[ Saint Louis, Senegal]
Late on the afternoon of March 25th I found myself in Diawling National Park, running out of daylight and boxed in by the Senegal River on one side, and a bevy of rather intimidating Warthogs on the other. This was my first experience with wildlife on the continent.
The gendarme at the park entrance told me there was a “campsite” at around the 25km mark, and so I rode through my exhaustion, eventually reaching a small opening where the river crossed under the road. Here was a small fishing camp (for-show, it seemed) with a few men and their donkey carts, a commanding older woman, and an old man giving me the once over. When I asked about camping, I was told that I could, but that it was abandoned after dark and that I’d be safer and happier if I would join them in their home village, about six kilometers away. Of course I accepted the invitation, with many thanks, and one evening turned effortlessly into two days.
Two days. Deep in the heart of a national park. Staying with locals in a village where tourism is unknown. This is precisely the sort of experience I signed up for when I came to Africa.
I can ‘t really do it justice in limited space, with limited words, but it was phenomenal. I hope you enjoy this tiny sampling of the experience.