Heather has an art studio in the grounds of Farakunku where guests can join her for craft and painting workshops. She offers a choice of workshops for all abilities such as:
In nearby, Tunbung Art Village, you can experience a ½ day workshop and learn the traditional African skills of Batik, screen printing and tie dye.
‘Living, as I do, in a rural area of The Gambia, one can’t fail to notice that the local women play the major role both at home and in the garden. It is these women who have inspired me to paint in an attempt to capture the spirit of this country where, whatever the chore, there is laughter and chatter amongst the ladies who carry themselves with poise and dignity, however poor.’
Work in the studio to design onto a small canvas. Available are resource books for ideas, sketch books, examples of my own work on display, use of all acrylic paints and brushes, and guidance from Heather. If required, a short trip to Tanje fishing village for taking photos/sketching people, boats and activities as a stimulus for painting can be arranged as a preliminary activity (extra charge). Or, take time before using the studio, to capture on film/sketch, birds, flowers, trees, local people etc and bring them along with you as a start for interpretation in paint.
Provided: all Marbling inks and enamels, white and coloured paper, protective gloves, apron, card, inset papers, glue, paper cutter, resource books and drawing pens. I will demonstrate how to marble paper and then let you experiment to produce a collection of marbled A4 sheets in a range of colours. Once the papers are dry, the afternoon will be spent drawing ink designs onto the cut pieces to make as many greetings cards as you can and the remaining papers to take away with you to complete at home or in your lodge here! No experience or artistic talent necessary!
Using sand paper, gloss paints/enamels and fine brushes, prepare and decorate a pod from our own trees and a whole or half calabash pod, using pattern designs from African design source books (or your own ideas!) No experience or artistic talent necessary! Protective gloves and apron provided. Take home two authentic items!
Experiment with inks and water, blowing ink through straws and fine line drawing to create your own designs on watercolour paper.
Sew different African fabrics onto cloth backing or glue onto canvas/board. Add paint to create your own design. All materials provided (fabric selection, needles, threads, wool, beads, glue, canvas and acrylic paints)
Draw a design onto a prepared board, thinly spread glue section by section and add different coloured sands to create a subtle picture of your own. All materials and aprons provided and design source books available. Be prepared to get a bit sticky! No previous experience or artistic talent necessary!
Use pre- cut wooden shapes (butterfly/ fish/ owl/ wren/ blue tit/ round drinks mat) and cut your own mosaic shapes from broken china and tiles to create your own design. Cutting tools, eye protection, tweezers, sandpaper, PVA, tile cement all provided.
Experiment with pre-made shapes to create designs and print onto card/tissue/coloured paper to make greetings cards using different printing inks. Then design your own shapes to make a selection of unique prints. Inks, rollers, plastic gloves, card and paper all supplied.
Design your own picture/pattern to transfer onto a lino tile. Use lino cutting tools to make your design in relief then ink up and print…at first on paper and later onto fabric. This can be embellished later with simple embroidery and beads. Everything provided.
Abstract work using a mix of paint, glue and silicone oils to create a chemical reaction with surprising and unpredictable results. Canvas, paints, oils, gloves, blow torch provided.
Here in the grounds and at different times of day you will see several varieties of Sunbirds, Fire Finches, Red cheeked-Cordon Bleus, Weavers, Waxbills, Gonolek, Mannikins, Babblers, African Thrush, Starling, Woodpecker, Warblers and many others coming to drink from the bird bowls scattered in the gardens.
We have regular visits from a flock of Little Bee Eaters most afternoons they come down to drink from our plunge pool.
We have the coastal birds nearby as well as garden birds and bush species, all of which explains the growing number of identified species seen in the grounds or within walking distance of the Lodges.
We have three excellent GBA registered bird guides who can take guests to the good birding areas: Tanji Bird Reserve, Brufut Woods, Pirang, Abuko Nature Reserve, Lamin Creek, Tujereng Woods, all of which are just a short drive away and can be done as half day trips or by combining two destinations for a full day. Marakissa and the bush track at Faraba Banta, are both longer trips but very good for birding (allow a day for each of these).
Distance 25 kilometres. Best as a half day morning trip with an early start and ideally can be combined with lunch at Lamin Lodge followed by an hour or so in Lamin Rice fields Abuko offers three habitats a gallery forest, savannah woodland with 4 photo hides plus a large water pool with a shaded viewing veranda. You are likely to see, amongst many others, White- backed Night Heron, Black- crowned Night Heron, Striated Heron, Black-headed Heron, Grey-headed Bristle bill, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Western Blue bill, Pied Hornbill, Variable/Beautiful/Splendid Sunbirds, Black Kite, Claas’s Cuckoo, Hamerkop, Giant Kingfisher, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, African Jacana and more.
