For one week every year in november about 3 million Soufi muslims visit the mosque in the middle of Touba city, making it the second biggest muslim pilgrimage in the World, after Mecca. Touba is the holy City of Mouridism as its founder, Shaikh Aamadu Bambà Mbàkke was buried there. Today it is forbidden to consume alcohol and tobacco in the city and everywhere you turn you see his face plastered on every wall, car and window.
Getting there was a nightmare. Never have I ever seen so many people going in one direction, other than the refugees in the news channels. We picked up out local guide who got us through the crowded city and into the mosque and explained us all we wanted to know about the town, the pilgrimage and soufism. At the end of our tour he also took us to a outdoor TV studio where we were interviewed by the local news channel. At the end of the day I caught a taxi to Dakar and stayed a night with Muhammed and his friends who I met on the bus from Touba.
Muhammed and his brothers
Shell Island- a big island completely made up of seashells
Even though it was not quite an Okawanga experience, the Sine Saloum Delta in Senegal was worth a visit. There was no animals to see and the landscape was much like elsewhere but it was the interactions with the locals that made our stay there.
One of the days we took a pirogue trip out to a village to meet the chief of a nearby village, which was a woman claiming to be 98 years old. She seemed to quite like foreigners, especially the ones of us who had a beard, as she kissed us on our cheeks multiple times. On the island we also visited a school in the middle of a drawing lessons. The kids were eager to show us their chalkboard drawings and asked us to take pictures of them. Clearly they knew what we were, so it is probably a place where more tourists come by. Our guide was good at explaining and showed us what daily life there was like, from everything to people cooking and making new beds and houses.
On our second day we did another trip on the delta. This time to see some birdtime life and to visit the Shell Island, an island made of shells. This island had a top with a good view of the delta and a huge Beobab tree they were circumcising young boys in. We drove back in the pirogue around sunset through the still waters which made us all quite ready for bed..
Since roads had been improved greatly since Dragoman was last running tours in West Africa the Chinese had come and roads had improved greatly. Instead of driving for three days from Fouta Djallon to Bissau City we used three, which meant that we could spend four days in Cap Skirring instead of three. I would spend my birthday there and the tour leader would spend her birthday so we were all happy and ready for some celebrarion.
Even though Senegal is one of the more touristy countries in West Africa there were not as many around. My guess is that the country is still suffering from the impact of the ebola crisis that was going on two years ago. Even though they did not have any cases of it. Maybe thats why the locals were so friendly and welcoming to us there.
Even though I had rented a surfboard for the stay I did not catch any waves. The usual surfing spots were quiet so the days were just spent relaxing and enjoying restaurant meals instead of camping and cooking like we did on the road.