Dakar/Embark MY Harmony V
Late afternoon on board our mega-yacht MY Harmony V. Dinner tonight is on board, as are all of our meals for the next week. Late tonight we set sail southward towards the Saloum Delta.
M/Y Harmony V Meals: Dinner
Cruising – Saloum Delta/Djiffere/Joal-Fadiouth/Banjul
A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and also an Important Bird Area, the Siné-Saloum Delta comprises almost 700 square miles of the Senegalese coastal belt, being a mixture of open water, permanent islands and seasonal or tidal flats. Sailing through here this morning we’re sure to see some of the reserve’s many bird species, including the greater flamingo, Eurasian spoonbill, curlew sandpiper, ruddy turnstone, pink-backed pelican, and little stint in the mangrove swamps and mudflats lining the waterway — along with such aquatic animals as marine turtles, dolphins, West African manatees, and crocodiles. Known as the world’s most important breeding site for the royal tern, the delta also hosts scores of great white egrets as they overwinter. We visit the primitive fishing village of Djiffere and also the village of Joal Fadiouth, set on an island of clam shells that also are used in local buildings and crafts. Sailing on, we enter the 700-mile Gambia River, West Africa’s only waterway accessible to the Atlantic – and where salt water can be found as far as 100 miles inland. Late this afternoon we reach Gambia’s capital city of Banjul, a sleepy and picturesque seaport at the mouth of the Gambia River where it enters the Atlantic. Tonight we sail upstream to Tenada, overnighting on the river.
Cruising – Banjul – Bakau/The Gambia
The morning in Banjul will give you the opportunity to take the 1/2 day excursions offered to Bakau with its crocodile “katchikaly”, its Botanic Garden and a short Banjul Tour. After lunch, we leave Banjul and sail upstream. We stop at St. James Island in the middle of the Gambia River. The first settlers on the island arrived in 1651 and under the British rule it became an important slave trading post in The Gambia. In 1976 James Island became famous due to the author Alex Haley and its bestseller book “Roots” and the story of a slave, called Kunta Kinteh. The island was recently renamed Kunta Kinteh Island and is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. After disembarking by local tenders your local guide will tell you more about the history of James Island and afterwards you will have some time to explore this island by yourself. Late on the afternoon, we leave “Kunta Kinteh” and sail upstream to reach Tendaba. Mediterranean Night in Africa. Overnight at dock in Tendaba..
From the ship we take motor pirogues in order to reach Tendaba, located on the South Bank in the Lower River Division, our starting point of our morning optional excursion. It is a small fishing village of mainly Muslim faith with approximately 600 inhabitants whose main occupation is fishing. From there we will walk through to Batelling, a small village at the entrance to Kiang West National Park. The area boasts of over 250 species of birds; many of which are difficult to observe anywhere else. Other residents include Guinea baboons, bushbuck, warthogs, Senegal bushbaby and marsh mongoose. After a refreshing stop in Batelling, we will board an open safari truck which brings us back to Tendaba. On the way we pass again local villages where you get an impression of local life in The Gambia. In the afternoon, we are picked-up from the ship by motor pirogues for another optional excursion to the Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve. This reserve, lying across from Kiang West National Park features six major bolongs (creeks) that provide great birding and boating opportunities. Numerous rare and migratory birds also reside here including the Pel’s fishing owl, African fin foot and brown-necked parrot. Overnight docked in Tendaba.
Cruising – Gambia River – Kuntaur – River Gambia National Park/The Gambia
Early morning we leave Tendaba and sail upstream on the Gambia River all morning to reach Kuntaur. Early afternoon arrival to the bustling Gambian port town of Kuntaur, the last inland stop along the river that is navigable for ocean-going ships. Later in the afternoon we board a large motor pirogue for a 3 hours optional excursion cruise on The Gambia River. First we head to the southernmost tip of Baboon Island, one of the five islands of The Gambia National Park. There a local national park ranger is joining us onboard in order to give more information about the park and its fauna & flora. Then we turn, the motor pirogue slows down and sails slowly back to Kuntaur following closely the shores of Baboon Island. This island is home of the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project. If we are lucky from our motor pirogue we can closely observe the chimps with minimal intrusion. There is also the possibility of seeing hippos, crocodiles, Red Colobus, Green Vervet monkeys and also The Gambia’s famous birdlife. We return to Kuntaur where we are met by the “Kankurang” and a local dance group on the pier. Believed to have spiritual powers the “Kankurang” dispenses justice and wards off evil spirits. Overnight docked in Kuntaur.
Cruising – Kuntaur – Jangjanbureh – Kaur/The Gambia
This morning, our optional excursion by bus takes us to the ferry station of Janjanbureh. There we board the local ferry for a short cruise over The Gambia River to Janjanbureh. We continue our excursion with a visit of one of the oldest towns of The Gambia, formerly called Georgetown. During the walk you get an impression of this laidback town and see the residence of the governor, the market and the Methodist church with its school. Afterwards we take the ferry back and re board the bus to reach Lamin Koto. Through the generosity of Variety Cruises and of many of its clients, a new school building is being built. Later in the morning we stop at the mysterious stone circles in Wassu, a megalithic site believed to be a burial ground thousands of years ago. You will visit the little museum of this archaeological site, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. In the afternoon, after lunch, we sail downstream to Kaur a small fishing village on the banks of the Gambia. You will have the opportunity to walk around this small community and see how Gambians live today. Captains Farewell Dinner/Overnight in Kaur.
Cruising – Kaur – Banjul/The Gambia
We leave Kaur early in the morning and sail further downstream towards Banjul. Dolphins and other animal life will be sighted. Arrival in Banjul around 4pm. After formalities, later in the evening, we will sail out of the Gambia estuary into the Atlantic Ocean northwards to Dakar. Gambian Night with Kora instrument Concert. Overnight at sea to Dakar..
Disembarkation and transfer to the airport for departure to the UK or to your hotel as booked.