A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about animals

Dealing with the mishap, and a holiday resumed

Senegal day four


View Senegal 2016 on ToonSarah's travel map.

Back to Banjul

It was just as well that we had enjoyed our ferry ride from Banjul to Barra two days ago, as here we were, back again. My broken tooth necessitated a visit to the dentist, the dentist was in Banjul, and so we were making the day trip from Fathala Lodge (in Senegal).

large_7575395-On_the_road_to_Same_Same.jpg
On the road to the ferry

Of course a broken tooth wasn’t going to stop me taking photos and the scene at the port in Barra, where we had to wait quite a while, was as colourful as it had been on our previous trip. Women carrying babies, women carrying chickens, children travelling to school, labourers to work, farmers with goods to sell in Banjul’s markets.

7575393-Waiting_for_the_ferry_in_Barra_Same.jpg90_Photo_04-0..6__10_04_16.jpg
Waiting for the ferry in Barra

And once we boarded there was plenty of activity on the river bank to watch, with colourful pirogues ferrying other locals across the river. I was amused to see how passengers boarded these vessels, carried on the shoulders of one of the boatmen!

large_7580215-Barra_Fimela.jpg
Boats in Barra

The journey passed smoothly and as before we enjoyed sitting on the top deck and watching all the activity, although apprehension about visiting an unknown dentist in this very different part of the world prevented me from fully appreciating the scenes around me.

Photo_04-0..6__10_53_03.jpg
Ferry passenger

7575394-Refreshments_on_board_Same.jpg
Refreshments on board

We had been given instructions on how to find the dental clinic in Banjul and had been told that the lodge guide would just see us on to the ferry and then wait for us on the other side, but he insisted on coming with us to make sure everything went well. With his guidance we easily found the clinic, where the dentist was on the lookout for us. Somewhat ironically, since I had been thinking that it was good to be visiting a French-trained Gambian dentist rather than a Senegalese one (after the manager at Fathala told us that the usual practice in that country was to pull out any tooth giving trouble rather than try to save it), it turned out that although living in Gambia he was actually from Senegal! Incidentally, it might also be considered a bit ironic that my dentist back at home did have to eventually remove the tooth to deal with the problem!

Anyway, this particular Senegalese dentist, who spoke reasonable English to match my passable French, agreed with me that a temporary filling would be the best solution in the immediate term. He had soon performed the procedure but not without giving a running commentary on the quality, or rather the lack of quality, of previous work I’d had done on my teeth – even calling on Chris to come and have a look at one point!

But he worked well, and quickly – so much so that we were able to hurry back to the port afterwards and catch the same boat that we had arrived on back to Barra rather than have to wait several hours for the next one. On the way back we got talking to three local guys who had parked next to our vehicle on board, who insisted that I took their photo, so I did!

large_7580183-On_the_ferry_Fimela.jpg
On the ferry back to Barra

What is more, thanks to the speedy work of the dentist, we were back at Fathala in time for lunch, and I even managed to eat some!

By the way, the dentist had done his work well – the filling lasted for the rest of the trip and until I was able to visit my own dentist back in London.

Boat ride among the mangroves

The prompt work of the dentist meant that we were back in plenty of time to go ahead with our planned activity. a late afternoon ride among the nearby mangroves. We took a jeep ride of about half an hour through some small villages, where children rushed out to wave to us as we passed. We felt a little self-conscious and pseudo-regal waving to them from our high perches in the vehicle, but it would have been mean to disappoint them and it was fun to see their excitement. One toddler in particular shrieked with such joy you would have thought we were the only foreigners he had ever seen, despite this being a fairly well-visited tourist area.

large_37dd0530-6425-11e9-9a82-2df41dfcb392.jpg
The road through a local village

large_7575354-Local_children_Same.jpg
37e91320-6425-11e9-8c56-8b2756a01286.jpgP1160087.jpg
Local children


We reached the point where our boat was waiting for us – one of the traditional local vessels known as pirougues. Once we were all aboard (as well as the two of us there were the two elderly English ladies in our group) we cast off, and spent the next couple of hours cruising slowly among the mangroves.

large_635a6910-6433-11e9-b0a9-6d2e4e8e2c08.jpg
The waiting pirogues

Although there was less bird life than we had seen on similar trips when staying at Mandina Lodge in Gambia two years previously, we did see quite a few.

