Charmaine from Rochester, NY
Number of programs attended: 18
Date attended: 01/17/12 - 01/28/12
Senegal and The Gambia are fascinating countries with a wealth of birds and animals. Scenic sights abound: markets, villages, modes of transport, people. The Shell Village, mostly Christian, was a harmonious community of Muslims and Christians. Mosques in African style, buildings in French colonial style, newer architecture, traditional huts, all add spice to the local sights.
Peter Alden is a world class guide with wide experience in West Africa which he has been visiting since the 70's. He led the first birding tours up The Gambia River in the 70's-early 90's. He's exceptionally intelligent, articulate, entertaining, generous, and kind to one and all. His bird identification skills are astounding and his creative ideas for encouraging others never failed to impress me. He spotted 150 birds. I believe I saw close to 145 of them. On his own initiative he gave us a brief history and current events talk about each of the many countries of West Africa.
The Pegasus, a small river boat, with a friendly staff who hovered over its passengers and treated us all well. The captain invited us to the bridge, a fascinating experience. The ship's tour director has started an initiative to build a school for local villagers. In this country, it is difficult to single out one child so it's best to donate to a community. As a teacher, I was happy that a school visit was scheduled and that we had an opportunity to donate to the project.
Local guides were impressive representatives of their countries: sincere, family oriented, and well prepared. Their education and training for their positions seemed well done. I was impressed over and over again with their strong family ties and their emphasis on the group rather than the individual. Children expect to take care of their parents, for example. Guides usually wore traditional dress, but younger people tended to wear western type clothing in free time.