25.3.13

Senegal (5) - Cruising on the Senegal River


This will be my longest post about my trip to Senegal. I could have split it in several, but, considering the name of my blog, I believe I must soon return to talking a bit about Paris.

I had the pleasure to make a six days cruise on an old ship, “Bou el Mogdad”, cruising up the Senegal River, which actually serves as border between Senegal and Mauritania. The ship dates from around 1950 and served for decades as more or less only means of transport along the river, reaching as far as Mali. After a long interruption, it came back to the Senegal River in 2005 and serves now as a cruising ship. The cruise will bring you some 200 km (125 miles) up the river and goes slowly with no night navigation and with several stops and visits of natural reserves, towns, villages…  “Bou el Mogdad” has a nice patina of past times, is very well kept, has a very nice personnel, offers good eating and drinking… and nice company.




After a short navigation, the vessel reaches a barrage, Diama, and a lock, built to prevent salt water to penetrate the river.


The river is very wide in its lower parts.


As said, the about 50 passengers are frequently given the possibility to visit sites of interest along the river.  

The first stop was for the Djoudj Bird Sanctuary, a world heritage site, with some 400 bird species, dominated by pelicans (several thousands, bringing up their newborn), flamingos (too far away to be seen – low waters), cormorants… and also warthogs, alligators…






At Rosso, we could see the car ferry which assures the border passing between Mauritania and Senegal.


We reached the town of Richard Toll - Richard’s Garden in the local wolof language. JMC Richard was a botanist, who here made experiments with introduction of different vegetal species. We visited the ruins of an old little castle, originally built by a French governor, J-F Roger, later inhabited by the most famous governor, Louis Faidherbe, and then transformed to a monastery, a school… . It was guarded by a charming lady. We also visited a sugar factory and the surrounding sugarcane fields. Our wonderful cruising guide, Ansou, made us taste some sugarcanes.  



A later stop was for the little town Dagana, with a visit to a local school. What a pleasure to meet all the school children, all so enthusiastic in spite of tough conditions  – and all wishing to be photographed. Some of us left pencils and other material. When we left, most of the kids were on the quay greeting us farewell.
(Address: M. Alioune Mbodj, directeur d'école, Amadou Basse Sall, Dagana, Senegal - amadoubassesall@yahoo.fr)



We also made a rather long, very nice, walk through a beautiful landscape to reach a fula (peul) nomadic village with its primitive cottages, however quite cool inside and better equipped than what you first would have guessed. Smiling, wonderful people… again!







In another close-by village, I was spontaneously guided by this little girl, who showed her very rudimentary school “building” and followed me for a complete village tour. Once again, smiling people all over! We had a meal on the river banks in the evening and they all joined up, singing and dancing.
(M. Idrissa Diedhiou, Instituteur, Deguemléré, Poder, Senegal)





The final destination, before a return along the roads to Saint Louis, was the town of Podor, a previously major settlement with important port installations for trade of ivory, Arabic gum, slaves … Some of the port buildings have been nicely restored, as well as the Podor fortress . A walk around the town offered the sight of some interesting shops - a butcher’s shop, a telephone shop, a library (“Au Quartier Latin”). ..






Finally, I wish to show you shots of the banks, taken along the cruise – marshland in the beginning, then becoming drier, Sahel… Some photos, on the portside, show Mauritania, others on the starboard, Senegal. Beautiful landscapes, smiling, active people, fishing pirogues… 






 … and I must add a picture of one of the charming young ladies you find all over the country, selling necklaces, bracelets … in a very (smiling) convincing way. I brought a heavy load back.









18 comments:

Nadege said...

It must have been magical being there. Beautiful Senegalese with gorgeous smiles!

ALAIN said...

De bons souvenirs.

Cezar and Léia said...

Lovely smiles...thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures!
Léia

Thérèse said...

Quel tour! Un bien interessant voyage qui doit bien completer la vision que l'on a de ces pays africains si attachants.

JPD said...

This old ship seems to be a very civilised way of visiting Africa !
Last time I visited Senegal (in 1972), it was as a conscript in the french forces and I must say that it was less comfortable...

SusuPetal said...

Good for you! One can never have too many bracelets and necklaces!

Such colorful and exotic photos and there is no snow like still in Helsinki!

Cergie said...

Un voyage dans le voyage, cela me rappelle deux jours et une nuit que nous avons passé sur la marais de Kaw en Guyane, l'eau à la fois canalise et à la fois amène une grande richesse de vie naturelle ou humaine, l'eau c'est la vie !
Magnifique reportage et très belle première photo...

Anonymous said...

What can I say, Peter?
That you left me speechless with the beauty of this post?
Almost...
I managed to find enough voice to say a million thanks!!!
Maria

Synne said...

My goodness, your trips looks and sound so varied and wonderful! The photos of the birds, plants and animals along the river are som beautiful and interesting, and it feels special to get a look at the everyday life in the places you've visited. Thank you!

Studio at the Farm said...

Hi Peter. Senegal looks like such a fascinating and wonderful place to visit!!! I thank you so much for your photographic tour up the river - LOVED IT!!!

martinealison said...

Bonjour Peter,
Tout comme vous j'ai eu de la difficulté à boucler les photos de mon voyage... Il y a tellement à montrer.
Je n'étais pas certaine de vouloir retourner là-bas... Mais aujourd'hui je pense que j'aimerais bien y revenir avec un regard plus ciselé.
Merci d'avoir partager avec nous vos merveilleuses photos... Elles ont prolongé agréablement mon séjour...
gros bisous à vous

claude said...

Quelle magnifique série, Peter ! Que de souvenirs tu as rapporté de ce voyage !
J'aime bien la boutique de vente de téléphones portable.
Et puis c'est toujours sympa une croisière.
Merci de nous faire partager ce voyage.

Starman said...

The boat looks very nice. What language do they speak in Senegal?

JudyMac said...

What a wonderful travel experience, and for this armchair traveler a birds-eye view of a quite beautiful part of Africa and its people; can only imagine what it might be like to go there. How nice to see so many friendly, smiling faces. Encore! Encore!

Jeanie said...

Peter, these photos are amazing and those faces tell stories in themselves. That first shot of the ship in sunset--wow. And the birds... I can see why this had to be your longest of the Senegal posts -- how could you not have used every single photo here. Stunning.

Vagabonde said...

I looked at all your Sénégal pictures with pleasure – it reminded me of beautiful days spent there many years ago. Did you go to the pink lake ? Gorée is such a picturesque island – your pictures show its warm colors well. When I went there I just had a film camera so I enjoyed looking at your great photos.

Anonymous said...

Must have been an amazing trip. Brilliant pictures.
Thank you.
Lucy

lyliane said...

Superbe voyage chez et avec les gens du pays, j'adore...