Senegal – diary 2009-12-20 to 2009-12-27

2009-12-20 to 2009-12-23

After having a very little bit of sleep Kirk and I managed to get out of bed, pack up the tent and eat breakfast in the campsite restaurant. We had quite a distance to travel today and we needed to get on the road. Between Senegal and Gambia, the distances are not that grand so we knew that we would be able to get through to Cap Skiring in the Casamance before sunset. We said our goodbyes and waved a fond farewell to The Gambia. We really enjoyed the short stay. We headed for the border and proceeded through the pretty painless immigration procedures. We were back in Senegal, although the Southern part felt like a whole new country compared to that of the Northern parts. The vegetation is dense and lush. We did notice the presence of military personal dotted around the countryside but did not feel threatened in any way. There has been Guerrilla war in these areas in the past but the current situation is peaceful and the officials are trying to boost tourism in the area. All I can say is that the Casamance is heaven. The locals are the friendliest bunch we have met and because it is not that populated we feel that we really are discovering new unfound land. We drove through Ziguinchor which again showed signs of French colonisation. The buildings were spectacular and I am sure that during their heyday they would have been painted beautifully and surrounded by manicured gardens. The unfortunate thing is that the local people do not have the money to maintain these buildings now and so they go to ruin. We stopped by to get an extension on the vehicle permit but found that the customs officials did not work on a Sunday so proceeded to Cap Skiring to spend the 10 days that we had left on the vehicle papers.

Cap Skiring and its surrounding villages are beautiful. The beaches consist of large stretches of sand, calm waters and blue skies. We settled in at a place called Ouja Hotel just north of Cap Skiring. This place was one of the first campements to be built in Boucotte but people have started to cotton on to the magnificence of this place and big compounds of thatched mansions are being built just behind the dunes. This however does not detract from the beauty because from the beach you can see only palm trees and endless stretches of sandy beach. We made camp amongst the palm and coconut trees and had the most incredible view over the ocean. As we were setting up camp a French lady came running up to us from the shore and tried explaining that her husband had been washed out and couldn’t get back to the beach. We of course didn’t understand one bit of her French but understood that there was a problem. Kirk ran towards the sea but couldn’t see anything as the glare from the sun was so bright. He waded out and saw the Frenchman just beyond backline. There was quite a strong backwash and the Frenchman was exhausted from swimming against the current. Kirk and Seza (the host from the campement who had also heard the commotion and joined Kirk in the plight to help) helped to bring the exhausted swimmer back to the beach. It was quite an adrenaline rush but a humbling moment when we saw the appreciation on the French ladies face. A good deed is done! We continued to set up camp and enjoyed a meal at the restaurant that evening overlooking the mighty Atlantic Ocean and witnessed yet another beautiful sunset.

The rest of our days in Boucotte have been filled with sunbathing, swimmimg, reading, the occasional attempt to catch a fish and Kirk fiddling around with his new solar panel. It truly is paradise and there is a definite calming feel to this magnificent place. This could definitely be another holiday destination that we would come back to in a heartbeat. I suppose I am going to be saying that quite frequently as we discover Africa’s’ best kept secretes and I imagine they will improve in beauty the further south we head.

 2009-12-24

We headed back to Ziguinchor this morning because we needed to renew the car papers. The drive was scenic and the bird life was spectacular. The custom officials were very pleasant which I assume was because they were preparing for Christmas day and family time. We managed to extend the document until the 14th January 2010 which gave us plenty of time to stay in Senegal should we not want to leave this paradise. We then went in search of a supermarket and our Christmas lunch. The supermarket was small but stocked the essentials. We bought a chicken and some vegetables and drove back to our paradise beach. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying the beach and sun.

