My 3 favourite Gambia beach walks 👣

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Beach walks, walking is good for the soul and for your general well-being.
It’s also great for your dog and if you didn’t bring one on holiday with you then we have a couple of very obliging mutts at the lodge called 7 and Yoga which are always on hand to accompany you.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”2960″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Gambia beach walk 1 of 3 is the walk Linda ( my partner ) and I probably do most and this is a 7 km 2-hour walk to The Rainbow Beach bar at Sanyang. It’s so simple to get to, just a short 25-minute stroll to the beach and turn right. We often comment on how we don’t see anyone on the way and often it is just Linda, myself and of course 7. On arrival, you will find several bars to choose from but Rainbow Beach Bar is our favourite offering traditional cultural wrestling each Sunday between 4 pm and 6 pm.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”2946″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Gambia beach walks 2 of 3 is in the opposite direction and is shorter at 5km and a little under 1 and 1/2 hours. This takes you to Gunjur Beach where you can visit Gunjur Project and hear about the great work their volunteers are doing in the local community or visit a Turtle sanctuary and see how Gambia Parks and Wildlife are planning the future for Gambia’s turtles and marine life. Stop by at Sankule Beach Bar and meet Kaddi who has been entertaining and looking after her visitors there for more than 20 years.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”2944″ img_size=”medium”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]Gambia beach walks 3 of 3 is the longest walk of the trio and is recommended that you taxi to your start point in Kartong. This walk will take circa 7 hours if you stop off for lunch at one of the beach bars. It brings you past both Nemasu Lodge and Sandele Eco-Retreat and in total will clock up circa 18km. It also has you passing the new Mosque which was built under Jammeh’s rule, quite spectacular!.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_single_image image=”2942″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]All walks can start at either end by arranging a taxi to drop off or pick up, Happy strolling 😀[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Yoga every day in Gambia with Sue

Yoga retreats at Footsteps eco-lodge Gambia | Sue Marshall teaching Vinyasa Flow yoga

“My name is Sue Marshall and I will be teaching yoga each day at Footsteps in this coming season!

 

I first started visiting Gambia three years ago with my partner Keith Wagstaff and we fell in love with this wonderful little West African country so much that we are now building a small house here next to Footsteps. My partner Keith has started a lighting project which helps enable school children do their homework at night called Sunny Night Light which Footsteps is also supporting.

 

I am delighted to have the opportunity to practise Yoga at Footsteps. I have been teaching yoga for over sixteen years in the UK and enjoyed leading several classes last year whilst we were staying at Footsteps.

 

Vinyasa or Pilates ?

I will cater for all levels of expertise so if it’s something you have been wanting to try but never managed it, here is the perfect place to start, amidst the beautiful grounds of Footsteps in their new purpose built yoga shala and also the possibility of sunset sessions on the lovely deserted beach which stretches for miles. If you have been doing yoga for some time and are familiar with the postures, I will be teaching a vinyasa style flow class suitable for all levels of experience.

 

Pilates will also be available for those familiar with this type of bodywork or have a go at both!

 

Any Questions ?

Come and treat your body to some winter sun and enjoy stretching your body in the heat in a very beautiful and peaceful setting.

 

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below and I will happily answer them for you 🙂 You can also email us at yoga@footstepsgambia.com.

 

Help body and  mind through the winter!

Treat yourself to yoga and experience the wonders of Gambia, it will help you through the winter and with the Gambian sun and yoga your body will feel great too! I hope to see you soon!”

Lets take a walk off the beaten track…

Gambia photography | Gambian walk

Coming November 2015 by popular demand are some designated mapped walks which will suit pretty much anyones ability or desire. They will of course start and end at Footsteps and can be accompanied by one of our staff or can be done easily on your own depending on how you feel. Gambia is a very safe place to be and the locals are ultra friendly, especially to guests staying at Footsteps.

You will always know your on the right trail because we give you a handy pocket sized trail map and have marked each trail with our trademark Footsteps.

There are currently 5 trails with more planned and each trail is colour coded:

 

Yellow steps

20-40 minutes: inside Kunyoong Forest park. Great for that early morning stroll before breakfast.

Green steps

45-60 minutes: through Kunyoong forest park and the christian village.

Blue steps

75-90 minutes: into Gunjur village visiting its market, school, mosque and a village compound (accompanied if you wish to visit compound and school).

Orange steps

90-120 minutes: to the beach and on to Gunjur fishing centre where you will meet the local fishermen bringing in their catch and mending their nets. Also see a fish smoking business and even have some for lunch (you can take a bush taxi home).

Red steps

150-180 minutes: through Sanbuyan, a village built and almost entirely funded by Danish charitable donations. Then on to the beach and to Sanyang’s Rainbow Beach Bar, a favourite with our guests on Sundays, when they have traditional cultural wrestling between 4 and 5 pm.

