& Village, Gambia)
Village & Kartong beach ecotourism resort are located
in Kombo South District, in the West Coast Region on
the southern tip of the southwest coast of The Gambia,
in West Africa. The rural settlement lies on the Kombo
Coastal Road, near its termination, & near the
international border with the Senegal, which is demarcated
by the Allahein River (San Pedro River). Kartong (also
spelt Kartung) is a multi-ethnic village community,
largely made up of Mandinka,
followed by Jola,
& other minority tribes such as Karoninka &
Balanta. The village has a population of about 5,500
people; is about 60km from Banjul
capital, & is one of the smallest & oldest settlements
in Kombo South.
are a handful of basic to luxury lodges
& camps along the coast, as well as inland. There
is a decent guesthouse in the town itself and is part
of the Lemonfish
Art Gallery. It has 5 guestrooms with modern facilities
& breakfast. If you want a room on the waterfront
then see the Boboi
Beach Lodge with its shared bathing facilities,
12 round huts, a bar and restaurant & you can pitch
your tent there too. Another place to stay is the Halahin
Lodge, which is on the seafront and has 5 African style
round huts & a restaurant. There is also the luxury
Bay Eco Retreat.
far south on the Atlantic Ocean coast you can find some
of The Gambia's most deserted, wild and picturesque
bays, where the dry sand feels softer with a cleaner,
more consistent colour than in any of the other resorts
beaches along the
10.5km strip of coastline.
As you move further south
along the Kartong promontory, the palm tree fringed
beaches seems to get a little wider and there is an
access route leading directly from the northern end
of the village to the beachfront. Occasionally you will
see fishermen from nearby Gunjur,
as well as Senegal and Ghana pull in shad, sharks and
squid for the fishmongers to trade from the shed that
makes up the fish market in this secluded corner. Various
animals such as herds of cows will occasionally make
an appearance - they are usually fairly docile though,
so they shouldn't disturb your sunbathing.
The beachfront is also a superb location for camping,
but do ask for advice from the Kartung Association for
Responsible Tourism (KART),
who have a Visitor Centre information office in the
centre of town. (Tel no: 4495887)
The main built-up settlement is encircled by ocean,
scrub, dune swales, and to the east, streams, desolate
salt pans and mangrove swamps which are adjacent to
the River Allahein (also known as the Halahin or Hallahin
Bolong). The main Kombo
Coastal Road cuts through the settlement and ends
a few kilometres further south at the banks of the river.
Founding Family History:
to oral history, Kartong village was founded by the
(Buwaro) Buwarow family, who migrated from Guinea
Bissau to Gambia over 450 years ago. They were later
joined by the Sonko, Touray, Manneh, Jabang and Jammeh
families respectively. The most obvious reason for the
settlement's location was to gain easy access the sea
and river for fishing.
Tourist Attractions & Things
known as the Mama Folonko Sacred Shrine and Museum,
the crocodile pool is located about 200 meters away
from the highway on the South West of the Kartong village
and is claimed to have been founded by the leader of
the Tijaniyya sect in West Africa, Sheikh Umar
Futiu Taal, in the first half of 19th century.
Folonko, one of The Gambia's three sacred
sites with crocodiles pools, is about 1.12 hectares
in size, and the pond in the centre has a 10 meter radius
and is enclosed by gallery forest. The site is under
the auspices of the National Centre for Arts & Culture
(NCAC) in Banjul.
by a source of freshwater and covered in a layer of
pakanju-water lettuce, the pool is located in a shaded
grove of kobo figs and rhun palms. The place is more
remote and visited by far fewer tourists than its counterpart
Kachikally in Bakau. It is used as a place of pilgrimage
where people bring gifts in return for good fortune,
at a time of crisis or to help women overcome infertility.
Older women from two of Kartong's groups, Christian
Karoninka Mandinkas and Muslim
Mandinka visit to pray and request for help a few times
a week. They also oversee visitors, who come here with
offers of cash, Kola nuts,
grain salt or other gifts.
• Gambia Reptiles
southbound the reptile centre is located just before
you get to the village. The place is really a conservation
area where you can see various reptiles up close such
as snakes, (both venomous and non-venomous), including
Nile monitor lizards, Agama lizards, turtles, crocodiles,
Senegalese chameleons, geckos, spitting cobras, as well
as non-reptiles such as centipedes. The Gambia Reptiles
Farm also tries to educate local people about the benefits
of having snakes in their local environment. The entry
fee is about £2.50 (Tel no: +220 779 5008 email: email@example.com).
than 260 bird species have been recorded at Kartong
in varying habitats which are tidal mud flats, mangrove
swamps, sand dunes, Guinea savannah scrubland, foreshore,
remnant of high forest and rice paddies. Parts of the
area used to be excavated for sand for the building
industry. This activity has long been halted and the
old sand pits now fill up with water from the rainy
season and as a result is now a magnet for numerous
indigenous and Palaearctic migratory birds.
