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Baku Creek

Another lazy-ish day

View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

The plan this morning is to take the path from the Observation Deck, through the mangroves, onto the main road and down to the bridge.



Village Weaver

Hooded Vulture

Long Tailed Glossy Starling

The trail meanders along the edge of the creek and heads for the road, but ends in a builders yard, obviously private property. There is a gate, but it is locked, so there is no way for us to join the road here, so we end up having to walk all the way back to the observation deck and through the hotel again.



In the hotel grounds we spot some Green Vervet Monkeys, including a very young baby clinging to his mum.



Out on the road we are amused to see a sign for Tesco Mini Market – in reality a small shack selling bottled water, ice cream and a few essentials.


Having spend the last four days almost exclusively in the company of birds, Kotu is proving a bit of a culture shock. Outdoor cafés are full of fat, middle aged cougars with tattoos, piercings, bleach blonde hair and the obligatory toyboy Gambian hanging on their arms. We hurry past to reach the bridge over Kotu Creek, a well known bird watching spot.

Pink Backed Pelican

The place is teeming with the gorgeous little Long Tailed Cormorants:





Pink Backed Pelicans, African Spoonbills, Long Tailed Cormorant and Great Egret

Grey Heron, Sacred Ibis and Marsh Sandpiper

African Spoonbills

Common Redshank

Pink Backed Pelican


Sacred Ibis and Grey Headed Heron

Senegal Thick Knee

We are approached by a couple of guides offering their services, but we are pleased to find they are much more likely to take “no” for an answer than the people we encountered during our visit to The Gambia 23 years ago.


Back in the hotel, I request my food “extra spicy. Gambian spicy, not tourist spicy”. It still only arrives as a 2-3 on Grete's scale of 10.

Cheese and chilli omelette

Burger and chips

Refreshing fruit juice - youki?

After having asked for our food “extra spicy” at lunch, we are amused when we return to the room to find this large pack of toilet rolls sitting on our patio table. Are they trying to tell us something?


We are chilling in the room with a drink and some snacks when we overhear someone outside mentioning the name “Mandina Lodges”. Our ears prick up, as we are waiting to hear about what time our transfer to Mandina will be tomorrow. Yesterday we waited for 45 minutes for the rep to turn up (at the advertised time), but he didn't show. This afternoon, however, he is here, although he's knocking on our neighbour's door instead by mistake, so we go out and ask if he is looking for us. At least we now know that we are leaving here at 10:30 in the morning.


Chicken Saté

Seafood mornay with crepe

We spend the rest of the evening chilling on our private patio with a few drinks.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:41 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds monkeys trail birding heron egret vulture ibis pelican spoonbill whimbrel mangroves west_africa starling weaver cormorant tesco spicy gambia bird_watching nature_trail thick_knee sandpiper vervet_monkey the_gambia gambia_experience bakotu bakotu_hotel kotu observation_deck kotu_creek tesco_mini_market toilet_rolls Comments (7)

Lazy Day at Bakotu


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

David wakes up feeling flu-like this morning, and as I am still suffering badly with Photographer's Elbow, we decide to take it easy today, starting with a stroll down to the observation deck after breakfast.

Can't decide what to have for breakfast



The elevated deck looks out over mangroves and the now dry river beyond, with a boardwalk weaving its way along the edge of it.


I was hoping to spend some time here watching wading birds this morning, but my feathered friends seem to have other ideas.

Grey Headed Gull

Spur Winged Plover

Senegal Thick Knee

Not sure what is going on here, with one of the birds lying down completely flat as the other one approaches – some sort of mating ritual maybe?


Grey Headed Gull

After a somewhat disappointing bird watching session, we escape the heat and retire to the air conditioned room where we doze, chat and read for a while.

It is somewhat warm today

I end up lunching on my own as David is still not feeling very good (the most dull and bland burger ever!), and afterwards I take a stroll through the gardens. The hotel grounds are beautiful, very well laid out with lots of flowers and trees with meandering walkways.




Sacred Ibis

Western Red Billed Hornbill

I make a new friend

More relaxation follows, then drinks on our own little terrace outside our room before dinner.


Chicken Yassa - very, very tasty, more than makes up for the disappointing burger at lunchtime.

After dinner we return to our outside patio where we sit and chat to the lovely night guard for a while before tucking in for the day.

Posted by Grete Howard 12:26 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds flowers cat relaxation hot seagull chilling ibis west_africa gull gambia bird_watching thermometer thick_knee plover hibiscus bakotu bakotu_hotel kotu observation_deck pre_dinenr_drinks Comments (3)

Tanji - Bakotu

A change of scenery

View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

The driver who picks us up for the transfer is the most miserable Gambian we have met to date, and a poor driver to boot. His driving style is jerky and aggressive and he travels much too close to the vehicle in front. Thankfully the journey to Bakotu only takes half an hour. I recognise the turning to Kairaba Hotel where we stayed last time we came to the Gambia, some 23 years ago, although most places have changed beyond all recognition.

Bakotu Hotel

We turn off the main road and head towards a small strip of beachside hotels. After the last four nights, this is a bit of a culture shock. There are tourists. Lots of them. Shops, bars, restaurants. Hustlers. Bumsters. Advertising hoardings. Oh my!

Our first impressions of the hotel are not good. The driver 'dumps' us outside and when we enter the reception, it is full of cases with a number of departing guests milling around. We fight our way to the front desk and are allocated a room and a porter to take us there.

Straight through the reception is the pool area, with extensive gardens, pathways, plenty of greenery and lots of artefacts and statues.

I almost feel uncomfortable at the sight of all these semi-naked people and certainly very self-conscious of taking photos. The following images were taken the next morning when the hotel was much less busy.








Our Room

Our room is nice and bright, and we are delighted to find two single beds, which will be a real luxury after the last four nights in one of the most narrow double beds I have ever slept in.

I have just kicked my shoes off when the manager comes knocking, terribly apologetic. This is not our room. Our room is next door, the one with A/C. Oh goody. The bad news it is it not ready yet. Oh well.


There are a couple of armchairs and a table inside the room and a small patio outside with furniture too.


Our room on the left

While the staff sort out the room for us, we take a walk outside the hotel grounds and are immediately accosted by the hustlers. A simple “no thank you” suffices though, they are not as persistent and aggressive as I remember from our last visit.

When we return, the room is ready and our luggage is inside. Time for a shower – with hot water – such a luxury!

Making the most of the A/C, we spend the rest of the afternoon in the room, with a very welcome ice cream from the on-site store.


David is happy too – they have cider!


There is a restaurant and a café in the hotel, we opt for the Baobab Café this evening.


Gambian Groundnut Soup

Pulled Meat Croquettes with Hummous sauce

Sahel Curried Butternut with Coconut

Bourgogne Stew

Peach, Mango and Ginger Pie

The curry is nice, the rest is rather bland and mediocre. The other clientele are mainly chavs and Swedes which in some instances is one and the same.

As we leave the restaurant, we hear an almighty cacophony of frogs emanating from the pond. Mating frogs. What a racket!


We return to the room for more drinks before bed.

Posted by Grete Howard 12:04 Archived in Gambia Tagged gambia hustlers the_gambia tanji bakotu bakotu_hotel kotu touristy Comments (4)

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