Birds and breakfast: A Dawn River Trip

Here at Balaba, we’re only a few kilometres from the border with southern Senegal. Ten minutes’ drive and we’re in the border village of Kartong, which lies next to the Allahein River which forms the border. In fact, we have to go through immigration control every time we go to buy fish at the beach!

But one of my favourite activities is to go for a dawn river trip to see the birds, followed by breakfast on the beach. It’s one of the attractions that we offer to our tourists, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been myself. So since our friend Naomi, together with her family, was staying with us for a few days, we decided to do the trip.

It meant Lamin and I were up before six, boiling water for tea and collecting plates, cups, knives etc, together to take with us. We also need mats to sit on, all kinds of spreads for our bread, and of course, I needed my camera and binoculars. The birds are always quite active in the mornings, and there are fabulous birds such as the African Fish Eagle and ospreys to see.

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Real live leopard prints

Yesterday evening we went to visit one of my favourite spots. The Allahein River at Berending is the most amazing landscape, with a meandering river that snakes its way through the sandy flood plain. The river is the border between Gambia and the Casamance region of Senegal, and during the dry season it is surrounded by stunning salt flats, and bordered by unspoilt forest. It’s a haven for wildlife, especially birds, and there’s a fantastic variety because there are waders and river birds, some seabirds as it’s quite close to the sea, raptors such as osprey and African harrier hawks, and woodland birds too.

The beautiful landscape by the Allahein River at Berending
The beautiful landscape by the Allahein River at Berending

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