UK to The Gambia By Road
Stage seven: Home to Janjanbureh
24th June 2018
With 45 minutes until dark and an hour and a half to get to Janjanbureh, we decided to push on. The Gambian officers at the checkpoints could not have been nicer! I greeted them enthusiastically in Mandinka and when they asked if we had papers, I assured them that we did but that we were in a rush to get home after our epic trip and would they mind taking my word for it. Without exception, they all waved us through with a cheery, “Have a safe journey!”
We parked the van in Lamin Koto because the ferry had stopped running by then and took a small boat to my home-away-from-home on the Island, at Talamanca Lodge. The cold beer eventually overcame our excitement and we slept, but it took until about 2.30 in the morning.
25th June 2018
The next morning we brought the van across to the island and were surprised to find that Just Act had organised a small welcoming for us. Drummers, Kankurang, the inimitable Taka Titi and my boat crew danced and sang and generally made a big scene as we drove around the town. By lunchtime, my wife and kids had arrived on the Super Express from the coast and really I was home, relieved but also sad that the trip was over.
Waiting to drive on to the ferry at Lamin Kotu
The joy on Dave and Vic's faces as Yusapha Danso (commonly known as Blood), joins them to drive on to the island to the unexpected greetings arranged by Just Act
...and the van arrives to those greetings from Taka Titi who is so often here to greet passengers with his drumming and songs as they enter the island. This would have been a special greeting to two people who have offered so much to his hometown
and of course, welcomed by
the essence of Janjanbureh,
recognised by being
the home of the UNESCO Kankurang Museum
So many of the local people
came out to join in too and this is what happens in Janjanbureh
Through the town to meet and greet the Chief
and so many of the town join in
the fun and celebrations
and finally, having caught the Super Express from Kanifing
Daves family arrive in the early afternoon and join Dave's two crew members
Alkali, the Captain and Yusaph Danso, the Chef
from his wonderful handcrafted boat, The Fula Princess,
part of his social enterprise business Fair Play Gambia
which plies its way from near the coast at Bintang to Janajnbureh
A quick note about Janjanbureh
Janjanbureh (aka Georgetown) is the rural heart of The Gambia. It has a thriving local culture, rich colonial history, beautiful nature, an amazingly unspoilt river, hippos and chimps, great fishing and bird watching and warm, welcoming people.
It is still The Gambia's best-kept secret,
with few people taking the time to get to know and love the place. Most people who venture out of the Kombo region come for an overnight trip that is basically two day's of travelling and a few hours in the town – that is if they actually venture out of their lodge and into the town – with a guide from the coast who doesn't know anything about the town or it's people and who will fight to stop any of the local people meeting you in case you learn this truth.
If you want to come to Janjanbureh and really have a travel experience, contact the right people.
Just Act is a Gambian NGO that has trained and licensed guides who really know the town
because they have grown up there.
I cannot recommend them highly enough!