Bassari country. After leaving behind the most important national park in Senegal,Niokolo Koba, we arrived to Kedougou, the largest city in the southeast of the country and barely 2 hours from Niokolo. Kedougou is the main entrance to Bassari Country and it is the typical city that is better to miss, since except for its market, in order to collect supplies, the city is one of the many sad and dusty cities that Senegal has. Come on, it's best to go out on legs.
To tour the Bassari Country there are several possibilities. Rent a 4 × 4 With a guide, rent a motorcycle for about 15,000 XOF per day or go in your rental car if you do not "cough" on dirt or mud tracks. There is also the possibility of making the route by bicycle, since the roads are flat and do not present excessive difficulty. There the tracks are red earth, with large potholes and sometimes with the occasional river or unexpected overflow. In fact, being in rainy season On one occasion when returning from trekking we found the road cut due to a flood. Africa is what it has, and with patience, we wait about 3 hours, and with a bit of value we cross the river, in total, if a truck full of goats and motorcycles manages to cross a 100m channel, why not a Land Cruiser of the 90s?.
To visit the villages it is advisable to go with a guide, especially if you want to understand their culture and religion, although you can do without it if you wish. In Bassari you will see guides that carry things for children, even tourists, but I do not share this kind of thing because they pervert the people who receive them. Nowadays children don't expect a gift from you, they just want to laugh with you and if you take them a picture, be able to see yourself on your camera.
We decided to count the services of a guide in this section of our adventure in Senegal, Alpha Diallo, to know from within the incredible cultures that still exist in Bassari Country and by the way, do some small trekking through its villages and the waterfalls of the only mountainous area that Senegal has.
The guide has a good thing, it scares the heavy ones. There are not as many as in other countries, but it can be perfectly in the top ten.
Trekking through the country Bedik. Andjel - Iwol - Ibel
We arrive in 4 × 4 to the base of the mountain where Andjel and Iwol are located from Kedougou. Andjel It is the first town that is visited in this trekking, small, with not many houses but with two beautiful Baobabs on a hill from where you can take a picture of the entire town.
The second Iwol, is possibly the most bell villagefrom Bassari Country. With a multitude of small huts, surrounded by baobabs and hidden in the mountains is the typical place that has something, perhaps it would say magic, since it was able to "force" us to pause for several hours under its ceiba trees.
Iwol is a town ofAnimists, religion that is believed to venerate anything that comes from the natural world, such as water, rocks or simply a mountain, giving soul to each of them. In addition to animism, in some other town it is already possible to see the occasional incursion of the Catholic religion, and non-muslim like most of the country, but at the moment it does not seem to succeed among the elderly and yes but in isolation among the youngest.
Coincidentally we had the opportunity to see a party that takes place every 5 years called the girls party, a party in which young women of age to have a boyfriend set out for 3 days to find handsome gentlemen. In that period they dress with their best clothes, sing beautiful songs and dance under two incredible ceibas. I would not know how much time to say, but they could be dancing and singing the same song more than an hour in a row since simply observing them made our time become a background.
In addition to the girls party, almost every year it is possible to see the boys doing the initiation rite, which consists of moving from small life to adult life. If I could speak their language I would tell them to stop being silly, that it is better to stay a child and live like Peter Pan….
In order to do this rite, the Bassari chiefs decide that children between 13 and 15 participate, entrusting them with tasks such as the collection of millet, firewood, building huts and even teaching them respect for the elders and the rules that govern the town.
In addition, both in Iwol and Ibel it is possible to see their people working in the field, women making millet beer in their cauldrons and children playing under some imposing baobab or ceiba. These imposing trees seem out of some story, since they are immense and especially majestic.
The route through these towns is very simple, although in the dry season there is a heat to die for. In our case, the rainy season, the heat was bearable accompanied by a green mantle and thick vegetation, of course the best moment. The route ends in I Bel, on the other side of the mountain, but once Iwol is seen, Ibel almost goes unnoticed.
Trekking waterfalls of Segou and Dindefello
We slept in a camp near the waterfall, right next to the border with Guinea, in the town of Segou. Of course it was the closest place to visit the waterfall, although shabby among the craters, since the trail left the same camp.
The waterfall of Segou It is the least visited and we witnessed it, since we saw no one except our shadows and the occasional baboon screaming incessantly. The route lasts just 2 hours for the outbound and an hour and a half for the return, very easy and almost all flat.
The road to the waterfall initially runs through farmland with the occasional cathedral termite mound and a path where chimpanzees occasionally inhabit. On the way we could see some mongoose and the occasional baboon, which by the way, there are as many in Senegal as doves in any Spanish square ...
After walking among slippery rocks along the river we reach the waterfall, where it is possible to take a small bath. It is not as large as Dindefello's, but more water falls and there is no one in sight ...
The route to the waterfall of Dindefello part of the village also of the same name, right next to the main camp, not far from the town square. It is curious how they organize to put a table football in the middle of the square, Real vs. Barsa ?, sell bread and watch their elders walk or their children play. It is one of the most tourist villages in the area, although it may not seem like it, and the route too, since it is the most traveled path by the 'white man' ... In fact it was the only trekking where we could see them ...
The waterfall has a fall of about 100m and is the best spot for a good swim in the Bassari Country. As in the Segou waterfall, it runs along a small path next to the river, but this time it is accompanied by huge amounts of garbage, a classic of the country and unfortunately they have for a while ... What if they presented themselves to the Guiness ?.
Trekking from Bandafassi to Ethiwar
In Bandafassi We slept in the Le Bedick camp, a basic camp and at least it had a cup and not a hole to do your little things ... That same night it was raining to the seas, but the dawn gave us the classic reception of the rainy season, a clear sky . From there we took a path that climbed through farm fields to make way for the village of Ethiwar In the top of the mountain. In the center of the east town there is a Ceiba split by the wind and very few people, since in the rainy season most of the inhabitants during the day come down from the mountain to cultivate the fields.
We continue climbing the mountain to reach the highest point in the area, a set of black marble rocks where you can sit and see the incredible views of a green sea, in the rainy season, which is the Bassari Country.
On the way back to Kedougou with all the water that had fallen the day before, the road was cut, since one of the small streams that had been crossed had become a river lord. 3 hours of waiting and a couple of eggs to cross it.
Kedougou - Madina
To end our visit to Bassari Country we returned to Kedougou to see a Mandinga village that is on the road to Mali, Madina, where they are used to make shea butter, ideal for the skin and enjoy the great brands of cosmetics ...
At the end of the day he had to fill the car tank, since we had to travel 14 hours with our Hyundai until Casamance down the worst roads I've seen in my life, with holes where a 4 × 4 could disappear and possibly a perfect scenario for a meteor shower, holes were not missing. But this is another trip and it's another story. Javier Blanquer
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When to go?
It depends. In Senegal there are two seasons, the dry and the rainy. The dry season runs from November to June, and is the best time to see animals. In the rainy season it is more complicated to see animals and for example to see hippos or lions is practically impossible mission. On the other hand, the landscapes are much more colorful, very green, and the heat in the Bassari area is bearable.
How to get?
From Niokolo Koba National Park 2 hours and a half on a road in good condition. You have to keep in mind that to get there you have to go through this park and you can't drive with excessive speed, since there are many animals like baboons and even some lion on the road ... So be careful, don't go down to piss just in case .
In addition, if you go is a full rental car before the deposit in Tambacounda because there are no gas stations until Kedougou.
What to wear
A sleeping bag or a thin one of silk, since depending on the camp the sheets seem old or worthy for the museum of the suit… A flashlight part, since the camps usually do not have light, anti mosquitoes and good footwear. As a pleasant recommendation, take ham or sausage, you will miss it ... The cuisine in Senegal is not bad, but it becomes repetitive ...
Where to sleep?
Notice!. If you are very foodies, do not even think of coming here or rather, look for a good camp. Most of the camps are very basic, even many have no light, are half built and in some cases the rat chundarata can give you love and company ...
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