7575352-Goliath_Heron_Same.jpgfc923320-6428-11e9-9a82-2df41dfcb392.jpg
Goliath Herons

large_7575351-Osprey_on_mangrove_tree_Same.jpg
Osprey on mangrove tree

large_f938f600-6428-11e9-bf9b-078724a1758d.jpg
Hooded Vulture

fc3b87a0-6428-11e9-bf9b-078724a1758d.jpg
Great Egret

large_f9ba33f0-6428-11e9-bf9b-078724a1758d.jpg
Egrets in flight

fb8aae30-6428-11e9-bf9b-078724a1758d.jpg
Hamerkop in a baobab

The other birds we saw, but I failed to photograph, were:
Senegal Thick-knee
Lapwing
Pied Kingfisher
Caspian Tern
Whimbrel
African Darter

We also saw a crocodile and, as at Mandina, a number of locals collecting the oysters that grow on the mangrove roots.

3c71f8d0-6434-11e9-b214-5780b906b511.jpg
Collecting oysters

fbea0c40-6428-11e9-bf9b-078724a1758d.jpg
Crocodile


Part way through the ride we stopped in the shade to enjoy cold drinks and some snacks in this peaceful setting. As we watched we chatted a bit with our companions, who were an interesting pair. They were clearly good friends but were like chalk and cheese! One seemed to be a fairly experienced traveller, taking everything pretty much in her stride, while the other was in an almost constant state of bewilderment. Neither of them could manage to work the rather complex camera that a daughter had lent them for the trip and were in unjustifiable awe of the photos we were capturing – so much so that we swapped email addresses so I could send them some as a reminder of the outing. I wondered afterwards if the mother passed them off to her daughter as her own, so that her incompetence with the camera could remain a secret!

As the sun sank a little lower the light became rather magical, and I especially enjoyed seeing the almost sculptural silhouettes of the baobab trees that dotted the landscape, rising out of the deep greens of the mangrove trees.

large_f8f05440-6428-11e9-bf9b-078724a1758d.jpg
Sunset on the river
large_7575353-Baobab_late_afternoon_light_Same.jpg
Baobab, late afternoon light


After a couple of hours we returned to our starting point and boarded the jeep for the ride back to the lodge. The landscape glowed red in the late afternoon sun and our ride home was punctuated by even more greetings and waves from the small children we passed.

large_7575355-Boat_ride_among_the_mangroves_Same.jpg
Senegal sunset


Although not so exciting as the other lodge activities (and especially the lion walk), this was a very pleasant way to spend a few hours, and visiting the mangroves introduced us to a very different landscape from the dry and dusty bush surrounding Fathala.

We spent the last evening here much as we had the others, with drinks at the bar and a tasty dinner, which tonight I was able to enjoy as much as on the first evening, thanks to my newly mended tooth! And we went to bed in our cosy tent looking forward to seeing more of this fascinating country tomorrow, when we would travel north to the Saloum Delta in the Sine-Saloum region.

Posted by ToonSarah 03:06 Archived in Senegal Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises children trees animals birds boats wildlife village river reptiles dentist gambia senegal fathala Comments (7)

Travelling to the Sine-Saloum Delta

Senegal day five


View Senegal 2016 on ToonSarah's travel map.

828866167575408-Waterbuck_mo..rhole_Same.jpg
Waterbuck mother and baby visiting the waterhole

7575383-Waterbuck_mother_and_baby_Same.jpg

At breakfast today we were treated to the sight of a couple of waterbucks, mother and baby, who came to drink at the waterhole and lingered for some time. A lovely ending to our short stay at Fathala.

Our journey to Fimela

After spending three nights at Fathala we left to travel further into Senegal. We drove (or I should say, were driven) north on what was at first a good road but which soon deteriorated into a dusty red sand track, made worse by the fact that work was in progress (February 2016) to surface it properly.

