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THE MIDWEST AFRICAN SERIES, DAY 19, 20, 21 & 22

BISSAU – CAP SKIRRING – JANJANBUREH – BANJUL

Bissau, Casamance and Banjul. After a few ones last night we were keen to get stuck into Bissau’s festival.

TURNS OUT THE FESTIVAL DOESN’T START UNTIL TOMORROW, THE SAME DAY WE LEAVE…

I have not heard much about it but I could see early on that people were in good spirits, it was a bit refreshing to see so many people walking around with smiles on their faces, not a normal occurrence in the previous capitals.

WHERE IS BISSAU?

Bissau

MARKET

To start the day we walked around Bissau’s main market looking for anything out of the ordinary. All the markets in West Africa seem to sell tons of oranges, flip flops and smart phones but we did manage to find a local aphrodisiac in the form of a large bean called Cola, who knows if it works…

Bissau, Casamance and Banjul

DAILY INFO….

  • HOTEL –
    Malaika Bissau (7)
    Janjanbureh (6.5)
    Tranquil Resort
  • ATTRACTIONS –

FESTIVAL

After visiting a local family for lunch we headed to the festival and everyone was in such good form. Everyone was out on the streets, families dressed up, kids playing football and people just enjoying the national holiday. But as the day passed it soon became obvious the actual parades do not start until tomorrow which is an absolute gutter.

My guide who is from Casamance in southern Senegal seems to do nothing but chat to every woman he walks by, clearly a numbers man but it does take 3 hours to walk 100metres.

Bissau, Casamance and Banjul

FLAG….

  • GREEN – This color represents Islam, progress, and hope. It reflects the nation’s religious heritage and the aspiration for growth and development.
  • YELLOW – Signifies natural wealth, intellect, arts, and literature. It celebrates the country’s abundant resources and cultural richness.
  • RED – Symbolizes sacrifice, life, and the determination of the Senegalese people to overcome challenges and thrive.
  • GREEN FIVE-POINTED STAR – Represents unity and hope for a harmonious future.

DAY 20 – SENEGAL

This morning we head to Casamance, the southern region of Senegal. I’ve heard a lot about this place, especially Cap Skirring which is a small beach town with a few bars and hotels.

Bissau, Casamance and Banjul

ELOUBALINE VILLAGE

Our first stop was at a local village only accessible by boat. It’s an incredible little infrastructure they have with a small hospital, school, maternity clinic and of course a bar. It was here I had another taste of Palm wine, likely from the same cup the 600 other villagers drink from. Tasting and smelling like soggy feet it has to be the worst tasting drink after Sambuca.

Bissau, Casamance and Banjul

  FACTS ABOUT SENEGAL:
  • Senegal, located in West Africa, has long been considered one of the region’s model democracies. It boasts a history of stable government and civilian rule.
  • Some Senegalese taxi drivers attach horse, sheep, or cattle hair to their taxis for good luck. These tails, blessed by religious leaders, are believed to bring fortune.
  • Senegal has a growing surf scene, and the influential 1966 surfing movie The Endless Summer was partially shot in Senegal.

CAP SKIRRING

There is nothing much to do here but head to the beach which although busy on a weekend is rather nice. People come to chill, eat and even play rugby. A night out here on the weekend is pretty good with the few bars playing live music. Expect to get a few advances. Don’t be put off by the walk down to the beach through a derelict hotel, its probably the least enticing entrance I have experienced in a beach. You can just imagine the smell.

Tonight we watched The Ivory Coast win the AFCON which was good but made me slightly frustrated that I wasn’t there. This part of Africa seems popular for older tourists, mainly women to meet younger African men – which for the record is cool but in the beginning is quite the surprise.

  ABOUT THE COUNTRY:
  • LANGUAGE – French holds the status of the official language of Senegal. Wolof: The most widely spoken language for about 80% of the population.
  • HELLO – “Salaam aleekum”
  • HOW TO CHEERS – “Santé!”
  • BEVERAGE OF CHOICE – Bissap, made from the hibiscus flower species known as Roselle.
  • POPULAR SPORT – Football
  • STAPLE DIET – Peanuts, couscous, white rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, black-eyed peas and various vegetables,

DAY 21 – THE GAMBIA

Finally the day has come where we head to the last country of the series. I have been been shattered for the last few days so for sure I am ready to head back but let’s not think of that as we still have a few more days to go.

FLAG….

  • GREEN – Stands for forests and agriculture.
  • BLUE – Symbolizes the Gambia River, which is the country’s main geographical feature and the source of its name.
  • RED – Represents the sun and the savanna.
  • WHITE STRIPES IN BETWEEN BANDS – Denotes unity and peace.

BORDER

As always the Senegal border was top notch, no bribes, no delays, no issues, I only wish the others were half as easy. The Gambian side was also fairly easy thanks to a little handshake to the narcotic department which meant we didn’t have to wait an hour for our bags to be checked – the first time during my trip this would have happened.

WELCOME TO COUNTRY NUMBER 169

CHECKPOINT

However it took just 5 minutes of driving until we were stopped by who can only be described as two rent-a-cops. One fella dressed in a police fancy dress outfit who didn’t seem to know what Burkina Faso is – which is akin to someone from Wales not knowing what Scotland is. He was quickly brushed to the side whilst the other lady attempted to brandish her authority; asking for documents – nothing specific just documents. Once she realised she didn’t have a clue what she was looking for she then asked to see the boot. It was like a sketch show.

The key for them is to create as much of a delay and inconvenience as possible to force us paying a little something to hurry it on. However once she realised she was getting fu*k all she then straight up asked for her breakfast. I was fuming, actually for the first time and turned around and signalled to Marlon to give her nothing.

JANJANBUREH

Tonight we stayed on an island in the middle of the Gambia River called Janjanbureh. Besides a few chickens and guesthouses there is little to see and do here apart from the Stone Circles of Wassou which we will get to tomorrow.

Bissau, Casamance and Banjul

DAY 22 – STONE CIRCLE

Finally our last full day in West Africa! I say that not out of contempt for the region but I cannot wait to get back to routine, food and early mornings. On our way to Banjul we stopped of at the Wassu Stone Circles, one of Gambias most important sites. These are one of over a thousand groups of megalithic stone circles found in Gambia and central Senegal, Spread across a region of around 12,000m2.

It’s effectively a cemetery with each stone representing a burial and are the largest concentration of stone circles seen anywhere in the world, dating back to over 1000 years and becoming a UNESCO heritage site in 2006.

BANJUL

After 3 weeks of sweat, borders and boiled eggs we finally arrived into the Serrekunda district of the capital and checked into Tranquil Resort. And after a quick walk through the local beach we headed out to the area of Senegambia where my guide continued his habit of trying to chat up every girl on the street.

This area was chill, but had the most amount of tourists I have seen all trip. I would probably say there was more tourists here than locals. We toured around the various bars including Magic bar and Time Inn (again expect advances) for a few drinks before crawling back at 3am for tomorrow’s flight, bad idea.

FINAL THOUGHTS

That’s it. I’m not going to lie but I am shattered but was a decent few days to end the trip, a few drinks and nothing too intense. Ready for home and to recharge again.

NEXT UP

The reflection post on The Midwest African Series!! Click to read.

SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
169/229

This post is part of The Midwest African Series, for the entire series click here or for episode 1, click here.

To watch the video of my trip, head to my highlights on my go Instagram.

Question Time

  • Do you enjoy festivals when travelling?
  • What is your favourite festival?

Let me know in the comments below . . .

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WEST AFRICA’S WORST ROADS
REFLECTION POST WEST AFRICA

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