Wildlife on Your Doorstep
Matt Smith suggests you take time out to find a secluded spot in your hotel garden, sit... watch... and wait a while... for the wildlife of The Gambia to come to you.
Matt Smith suggests you take time out to find a secluded spot in your
hotel garden, sit... watch... and wait a while... for the wildlife of The Gambia to come to you.
One of the great things about The Gambia is the abundant wildlife, and how accessible it is. The Gambia sits right in the centre of a broad number of habitats, something called a transition zone. It has forest-savannah environments and also drier woodland ones; it has marine systems and the life-giving River Gambia with its estuary mudflats and the intricate mangrove tributaries of the interior. What gets underplayed though, is that some of the best places to see Gambian wildlife are right there under your nose in the various hotel gardens. Sit awhile amid the full blazing glory of the day and who knows what might turn up?
The huge lush gardens of The Kairaba – a patchwork of pools of quiet shade and areas of intense sunlight where guests laze on bone white loungers - are a case in point. Here, amid the dazzling bougainvillea and frangipanis you might see troops of hooting and barking vervet monkeys, or young Nile Monitor lizards catching the spray from the hotel’s sprinkler system. Not to mention the resident limping peacock, who is like something out of RADA.
Bakotu is well known for its wildlife, being as it’s the favourite of birding expert Chris Packham – star of Spring and Autumnwatch and all round bird and wildlife expert. At the back of the hotel beneath a huge fig tree there is an oasis of calm and quiet. From here you’ll see more birdlife than you might see in a whole month in an English garden – not to mention shade-seeking reptiles and monkeys foraging in the trees.
One of the must see sights in The Gambia are the vultures at the Senegambia hotel. Everyday at 2pm, these huge, ragged birds are hand fed and anywhere up to 30 or 40 congregate in the hotel’s lush gardens for a feast, and finally a drink and a wash in the sprinkler system. Whilst watching the feast one afternoon, I got chatting to a Norwegian who was taking photographs of the vultures – he was taking particular care to capture the remarkable detail of the birds’ wings as he was going to use the photographs to design novelty angel’s wings, to add to the 180 designs he was already selling from his business in Second Life. The best thing? He was already making enough money from the virtual business that he’d recently been able to give up his day job. Like I said, take the time to sit awhile and who knows what might turn up...
Discover The Gambia
To find out more about the country and holidays visit www.gambia.co.uk or telephone 0845 330 2047 to order a copy of The Gambia Experience brochure. Read more personal experiences and submit yours at www.thegambiablog.co.uk
View more images and upload yours to www.flickr.com/groups/thegambiaexperience