Long-drops, geckos and unspoilt beauty: Eco Trip in The Gambia

Whilst studying sustainability for my MSc I was intrigued by the eco-tourism experience, so I thought what better to place to test it out than Africa! After spending a few days in the tourist resort of Kotu we set off for Footsteps Eco Lodge.

I have no idea where this lodge was, or even if the place had a name, it was located in the middle of dense jungle area and a short trek from the coast. It was a beautiful place, we were so far away from any form of societal life, surrounded entirely by nature, it was quite surreal. The lodge itself had several huts, encircled by beautiful exotic plants. There was a small water pool, deep enough to paddle and attempt to cool yourself down. The lodge had an incredibly tranquil feel about it, it was wonderful.

Footsteps Eco Lodge

The inside of the huts were very nice too, there was a bedroom and a bathroom. The bathroom was partly open air and homed a rather unusual toilet. It comes without saying that toilet facilities are going to be a bit different in an eco-lodge and I was prepared for this, however I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised! The toilet was literally a wooden box with a toilet seat on it that housed a long-drop. When you were finished, rather than flushing, you would take a scoop of sawdust to pour down the hole! It was rather unusual, but to my surprise, not unpleasant. The only concern I did have was what could be living in this long-drop and underneath the toilet seat-I didn’t want any spiders biting my bum!!

Eco Lodge toilet facilities

During the days we would go and explore the jungle area and walk to the beach. The jungle was a dry mix of trees and bushes with a narrow dusty walk way. Occasionally when walking we would see farmers, horse and carts or children playing, apart from that there was never any life outside of the nature around us. After around 20 minutes walking through the jungle we would be greeted with the sounds of gentle waves and endless views of untouched sand.

Trail to the beach

The sight of the beach was like nothing I had seen before, not one shop, not one other person, not even a footprint in the sand. When you come from a busy metropolis as I do, it is hard to imagine that places like this exist. It was almost dreamlike.

Unspoilt African beach

It was quite scary to think of how alone I was here, if I was dehydrated from the heat there was no place to buy a drink, if I was hurt or injured it was unlikely anybody would find me to help. I had never felt so alone. But it was wonderful!

The evenings at the eco-lodge were just as great. There was a kind of mystical feel about it; sitting outside listening to the nature and absorbing the last of the day time heat whilst watching the African sun set. The evenings were pleasantly cool and I would relax reading a book or lying in the hammock. It was very relaxing, and again very tranquil.

Enjoying the African sunset

At night the surrounding nature seemed to buzz to life. There would be geckos everywhere, I could hear them scurry past me at incredible speeds, they would lay down next to me and quietly watch me and sometimes they would even run over my feet! I have never seen so many geckos in my life! Good job I like geckos! J I would hear the various nocturnal creatures come to life and the whole area was like a musical abundance of crickets dancing, geckos calling and owls howling amongst many others. It was fantastic.

Praying Mantis

 

Sleeping was easy, with a real life version of the traditional ‘help you get to sleep’ CD how could you possibly stay awake. I would drift off into a peaceful and pleasant night’s sleep before waking in the morning to do it all over again.

What an amazing, unique experience, I would definitely do this again.