On my first weekend in Saint Louis, I went to visit the National Park of Niokolo Koba, province of Velingara (south Senegal, close to Gambia).
I travelled through 508km; by car, 43ºC and no air conditioning.
The landscapes on the way were great, though the road was the worst ever seen, we spend nearly 8 hours to arrive to our hotel in Tambacounda.
It didn’t seem Senegal, the vegetation was incredible, green everywhere.
Once we arrived there….
… the guide told us no one had entered the park in a month. Great start! The roads inside the park were unridable and everything looked absolutely abandoned. We had to clear up the path several times in order to ride through.
Even with the difficulties we faced and the high temperatures, the landscapes and the nature were amazing.
When we arrived to the hotel inside the Park (hotel Simenti) there was nobody there. They were about to close, so we couldn’t even get a drink. Anyway, the scenery from such heights was magnificent, without crocodiles but magnificent…
Besides this, our idea of Safari was far behind from being real… the only animals we got to see were monkeys, deers, a leopard inside a cage and some phacochoerus (the wild pig from the Lion King) and several types of birds.
The park was badly kept, there weren’t nearly animals and in general, it was not worth traveling 8 hours.
The conclusion I took of this trip was that generally, Senegalese people don’t look after their country. All cities and villages are filthy and no one cares about doing a good maintenance of anything (even of their properties). It’s true the majority don’t have money to do this, but their mentality has to change, starting with the corrupt politics that accept bribery to live in a great mansion in the center of Dakar instead of using the money to grow as a nation.
This country has an enormous potential and you can find huge opportunities here. But before that, a lot of things have to be done… and changed.