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Jinack Island
 
 
INTRODUCTION:
Jinack Island (also spelt Jinak or Ginak) is in the North Bank Region of the Lower Niumi District of The Gambia, in West Africa. It is located on the north western edge of the River Gambia estuary, and is separated from the mainland delta of the Niumi National Park by the Niji Bolon creek. The isle, often referred to by tour operators as 'Paradise Island' or 'Treasure Island', is a slightly curved and tapering strip of low-lying land about 10km long; with an interior of dry woodland and grassland, with vegetation such as Tamarisk scrub, baobab trees and acacia. It is fringed with mangrove creeks,  tidal sand flats, saltwater marsh, low coastal dunes and a coastal lagoon, at Buniadu Point, in the northern section. In the winter season the isle is often visited by dolphins.

The two main villages of Jinack Kajata and Jinack Niji, are in the north-eastern end of the largely sandy isle, while the international boundary between Gambia and Senegal runs through the northern end of the isle. However, the local Mandinka and Serer inhabitants move freely across the border to Djinack Diatako, a fishing orientated village across the border, in the Saloum Delta National Park.

ACCOMMODATION:
There are a few holiday accommodation choices on the resort isle's coastal fringes. There is the long established eco-retreat, located on the beach, called Madiyana Safari Lodge, which has 8 Gambian styled round huts, each sleeping 2 guests. The bathing facilities are shared and there is a bar and restaurant on site, but no generator. The other place to stay on the seafront is  Jinack Lodge, an eco-lodge with solar power, located on an almost deserted beachfront, facing the Atlantic Ocean. It has 4 double and single bedroom huts, each with an ensuite shower, wash-hand basin and toilet. The lodge also has a full restaurant and bar service, and has set up a few hammocks on the beach. They have no generator but have solar power instead to run all the basics.

BEACH AREA:
The beaches on Jinack Island are not what you would compare to say the Caribbean; the waters are shallow at low tide, but not turquoise blue; and because of coastal erosion sea waves lap the palm trees, Tamarix and other scrub at high tide. At low tide the beach is broad and flat with a slight slope, making the golden-gray sand ideal for strolling or checking out various objects the ocean has brought up such as sea shells and jellyfish. The occasional cow, sheep or villager will often wonder by. Because the sea water is generally shallow at low tide it is good for swimming.



TOURIST ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO:
 Bird Watching  
Jinack Island has a respectable range of bird habitats in a compact land area and is a superb site for birdwatching enthusiasts. The habitats include  mangrove swamps, mudflats, dry woodland, salt marsh, grassland, lagoons, dunes and beach flats. The shallow waters just after the north shore provide superb feeding grounds for gulls, terns, and other piscivorous species which roost in significant numbers off Buniadu Point, on the northernmost shore and its coastal lagoon. The area is frequented by European migratory birds wintering here.

Among some of the bird species recorded here are Great Egrets, Storm-petrels, Slender-billed Gulls, Goliath Herons, Ospreys, Abyssinian Rollers, Royal Terns, Purple Herons, Senegal Parrots, Slender-billed Gulls, Red-billed Hornbills, Royal Terns, Beautiful Sunbirds, European Spoonbills, Yellow-backed Weavers, Greater Flamingos, Pelicans, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Laughing Doves, Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starlings, Northern Red Bishops (f), Green Wood-hoopoes, Senegal Thick-knees and Little Bee-eaters.

 Boat Cruises
These can sometimes be arranged with your ground tour operator however, you can go to Denton Bridge and hire a boat to take you on a day trip. Some of the fishing ground tour operators will already have tailor-made packages that includes Jinack. While there it is easy to rent an African pirogue (narrow canoe) with rower, to take you around the various bolongs (creeks) and between the mangroves. Beware that most don't supply life jackets so this kind of trip is not for non-swimmers.

 Dolphin Spotting
Mostly between December and January schools of bottlenose dolphins can often be seen swimming off the coast or even escorting your boat. Less conspicuous off the coast are the  Atlantic Humpbacked Dolphins (Sousa teuszii).


 Eating & Drinking
There are a number of beach bars along the beachfront of Jinack Island. You can also readily visit bars and restaurants in the various lodges. Consider also the place known as the Kayira Beach Resort. where they serve African dishes, BBQs on the beach along with a selection of soft and alcoholic drinks. There is also the Camara Sambou Beach Bar - Tel no: 7789295.

 Nature Treks & Wildlife Spotting
There are lots of paths around Jinack Island, so just take along appropriate equipment and clothing. You might be lucky to spot various monitor lizards, mongoose,  vervet monkeys, bushbuck, wildcats and even snakes! However, most species of snake in Gambia aren't poisonous, but be alert.

 Sports Fishing
With good rod and tackle there are a number of fish species you can catch within the mangrove creeks by canoe as well as offshore deep sea fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. Among some of the fish species are Red Snapper, Shads, African Threadfin and Mullet. To arrange a trip you would need to visit Denton Bridge, in Banjul, and arrange for a day trip to cruise and explore the mangrove creeks or using a more modern power boat to fish off the Jinack coast.

 Visit the Local Villages by Donkey Cart
Because there are no taxis on the island, and only a few tour operator owned vehicles, one of the few forms of transport is by donkey powered cart. This is often an enjoyable and unique experience, moving slowly through rural paths, taking in the sights and sounds of nature at a leisurely pace. You can of course also walk to the villages of Niji and Kajata, and see how local people live, and maybe visit the local school.

 Visit Senegal
The easiest way to go to Senegal is to get to the northern most part of the island which has the international boundary cutting across it. Villagers move between the boarder with impunity, however, as a tourist you should beware of your visitor status and holiday insurance conditions, lest something unexpected occurs. The safer option is to arrange this with Jinack Lodge who organise day-trip excursions into the Fathala Wildlife Reserve in Senegalese, which is  approximately 6,000 hectares of protected forest park. You can also spend the day sampling restaurants, tourist craft markets and experiencing a little Franco-African culture.

HEALTH & SAFETY:
It is fairly safe during the day. In the evening do not venture beyond the immediate vicinity of your lodgings alone at night, and have a few torches handy.

Though there are numerous cannabis farms here it is still illegal in Gambia. Don't be tempted.


TRAVEL INFORMATION & HOW TO GET THERE:
To get to Jinack Island you hop onto a boat ferry from the Banjul ports area to Barra. From Barra you then take a taxi heading towards Fass, then go left at Kanuma into the nature park. There are a couple of villages in the area: Kajata and Niji. It is possible to make a day-trip there from Kololi resort if you set out fairly early in the morning. The most convenient and easiest way is to go by power boat which can be hired at Denton Bridge in Banjul's Oyster Creek.

*When coming to the resort you need to know what to pack. There are no supermarkets and stores around and all the 'modern' conveniences are provided by your lodgings.

*Other common spelling variations of the island are: Jinnak, Ginack or Jenack.


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[Geographical coordinates 13.1833 N, 16.7667 W / Kombo South, Western Region]



 











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