Distance 27 kilometres from Farakunku (or combine with Abuko) A wetland area located opposite Abuko Reserve, farmed by the local women and especially good for water birds in the watermelon season (November-January) as well as a few overhead raptors. Likely sightings include: Common Red shank, Common/Wood/Green Sandpipers, Black Egret, Western Reef heron, Northern Black flycatcher, Hooded Vulture, Fork-tailed Drongo
TANJI Bird ReserveDistance 8 kilometres. A half day morning trip with an early start which can easily be combined with Brufut Woods later in the afternoon (see below) The reserve contains open areas with some Gingerbread plums, Acacia scrub, Rhun palms, a large wooded area and the Tanji lagoon and seashore. There is not much deep shade so be prepared! On the shoreline you will see many species of tern and wader, in the thick bush beside the lagoon you should spot Pygmy kingfisher, Giant and Pied Kingfisher, and Grey-headed Bushshrike. Fruiting trees attract African Green Pigeon and Violet Turaco. In the more mature wooded area there are Osprey, Northern Puffback and White-crested Helmet Shrike.
Distance 12 kilometres. A half day trip which could be combined with Tanji Bird Reserve (see above) for a full day with a lunch break at Nyana’s Restaurant overlooking Tanji Lagoon by the sea shore. An area protected by the West African Bird Study Association and the community of Brufut village. Late afternoon/early evening is a good time to spot a roosting White-faced Scops owl and African Scops owls. Other birds to spot are: Long-tailed Nightjar, African Golden Oriole, Four-banded Sandgrouse, Emerald Cuckoo, Diederik Cuckoo, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Tawny Eagle, Booted eagle, Short-toed Eagle
An area very close to the lodges, this woodland between the coast road and the sea is good for sightings of overhead raptors as well as smaller species in the trees. Typical sightings include Woodchat Shrike, Gabar Goshawk, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Martial Eagle, Grey backed Caroptera, Northern Red Bishop
This is in the tourist hotel area, so be prepared for a busier day ‘people wise’. The ponds are reed beds for sewage filtration and attract Black headed heron, White-faced Whistling duck, Pied kingfisher, African Jacana, Black Egret etc A pleasant walk along the cycle track to Kotu passes wet grazing land, mature palm plantations and open views to the sea with many birds en route such as Blue bellied Roller, Great White Egret, Pearl Spotted Owlet. The Golf course is home to a wide range of birds and is accessible with care only with your approved guide.
Distance 40 kilometres. The track itself is 10 kilometres in length and either all, or sections of which, can be walked with a pick up at the other end, this can be agreed on the day. Open woodland with many tall trees and unspoilt countryside. Excellent for raptors such as Martial Eagle, Gabar Goshawk and Brown Snake Eagle. Walking through the middle part of the day , although hot, will provide the better sightings as the birds take advantage of the thermals. This trip could also be combined with a morning trip to Pirang (see below) which would make a long but productive day( picnic lunch required as no restaurants in the vicinity).
Distance: 35 km. Located near Pirang village south of Brikama and beside a mangrove-lined creek joining the River Gambia. Many water birds both resident and migrant including Pink Pelican, Great Pelican, Lesser Flamingo, African Spoonbill, Black-Crowned Cranes, Ruddy Turnstone, Pied Avocet. The rice fields offer a wide range of species, including Plain-backed Pipit, Bearded Barbet, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Woodchat Shrike
Distance: 30 kilometres. Travelling South from Brikama, along a 6km dirt road, a little-visited area of mature woodland and savannah, all part of an eco- conservation project in a protected area. The river Allahein runs through the area and lunch can be taken at Marakissa River Camp on a meander of the river. The dam has created wetlands that offer a good range of birds well into the dry season. Particularly good for different species of Kingfisher, raptors, rollers and migrating waders. Black Crake are normally spotted by the bridge near the river camp as well as various species of Snipe and Heron. Yellow-throated Leaf-love and Hammerkop plus many more abound.
Combines two different destinations as above, without the Golf Course, which may not always be accessible for birders (depending on golfing activities!)
