In the early morning hours, we leave for Ziguenchor. After passing the border with Senegal, you will notice there is not much difference in the landscape as the country and nations were once as one. Coming closer to the capital city of Casamance, you will start noticing the lushness of nature and the magnificence of the ancient trees.
We take a short city tour in Ziguenchor and visit the craft market to be enchanted by the vast selection of hand-made art.
The cashew tree is a widespread plant in Casamance, but while the cashew nut is probably familiar to most people, we cannot say the same for the juicy cashew apple that grows below it. Environment and community-friendly cashew processing factory, run by charismatic Madame Noelle Niouky, also known as the lady with the donkey, takes us over the stages of removing kernel from the fruits, steaming, opening, roasting and finally packaging the sweet cashew nuts. The fruit is used to make juice, jam, caramelized fruit, dried fruit and even meat substitutes.
We take lunch close to the river to enjoy the perfect view.
After lunch, we head to the creek close to Oussouye, where we board a boat and enjoy a short hour's ride amongst mangroves to reach the isolated village of Elubaline, also known as the Island of Children. The life of the Jola people here is still untouched and flows at its own pace, following the traditions and self-sufficient economy. You will visit traditional houses and learn about chores, fetishes, a shrine, a water tank built by an NGO, a hospital, a school and more. Jola traditions are still alive and well in this village, where the only money you need is to buy telephone credit.
We return to Oussouye, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
After Breakfast, we will visit the most visited person in Casamance: the king of Oussouye, Sibilumbaï Diedhiou. Even though the real kingdom ended in the thirteenth century, he still represents the »spiritual (non-formal) king« of the region of Oussouye since 2000. There are certain rules which apply when visiting the king. One should avoid wearing clothes of entirely red colour, and women should not enter if on their periods. Visitors should greet the king by standing up and saying »man«. After the introduction, visitors are invited to ask questions which will not necessarily be answered by the king himself. But he will never deny taking a photo with him.
Another peek into Jola's lifestyle was made on our next stop, which brought together a sacred tree, a traditional Jola round mud house transformed into a museum with everyday objects hanging from the walls, and an architectural wonder: a colonial-style-inspired building with pillars made from the mud.
Casamance boasts magnificent old trees, especially baobabs and cotton-silk trees. Jola's belief is that once the tree dies in nature, you have to plant a new one. This rule is still being followed, keeping the forests vast and intact. But there is one special elephant tree in Kanouffa that you can climb on top of and have a perfect view of the surroundings while feeling the power of years old tree bearing you. Secured and guided, the climb is much easier than it seems as you look at the hanging ladder from the ground. And it is worth every drop of sweat or tremble of adrenaline. The view from above is simply magical.
After being mesmerized by the wonderful view, we will stop for dinner and head back to The Gambia.
Ninki Nanka trail offers many variations and combinations of activities. Check other options under Trips and activities. You can always send us your suggestions of which activities you would like to do, and we will create a completely customized tour for you.
Trip is suitable for families with kids older than 8 years.
We recommend to bring sun protection (headwear, long lightweight clothes, sunglasses, sun cream) and mosquito repellents. Make sure you bring enough water (you can also buy it on the way) and some snacks if you get hungry quickly. Wear comfortable or sports clothes and sneakers or trainers if you decide to climb the Kanouffa tree.
You would need passport or ID card (depending on nationality), proof of COVID vaccination or result of negative COVID test and yellow fever vaccination card. Please send inquiry for detailed information depending on your status.
The trip is organised by the Insitute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG) in collaboration with Ninki Nanka Encounters (NNE).
ITTOG specialises in hands-on training mainly in the Travel and Tourism sectors with special emphasis on travel agency, tour operations, tour guiding, ground operations, events management, entrepreneurship/business skills development, responsible/sustainable tourism, community-based tourism, and general tourism business management.
NNE Foundation is a small, new Gambian charity and UK community interest company (CIC) working towards the responsible development of the Ninki Nanka Trail as a community-based tourist destination.
They work on projects with communities, tourism businesses and local government to develop experiences, products and community-based tourism designed to create inspiring, cultural interaction between travellers and local people and use tourism to create livelihood opportunities for host communities along The River Gambia.
We do believe it's time for another adventure. Don't spend all of your time in The Gambia in one place. Go out and explore! There are so many beautiful experiences waiting for you. Let us help you pick one - and take care of all the rest.