 

If you would like to experience some of the longer walks but feel that maybe they are too strenuous we can arrange a donkey and cart to take you, meaning that you can walk and rest when you feel tired letting your four legged companion take the strain. (This would be accompanied by the donkeys keeper.)

A day at the Horse and donkey trust

Charity | Horse and donkey trust | Recovering patient

The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT) is a small charity, registered in both the UK and The Gambia. Founded in 2002 by the late Stella Marsden and her sister Heather Armstrong its aim is to reduce rural poverty in The Gambia through improving the health, welfare and productivity of working animals.

 

With such an admirable ethos we just had to see for ourselves and on a recent expedition from the coast to Georgetown together with seven other guests decided to visit the project.

GHDT is roughly about three and a half hours drive from Footsteps with some great sights along the way, passing through towns and villages large and small along a mostly good road we arrive at our destination and are greeted by Heather, a matriarchal homely woman with kind eyes and a beaming smile.

 

On first meeting Heather, she immediately adopts everyone into her circle making sure we all had something to drink and the promise of some food after her tour of the project. She obviously has a deep love for all animals and talks of them as one would a very close friend.

She explains the way to ensure animals are looked after correctly is to emphasise the benefits of keeping a healthy horse or donkey, telling us that a healthy working animal can increase a farming family’s income by up to 500% and buying an animal is a big investment for a family. If the animal becomes sick or dies its not only the animal that suffers, but its owners suffer too. The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in Africa and is unable to provide all the veterinary support that the farmers require, so when the animals become ill, sometimes the owners are simply unable to find help for it.

Keeping horses and donkeys healthy in The Gambia is a real challenge; insect borne diseases such as Sleeping Sickness (Trypanosomiasis), African Horse Sickness, and tick fever are all too common and when these problems are combined with poor nutrition and management caused by lack of knowledge and poverty, the results can be disastrous for the farmers.

 

Alongside Heather we meet several young vets from all over the world, the project relies greatly on the donation of their skills and time. While on our tour of the facility we saw a donkey with severe injuries to its leg which was receiving treatment whilst under heavy sedation and while difficult to watch it was fascinating to see this group of caring young vets working to help the injured animal.

Before leaving the project and returning back to the coast Heather told us:

“We believe in providing the Gambian people with the skills and knowledge to prevent and solve their own problems, creating a long term, sustainable solution. We rely heavily upon dedicated volunteers who offer their time and services to help us, and we employ a team of local Gambian staff. The GHDT is a small charity that has had many great achievements, but to continue this work your support is urgently sought. We need your help and we make every single penny count. Our aims are achieved through a variety of projects including education, community, vets and show.”

 

We all had a fantastic day visiting The GHDT, the drive there and back was fun and interesting with commentary from our driver Lamin. Once there the positive energy that exists within the project and its volunteers will leave you feeling exhilarated and happy you chose to visit such an inspiring place.

While holidaying at Footsteps you can enjoy a day at The GHDT by booking in advance through our website or alternatively arrange whilst at the lodge through David or the general manager Dodou.

If you would like to make a donation today online please go here.

An interview with Lamin Bojang, Entrepreneur

Gambia activity | treasure hunt | Lamin Bojang

Tell me about your work in Gunjur, how it benefits the village of Gunjur and what your plans are regarding your proposed new project of starting a museum there.

Thank you David, my work is a birding guide, I have more than 10 years working with bird enthusiasts from all over the world showing them where to find their wish list of species, and I also discuss the importance of the area’s environmental preservation and demonstrate how we contribute to that preservation as part of the day’s activity.

 

You have in your spare time been working on another project, tell me about that.

I first began my plans for The Gunjur museum building for cultural heritage and environmental preservation, some years before I came to Footsteps as a birding guide. The idea is to create the communities first Cultural Heritage Museum for the benefit of researchers, students, tourists, locals and future generations.

 

Why is this so important to you Lamin, I remember when we first met and you seemed to me like a man who would have had more pressing things to spend his hard earned cash on?

David, our history is disappearing, our traditional languages are not written languages but spoken only, with no central record of historical events the culture of past generations is being lost, I won’t let that happen, our culture is too important. The history of the area known as Gunjur has been narrated by our forefathers and passed from one generation to the next.

This oral history tells us that the first people known to have settled in this area were Bianunkas surname Sanyang of the Biyaro tribe. They settled near a small lagoon close to the Atlantic Ocean called Bolong Fenyo which is now protected by the community as a wild life reserve. The lagoon was believed to be an object of worship and it said that they used to sacrifice a man to the lagoon every year. The Sanyangs still have extensive land holdings in the area of the original settlement.