A unique site comprising salt pans, flooded sand quarry, savannah scrub, rice fields, wetlands, reed and rush beds, remnant of high forest, sand dunes, foreshore, tidal mud flats and coastal creeks. You will see some of the rarer species such as: Egyptian Vulture, Great Bittern, Little Greenbul, Red winged Pytilia, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Bonelli’s Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Greater painted Snipe, Lesser Moorhen, Little Bittern, Dwarf Bittern, and many more. The Hooded Vulture (now an endangered species) Wing Tracing Project is carried out here. For more details see the web site www.kartongbirdobservatory.org
This package is designed for guests who want a pre-booked week of birding with a registered Guide, visiting all the best sites within easy driving distance for 6 full day’s bird watching. It includes half board accommodation, airport transfers, all transport and the guide’s fees. You only need to arrange and pay for your own flights and any lunches and drinks. Additional days of bird watching at different sites can be arranged for longer stay guests who may also prefer to spread the days out across their stay.
Available November – end March.
Half board double occupancy of a lodge plus all birding trips and transfers for 2: £1425
Half board single occupancy of a lodge plus all birding trips and transfers for 1 : £1280
(Trips are for a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 4 unless a group booking is made for more)
Airport transfer on arrival and optional 2 hour self-guided walk in local bush area (this is dependent upon convenient flight timings.)
Abuko Forest Reserve and Lamin Rice fields ( pay for lunch locally)
Tanji Bird Reserve and Brufut Woods ( pay for lunch locally)
Pirang and Faraba Banta bush track (includes packed picnic lunch)
Tujereng Woods, Kotu Ponds & track, Fajara golf course (pay for lunch locally)
Darsilami Forest and Wetlands (Marakissa) (pay for lunch locally)
Kartong observatory and river trip (includes lunch at local restaurant)
Optional local self guided walk before departure and transfer to Banjul Airport.
We can arrange a fascinating day tour with our local lepidopterist, Allen Holmes. He is a British expat living here in Gambia with his Gambian wife. He knows all the best local sites and will collect you from Farakunku after breakfast to take you to local lagoons with different habitats and species. After lunch back here, you will be taken to a choice of sites at either Brufut, Tintinto or Madiana stream for more excellent observations.
You will need a camera with a powerful zoom to capture the many specimens. Also shoes that can withstand possible wet ground. Allen will share his fund of knowledge and has delighted previous guests with his expertise and friendly, unassuming manner.
£100 for the full day for 1 or 2 people. (lunch not included)
£70 for a half day for 1 or 2 people.
Please let us know, a few days in advance, if you would like to book a trip with Allen and we will make all the arrangements with him.
Abuko ForestTrip to Abuko Forest for bird/animal watching, Lamin Lodge (for lunch,) Brikama local goods and craft markets.
Trip to Bakau craft market, Botanical Gardens (optional), Crocodile pool at Katchikali and its local cultural history centre, Serrekunda Batik & Tie and Dye centre.
Trip to Makasutu Cultural Forest for guided walking tour, palm wine tapping demonstration, boat trip, lunch and cultural entertainment. Brikama for local goods and craft markets.
Trip to Bijilo Forest (Monkey Park) for self guided walking tour, and Serrekunda Market (the largest in Gambia)
Trip to Kartong, a trip along the River Allahein in a covered boat, Kartong beach and lunch/refreshments at Stala lodge, Kartong sacred crocodile pool, Snake Captivity/Education centre.
Trip to Banjul to visit the Arch, the Museum and to be guided around Albert Market, stopping at Denton Bridge on the river Gambia for refreshments to see the boats and cockle shell harvest.
Trip to Tanji open air Cultural Museum and Tanji Fishing centre for a guided tour of the smoking sheds and fish market. This trip is best in the afternoon, starting around 3pm ready for the fishing boats arriving at 5pm
TENDABA For guests wanting us to arrange a 2 night 3 day upriver trip to Tendaba by car and boat please contact us directly for details.
Price on Request (including return transport to Denton Bridge.)
River fishing: cruise on a traditional wooden pirogue with sun canopy, flushing toilet, safety equipment, all fishing tackle & bait. Soft drinks can be purchased on board.
On-board by 10am return to Denton Bridge around 4pm
Choose to book a packed lunch to take with you (extra 250pp) or opt to stop at Lamin Lodge, a stilted riverside restaurant to purchase a lunch of your choice.(Average price 400pp).
Half day (10:00-1:30pm) Sea fishing for 2 persons Price on Request
All bait and rods provided plus instruction if required.
New boat 2018. Including return transport to Denton Bridge, tea/coffee flask, a packed picnic lunch, Life jackets. *Please note there is no toilet facility on board.
Both trips require at least 2 days advance booking to avoid disappointment. Let us arrange it all for you from Farakunku Lodges!