16.10.2017, Gambia

Gambia, the small strip of country surrounded by Senegal is a very special place. They speak English there, so for me it was very easy to communicate. And it was not easy to escape the conversations. The Gambians love to talk, to make new friends and were mostly smiling. That’s may why it’s called the smiling coast.
The mint plants and their smell were according me all my way through Gambia. The nature was very varied along the nutritious ground by the river. But to cycle it was not a lot of fun. Hills after hills after hills… for days.

Cost (11 Days, 16.10.2017 - 27.10.2017)

# Category Sum Per Day Percent
1 Food 48.40 € 4.40 € 37%
2 Lodging 20.00 € 1.82 € 15%
3 Transport 0.65 € 0.06 € 1%
4 Miscellaneous 59.23 € 5.39 € 45%
5 Tourist attraction 2.78 € 0.25 € 2%
6 Equipment 0.00 € 0.00 € 0%
7 ------------------------ ----------------- ----------------- ----------
8 Totally 131.06 € 11.91 € 100%

16.10.2017, Day 178, Njau: Friendly welcome

The crossing at the boarder went on without any problems. There were not a lot of people and all happened very fast. The officer at the boarder told me that I need to organize a Visa in the first town of Gambia called Farafenni. The officers at the immigration were very friendly. The price raised since this year from about 20€ to 60€ for a Visa for 28 days. They showed me the way to the Banc and I could withdraw the Gambian currency Dalasi. The immigration was done in less than an hour and I continued to the Gambian river to check if there is a boat going up the river to the east. Unfortunately the ferries were all broke only some pirogues were there to cross the river. I decided to see the north part of the river before I go to the south so I turned back and continued cycling inland.

At the evening I stopped at Njau to ask the chief of the town for a place to build up my camp. Another guy who saw me called the chief to tell him that I could stay at his place. His name was Anthony. He was leading a complex of buildings for agriculture research. There were some guest houses and he offered me to stay in one of them. He seemed to be very formed and he told me that he has been sent by the government to Japan for a year to study agriculture and bring the knowledge back to Gambia. His wife Josephine was formed as well and teaches the children of the village. They were very friendly, we had a nice conversation and they invited me for dinner as well.

17.10.2017, Day 179, Njau: Resting day

I had a terrible night. Since I arrived in Senegal, a bit more than 2 weeks ago, I had diarrhea. The suddenly climate change, the daily sun and effort on the bike were too much strain for my body.  I tried to treat it with some medicine but it didn’t help yet. At this point I decided to stay one more day here to rest. I washed my clothes, wrote some daily stories and stayed as much as possible in the shadow of my room. Later we played a board game and had another meal together.

18.10.2017, Day 180, Wassu: Stone Circle

The first sightseeing I visited were the stone circles of Wassu. I had to pay a small entrance and could visit the stones. A friendly man directly showed me the what the workers were working at. It turned out that he works for a museum in the capital and is on a tour to visit and advise different tourist attractions. He was very interested of my journey and invited me to his home the next days.
After the introduction I went on for visiting the stones. They should be here since more than 2000 years. They are all round stones, some short and about 1 meter in diameter, others 2.5 meter tall but thin. Most circles are made from about 7 to 12 stones and they are also on the 50 Dalasi bank note.

Because Gambia has not enough archeologists to do the research, they have not all the information’s clarified about the stones yet. While I visited the area as the only visitor, two tour bus of Gambia Tour reached the area and a swarm of tourists spread out. I went back to the bike and had a snack. After 20 minutes they were all gathered in the cars again and disappeared. Happy to travel in an individual way by my own and able to class my time, I continued the visiting of the stones in peace and quiet.

When I left the place, I realized that I had a flat tire again. At the next shop of a shadow I repaired it and found a sharp metal wire sticking in the tire. The time went on and I decided to sleep just in the next town, close to the Gambian river. At a boat man’s shelter I could build my tent and spent the night. Next to me was an old deserted rice mill building. The scenario of grey sky, broken trucks and empty fabrication buildings reminded me at DayZ.  

19.10.2017, Day 181, Janjanbureh: Slave House

Janjanbureh, also known as Georgetown, is on the Maccarthy Island. The Island was an important collection point in the slavery time. The Africans from the surrounded area were brought to a big slave house. Here they have been weighted and exchanged against sugar or rice. After the deal they had to wait to be shipped to the Gore Island in Dakar where they have been shipped further.

The city itself had some restaurants and campgrounds. It was the most touristy place I’ve seen yet in Gambia. The local guides immediately started offering me their services and showed me some accommodations. I didn’t feel that hungry and the bungalows they showed to me were not in good conditions. I definitely preferred to sleep in my tent instead of one of the houses they showed me where I even had to pay.

I continued my way to Demba, who gave me an invitation. His hometown was just another 20 km and I arrived there before sunset. He was very happy to see me again and immediately brought me some rice, fish and watermelon. The mango season was over and the watermelons took their places on every street corner. His wife prepared the mosquito nets in the garden where we slept.

20.10.2017, Day 182, Sibinding: 3rd tire repair

At the morning I was invited to bread and egg with mayonnaise, a tea and again some watermelon. Demba gave me some more informations about his job and where the museum is place in Banjul. Maybe I am able to visit him there again and see the museum. After the explanation that I prefer to cycle in the coldness of the morning, we said good bye and I left.
Since I entered Gambia I’ve seen very colorful birds in all different kinds.
Red, green, blue, yellow… Until now I was not able to catch all of them with my camera.

