Trip to the cultural forest Makasutu

ON THE AFRICAN ROADS

On Thursday, 29th of May, there was a holiday in The Gambia and the kindergarten was closed. Therefore Maja and Tanja decided to go to the Makasutu Culture Forest. We went to see the park already last week but unfortunately we were too late to enter it.

Our driver Lamin picked the girls up at 8 am and took them on a 45 minute drive along straight African roads. They admired interesting surroundings, the people and traffic, which is fascinating already by itself. Some goats, donkeys and cows were also not missing! After a long drive on the sandy road they came to the park. The girls already know how to bargain, so the guided tour fee was a little lower.

THE HISTORY OF MAKASUTU CULTURE FOREST

A guide called OusainouManjangwalked them to the Base camp in the middle of the park, where they had a morning drink: a coffee or green tea. Then they walked up a four storey view tower, from which you could see an endless plain with tall palm trees. The guide told us about the history of the Makasutupark. The story began in December 1992 when two Englishmen were looking for a spot in The Gambia where they could build a park in the Gambian wilderness. They found the place and managed to buy over a thousand hectares of land. Eventually 15,000 trees were planted and dozens of wells were dug. There was an old man who had already been living on that territory and was said to be a prophet or a holy man. He wanted to leave the park, but the Englishmen wanted him to stay – so he still lives there nowadays.

ON THE RIVER GAMBIA

They spent some time together listening to the sounds of kora, the local instrument, and African singing. Ousainou was telling them about his life in Africa, the girls told him about living in Europe. After that they went on a canoe ride among the mangroves and creeks. It was a small wooden canoe for approximately five people. On the shore they could see the monkeys called baboons, which were jumping and screaming around. There were a few locals swimming in the river. On the other side of the river the women with oysters were opening them. They make plaster out of oyster shells, which is then used for plastering houses, colouring and also as food for chicken (shells contain calcium).The continued on foot back to the Base camp.

IN THE WILD FOREST

On the walk through the forest they saw typical African trees and berries. The guide told them about their medicinal purpose which is still commonly used by the local people. They use different things – roots, leaves, bark and fruits. They could hear sounds of different animals: birds, monkeys … They even saw squirrels, lizards and big termite houses.

OLD AFRICAN FORTUNE TELLER

They came to a small wooden cottage with a few chickens around it. Inside the cottagesatan old man who is called to be a fortune teller. Tanja decided she wanted to know what her future will look like! The old man put a mirror in her hand and he looked into it. He held her hands and spoke in Mandinka language about what he saw. The guide translated everything. Then he said a prayer and it was finished. Maja also decided to see how her future will differ from Tanja’s.:) It was an unforgettable experience for both girls.

PALM WINE

They continued the walk through the forest. It lasted about one hour, but with the strong African sun it was quite exhausting. All tired they came to one place where some locals produce palm wine. They could taste it – it was like our grape must. One local man showed them how this juice is collected into pots. He climbed the palm treeusing a rope – it looked quite tough to do it.

BACK TO THE BAOBAB TREE

From that point they went back to the big baobab tree from the beginning of the journey. Surrounded with dogs, cats and monkeys they had lunch – fish, vegetables and rice. It was very tasty. At 2 pm Maja and Tanja finished their journey around the Makasutupark. On the way back home taxi driver Lamin drove them to the local market in Brikama town, where they could buy some nice and inexpensive African souvenirs.

Read more about Makasutu Forest by clicking HERE.