Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are taking us along on another amazing journey. This post outlines two Cruise Specialist tours hosted by Wendy and Steve for a small group of our clients.
Banjul, The Gambia
This was our second time visiting Banjul, as we had been there 4 years ago and had explored it with a local guide. We loved it then and were really looking forward to returning and hosting a tour with our guests. Our first stop was at the Gambia National Museum, which featured intriguing collections of local art, musical instruments and artifacts. We stopped for a photo op at Arch 22, a commemorative monument, before continuing to the King Fahad Mosque. It’s the city’s largest mosque, constructed in 1988 and easily identifiable by its two prominent minarets.
Our group proceeded to an informative batik and tie-dying demonstration at a textile factory. Afterward, everyone was excited to be able to purchase some of these items. As we were leaving, some of us stopped at the market next door to admire and purchase some hand-carved wooden keepsakes.
The next stop was the most compelling! We went to the Katchikally Crocodile Pool, which was an amazing sight. The reserve has more than 100 crocodiles and is one of three sacred crocodile pools in The Gambia, where crocodiles are believed to aid in fertility. With the help of a trained supervisor, we got the chance to pet one crocodile and get close to many others (do NOT try this on your own!).
During a stop for refreshments, we sampled local beer and listened to the musical talents of the performing band, where Steve had fun dancing with three women – none of whom was Wendy!
The next day, the ship brought us to the port of Dakar, Senegal, another place we had the opportunity to visit in 2014. We chose to visit Goree Island with the help of a local guide. After a short ferry ride, we reached the island, which is now a living museum and memorial to its slave trade past. Despite its shameful history, the island now thrives as a tourist stop with artists and merchants selling their wares. Our guide helped us exchange money and buy return ferry tickets, as we needed assistance in the French-speaking environment. He also gave our guests a tour of Goree Island to teach us more about the location and culture.
Some of our guests chose to visit the Bandai Game Reserve in the countryside. This national park is home to many animals which thrive in this protected reserve. Our guests were able to see some of the animals, including many of the big mammals. They were encouraged to snap many pictures of the animals and of the natural landscape. Everyone raved about how wonderful that opportunity was.
Another group of our guests opted to tour Lake Retba, which is known for its naturally-growing algae that turn the lake a bright shade of pink. Although we were told that the lake wasn’t as pink this time of year, guests still had a blast seeing thatched-roof huts, traveling across sand dunes and spending time in the majestic baobab forest.
We also enjoyed the privilege of celebrating Holland America Line’s 145th birthday!
This series shows you what you can expect on a Holland America Grand Voyage. Here are previous peeks: Grand Voyage send-off, what to expect at sea, Polynesia, New Zealand, Western Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Mozambique, Victoria Falls, Namibia and Angola.