Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bintang Bolon and Bintang Bolon Lodge

70km east of Serrekunda on the Bintang Bolon ("bolon" means creek), is the traditional village of Bintang, a relaxed place with a tiny commercial district and an impressive modern mosque dating from the 1980s. It's a fine place to spend time in a quiet creekside environment. Like all the River Gambia’s mangrove creeks, the bolon is tidal, and stretches of gunmetal-grey mud are exposed at low tide, inspected by crabs and wading birds. It’s a great place to observe the life of the river: fishermen glide by in dugouts, women search for oysters and kingfishers dart onto their prey.

For several years Bintang Bolon Lodge (tel; 4488035 or 9929362; B&B with showers) was an enchanting place, but its maintenance fell behind and gradually the huts built on stilts sank into the creek. Now the owners seem serious about renovating it. The new rooms, which are fresh and simple, each have a veranda overlooking the bolon. The main attraction is the large bantaba restaurant (the white roofed building you can see in the bottom right of the Google Earth satellite shot), a peaceful, breezy spot, also built over the water. Given a little notice, the staff will prepare a meal from whatever’s available locally – fish is abundant, of course. They can also make arrangements for you to explore Bintang Bolon by canoe.

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