9164acb0-65de-11e9-89a2-b93926748d0a.jpg
Roadworks

9316f090-65de-11e9-89a2-b93926748d0a.jpg
Scenery on the road

9353ab70-65de-11e9-89a2-b93926748d0a.jpg
Passing through a local village

But after 25 kilometres of bumping along through a string of very traditional-looking villages, each with a number of the family compounds so typical of rural Africa, we turned west, and back on to a properly surfaced road. Our driver explained that rather than travel through Kaolack, as we had expected, he planned to take the ferry from Foundiougne, cutting off a corner of the journey and avoiding another long stretch of unmade-up road. We might have to wait for the boat, he said, but that would still be preferable to the much longer alternative by road. This suited us, as the boat ride would break up the journey and sounded more interesting.

large_920643e0-65de-11e9-89a2-b93926748d0a.jpg
The Saloum from the road

This better road led across salt flats and along causeways lined with mangroves to the town of Foundiougne, from where we were to catch the ferry across the Saloum. The queue of vehicles was too long to allow of us crossing on the ferry that was then loading, so we had to hang around for about 45 minutes while it crossed and returned.

7580283-Ferry_in_Foundiougne_Fimela.jpg
The ferry in Foundiougne
- this is the one that was too full to take us!

This unscheduled break gave us time to stroll around and take lots of photos, as well as to try to converse a little, in our sometimes inadequate French, with the local market traders etc. They were naturally keen that we shopped at their stalls (we didn't) but less keen on our cameras, although most tolerated them.

large_7580285-In_Foundiougne_Fimela.jpg
7580286-Market_stall_in_Foundiougne_Fimela.jpg787a9fe0-65e1-11e9-a4e9-2f6d37f8ab43.jpg
78e3e900-65e1-11e9-a4e9-2f6d37f8ab43.jpg7b88ca40-65e1-11e9-bd3d-4356d1f9774f.jpg
Locals in Foundiougne

7ba293d0-65e1-11e9-91ac-4ddc72d07817.jpg
Drums for sale in the market

The favoured local transport option of a horse or donkey and cart was much in evidence, carrying both goods and passengers.

large_7580220-In_Foundiougne_Fimela.jpg
large_7580284-Jetty_in_Foundiougne_Fimela.jpg
large_7a5b46c0-65e1-11e9-a4e9-2f6d37f8ab43.jpg
Local transport in Foundiougne

I rather liked the design of the building housing the port offices here - very 1930s, it seemed to me!

784007e0-65e1-11e9-a4e9-2f6d37f8ab43.jpg7580287-Port_building_Foundiougne_Fimela.jpg
Port building

7acfda80-65e1-11e9-a4e9-2f6d37f8ab43.jpg
Decorated bike waiting for the ferry

a90360e0-65f3-11e9-8dc2-09986e366cd2.jpg
Ferry approaching Foundiougne

When the ferry returned we paid the foot passenger fee of 50 CFA francs each while our driver drove on separately (no passengers are allowed in vehicles). Life jackets were much in evidence, but thankfully not needed!

large_7d4fa260-65f3-11e9-8dc2-09986e366cd2.jpg
Leaving Foundiougne

large_7c97c410-65f3-11e9-8dc2-09986e366cd2.jpg
On the ferry
- a white-breasted cormorant, I think, and two gulls

large_7cedd350-65f3-11e9-8dc2-09986e366cd2.jpg
Approaching Ndakhonga on the far bank

P1160246.jpg
Disembarking from the ferry in Ndakhonga

The crossing took only about 15 minutes, and once on the far side it was an easy drive of around an hour via the small town of Fatick and on to Souimanga Lodge near the township of Fimela.

large_P1160249.jpg
On the road to Fatick

Souimanga Lodge

When I booked our stay at this fairly remote small hotel in the Sine Saloum I opted to pay a little extra for what they term a ‘lagoon’ rather than ‘garden’ bungalow, as these face directly on the water and have their own private boardwalk and shaded jetty overlooking the water. But when we arrived it was to discover that for some reason we had been upgraded to a suite. These (there are just two) have the same lovely waterside setting as the lagoon bungalows, but the extra bonus of a small private plunge pool and a separate inside seating area. What a treat!

