As our love for summer is never-ending, winter is a good time to be researching about new and exciting summer destinations. Leaving luxurious holiday types aside and in search of more genuine holiday experiences one might argue, we have arrived to West Africa and more specifically, cruising the rivers of West Africa. This could be a fascinating voyage of discovery, giving you the chance to experience something completely different for a change. And this can be very exciting! Mostly suited to the more culturally wired travelers and those looking for a bit of an adventure while on holiday, here are the top three reasons why you should discover the Rivers of West Africa on your next summer vacation.
A different side of Africa is revealed
When thinking about Africa what are the first images that come to mind? Probably deserts, savannas and sand dunes. Correct? Well, think again. The western part of the African continent is blessed with the rivers of Gambia and Senegal that bring great prosperity to its shores. The maze of waterways that stem from the Atlantic ocean and lead into the heart of Africa’s terrains make up a wonderful aquatic trail for tourists and offer striking scenic views along the way. There are mangroves, banto faros, wetlands and farmlands as well as gallery forests. Verdant riverbanks form the tapestry of landscapes that are beyond anticipation, and a handful of nature reserves and natural parks, such as Kiang West, Banjul, Abuko and Makasutu, that harbor a wide variety of wildlife that will enthuse you.
A curiously indigenous wildlife
The wildlife of West Africa includes some interesting species that you not usually associate with the continent. Think beyond lions, leopards, hyenas, giraffes, rhinos and other usual terrestrial mammals you have seen in documentaries. The rivers of West Africa are home to two dolphin species, the Atlantic bottlenose and humpback dolphins, as well as the local manatee, a peculiar, docile creature that resembles walrus, commonly known as the sea cow. Numerous primate species as well as various amphibians and reptiles, including three types of crocodile, two of which are considered endangered. What is highly notable is the high number of bird species. They are over 500 kinds of birds in West Africa that make it a top bird-watching destination, if that is something you are interested in. Many of these wildlife examples can be experienced up close and personal by paying the above mentioned nature reserves a visit.
A simple yet fulfilling way of life
The local people, although not privileged with living in a developed country like the majority of travelers, have found happiness in the simple things in life. Family and community bonds are of the utmost importance while their livelihoods revolve around working with and on the land. A rural people overall, they are primarily fishermen, craftsmen and farmers so it is vital that foreign aid continues to enter the region to stimulate the economy. Despite any advanced infrastructure, you will notice that the people appear to be happy, and they are usually seen with smiles on their faces, something that is rare to see in the more developed, western world. A visit to the local towns and villages, such as Janjanbureh (also known as Georgetown), Kaur or Banjul, will make you question the true meaning of life, where money is a means to life, not the meaning of life. This can be extremely humbling and perhaps what we need in order to put our rather frenzied lives into perspective.