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Day 1: Dakar
You are met on arrival at Dakar Airport and transferred to our hotel. We meet this evening for an orientation meeting and welcome dinner. Overnight in Dakar.
Day 2: Dakar – City Tour & Goree island
Today enjoy a city tour of Dakar that includes the Tilen Market, famous for its medicinal herbs and traditional healers, the National Art Gallery, the Place de l’independence and the Presidential Palace. After lunch we will take a ferry boat ride to Goree Island. As a UNESCO World Heritage site Goree Island was once the main slave trading center on the West Coast of Africa. Our visit will include the House of Slaves with the “Door of No Return” and the Ethnographic Museum. Later return to Dakar. Overnight in Dakar.
Day 3: Dakar to Kaolack via the Pink Lake and Touba Mosque
Today depart Dakar to Kaolack with our first stop at Pink Lake. The lake gets its name as a result of a rare natural phenomena caused by a unique combination of microorganisms and a high concentration of salt which gives the lake its pink color. Interact with the women harvesting salt and visit the Fulani village where we will meet the local Chief and his wives. After we will stop in Touba to visit one of the largest mosques in Africa. Overnight in Kaolack.
Day 4: Kaolack to Wassadou
Today we have a long drive to reach Simenti. We will stop en route to explore a number of local villages as well as the town of Tambacounda before reaching Simenti late in the afternoon. Overnight in Wassadou Camp.
Day 5: Daytrip to Simenti/Nokolo Koba National Park
Today we will have a morning and afternoon safari in the Nokolo Koba Game Reserve. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, nearly 70 species of mammals, 330 species of birds and 60 species of fish and reptiles live in this protected zone. We will have the chance to spot a variety of wildlife including hippos, horse antelope, monkeys, bush pigs and crocodiles. Time permitting we will visit the abandoned village of Badi. Overnight in Wassadou Camp.
Day 6: Wassadou to Mako via Kedougou/Bandafassi
Today we depart to the village of Bandafassi via Mako and Kedougou where we will visit a Bedik campsite and the home of "Chez Leontine". Supported by Origin Africa's aid programme we will have a Bedik guide to assist us as we hike up to the village of Bedik d'Ethouwar, explaining the history and customs of this local ethnic group that still retains its ancient traditions. In the village we will meet with the local people and enjoy a magnificent view across the valley. Later we will follow the trail to Dindefelo a small village on the border with Guinea and famous for its beautiful waterfall. In the afternoon return to visit the market of Kedougou before returning to Mako for the evening. Overnight in Mako.
Day 7: Mako to Georgetown
Today we depart Mako and drive to Georgetown, a port on MacCarthy Island on the River Gambia. Our journey will take us through the Peul, Malinke and Bedik Villages with their countless fields of cotton. We will stop in Gouloumbou for lunch before crossing into the Gambia. We will travel through the towns of Velingara and Basse before reaching Georgetown for the evening. Tonight we stay in a very remote basic permanent tented camp where the wildlife is all around you. Great for birds. Overnight in Georgetown.
Day 8: Georgetown to Farafenni
We begin our day with a boat cruise in dugout canoes to the Kai Islands which are plentiful in birdlife as well as crocodiles, hippos and baboons. Later visit The River Gambia National Park, better known as Baboon Island. The park consists of 5 islands that lie in the center of the river and are home to a chimpanzee rehabilitation center. Established in 1969 to rescue orphaned chimps the center also serves as a conservation project to protect the area’s natural resources. Afterwards we will visit the Stone Circles in Wassu. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the stones are believed to be the burial mounds from ancient kings and chiefs from ancient times and date back to 750-1000AD. Continue on to Farafenni where we will stay in a very unique place. In dorm room style rooms with shared facilities we will stay where medicine is helping Gambia and its people. The Medical Research Center was established in The Gambia in 1947, the MRC is the UK's single largest investment in medical research in a developing country. The Unit's research focuses on infectious diseases of immediate concern to The Gambia and the continent of Africa, with the aim of reducing the burden of illness and death in the country and the developing world as a whole. We will have a talk with one of the resident scientists to find out more of what miracles happen here. Overnight at the MRC in Farafenni.
Day 9: Farafenni to Kiang West National Park
Today we will have a safari in Kiang West National Park. Established in 1987 the park has the most diverse wildlife population in the country. These include: Nile crocodile, monitor lizards, warthog, clawless otter, marsh mongoose, Patas monkeys and Sitatunga. Rarer animals include the hyenas, leopards, West African manatees. The area is also a birdwatchers paradise with over 300 species of birds having been recorded here, including raptors, vultures, harrier eagles, sandgrouse, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, hawks, White-shouldered Black Tit and falcons. After our safari we will make our way down the south bank of the river to Tendaba Camp where we will overnight. Overnight Tendaba Camp.
Day 10: Kiang West National Park - Banjul
Depart for Banjul, the capital of The Gambia today. We begin our morning with a boat cruise through the mangroves to see birds and crocodiles. Afterwards drive to Bintang around the Bolong River for lunch. In the afternoon we will continue our long drive to Banjul stopping on en route to visit local villages and the biggest wood-carving factory in Brikama. Overnight Banjul.
Day 11: Boat cruise on Gambia River
Today we board our motor yacht to cruise along the Gambia River from Banjul to Juffureh stopping on Kunteh Kinmeteh Island formerly James Island and the village of Juffureh. The inhabitants of this village were abducted and sold into slavery. This village's main fame however derives from its status as the traced origin of Kunta Kinteh, the ancestor of Alex Haley, the African American author of the novel Roots. The film Roots was based on this novel. We will also visit the slavery museum before returning to Banjul. Overnight Banjul
Day 12: Banjul city tour
Today enjoy a city tour of Banjul. Bathurst (as Banjul was originally called) was founded in the early 19th century by the British Army and Royal Navy and served as a military base to prevent the continuation of the slave trade along the River Gambia. The name was changed to Banjul shortly after The Gambia received it's independence from Britain in 1965. Today Banjul is one of the smallest capitals in Africa.
Day 13: Serekunda Market
This morning we will visit the sprawling Serekunda Market. We will also visit the Mama Africa Art Gallery in Bato, the reptile farm in Katong and the crocodile pool in Bakau where you can see “Charlie”, the largest crocodile in Gambia. Overnight Banjul.
Day 14: Ferry to Barra/drive to Toubacouta
Today we will board a ferry boat for the journey across the River Gambia to the town of Barra. Later cross back into Senegal and to the village of Toubacouta where we will have a walking tour. In the evening visit Shell Island (Ile de Coquillage) and the Birds Sleeping Place. Later enjoy local entertainment with a drum performance. Overnight Tabacouta.
Day 15: Drive to Dakar via Mbour
Today we return to Dakar via Mbour. In the afternoon we will enjoy a safari and visit the Crocodile Pool and the Turtle Farm before driving to Dakar. Overnight in Dakar.
Day 16: Dakar
Today we will visit the IFAN Museum of African Arts, which is one of the oldest art museums in West Africa. Here you will learn about West African culture through the collections of masks, full size statues, musical instruments and agricultural implements. In the afternoon you will have the opportunity to try your hand at African drumming with a Senegalese-style drumming class. After a rest at the hotel we will get ready for our farewell dinner. Overnight in Dakar.
Day 17: Dakar/departure
We say farewell to West Africa today with a transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
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