We arrived in good time at 5 o’clock with a short ferry trip to the island and booked into our separate hotels. We then met up at Liz and Peter’s compound with the other new volunteer’s Lucy and Kate who are visiting for the weekend from Soma and Phil for a chat and a much needed cold drink. An hour later we left to shower and change as we were all meeting later for a buffet style evening meal at the hotel. The late nights had finally caught up with Abigail and Bradley so after eating they were quickly settled in bed for the night. We had another couple of drinks before asking for the bill. This proved to be an argumentative time with the manager as they had charged us full price for the children’s meals and were also adding on extra money for the three bedroom room much to our disgust. We paid the bill for food and drinks and finally went to bed with things still unsettled hoping to settle the price of the accommodation in the morning.
Monday, 26 April 2010
I was glad when it was time to get up as I had had a very sleepless night, suffering with a headache, stomach cramps and dizziness, as I got up I had to make a rush to the bathroom to be sick. Feeling much better we ate a little breakfast of tapalapa with jam and then set off for the reserve gates. At the park gates we paid our entrance fee and also had to pay for a guide to accompany us within the park. The guide only spoke French and turned out to be a waste of money as our driver spotted more animals.
Unlike Fatala game reserve this was much wilder with lots of trees, undergrowth and savannah grassland we found this much harder to spot the wildlife. We were taken down a bumpy track, cutting its way among the trees to our hotel. The plan was to stop on route if we saw any wildlife. Ten minutes into our journey we saw a large warthog at the side of the road this was to be one of many we would see over the next couple of days. Further along a group of baboons ran across the track then sat and watched us from termite mounds. The track opened out to a waterhole where we stopped to look at a variety of animals, bird’s antelopes, baboons and warthogs.
After a couple of hours we reached the Simenti Hotel within the reserve where we would be staying this evening. We checked in and where shown to our rooms we were pleased when we saw the air conditioning unit on the wall as it was so much hotter up country than down on the coast. The Simenti Hotel was in a lovely position nestled overlooking the river Gambia and consisted of a block of apartments which were quite ugly to look at and much quainter round huts which is where we were staying. I was still not feeling well so I laid on the bed for half an hour until we were to meet up again to go further on into the reserve.
Back in the jeep we set off travelling for about an hour to another camp where we ordered lunch feeling so unwell I decided not to order anything. The jeep took us further on into the bush, the guide then stopped the jeep and asked us to follow him on foot to the river Gambia. We climbed down a slight incline to the waters edge. At the river there was the remains of a makeshift bridge which was to enable vehicles to cross to the other side. We looked up and down the river for any wildlife. Paul suddenly spotted in the distance up river some movement, we quickly climbed back into the jeep to go further on. Once at the sight we quietly walked towards the river. I was so ill by now and had to stop on route to be sick yet again which was so embarrassing. As we neared the river there was a clearing where we could see down to the waters edge. This is when we got our first sighting of Hippopotami, there were about ten with their heads just above the water. Occasionally they would disappear and you could see their silhouette only to then resurface for air. Unfortunately I just needed to sit down I managed to find a tree stump in the shade. I was sweating, having severe stomach cramps, feeling sick and very thirsty I just wanted to go back to the hotel. Once back in the jeep Marielle gave me some rehydration tablets which we quickly mixed with water for me to drink. We eventually headed back to the camp for lunch. Whilst the others sat and ate I was given one of the cabins to lie down in and rest. I immediately stripped off to my pants to cool down as I felt so hot. All I wanted was a drink of pop which Paul brought me, I drank this straight away and still needed more. I spent the next hour and a half lying on the bed dozing and drinking a litre of water and another bottle of pop and still I wanted more to drink. Whilst dozing monkeys were busy running about the camp and trees, disturbing leaves which were then falling on the roof of my hut. I was glad when we headed back to our hotel, once there I showered and laid on the bed to try and get some sleep as we were booked on a river boat at 4.30pm.
Feeling much better I made it on the boat we went up river and managed to see some crocodiles, baboons water bucks, dykes, and other antelopes grazing at the waters edge. We then turned to go down river, after a good thirty minutes we spotted four Hippopotami’s in the water up a head, the driver turned the engine off so we could sit and watch. They kept popping up from the water to take a breath so mostly submerged. I managed to get some photos but the sickness had returned so I decided to lay down and rest. We arrived back at the hotel two hours later and in time to have a drink before sitting down to dinner. I just craved a fruit salad to eat so passed all my dinner across to Paul. I decided to go off to bed hoping I would feel better in the morning and annoyed that I had missed most of the day.