The Bandia wildlife reserve is a real ecological jewel in the crown of Senegal. It has succeeded in reintroducing much of the marvellous native flora and of some of Africa’s best loved animals. Many of which had gradually disappeared, some of them centuries ago, due to demographic pressure and poaching. Bandia lies 65km from Dakar and 15km from Saly-Portugal (the seaside resort town on the “Petite Côte”) on the main road (N1) to Mbour and Casamance.
This is what the Mondios guide has to say about it: “Half-way between Thoiry [translator’s note: a safari park in France] and a small-scale Ngorogoro crater or Kenya’s Masai Mara, the reserve of Bandia lends itself well to photo safaris. It is close to the capital and to Saly-Portugal and brings the legendary animals of Africa to your doorstep”. In the grandiose setting of giant baobabs, thorny scrub and lush vegetation you will get a heart stopping sight of herds of big antelopes and gazelle.
All this lies within the 3,500 hectares of fenced natural habitat, Visitors can get around the reserve in a private car or four wheel drive vehicle or in the reserve’s own safari trucks which can be hired on site. If you do not have your own transport then you can sign up to one of the visits organised by the major hotels in Saly or Dakar. To enhance your visit you will need to hire a specially trained guide who is matchless in his ability to spot a baby giraffe, a vulture’s nest or a lone buffalo.
You will get close to most of the animals (within reason!): a real treat for photographers! You will also be able to get out and walk at times and may even get a closer look at a rhinoceros hidden in the bush. However, it is advisable to stay in your vehicle near male ostrich (with the black and white plumage) who are often aggressive especially in the mating season. In the dry season, nature lovers even have the opportunity of going on a nature ramble in the dry riverbed of the Somone River in the shade of Senegal’s great mahogany trees.
In addition to the fauna and flora, visitors can also see replicas of Serere pyramids with burial chambers, griot [traditional story tellers and entertainers] tombs in the hollow of a thousand year old baobab containing authentic human bones, a charcoal makers’ grindstone, Peulh huts, etc… Our competent guides, some of whom are multi-lingual, will give you detailed explanations of all the sights and sounds in the park, illustrated by delightful anecdotes. A restaurant and bar overlook a waterhole where buffaloes wallow and crocodiles lurk looking like floating logs, and you will hear the squabbling of monkeys in the trees.