Town is a small riverside settlement located on the north
bank of the River Gambia
estuary, in the Lower Niumi District of the North Bank Region,
and is 5km away from the capital of Banjul,
on the opposite side of the river mouth, connected via the Banjul
to Barra Ferry Service. Barra, traditionally known as Niumi
('the Coast'), has a population of about 6,000 inhabitants, made
up of Serer, Mandinka,
and other ethnic groups. Along
with Farafenni, the town is an economic centre of the North Bank
town is the kind of place where most people who arrive, simply
pass through, therefore there is very little in the way of accommodation.
There is the grubby Barra Hotel (+220 7795134), the more civilized
Black Cow Guesthouse,
which has 7 en-suite guest bedrooms, a bar and restaurant and
a dance floor. If you really need a good place to stay then try
to the south east of Essau. It has 5 deluxe ensuite lodges, a
dip pool, bar and restaurant and full support staff services.
the north of the settlement is Jinack
Island, to the east is Essau and the North Bank Road, and
to its northeast you have the villages of Kanuma, Mbollet Ba and
Njongon. The ferry terminal is an important gateway for people
travelling from the Kombos and into the Niumi and Jokadu districts,
and is an essential point on the route to Dakar and Kaolack in
Senegal, as well as southbound for travellers heading towards
southwest Gambia and the Casamance region. Barra has a few vehicle
fuelling stations, banks, taxi garage and bureau de change where
you can change your money into CFA Francs. One of the landmarks
of the town is the decrepit groundnut loading structure,
with its beached lighters and lengthy jetty, overshadowing the
wharf near the ferry terminal, and inactive during non-harvest
periods. The small port is also used by boatmen in African pirogues
transporting merchandise and passengers across, and up-river.
the semi-rural settlement there is plenty of traffic along the
routes such as taxis, lorries packed
to the brim with goods, and trucks loaded with basalt stones from
Senegal. There are also tourist vehicles taking people on excursions
to Jinack Island and north to
Karang, Amdalai, and Fass, so as to get to the Senegalese side
of the Niumi National Park,
which is called the Saloum Delta National Park.
rural area around Barra is tranquil, lightly dotted with villages,
where sheep and goats walk between compounds fenced with dried
palm tree fronds, and women labour away in well-irrigated vegetable
gardens. During the rainy season the bush is vibrant in greenery,
with cashew, tamarind and mangoe trees scattered within the villages,
and fully grown palm stands as far as the eye can see.
South east of Barra, the lower Gambia River gently bends into
a wide bay, densely fringed with mangroves, fed by the Buniadu
Bolong, a stream that runs south of the Mandinka village of Berending.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO:
• Fort Bullen
the north-western edge of town is Fort
Bullen, at Barra Point beach, built in 1826 by the
British to enforce the ban on the slave trade, via the deployment
of several large cannons. It was declared a National Monument
in 1970s, and today, along with the Six-Gun Battery in Banjul,
is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its main function today is to
act as a kind of light house, as it houses the navigation tower
lights on its seaward side.
• Street Market
rather forlorn looking produce and general market starts from
near the ferry terminal and continues into the middle of town.
There you can buy in-season fruits and garden vegetables such
as mangoes, oranges, local Saloum Plums, as well as household
wares, plastic kettles, clothing and footwear from numerous stalls
and shops. If you are a traveller passing through, use this opportunity
to stock up on essential provisions.
• Bird Watching
are a number of scrubland and estuarine bird species to the north
of Fort Bullen, around the beach, north along the Atlantic ocean's
shoreline, and the mouth of the Niji Bolon. Here you might spot
waders such as Oystercatchers, Sanderling, Common Sandpipers,
and Whimbrels. There are also birdwatching
opportunities for Royal, Sandwich, Caspian and Lesser Crested
Terns, African Darters, and perhaps juvenile Greater Flamingos.
At nearby Essau, to the east, you can spot resident and Palaearctic
migrants such as Whinchats, Melodious Warblers, Mottled Spinetail
swifts, Village Indigo Bird and Northern Anteater Chats.
• Dolphin Spotting
While on the ferry crossing you might see from the deck schools
of bottlenose dolphins diving in and out of the vessel's bow-wave,
or in the distance of the Gambia river estuary.
• Berending Crocodile Pool
Easily reached by road, 10km from Barra, and past Essau, is the
Berending sacred crocodile pool,
on a track just before the village. The pool is actually several
naturally connected pools, and has a small population of crocodiles,
which aren't very easy to spot, unlike their counterparts in Kachikally.
This is an attractive place of riverine greenery and a lattice
of air-roots that fringe it. In the distant past, the place used
to be used by pagans, today it is visited by Muslim pilgrims who
come here to pray. Barren women also come here to wash with the
waters to overcome infertility, while others offer gifts in return
for good fortune or to overcome bad luck. The place is run by
the Sonko family, descendants of Burungai, a Mandinka king who
caused much grief to the British colonials in Niumi from the early
HEALTH & SAFETY:
When crossing the ferry you need to be aware that there may only
be a limited number of life jackets available. If possible buy
a life jacket from a specialist store like CCT-Gambia
Co. Ltd who who deal in fishing and boating equipment and
supplies. Do also make sure that your travel
insurance policy covers you for a visit into Senegal.
get to the town of Barra from Banjul you take the ferry
from the ports area. The trip is about 35 minutes long. To get
to Senegal you take the northbound road to Amdalai, where you
need to get through customs, get an entry stamp in your passport
from the immigration officials, then cross the border checkpoint
and onto Karang in Senegal. To get to Juffure,
Albreda, and Kunta Kinteh Island,
you take the North Bank Road which heads east to those tourists
[Geographical coordinates 13.4833° N, 16.5500°
W / Lower Niumi District, North Bank Region]