PARK
We met up with Hattib in the early morning and walked along the sands from Kotu beach toward Senegambia where all the hotels stood in a row to capture the sea view. Barefoot in the shallow surf, we walked for about forty-five minutes; talking to the hawkers along the way; followed by a faithful wading bird – until we reached a sign on our left for Bijilo Forest Park.
We paid a small fee at the park entrance and went in to a stunning rainforest nature reserve, set atop the cliffs, housing ancient trees, an abundance of birds, lizards and…MONKEYS!
What a magical experience, treading on the sandy, leaf-adorned pathways, being climbed on by monkeys galore.
And what was even more magical was our rare sighting of Red Monkeys, a shy and beautiful long-furred breed. My neck hurt as I gazed up at them watching us curiously from the lofty heights of huge gnarled tree branches.
Hattib pointed out the fascinating parasite tree, branches entwined to create a stunning pattern. I could see where the original tree had been killed off as the parasite tree gained in size and strength. We were treated to sights of lizards basking on the walls at the cliff tops as we left that fabulous forest trail.
We headed along the shore back to our hotel as quickly as we could. This was our last day: it was midday and we were leaving on the coach at 6pm. As well as doing our last minute packing, we had to seek out our Gambian friends to say goodbye.
But when we arrived at the hotel entrance, there they were, waiting for us – Aziz the bird man; Amadou our waiter and the guy who introduced us to Hattib; Jouf our taxi-man driver; Omar the ciggie man; Aruna my ‘I-see-you’ security man – to name but a few!
We had a great final afternoon hanging with our brand-new Gambian friends-for-life, drinking Malta and juice and beer – and then it was time to leave. Farewell, Gambia – rest assured, we’ll see you again – soon.
If you missed part one of this two-part series, here’s the link:
Snappy Collection from the Smiling Coast of Africa: Part One
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