Up early today although we got up early yesterday as our phones changed times to GMT & added an hour so we were up an hour early, we wondered why it was quiet by the pool!! I’ll admit it was my fault, I even changed the time on the alarm clock to the same as the phones as I thought it had gone funny on me! WHOOPS!
Ok back to today, it was a 6:30am wake up as we needed to go to breakfast as soon as it opened at 7am to be ready for the bus at 7:15.
The bus arrived & we were the 1st pick up & were told that there was another 8 hotels to pick up from. Boy are we spoilt, some of the hotel looked really rough & in really scruffy areas, ok we’re spoilt where we’re staying but also we’re away from everything so unless we get a taxi then we can’t really go out of the hotel day or night.
We ended up in Banjul, which was formally called Bathurst. Banjul is the capital of The Gambia. It’s a busy city with the main trade port & government offices there.
We passed the lovely All Inclusive hotel, for which you don’t get a key for your room…………….. yep that’s right it’s the prison! We saw the military buildings & the trainees jogging down the street & I have to say they were a sight to see, I certainly wouldn’t mess with them!
On arriving at the port we were taken directly to our boat to start our trip. It was just over 2 hours to get to Albreda/Juffureh ………. the river Gambia is 1000 miles/1600km long from it’s source. It’s 17 miles wide. It is a combination of salt & fresh water & looked pretty murky!
We were offered tuna sandwiches (yuck) & sangria after we set sail.
We passed Dog Island
& then saw a couple of pods of dolphins playing around near the boat, I got a couple of pics but sadly missed them when they jumped.
We had a little talk given to us about what to expect & then a group of local tour guides took over, they are supported by the government & it’s to try to help bring tourism into the town. Then we went for a walk through the 2 towns & saw the school, the museum which told the story of slavery, a replica model of a boat used to transport the slaves.
The dividing line between the 2 towns is a tree, which on 1 side resembles an elephant (see pic)
& on the other there is a monkey’s head & also a dolphin.
The tree is a baobab tree, they shed their leaves & the women collect then & dry them & crush them …… the bark is used for ropes & the fruit contains white seeds which are used to make a drink, which they say is good for dodgy bellies!
In the 2nd town we met with an 8th generation Kunte Kinta descendant. Roots was made famous by Alex Hayley. But honestly this could have been anyone, we wouldn’t have known!
Sadly whilst there we saw a goat with a broken back leg & it spoiled it for me. I’m squeamish about things like that!
On the way back to the boat we were taken through a local craft market, they all sold the same things & all tried to drag you into their hut’s to look. We did buy our obligatory wooden souvenir!
The trip was spoilt by people continually asking for money (& by that I don’t mean the villagers) even the tour guides blocked off the walkway to the boat & weren’t going to let you pass without giving them money!
Back on the boat we had lunch which was so exciting for me ok I know i’m fussy but all I had was carrots & cabbage & bread!! Oh yum yum!! There was fresh prawns, which I kindly peeled for Ian! For non salad eaters or pumpkin eaters there wasn’t a lot of choice.
We then headed for James Island, formally St Andrews Island, but last year (feb 2011) it was renamed Kunta Kinteh Island. Getting over there we had to get into a traditional fishing boat which was leaking!!!
It’s now only the ruins of the old fort, but you can go into 1 of the dungeons & even for the few minutes we were in there it was oppressive.
The journey back took about 2 hours although we did have to turn back as our lifeboat decided it didn’t want to be following us anymore!! During the trip we were offered watermelon, tea, coffee & biscuits. How civilised of them, the staff were lovely on the boat.
The coach trip back was a lot quicker.
I will add that this trip was expensive & we didn’t feel it was worth the money compared to what we were expecting from the trip.
More pictures can be found here.