MAKASUTU CULTURAL FOREST, BRIKAMA MARKET, LAMIN LODGE
Full day trip
The driver will pick you up in the morning from your place of stay and take you on a drive along straight African roads. You will admire interesting surroundings, the people and traffic, which is fascinating already by itself. Some goats, donkeys and cows could cross the road when passing different villages. From Senegambia it takes approximately 45 min drive to the park.
The story began in December 1992 when two Englishmen were looking for a spot in The Gambia where they could build a park in the Gambian wilderness. They found the place and managed to buy over a thousand hectares of land. Eventually 15,000 trees were planted and dozens of wells were dug. There was an old man who had already been living on that territory and was said to be a prophet or a holy man. He wanted to leave the park, but the Englishmen wanted him to stay. He passed away few years ago but his knowledge was passed on to his son, who still lives there nowadays.
A guide will take you to the Base camp in the middle of the park, where they will offer you hot drinks, coffee or green tea. You will be able to walk up a four-storey view tower, from which you could see a river and an endless plain with tall palm trees.
After seeing surrounding from the tower, you will go on a canoe ride among the mangroves and creeks. On the shore you can see the monkeys called baboons, which are jumping and screaming around. Sometimes you will see locals swimming in the river or women cleaning oysters. Locals are making plaster out of oyster shells, which is then used for plastering houses, colouring and also as food for chicken (shells contain calcium). When you reach the other side, you will continue walking through the forest to the Base camp.
On the walk through the forest you can see many typical African trees and berries. The guide will tell you about their medicinal purpose which is still commonly used by the local people. They use different things – roots, leaves, bark and fruits. In the forest you will hear sounds of different animals: birds, monkeys … If you are lucky you will also see squirrels and lizards. Big termite houses are seen on every step of the way through the forest.
When walking through the forest you will see a small wooden cottage with a few chickens around it. Inside the cottage an old man who is called to be a fortune teller was living there for many years. He died in 2014. His eldest son is now there to tell you what your future will look like! Usually he put a mirror in your hand, he look into it and tell you the future in Mandinka language. The guide will translate everything for you if you decide to pay extra for fortune telling.
You will continue the walk through the forest. It last about one hour, but with the strong African sun it is quite exhausting. The walk ends by the place where some locals produce palm wine. You can taste it – it is like a grape must. Local man will show you how this juice is collected into pots. He will climb the palm tree using a rope – it looks simple to do it but if you try it, you will realize that it is quite tough.
From that point you will go back to the big baobab tree where your journey began. Surrounded with trees, bird singing and walking monkeys you will have a traditional Gambian lunch – fish or meat, vegetables, rice and different sauce. It is always very tasty. If there are enough people at the place, they will also organize traditional Gambian dance and musical performance.
In the end of the place, there is a small craft market. You can buy some souvenirs but don’t forget to barge for the prices.
You will continue your journey to Lamin Lodge.
Lamin Lodge is a beautiful place to stop and chill out, situated on the snaking Lamin Bolon, one of the River Gambia’s many saltwater tributaries. The charming restaurant and bar, built on the banks in the middle of the Mangroves forest, is a perfect place to end you excursion into the creeks. Everywhere in the area you can see mangrove grow and many so called green monkeys wandering around. Beside the monkeys and mangroves, you can see how cement is made from oysters’ shells.
It is a popular destination for creek trips and birdwatching base. The view from the upper levels of the restaurant, over this grand sweep of water, mangrove, and fields, a special treat in a country where tall buildings are rare, is breathtaking. The food is delicious and moderately priced. You can also stop for drinks only.
Visitors are usually amazed by the beautiful nature and peaceful environment. Local musicians create a special African atmosphere with the calm drumming and singing. It takes your mind away off whatever is bothering you.
It is also possible to take river tours from Lamin Lodge.