The second clan which settled this huge territory, but a different location were the Darboe’s. This clan was believed to be more powerful than the Biyaro neighborhood, and were settled somewhere around what is known today as Senga forest. They used to worship idols at a place close to their dwelling place known as Sebindinto, the practice which is still done by the Darboe’s today. They believe that if you ask the idols for anything your request will be answered and now on special day’s people come from all over Gambia to join them in their worship. As said earlier, because of their power, they hold authority over the extensive land, and called their settlement Amesang, named after the head of their clan who led them to this place.

The third clan to arrive was the Touray’s and Sahos led by a man known as Ma Tora Toray (Sheik Ousman Touray). History tells us that this Islamic saint dreamt of a place of blessings where he would settle, where his progeny and followers would prosper and multiply. He set off from his birthplace in Mali with his family and many followers searching for the place. When he finally arrived near the Darboe’s village of ameseng he saw things he had seen in his visions. Ma Tora Touray met with the Darboe’s who granted him permission to settle. He named his new settlent Gunjur after his native village in Mali.

The Touray’s practiced their Islamic faith and soon the recitation of the Quran began to attract the Darboe’s children who were not believers of Islam. Gradually, even their elders grew interested and later converted to Islam by Ma Tora. Eventually, the Darboe’s joined Ma Tora living in Gunjur because their interest in Islam and inter marriage started, the village became one of the three biggest villages in The Gambia which is why it became the district headquarters of Kombo South. In this way, the new settlement of Gunjur grew and became the dominant settlement in the area. The Darboe’s were made the village heads of Gunjur. They in turn accepted the Touray’s as imams due to their knowledge of the Quran. Later the Jannehs arrived at the invitation of the Sahos. As the Sahos were charged with the apportioning of things belonging to or affecting the village, the Jannehs had to help their hosts with this responsibility. Up to this day, the Jannehs still have this role in the community. The next important clans to arrive were the jattas . All the other clans came much later.

So why Gunjur?

The cultural village of Gunjur is located on the west coast of The Gambia, thirty kilometers away from the capital city, Banjul. The village now holds a varied population of Mandinkia, Fula, Wolof, Jola, Karoninka, Manjago,Balanta, and other tribes. The Mandinka were the first to settle and the largest tribe followed by the Jola. Due to the introduction of Islam in the 17th century, Gunjur is still a predominantly a Muslim community with some Christian and animists . Gunjur is one of the oldest and biggest villages in the Gambia, rich in culture and history. But since the beginning of this significant village, there is no proper historical record keeping of the village, no base line data, or museum so its people can learn of their heritage.

There were many wars waged before and after the Gambia was colonized by the British and yet none of the weapons or artifacts were kept for historical references with regard to Gunjur. Example Ebrima Kombo Sillah was a native of Gunjur and a Jihadist ( holy wars) warrior who waged various battles all around Kombo areas in the 18th century to establish Islam in the region he fought with Brikama, Busumbala but was defeated by the British colonials who asked him to stop the war against non believers., he ran to Senegal where he finally died and his tomb and is visited by the Touray family every year, but none of his materials were kept at in a certain place or museum whereby everyone can have access to them . He was a very significant man in Gambian history, he even has a street named after him (Kombo Sillah Drive) and a local historical syllabus was included in primary school on Ebrima kombo Sillah and others…

The world is modernizing and changing every day, many things are changing especially among the youth. The Gambia is no exception. We feel it necessary to preserve our cultural heritage and history for the benefit of our young ones. A step toward this preservation would be a village museum where historical information and materials could be amassed and preserved in one place. Since Gunjur is located along the coastline, it has a comfortable climate and relatively unspoilt landscape; it attracts people from the interior as well as Europeans. This has resulted in lodges along the coast which attracts tourist. The coming of tourists has led to exposure of local youth to foreign ideas and lifestyles. There needs to be a counter balance, a cultural museum can perform this function.

The cultural heritage of Gunjur did not develop in a vacuum. It arose in close conjunction with the natural environment and our museum will reflect that by featuring exhibits on the ecology found in the area. This will help educate visitors and locals alike about the importance of keeping our biological heritage.

 

That was detailed and very interesting Lamin, tell me, do you have a project development plan of how much money is needed in order to achieve your dream.

Yes, the cost to see the realization of The Gunjur Museum Building is now left with 150,000 dalasi.

 

It’s getting close then, let me tell you Lamin that through some very generous donations by Rolf Soerby, Sverre and Aase Marie Leksboe from Norway who recently sent 15,000 Norwegian kroner with Linda Veraasdal from Ethical Travel Portal which at an exchange rate of 6/1 takes you 90,000 dalasi closer to your dream. How does that make you feel?

I cannot put into words how happy I feel at this moment David, thank you so much, thank you and Linda and Sverre, Aase and Rolf, my wonderful friends from Norway, thank you Footsteps.

 

I can’t think of anyone who deserves to succeed more than you do Lamin, The very best of luck to you my friend…

Final Thought
While speaking with Lamin, I am sure he will succeed. Anyone wishing to help whilst visiting The Gambia please contact us!