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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

The Gambia: Tendaba

Sunset over the River Gambia at Tendaba Camp
A tranquil sunset over Tendaba Camp

The Atlantic coast resorts might have been pleasant, but two days into the relaxing beach lifestyle, I was already champing at the bit. CNN and BBC World take only a couple of days to go from elixir to irritant, so despite the sinking feeling that I get whenever I think about long journeys and African public transport, I persuaded myself to leave the cosy glow of our bungalow for eastern Gambia. Happily Chris decided to come with me; public transport is not only cheaper with two, it's easier to bear. Just.

A pirogue on the River Gambia at Tendaba Camp
A pirogue sitting on the River Gambia; these canoes are punted along the river just like gondolas

Getting to Tendaba

A pirogue on the River Gambia at Tendaba Camp
Surprisingly, getting to Tendaba by boat is difficult, not that it's a great deal easier to get there by road...

I'd picked Tendaba as a good-sounding spot because it's isolated, being perched on the banks of the River Gambia some 5km north of the main road, along a dirt track. If ever anything sounded tranquil, Tendaba did, and as the bus dropped us at the village of Kwinella, at the southern end of the dirt track, things looked good. All we had to do was to get to the camp, so slinging our packs on our backs, we set off for the long haul to the river.

A pier on the River Gambia
The River Gambia is a wonderful place for sitting and comtemplating

Conference City

A village on the banks of the River Gambia at Tendaba Camp
Tendaba village is next to the camp

It turned out that we'd timed it badly, and Tendaba's 150 beds were currently hosting two conferences, one a training week for Peace Corps volunteers, and the other a conference for the UN Peacekeeping Force. I couldn't believe it; instead of arriving at an isolated paradise, we'd taken a taxi, rattled for three-and-a-half hours on a bus and bumped for an hour on a donkey cart to arrive at a bloody conference centre.