© Jane Smith
Sustainable tourism in the Landscape of the Year
The area selected as Landscape of the Year is only marginally developed for tourism. The idea behind this project – jointly organised by Naturefriends International and Senegalese Naturefriends with their partners – is to launch (Senegal) or to restore (Gambia) responsible tourism in the region, with a view to providing new or additional sources of income for the population. This is also in line with the ideas and plans of the local authorities.
There is a lot of potential for this type of tourism: Despite its barenness, the region is known for its scenic beauty with green hills, Baobab groves and the diverse fauna of the Gambia River, as for instance the Kunkilling Forest Park. Prehistoric stone circles and many traditional festivities of different ethnic groups count among the cultural highlights. Among those is the ceremony related to the Kankurang, the main character of a Mandinka initiation rite, inscribed since 2005 on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Kankurang on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gNtkPUuxl0 , english
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ly-uMMYMCY , french
The section “Information from the Landscape of the Year“ of NFI Newsletter is designed to present various aspects of the region on a regular basis. You find here information on Janjanbureh as potential destination for sustainable tourism:
Janjanbureh: Sustainable Tourism Development for the Destination
Janjanbureh, formerly known as Georgetown and at present capital of the Gambian Central River Region, was founded in 1832 on McCarthy Island in the Gambia River. In 1995, both the city of Georgetown and McCarthy Island were renamed Janjanbureh respectively. The island is accessed by a bridge from the south bank, and small boat ferries or a government ferry on the north bank.
Though rich with tourist visiting sites, Janjanbureh is today hardly visited by tour operators.
The island has many historic sites relating to the settlement of freed slaves and early Christian settlers who were from the Wesleyan Mission (1823) and introduced the peanut (groundnut); a crop still exported downstream on the Gambia River. The Wassu stone circles lie 22 km northwest of Lamin Koto, on the north bank across from Janjanbureh. They are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Janjanbureh is also noted for being the site of the first church in Gambia and the first high school.
The dominant vegetation type is tropical rain forest in the form of a gallery forest, which is particularly rich in bird species. Kunkilling Forest Park is of specific interest in this context and can be explored on eco-trails. The west of the island has abundant, secluded woodland, as well as the West Rice Paddies. The island used to be a bustling town visited by tourists mainly by river transport. Currently, there is a river pirogue that takes tourists to Janjanbureh. These tourists travel through the island leaving only minimal benefits behind. Small locally owned businesses and guiding services hardly make any income from tourism.
The Landscapte of the Year initiative will help to promote Janjanbureh and its surrounding attractions as a Sustainable Tourism Destination where the numerous Naturefriends and tourists could visit to get a deeper insight and understanding of the Gambia and the realities of the people.