7580280-Seating_area_Fimela.jpg
Seating area

7580279-Bedroom_area_Fimela.jpg
Bedroom area


The room was beautifully decorated with interesting art pieces and lighting. It had plenty of facilities including air conditioning, mini bar, espresso coffee machine and a TV with French channels. The bathroom was very attractive with a monsoon shower.

At the end of our boardwalk was a deck with large beanbags and some shade, perfect for bird-watching. After a quick dip in the rather chilly plunge pool we spent what remained of the afternoon relaxing there and taking photos of the many birds who live among the mangroves.

7580281-View_from_the_deck_Fimela.jpgP1160267.jpg
View from the deck, with next door's hide, and the boardwalk to our private hide

large_7580278-Our_suite_from_the_hide_Fimela.jpg
Our suite from the hide

The Sine Saloum Delta is known for its bird-life. While I wouldn’t describe myself as a keen birdwatcher, as a photographer I am drawn to them and the challenge of capturing the beauty of something that hardly ever keeps still for long enough!

I also like to know what it is that I am photographing, something I found slightly frustrating here. The local guides here seemed much less knowledgeable about the names of the bird species than those in Gambia, and naturally when they could name them, they did so in French. A comprehensive guide to the birds of West Africa on the bookshelf in the bar area was also in French, so I resorted to Google and to sharing photos with well-informed Facebook friends! All bird photos labelled in this blog therefore come with a disclaimer – I am pretty sure I have the names correct but not 100% so. I’d be grateful to readers who can correct any errors, either on this page or the following ones!

large_P1160274.jpg
Bird-life among the mangroves

Today we saw herons, egrets and more, including several pelicans swimming among the mangroves.

large_7580248-Pelican_Fimela.jpg
Pelican

3f9c3de0-667d-11e9-b178-192f8c8e41e0.jpg
Black-winged Stilt

large_3fadca10-667d-11e9-8130-a5c281100191.jpg
Cormorants
- too far away for me to be sure which kind!

Back on the deck we saw a few more birds who came to drink from our plunge pool. There were Senegal Doves, also known as Laughing Doves, and also a Red-Eyed Dove.

7580244-More_bird_photos_Fimela.jpg

33d43b10-667e-11e9-b178-192f8c8e41e0.jpg
Senegal or Laughing Doves

P1160285.jpg
Red-Eyed Dove

We also saw several Common Bulbuls and a Weaver – either Village or Little, I wasn’t able to determine which.

34d3d0c0-667e-11e9-b178-192f8c8e41e0.jpg
Common Bulbul
large_3516a620-667e-11e9-b178-192f8c8e41e0.jpg
Little (or Village?) Weaver

We were to see many more of the same species during the week we spent here, and more besides, so expect to see lots more bird photos in my following entries too!

Evenings at Souimanga

In the evening we had dinner on the decking by the main building. This is on several levels with only a few tables on each, and you have the feeling of eating in a tree-house – wonderful!

Dinner was a set menu but with a choice of two main courses, which seemed almost always to be either beef (served as a steak or brochette) or fish, again served either as a single piece or a mix of fishes on a brochette. One of the kitchen staff came to seek us out each afternoon to ask for our choice and also at what time we wanted to eat. Before our choice of mains, there was always an amuse bouche and an entree, and after it a dessert. There was no choice of these, but generally we found them tasty and they were thankfully much more varied than the main courses. We also really enjoyed both our pre-dinner drinks each evening (a beer for Chris and a cocktail for me, which came with what we still talk about as the best olives we have tasted anywhere in the world!

Posted by ToonSarah 07:15 Archived in Senegal Tagged landscapes animals birds boats views hotel river roads africa seabirds senegal street_photography Comments (8)

To market, to market

Senegal day ten


View Senegal 2016 on ToonSarah's travel map.

large_c4df31b0-6f4c-11e9-9691-e1dc5b6854e4.jpg
Muted sunrise, Souimanga Lodge

Sunrise this morning was a more muted affair, with more cloud cover, but still lovely.

large_c46769a0-6f4c-11e9-b4fc-71715d699192.jpg
Muted sunrise, Souimanga Lodge

At breakfast I spotted a Yellow Crowned Gonolek, one of the most dramatically coloured of Senegal’s birds. Unfortunately he wasn’t too keen on staying still long enough for me to photograph him, so my efforts were a little disappointing – but worth sharing so you can see how smart he looks in his black, red and yellow plumage!