Among species you can expect to see here are the Malachite
Kingfisher, African jacana and crake, European Roller,
Pygmy Goose, Green Sandpiper, Peregrine Falcon,
Wryneck, African Collared Dove, Woodchat Shrike,
Marsh Sandpiper, Painted Snipe, Purple Swamphen, Blue-naped
Mouse Bird, and many others.
You can also visit the Kartong
Bird Observatory which is on the edge of a disused
sand mine. The research station rings and studies birds
in its central wetlands recording area. KBO also has
trained bird guides, refreshments and accommodation
can be arranged. They even have courses on Senegambian
cooking, as well as organising bush walks.
• Sports Fishing
Adventures is a fishing
and birding resort who are based in the area, and
even provide basic but clean accommodation located on
the river bank. The
kinds of fish species you can expect to catch are red
snapper, barracuda, catfish and puffer fish.
• Kartong Festival
The village hosts the yearly festival which offers visitors
an opportunity to experience local culture
and traditions in the form of music, art and dance from
The Gambia, Senegal and other West African countries.
inaugural event was hosted in November 2005 and is now
held once a year in February. The festival usually
starts with a traditional procession through the streets,
and performances in nearby lodges
and other venues, ending at the arena, for an evening
of traditional and modern dance, music and mask parades.
(Tel no: 9933193)
• Lemonfish Art Gallery
is a privately operated fine African art gallery, film-house
and guest house rolled into one. The Lemonfish
Art Gallery hosts exhibitions on contemporary African
painting, sculptures and other pieces produced by Gambians
and other artists in West Africa. They also show African
films and offer courses in pottery and batik
• Kartong Association
For Responsible Tourism
Visitor Centre is your first port of call if you intend
to get the most out of the village and surrounding locality.
They can provide you with travel information, local
guides for bird watching, fishing, dug-out canoe cruises
around the mangroves or bush trekking, and you can even
hire bicycles to more
easily explore the rural location.
The main goal of KART is to promote the resort as an
ecotourist holiday destination, and try to avoid some
of the negative impacts of tourism on the local environment.
Money that is generated by their activities goes towards
improving local amenities in the settlement and helping
is the southern end of the Gambian coastline which terminates
at the mouth of the Allahein River. A series of dynamic
sand spits and beach ridges runs parallel to the shore
from 'Kartong Point' to the mouth of the river. You
might want to take a pirogue cruise to explore the saltwater
creeks and mangroves on your side of the river border.
There are plenty of fishermen willing to take you for
a fee of course.
you go by bike from the village, you can ride further
south along the main road to the most southern end of
the west coast. After the military checkpoint you go
south a short way where you will come face to face with
the Allahein River, where the road turns right towards
the beach's small fishing centre. If you turn left you
will get to the fish houses. Straight ahead of you is
the estuary and beyond is the Casamance region in Senegal.
It is possible to cross the water from Kartong and visit
Kabadio, Diannah, Abene and Kafountine, but you
must get an exit stamp on your passport first. Please
note that this area of Senegal has seen separatist unrest
in the past; therefore you should seek advice on traveling
there from your own country first.
is an Italian restaurant called Vincenza's pizzeria
(formerly Franco's) at the end of the road on the left
fork, just after the fish smoking houses. It is situated
on the river bank and gives you beautiful, unspoilt
views of the saltwater mangroves on the other side in
Health & Safety:
close to the border crossing the town is fairly safe
having a good military presence there as well as a police
station. Be careful about venturing out alone on foot
at night outside the settlement or you lodgings, and
do carry a pocket torchlight after sunset, even in your
accommodation as lights can suddenly go out.
Also avoid swimming in the Allahein River or near its
estuary as the tidal currents can be strong.
get to Kartong from Gambia's Banjul Airport just take
a green taxi which will take you south via the district
capital of Brikama
town, and down towards the south west coast. When travelling
to the village please note that this is as far south
as you can go by car as the Kombo Coastal Road terminates
at the estuary of the Allahein River. You will find
a military checkpoint just after the centre of the village
on the main road.
If you are thinking of going into Casamance in Senegal
then do seek official advice from your country.
If you are intending on staying here for more than a
few days then do take along enough personal supplies
such as toiletries. If you do run out then you can re-fill
by going to the nearest area with a sufficient number
of shops is Gunjur, and there is a small mini-market
inside the Elton Petrol Station in Tanji.
[Geographical coordinates 13.1000° N, 16.7667°
W / Kombo South, Western Region (WCR)]
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