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Tanji Fishing Village (Gambia)

Lodges       Photos Tanji Bird Reserve
Things To Do Village Museum
Tanji Village (also spelt Tanjeh or Tanje), often called the Tanji Fishing Village, is close to the Atlantic Ocean beach, in the northern section of the Kombo South District, West Coast Region of The Gambia, in West Africa. The settlement is 30km by road from the capital of Banjul, and approximately 12km southwest of Kololi resort, and adjacent to the Kombo Coastal Road. The main ethnic groups are Mandinka, Wolof, Jola, and Serer, the last group are traditionally the fisherfolk, while the former are generally engaged in farming, crafts and petty trading. The village centre is located about 1km from the main fishing bay.

There are just a few places to stay in Tanji. Among them are the Nyanya's Beach Lodge, which is located on the shore and the river estuary, and lies next to the fisheries centre. It has a small beach and its main entrance is on the main road. There is also the Kairoh Garden Guest House, which has 18 modern, Gambian style rows of rooms, clean and simply furnished, 10 with ensuite shower room, sink and WC.

Beach Area:
There are basically two types of beaches in Tanji. The first is directly in front of the fishing village and is a fish landing site, so it is not suitable for swimming or sunbathing. Because it's a very active, working beach, you'll find it scattered with old, shredded gillnets, sea snail shells, malodorous rotting seafood, plastic bags and bottles, and other flotsam and jetsam, floating on the water or resting on the shore. The air is filled with the odour of smoked fish; an unimaginable number of flies swarm around fresh or discarded seafood, seagulls hover overhead looking for scraps, fishermen land their afternoon catch from long African pirogues, passing buckets of catch onto the heads of local women, who then ferry it to the shore. Activity is frenzied and messy, but surprisingly efficient.

To the north of Tanji fishing village, after the bridge, is the Karinti Bird Reserve, where the coastline has a few sand bars and lagoons, where the beach is far cleaner and relatively deserted, but access is often hindered by dense, scrub woodland. About 1km south of the fishing village, the bay's strand is more of what you would expect as holiday standard; clean, white sands, backed by a strip of palms and shoreline scrub. You will see the occasional passerby or meandering herd of cows.

General Area:
To the north of the main settlement the area is characterised by riverine mangroves of the Tanji River, sand banks, salt-flats lagoons, lily pools, dry woodland, and coastal dune scrub. To the south of the river are residential compounds, interspersed with trees, farmland, shoreline fisheries structures, and strand. The village's main road leads inland from the main freeway, which itself passes close to the Atlantic Ocean, just south of the small, mangrove-fringed river.

Tourist Attractions & Things To Do:
 Camel Riding
Pepe's is a long established operation which was started from the compound of the Spanish Captain of the tour boat, M/V Joven Antonio. Pepe's Tanji Camel Safaris offers guided camel rides along the beach to tourists, with each dromedary carrying up to two riders for half or one hour, and you finish off with a beach barbecue and drinks. There are a few restrictions on those allowed to ride such as children below 8, and people with bodily complaints.

Village Museum
The privately run Tanji Village Museum is made up of grass thatched mud huts that hold the exhibits of ethnographic artifacts, such as traditional musical instruments, and antique furniture. The displays are labelled with helpful accompanying descriptions of each. There is also a photo gallery section on various birds, fish, Gambian plant species and their medicinal properties, as well as local history and culture. Visitors can also chat and intermingle with the various craftsmen working at their stations. There is also a nature track and a handicrafts area, plus a restaurant. The museum sometimes puts on live music; and there is also guest accommodation.

 Bird Watching
Going north, at the start of the bridge is the Karinti Bird Reserve, whose southern boundary encloses the tidal, saline reaches of the small Tanji River, and  encompasses the Bald Cape promontory, and the Bijol Islands (Kajonyi), which itself is situated almost 1 mile from the Atlantic Ocean shoreline. Together, both areas provide a broad range of superb habitats for bird watching, such as lagoons, riverine, sandbanks, salt-flats, mangrove and coastal scrub. Among the Palearctic migratory and resident bird species you can find here are waders, raptors and seabirds, such as White Straight Crested Helmetshrike, Ruddy Turnstone, Sandwich Terns, Subalpine Warblers, Dominican Gulls, White-fronted  Plovers, Palm-nut Vultures, Whistling Cisticolas, Common Nightingales, Northern Crombecs, Pelicans, Yellow-crowned Gonoleks and Four-banded Sand Grouse. On Bijol Islands you might be able to spot, among other species, Western Reef Herons, Royal Terns and Grey-headed Caspian Terns.

 Wildlife Spotting
Within the locality of Bijol Islands are reptiles, invertebrates and mammals,  such as minke whales, bottle-nose dolphins, fiddler crabs, green turtles, birds, upside down jelly fish, sand crabs, ghost crabs, mud skippers, Atlantic Humpback Dolphins, bushbuck, Clawless otter, Senegal bushbaby,  and Gambian mongoose. Access to the island itself is restricted to research purposes only. On the mainland side of the reserve you might spot Patas Monkeys, Porcupines, Bushbucks, Western Red Colobus Monkeys and other animals.

 Tanji Community Fisheries Centre
The harbour was upgraded and finally inaugurated in 2001. The centre is one of the seven major coastal artisanal fishing communities in the Gambia, and is at the centre of the local economy. It was developed with grant-in-aid to the tune of US$ 4.5 million from the Japanese government. Among the facilities here are an ice-plant, chill room, refrigerated trucks, smoking houses, fishmongers' sales area. Three dozen or so people are directly employed here, with a further 2,000 people engaged in activities linked to the fishing village. The species which are most often smoked are Shads, marine Catfish, Barracuda, Sharks and round and flat Sardinella spp. Eighty percent of the landings consists of Bonga (shad); 40% of which are preserved by smoking. The curing with firewood is done by hired men and a portion of the smoked fish is exported to neighbouring West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal. In view of the huge quantities of shad caught here, Tanji has long been called the 'Bonga Capital of The Gambia'.

The most prominent features of the fishing market are its dim, shad smoking sheds, lines of majestic African pirogues parked onshore - decorated in bright geometric shapes, hired hands and housewives lining the shore, waiting for the afternoon catch, fishmongers and customers haggling over prices, wheelbarrow boys with mounds of fish and women making a living as carriers of buckets of the fishermen's' catch. You can try and visit one of the curing sheds, and watch the preservation process, amid the smoke and pungent kipper like aroma. There is a small general market incorporated into the seaside town selling plastic bags, bowls and other small goods. Bargain hunters regularly visit the site as the seafood sold here is generally cheaper here than those in the inland markets of the Kombos.

 Restaurants & Beach Bars
Nyanya's Beach Lodge  4414021

Village Museum 992 6618

Kairoh Garden 9903526

Health & Safety:
Tanji is in a rural area of The Gambia, so you need to take care regarding going alone at night into unfamiliar territory. All the major health facilities are some distance from here, so you need to be vigilant with regards to your health. Don't drink the water straight from the tap in the village, as it may be contaminated; instead you can use a water filter, or boil the water first. Protect yourself against insect bites and stings, and only wear thick trousers and boots when venturing into areas of high vegetation; this is to avoid any nasty surprises from spiders and other harmful creatures.

Travel Information:
To get to Tanji fishing village you can take a taxi van from Serrekunda, which comes directly to the rural community, with no getting off in between. From Kololi or Kotu you can also make your way along the Kombo Coastal Road to Brusubi, then change for one of the taxis going southwest to the settlement.

[Geographical coordinates 13.3500 N, 16.7833 W / Kombo South, Western Region]
See also nearby Brufut
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