For our last day at Farakunku we decided to take it easy. I particularly wanted to spend a little time to show Claire some of her surrounds as she'd remained on site at the Lodge all week... and hadn't complained once bless her !
On the last morning I took her on the walk Alan and I had done the previous week down to Tujering beach.
There's not much to see down there, well besides sand and sea of course.
A distinct lack of people which might suit of you like a bit of space !
but there is a simple bar serving cold drinks and , I think, food too.
We wandered the dusty paths and then headed back to our base . I had realised that although I had had lots of opportunities I hadn't actually taken any decent shots of many of the garden birds so I decided that I would spend the afternoon doing just that.
Here for the record, some of Farakunku's finest !
and Bronze Mannikin
There were lots of them but I wanted a single male !
In fact I could have spent days here at Farakunku just getting the shots I was after of the local species. A detailed list of recorded species seen here is available if you ask but we didn't keep an individual one for ourselves.
An enjoyable day of semi relaxation was had by all before catching the flight home.
Now there's a point. To avoid the horrible overnight flight to Manchester, look at the Wednesday flights. I wished we had been staying a few more days to avoid the 4.30 am arrival at Ringway, especially in the middle of January when the weather can be horrendous.
Some other pointers that might be useful. Take cash not plastic. There are not many ATM's in The Gambia and your withdrawal limit is small. You can make multiple withdrawals but it's time consuming and expensive. You'll get a good rate for your £ notes, in fact by far the best rates I have ever had this time around. Between 68-69 delis per £1.
Most things are pretty inexpensive.. a 300cl beer can be anything from 50 dalasai upwards in a tourist bar , quite a bit less in a supermarket. A good meal should cost much less than £10 pp including drinks.
My personal favourite bird watching was at Kotu, Kartong, Brufut and Marakissa.
The trip out to Tendaba was both enjoyable and rewarding but you could do it in a day if you wanted to now the road is so good. An evening boat trip, which I'm told is the best time, could also be included but you would need to pre-book.
You could of course also use it as an overnight stop on the way to Georgetown too.
Equally you don't really need to go any further than around your local accommodation. The birding everywhere will keep you occupied !
Where to stay ? Well that's personal thing. I have heard derisory comments passed about those who choose to stay in the touristy areas when they are on birding breaks. Some believe the real Gambia can only be found if you stay away from there.
In my experience not the case at all and in all probability if I was only allowed to stay in one place for the whole of my stay I would probably go back to the old faithful. Kotu. It might be a little touristy but it's quiet enough for me, offers a choice of bars and restaurants and some excellent birding.
However, I am not bound by a single choice of venues if I don't take a package tour, and to be honest if you book in advance it is no more expensive to DIY and this gives you much more flexibility as to where you stay and how long for.
I thought Fararakunku was outstanding. Superb accommodation, excellent food and the organised birding trips excellent value. If you are out from dawn to dusk on trips this is ideal but if you like a change of scene each evening maybe you'll not like it as much as I did.
No matter where you go though you should have a great time. The birding is excellent, the welcome very warm. Forget the tales of "bumsters", the con artists that hassle you. They don't seem to be around anymore so you won't feel pestered although the bird guides themselves can be a bit pushy, particularly if you go around looking like David Attenborough complete with camera or binoculars.
The one thing I am certain of though is that you are perfectly safe and free to wander anywhere.
This country deserves your patronage, if you haven't already, give it a try.
I know I'll be back and it won't be long before that happens either.
I'm pretty certain that after his first visit Alan will return again too.
So much to offer, and just a 6 hour flight away!
Go for it.
Hope my blog has been both useful and enjoyable. Catch you again sometime