Gambia: Niumi National Park
On the weekend after the workshop, Dawda and I traveled to Niumi National Park in the northwest corner of Gambia. On a map it seems relatively close to Banjul, but it turned out to be quite an adventure to get there and back!
On Saturday morning we took the ferry back across the Gambia River to the north side town of Barra. One of the guys from the workshop had given us the name of a place to stay in the park and a driver to get us there, but Dawda couldn’t reach the driver, so once we got to Barra it took some finagling to find a ride for a decent price. After about half an hour we reached an agreement with a driver, then walked through Barra to a small river and waited for him while he went to get fuel for the car. This process took about an hour, then he finally returned and we all got in a small canoe to cross the river to the car waiting on the other side. About halfway across the river it suddenly started raining- a torrential downpour. We ran to the ancient Land Rover and jumped in… aside from Dawda, myself and the driver there were 5 other people in the back. We drove about 50 feet towards the beach (there’s no road, the car usually drives along the beach on hard packed sand) and stopped because it turned out the tide was still quite high. At this point the driver spent some time contemplating whether he could make it down the beach, as we sat inside with rain dripping through the rusty top and front of the car (there was literally no dashboard, just wires hanging out, including the ignition!). Finally he put the car in 4 wheel drive and headed out onto the beach. As we drove at the water’s edge, waves were crashing onto the car, adding to the water now pouring in on us. All we could do was laugh and hold on for dear life as we lurched along!
This is a view of the beach through the pouring rain. It felt like we were sitting under a waterfall… inside the car!