The morning was harder than usual. The air slowly moved out of the tire. After I repumped it, it was even worse. Because this was already the 3rd time I had to repair my back tire in a week, I decided to change not only the tube. The profile of the outside tire was almost used completely. I found again a small piece of metal stuck in the tire and punched a hole in the tube. Fortunately I had two tires carried with me all the time for an emergency like now.

21.10.2017, Day 183, Kiang West NP: No place to stay

From all the cycling with my untrained body, because of the 3-month summer break, I was very tired and went to the Kiang West National park to have a rest and enjoy the nature there. There was a group of government people, which had a workshop. First it was no problem to stay there with my tent and I started to relax. About an hour later it wasn’t possible anymore. I didn’t really understand the guy from the reception but then I left there again to get to Banjul earlier. On the way I had some very nice mirroring ponds.

22.10.2017, Day 184, Mandinaba: Another cycling day

The cycling in the morning was nice. I saw some very big birds and could move quickly. At lunch I went to the shadow of a village. Soon a group of children and adults surrounded me. For about an hour I explained my tour and answered all the questions they had. It’s interesting to see that at some villages, they’re absolutely not interested in me and in others they’re very excited.
Looking for a place to stay I landed in a village where a marriage was going on. All the women were dressed in colorful clothes were dancing and singing. The sound was hearable for a big distance so I went to the next village.

23.10.2017, Day 185, Sukuta: Arrival at Camping

I reached the camping ground before lunch. The small oasis is hosted by the Germans Joe and Claudia. In the middle of the city they’ve built a very nice camping. Unfortunately the power supply of Gambia is very unstable. At some days Gambia doesn’t have any electricity, at others just for about two hours. Someone told me: ”The government have to pay the oil in cash to the truck at the border, if the money is not ready then, the truck just returns and the power plants have to use their reserves piece by piece.” So there were only small time slots where I could recharge my stuff.

When I built my tent and started cleaning my stuff a bit, a guy was coming to my place. A guy that looks very familiar to me. As he came closer I recognized him from the south of Morocco. It was Manuel! We met at the camping ground of El Ouatia about 5 month ago. He has done the way from Germany over Portugal to Gambia with his dog, by foot. The desert and climate changes have hit him hard as well and he rested here at the camping to work a bit and to collect new energy. His dog was still alive and we had a long conversation to share all the happenings since then.

24.10.2017, Day 186, Sukuta: Resting Day

I relaxed all day in the shadow of the restaurant in the camping and was happy not to spend my energy in the pedals. After the daily usage, the muscles in my legs were working and I some sore was coming during the day, I haven’t felt before. I updated the website and have eaten a lot to refill my reserves.

25.10.2017, Day 187, Banjul: Visit the Capitol

My local friend Demba, I’ve met twice already works in Banjul in a museum. I would like to visit him today. Manuel joined me and we went to the capitol with the local buses. In one bus we met someone who was very intrusive and wants us to follow him. I was a bit skeptical because I though he may would have some money from us after guiding around the city. He brought us to his “office” close to the ministry building. The office were some tables placed under a shelter in a small sideway. It turned out that he was working for the ministry as well and we’ve get in contact with some important peoples of Gambia. Later we went to a big church we’ve noticed on our way, to see how it looks from inside. It had some similarity to a European church.

After that we went to the point on my map, where Demba drew the position of his museum. We ended on the other side of the city where nobody knew anything about a museum in this area. A local shop owner did the call to Demba and gave us the description of the way to the museum. It was the national museum of Gambia and had some very interesting things to see. Equipment for hunting and cooking, masks for different ceremonies, tombs, models of houses and much more.

After some strolling around the markets and shops, we went to the square of transportation. It was rush-hour and everybody want to go back out of Banjul. After a half an  hour we gave up to get in one of the busses and managed it to get picked up by some Mauretanian businessmen. The sun went down a long time ago and the streets and markets came to life. From fruits to illegal Blu-ray copies of very new movies we’ve seen a lot of things. A man also offered us sex with young girls for a sick price. As we started to get hungry we found a street cook which prepared us a big sandwich with his meat.

26.10.2017, Day 188, Sukuta: Lets go to the Beach

Today Manuel, his dog Pepe and I went to the beach. We found a shady place under a wooden terrace. The beach was full with hotels and restaurants, but it was offseason, so there were not a lot of tourists. A lot of them were under construction with some Asian workers, leading the construction. The water close to the sand was full of seaweed, but as we went a bit further it was clean.

27.10.2017, Day 189, Boarder to Senegal (south)

Manuel and I had very good conversations, have become good friends and I could stayed much longer with him. But I felt too isolated in the camping I stayed. It didn’t feel like I was in Africa anymore. So I said good bye to Manuel and the owner of the Sukuta Camping and continued my tour to the south along the coast of Gambia. The city Ghanatown I crossed was the chicest area I’ve seen yet south of the Sahara. Big houses and nice cars in front. But the road along the coast was not that special as I hoped and I shorten my way to the boarder to enter the south of Senegal.