By Yunus S Saliu
It was another remarkable bimonthly domestic educational tour for different Diplomats in Destination Gambia, packaged and powered by the Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard), a trip that is always full of adventure and fun, that made The Gambia a true Smiling Coast of Africa.
BIRD WATCHING VIA BOAT TRIP
On this two-day educational tour, Diplomats were on a trip full of activities to a few different places within the Tourism Development Area (TDA), though this time not the history, varied cultures, but birdwatching via boat trip at the popular Kotu Conservation Reserve, Monkey Park, the National Museum, Arch 22 up to the Sacred Katchikally Crocodile Pool where you can touch live crocodiles and take pictures with them in their serenity. And also another boat trip from the Denton Bridge to Lamin Lodge with some other tours which include a stop at the honey factory at Nyambai, Brikama Craft Market, and the Palm wine tapper’s farm all these mixed with hospitality.
Taking off from the Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard), for a short trip to the Kotu Creek Rice Field for bird watching which starts as early as 8:30 am, thus early morning and towards sunset is a better time to have a good watch of different birds at creeks.
The trip started with an introduction of the travel and tour writers to the Diplomats onboard by a hardworking and indefatigable young amazing Mamou Suwaneh, Senior Officier Marketing Communication at the GTBoard while our happy smiley bus driver, Demba drove us happily to the creek and throughout the two-day activities.
Aboard the boat, here comes the voice of one of the boat rowers announcing himself to welcome us on board and give a brief note of the trip while also answering some questions about the creek, types of birds to find at the creek, and other activities taking place in this popular creek.
In his salutation, “Good morning folks and welcome on board as we sail to the Kotu Creek Rice Field, and I am Baba Galleh Bah, your guide and captain on this boat trip…”
This boat trip at Kotu Creek for birdwatching normally takes an hour, that’s 30 minutes in and 30 minutes out of the creek, though additional time can be added based on negotiation.
The creek is very famous, especially among the tourists that are birdwatchers. It is the best spot for birding and a popular place among birders as long as birding is concerned on the Gambia coast.
Looking at both sides of this creek, the green vegetation you will see are the mangroves which are quite essential to the rivers hence 35% of the forest is mangroves in destination Gambia. It is worth knowing that this beautiful and calm Kotu Creek is not far from the popular Fajara Golf Course.
Also, the mangroves are important to the rivers they protect water from floating to the land or road and they are sheltered because the birds are using them for nesting and other purposes. More so, oysters are clipping on these mangrove roots and they are visible during the low tide but not during high tide. At the Kotu Creek Rice Field, you might not be able to see more of the oysters clipping to the mangrove but they are noticeable at other creeks that are deeper in The Gambia. Among other usefulness of the mangroves is that its flowers are used for tie and dye which will never fade from the materials that you apply them.
At Kotu Creek, a good sanctuary to watch birds, there are 60 to 70 species of birds to see or watch, especially during the low tide when they can interact with the mudflat to get what to eat and also walk on it.
Birders and photographers find it very convenient there because it is quite ideal for photography you can do photography and footage conveniently with quite a lot of different birds at the spot.
It is always convenient rowing as a boat or dugout canoe will not carry more than five at maximum especially when having those that have not experienced dugout canoe before, it could be reduced to three including the rower.
The season just kicked off, on your visit to the destination let bird watching via boat trip at the Kotu Creek be part of your itinerary.
Welcome on board!