P1160773.jpg

P1160771.jpg
Not very good photos of a Yellow Crowned Gonolek!

Ngueniene general market

This was our last full day at Souimanga Lodge and our last outing with Cheikh. As on previous mornings he picked us up soon after breakfast, but this time headed not towards the coast to our west but instead drove north. It took us about thirty minutes to reach Ngueniene, a village well-known in this region for its weekly Wednesday markets.

7578287-More_market_photos_Ngueniene.jpg
8fe3fb90-6f5f-11e9-a994-23efa03e81ee.jpg
On the way to market

8fac97e0-6f5f-11e9-a68d-5113fdeff243.jpg

This would be a fairly unremarkable village were it not for the huge scale of its weekly market, which draws locals from miles around – and more than a few tourists. As we drove towards the village with Cheikh we could see many others on the roads, mostly in the traditional horse carts, all converging on this one spot – the women colourfully dressed as always here, and some carts piled high with produce to sell.

We parked on the outskirts of the village and walked along a few lanes between the houses to reach the main market, which was already a hubbub of activity.

large_7578291-Market_day_in_Ngueniene_Ngueniene.jpg
Market day in Ngueniene

The market draws people from miles around – to buy or to sell, but also, it seemed to me, to meet and gossip. A visit here is a popular outing for tourists, but still they are hugely outnumbered by the locals and it is a totally authentic experience.

In fact there are two markets here – one for animals and one for everything else – and I mean everything! We started our explorations in this general market and among many other things, we found for sale the following:

7578281-More_market_photos_Ngueniene.jpg
Pots for sale

~ fruit and vegetables
~ cooking pots and tripods on which to stand them
~ tools - large knives, penknives, wire-cutters, screw drivers
~ tobacco, and tiny metal pipes in which to smoke it
~ cola nuts, which Cheikh assured Chris were as good as Viagra!
~ colourful traditional fabrics sold by the metre
~ heaps of second-hand clothes imported from Europe
~ trainers, flip-flops and gym shoes
~ (poor) replica football strips - mainly Barcelona and the big names of the English Premier League
~ live chickens
~ dried fish
~ baobab fruit, hibiscus flowers and other juice flavourings
~ herbs and spices
~ mobile phones and accessories
~ children's toys
~ huge sacks of grain and rice
~ little fried millet balls, a bit like churros, which Cheik bought for us to sample
~ colourful woven baskets
~ pottery bowls and other objects
~ animal feed

We saw only a few tourist-oriented stalls - one selling sand paintings and wood carvings and a couple with simple jewellery (I bought a bead necklace for 1,000 CFA - about £1). I also bought two metres of one of the fabrics, to make up into a sarong or skirt (although it is still sitting in a drawer at home, untouched, three years later!). This cost 2,000 CFA, after some hard bargaining by Cheikh.

7578269-The_general_market_Ngueniene.jpg

7578270-The_general_market_Ngueniene.jpg

7578283-More_market_photos_Ngueniene.jpg

A range of goods on sale!

As well as helping us to get good prices for our shopping (Chris also bought some new earphones for his MP3 player after our unfortunate encounter with the mouse!), Cheikh insisted on buying various snacks for us to try – not all of which looked appetising! The little fried balls of millet dough were a bit like Senegalese churros, I guess, but rather dry inside and tasteless. I turned down the proffered cup of tea, not being a tea drinker, but enjoyed tasting a fruit, Saba Senegalensis, which Cheikh called madd, its Wolof name. This consists of a large seed which we sucked to eat the pleasantly sharp (to my taste) fruit around it.

large_7578266-The_general_market_Ngueniene.jpg
Friendly stall-holder

7578268-The_general_market_Ngueniene.jpg7578282-More_market_photos_Ngueniene.jpg
Stall-holders


I found that I had to be a little discreet to get my photos here. Most people didn't mind me photographing the goods on sale, and some of the men were happy to be in my photos, but on the whole the women preferred not to be photographed. If they asked me not to, I put the camera down, but I have to admit to shooting a few of these pictures ‘from the hip’!

