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16th January 2013

Campement Hotel de Wassadou

Paradise exists.  It is on the banks of the Gambia River at Campement Hotel de Wassadou.

We are so glad that we have taken the time to explore Senegal, rather than merely rushing through.  And yes, there are little annoyances and irritations everywhere – the rubbish and litter being a significant one.  However, arriving at Wassadou makes it all worth it.

From Kael, our next aim was Tambacounda, the last big town before Niokolo Koba.  We set off early to avoid driving in the heat of the day – and were rewarded with a fantastic site: a flock of about 150 vultures were resting near the side of the road.  Some were in trees and the rest in a large group on the ground.  All were waiting for the thermals as the day warmed up so that they could take to the air. Magic.

On to Tambacounda, where we stopped at the Oasis Oriental hotel.  They kindly let us camp in their car park – although the bungalows set in gardens were very inviting.  Here, while relaxing next to the pool, we met a local artist – Mara.  Such an interesting chap to chat to.  Amongst many topics, he similarly shared our concern about the environment, and expressed his opinions about tackling the issue of rubbish and litter.  A bit later, he told us about his work and showed us some of his pieces.  Truly beautiful African artwork.  I look forward to seeing some hanging on our walls.

Next morning, after a stop in the local market to pick up some food, we headed for Wassadou.  But not before we passed the almost obligatory vulture on the side of the road (new species this time).  Soon, we left the main road, and wound our way between palm trees and other lush vegetation – to arrive in “north of the equator” paradise.

Wassadou overlooks the Gambian River – with chairs and hammocks strategically positioned for your best viewing.  It has numerous bungalows nestling under the trees, and they kindly offer camping – on the proviso that you eat dinner at the restaurant.  In case the view of the river becomes boring, there is a covered seating area.  The staff are proud of the campement, and very friendly.

And of course, the birds oblige too – we identified many new species without venturing too far in the afternoon heat.  Not only were us amateurs peering goggle eyed, but many far more serious birdwatchers were also adding to their birdlist.

So, we soaked up the luxury for a few days – taking a brief break to visit Parc National Niokolo-Koba – before starting the route to the Cassamance.