We can’t promote this beautiful tiny West African country enough – after all the turmoil The Gambia has experienced. In particular, recently. Following, is from our extensive archive of travels and adventures, in and around the country:
‘We did it! We completed the River Gambia Expedition – 23rd November 2012 – 21st January 2013 – after almost 400km overland in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry into Senegal and then putting our two canoes into the water in Kedougou – we paddled (no engine!) over 700km of the River Gambia to its end, at the Atlantic Ocean in Banjul, The Gambia.
We first met ‘King Kai’ – a young local entrepreneur from the village of Kartong (also known as Kartung), which borders Senegal, in southwestern Gambia – a few years ago, when he had recently opened his small barbershop/hairdresser, which also served the community with cold drinks and expertly hand-crafted (by King Kai, himself) models of traditional masquerades. Never one to rest on his laurels, when we returned a year or so later, KK had expanded his business empire to include an amusement arcade, to entertain the youth of the village – apparently, much to the consternation of the village elders and Koranic scholars, who felt this to be unIslamic behaviour for young boys.
‘On day five of paddling, on the River Gambia, in Senegal, a bull hippo sprung from beneath the surface, about 6 metres in front of our canoes. As we careened towards him, he submerged again. Once we calmed down (after scrambling to the safety of nearby rocks) and grew quiet, our Gambian expedition teammates, Abdou and Ebou, almost in tandem, said, “Wow, that was amazing, it’s the first hippo we have ever seen!” (this is after, whilst on pre- expedition planning skype calls, they had convinced us that “‘Hippos? No problem’)!’ River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey