Saturday, May 12, 2012


Our last planned excursion while staying at Zebrabar was to head out to the The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary which lies on the southeast bank of the River Senegal  north east of St-Louis.  On the map you can see a light grey line following the same path as the River that is the border between Senegal and Mauritania. So close and yet so far. With no visa in hand - Mauritania will have to be another time!

We'd read up that the best time of the season to visit the park was between November and April. It was pretty apparent we were hitting the tail end of the season so given our close proximity and our unknown schedule for the rest of the year to come back - Martin, the accordion playing owner of Zebrabar said we should go now. 

As stated in Natures Stronghold Foundations:  "One of the most important bird sanctuaries in the world. An estimated three million migrants pass every year through this beautiful 60-square-mile (155-km2) Ramsar and World Heritage Site, part of a vast basin of combined freshwater and saline flats on the Senegal River delta in the country’s extreme north. More than 400 bird species have been counted. For many it’s their first stop after a long flight over the Sahara. Some go farther, others stay for the winter, still others are resident and nest, including great colonies of pelicans and pink flamingos. The spectacle of millions of colorful, calling, constantly moving birds spread out in huge variety as far as the eye can see over these channels, creeks, ponds, lakes, marshes, reedbeds, and mudflats is, for most who have seen it, unforgettably moving, and for anyone who has not, almost indescribable. The scene can only be suggested—masses of milling herons, egrets, storks, spoonbills, plovers, sandpipers, ruffs, godwits, swallows, passerines, ducks, tree-ducks, geese, jacanas, rails, moorhens, oystercatchers, curlews, and, periodically sweeping overhead, throwing all into turmoil, raptors such as dark chanting goshawks and Montagu’s harriers."

It wasn't long before we were 'off roading' in our taxi.  In the rainy season this 'road' we were on is flooded and the road up on the left is the supposed drivable road, but no one is ever on the 'drivable' one because all the locals know it's not drivable (washboard ruts for miles and miles).  It got to the point where I could kind of see a rut ahead depending on what road we were on as we moved up and down on each of them. I "braced" myself each time we were ready to hit them - not phasing either the driver, Manning or P and A  Before I knew it the only thing I kept repeating was "Hold on"....."Hold on"...."Hold on". I'm sure I sounded like a broken record but it's all I could do to just stop thinking about it in a really weird way.  Here we are out in the brushy like desert. People don't get around with taxi's they can just wave down on this road at any time they want.  So if there was a break down - roadside assistance might have been a horse and cart, local villagers walking or maybe another car headed to the park - if we were lucky to see anyone along the way. AAA Card - Useless. It's pretty remote going to get to this park. Along the way we caught a shot of a small village.

And people washing both themselves and their clothes in the tributaries of the Senegal River.  And hanging the clothes up to dry on surrounding bushes. It really makes us think so much about access to clean water, electricity, health care and education as we drive through this country. It makes us realize that Dakar seems rather 'advanced' and yet there is still much to be done there as well.

Our guide. He seems so serious here in the picture but he was quite an animated and enthusiastic character. He worked hard to be sure we saw many birds and other critters. You'd think he would get all excited about the pelicans but we're guessing he had a love affair with the "Phacochère"

(Eric, you would have liked him!)

So what did we see at the end of April?...come and find out...

Cattle, pelicans and other birds wading together along this part of the shoreline. We were told this section can be covered with birds that you almost don't see the water. Since we are at the tail end of the season it was not anywhere as crowded . This is one place they congregate where we launched because there was still an abundance of fish for them to catch.

Kingfishers catching air


"Regardes Regardes - Phacochère!"

Gambian Geese and Warthog


At one point the guide made some comment about it being plastic and shortly there after it opens its snout.  Okay buddy - where are you hiding your remote control?  I'm sure "momma" was giving us the signal because someone in our group spotted a baby sunning itself on a branch. Not to mention the two babies that were spotted floating nearby just with their eyes and little snout above the waterline.

Baby crocodile

Pelican colony

Pelicans, Pelicans and more Pelicans. And these are still not all the pelicans. As a mother of twins half the time still having trouble telling Parker and Addison out - I had to ask - how do the mom's find their babes. They all look the same to me!! Our guide said it's by the 'cry' of the baby that she knows. Amazing.

"Regardes Regardes - Phacochère!"

Warthog family

Monitor Lizard

African Fish Eagle

What a great day. And it wasn't over before I heard in my head as we were diving out...

"Regardes Regardes - Phacochère!"


  1. great pics! those ones of the crocs made me shudder :-)

    1. Jen-Finally catching up on replies to the blog. Yeah - I was happy just staying in the boat, however if we'd had made it 'angry' - I wonder how fast it would have moved into the water. Glad we did not find out ;+}