 2009-12-25

Merry Christmas! It was certainly strange not to be surrounded by friends or family this morning. Phone calls were received from family and loved ones and Christmas wishes were made which made us feel like we were part of some celebtartion back in South Africa. It felt like an ordinary day for us and no different to the rest of the days spent in Boucotte. Kirk did some maintenance on the car and rotated the front and back wheels whilst I enjoyed my book and caught some rays. We decided to cook the chicken for late lunch and opted for a flat chicken on the braai rather than a roasted one in the pot. I made a 2 bean salad and a potato salad which we enjoyed much later that evening along with some wine, beer and palm wine that the local guys brought to share. We enjoyed another beautiful sunset listening to Bob Marley and bade Christmas day farewell.

2009-12-26

Our time had come to say goodbye to Boucotte and Cap Skiring and make our way to the Mali border. We packed up and said our goodbyes to our friends at Oudja Hotel and made our way back to Ziguinchor where we got more cash and stocked up on a few more goodies for the ‘store cupboard’. We had bought some home made peanut brittle when we visited the Ziguinchor supermarket on Christmas evening and had made short work of it so decided that we should get some more as a Christmas treat. The road to our next stop Tambacunda was horrendous! If we described it as potholed that would make the road sound easy to navigate. There were dongas across the road that were deep and could cause serious damage to any vehicle if they were to hit it at high speed. Sometimes we opted to drive next to the road because the tracks that other people had made were far better than the tarred roads. The scenery made up for the horrific state of the road and again the bird watching was astonishing.  We passed a few ‘bush fires’ along the way and the intensity of the heat was incredible. We have seen many Kites and birds of prey, particularly Vultures whilst being in Southern Senegal and to see them swooping into the road to feed off the insects that were forced out of the fire path was a spectacular sight. We made slow process and eventually reached Tamba at nightfall. By that stage we were completely exhausted from the heat and the drive so found refuge in a lovely hotel for the night. We did blow the daily budget on accommodation alone but figured that because we had spent only a third of our budget over the last few days that we could splash out and enjoy the comfort of an air-conditioned hotel room. We went to a local restaurant for dinner where we enjoyed chicken, chips and salad. The hotel had an internet connection so we checked e-mails and tried to get some sleep.

2009-12-27

We have been spoilt with out memory foam mattress in our tent so we are finding it quite difficult to get a good night sleep on any other bed. We also had to contend with many mosquitoes that were blood thirsty as the hotel did not provide mosquito nets. None the less we enjoyed the comforts of air conditioner an en-suit bathroom and limitless coffee for breakfast. We didn’t have much distance to cover until the border and we had been told that the road was significantly better than the road we had travelled on yesterday…It was! We located the hidden police station in the town of Kidira and got ‘signed out’ of Senegal. We continued to the ‘frontier’ police who again ‘signed us out’. The last stop at customs was long but that was due to there only being one office who was dealing with people entering and exiting Senegal. Whilst waiting in the queue we met Joe and Christine, a Canadian/South African couple who had originally been backpacking and travelling through Africa on public transport but decided to purchase a car in Mauritania and continue the journey south in their own vehicle. We made plans to meet up with them later on in the day at some waterfalls just out of Kayes. We were eventually stamped out of Senegal and made our way to our 5th African country.

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4 Responses to “Senegal – diary 2009-12-20 to 2009-12-27”

  • Justin Says:

    Happy New Year guys! I’ve always wondered if The Gambia was as nice as the travel websites make it out to be, and from the sounds of things its way better! Great you guys are having an awesome time – the mobile solar panel is the invention of the century! Have fun and the keep the blog rolling.

  • Sarah Barr Says:

    Hi guys!
    Happy start to the new year! Jason and I wish you all the best for 2010 and all the best on your travels. I love hearing about everything you do, and admit I am a tad jealous….sitting here in the snow…. :)
    Keep safe and keep up the blogging.
    Love
    Sarah

  • Ryan Spicer Says:

    A very belated Merry Christmas and happy New Year guys. I hope the travels this year are just as good if not better than last years!

  • Lesa Passet Says:

    A very happy new year!
    We’re still loving your updates – keep them coming :)
    Did you get my email just before Christmas?
    Lots of love, travel safe, Stu + Lesa

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