Group of men sitting among fishing boats on a beach
Coast & seascapes,  Friendly Friday,  Gambia,  People,  Travel galleries

Gallery: a traditional fishing village in Bakau

The catch was brought in hours ago. But the fishing quay in Bakau, in northern Gambia, is nevertheless a hive of activity.

Many of the colourful pirogues are pulled up on the beach. Others are floating offshore, as the fishermen check and mend their nets and other equipment. Those that have finished their work sit chatting or try to make a few extra delasi by showing tourists around.

Stand firm – you don’t need a guide to wander around here and take some photos, though you should of course be discreet when taking ones of individuals. You could of course ask permission; but getting it could mean a tip and that could prove expensive if you want lots of photos!

Fish caught here include barracuda, captain fish and lady fish, all of which you find on hotel and restaurant menus. There are also smaller fish which tend to be eaten only by locals because of the large number of bones they contain.

Some of the fish is processed here before being sold, so there are smoking houses. Some stalls cook and sell the fish too.

Stalls of corrugated iron near the sea
Fish market

And of course, as anywhere where fish are caught, there are plenty of small cats and large birds (here mostly egrets) hoping for a bite too.

All along this coast you’ll see these same colourful fishing boats at work offshore. I watched them a lot from the gardens and beach at our hotel in Fajara, Ngala Lodge, and made a little video of some of the fishermen at work. It’s a bit shaky as I had to use a long zoom, but it shows the fishing method well. The nets are left out overnight, marked by buoys and flags; the fishermen go out first thing to haul them in with, hopefully, some fish caught inside. Once the fish are offloaded at the quay the nets are checked, repaired if necessary and then taken back out to sea ready for the next night’s catch.

From the cliffs at Ngala Lodge

The fishing village in Bakau offers a wonderful opportunity to see something of Gambian life outside the tourist hotels. It’s more than worth running the gauntlet of the would-be guides and so-called bumsters to visit this decidedly fishy place, my Something Fishy offering for the Friendly Friday challenge.

I visited Bakau in 2014


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