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
Fulani, and other ethnic groups. Along with Farafenni,
the town is an economic centre of the North Bank Region.
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 Guest House, 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 Sitanunku
Lodge, 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
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.
& Things To Do:
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.
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.
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 bird
watching 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.
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.
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
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
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 destinations.
[Geographical coordinates 13.4833° N, 16.5500° W /
Lower Niumi District, North Bank Region]