7578267-The_general_market_Ngueniene.jpg
Shoppers at the market

7578280-More_market_photos_Ngueniene.jpg
7578285-More_market_photos_Ngueniene.jpg

The animal market

After spending some time in the main market, we moved on to the animal market on the other side of the village, travelling between the two on a traditional horse cart. Here there is a much narrower range of goods on offer – just goats, sheep, cows, donkeys and horses. Until very recently, Cheikh told us, all business was done here by exchange – two goats for one sheep, five sheep for one cow and so on. Nowadays people are more likely to use cash, but some trading still goes on.

large_7578276-The_animal_market_Ngueniene.jpg
In the animal market

Cheikh was keen to point out the best animals, especially in the area devoted to cows, and a little disappointed I think that our untrained eyes were not very good at judging them (it’s not a skill much called-for in urban London!) He was firm in his belief that you should never buy a fully-grown well-fattened cow, but instead look for one that was basically sound and healthy, but which would benefit from feeding up. That way you could sell it on for a profit.

large_7578273-The_animal_market_Ngueniene.jpg
In the animal market

While the men we saw were obviously here to sell, it also seemed to me to be a great excuse for them to catch up with friends as there was a lot of standing around chatting going on. I found that they were more relaxed and generally seemed less bothered by my camera than in the busy main market.

large_7578275-The_animal_market_Ngueniene.jpg

7578277-The_animal_market_Ngueniene.jpg7578278-The_animal_market_Ngueniene.jpg

7580190-At_the_market_in_Ngueniene_Fimela.jpg
Traders and buyers in the animal market

dc9333e0-6f67-11e9-8981-f39b4b939abe.jpg

Final afternoon with the birds

After a quick swim back at the lodge we spent the rest of the afternoon split between our deck, where a friendly lizard came to visit, and in our private little hide on the jetty.

large_7580253-Lizard_by_the_plunge_pool_Fimela.jpg
Lizard by the plunge pool

This was one of the best spells of bird sightings I had on the whole trip, and I got some of my favourite photos. It didn’t start too well in terms of the latter as, while I was thrilled to see a Beautiful Sunbird (his official name, but yes, he is indeed beautiful!) I failed to get a decent photo – this one has been heavily processed as his colours were invisible against the light in the original.

P1160895.jpg
Beautiful Sunbird
[processed to show colours]

But it got better. A Pied Kingfisher joined me at the hide and posed happily for ages.

large_7580246-Pied_Kingfisher_Fimela.jpg
large_7a135160-6fde-11e9-b5ea-eb694a3e9c91.jpg
Pied Kingfisher

And just as I was thinking of packing up and going back to join Chris who had returned to our deck to read a little while earlier, I happened to look up and see a Little Bee Eater on a branch above my head. He was soon joined by what I assumed was his mate – male and female Little Bee Eaters have the same plumage. Both remained long enough for me to get a number of photos, which remain among my favourite bird photos of all those I have taken, on this trip and elsewhere.

large_7580289-Little_Bee_eater_Fimela.jpg
large_7580245-Little_Bee_Eaters_Fimela.jpg
Little Bee Eaters

Another sunbird, this time I think a Pigmy Sunbird, also appeared while I was still lingering enjoying the Little Bee Eaters. My photos were only marginally more successful than those of the Beautiful Sunbird, but it gives me an excuse to mention that the lodge is named for the French for sunbird, Souimanga, as the birds regularly frequent its gardens. Having seen none all week, now here were two in one day!

d6425e00-6fdd-11e9-b5ea-eb694a3e9c91.jpg

d55a6f00-6fdd-11e9-8ebb-c3bbbcb36746.jpg
Pigmy Sunbird (I think)

Other sightings this afternoon included a couple of Senegal Thick-Knees as well as the usual egrets, herons etc.

7580237-More_bird_photos_Fimela.jpg
Senegal Thick-Knee

We spent our final evening at Souimanga as we had the others, with drinks and a leisurely dinner by candlelight on the decks above the lagoon.

Posted by ToonSarah 08:42 Archived in Senegal Tagged people animals birds lizards market shopping village africa customs senegal Comments (9)

(Entries 16 - 18 of 18) Previous « Page 1 2 3 [4]