Sunday 25 February 2018

GAMBIA! The Flight There . . . Thursday 22nd February

A flight to a new country, The Gambia and a week to experience a different Africa to that visited before. Holidays in Tunisia and Egypt in the past had shown me African Saharan desert life but this was going to be . . . . not sure. What exactly would this tiny west African nation which straddles a mighty river actually be like? To be honest I hadn't thought much about it all, just allowing the excitement of the new wash over me after our flight of six hours from Gatwick.

The flight, a east-facing window seat and three small sleep sessions interspersed with my favourite activity when flying, sussing out where we are at any given moment.

Three hours sleep the previous night, picked up by two excited Birding Clams, Jason and Tony, the short distance to Gatwick from my cousin's house in Ash Vale was speedily done as conversation was brisk at the early hour, yet it all came down to the same thought. What was it going to be like in The Gambia?
Most particularly, as we are all avid birders, what birds will we see. The reputation for The Gambia is one of birding Paradise.

Gatwick proved to be an easy airport to access. Car Park for Terminal 2 quickly found, car parking space luckily found easily too. Bus to Terminal with four Muslim girls from Worcester and a couple on their way to the Rugby, Scotland versus England with a small, smiling girl of one year old. Mum was from Texas and on any sign of humour opened her mouth endearingly to give a huge wide-mouthed laugh. Meeting people and chatting, I love it and it whiles away the wait for the bus.

Breakfast for a Vegan; porridge with rice milk, maple syrup and banana and a two hour wait for boarding.

Terrahawks moment to get into the air and off and up and into the early morning sunshine found over the top of the clouds. Terrahawks, well I would love to hear that theme music as we take off, especially the theme tune of this wonderful Gerry Anderson childrens' puppet programme played by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Cloud cover with a gap and hazy view down to Southampton, the New Forest and the Isle of Wight. Flying over the wonderful Reynold's pair, Kerry and Dominik, mother and son.

Next view between the clouds was southern Brittany and I had had a short sleep by now. Coastline marshes towards Vannes. Out over The Bay of Biscay and another nap.

Jason, sitting beside me, wakes me up. He has an inebriated man of my age but of an uncertain national origin sitting to his right, who insists on 'more red wine!'

The Picos Mountains to the east with snow-capped peaks, large flooded river valley lakes have golden sunrise reflections and the knowledge that Montfrague is being passed as the plane skirts the Spanish-Portuguese border.

Alongside Morocco and a view of Agadir, the rest of the country is cloud-covered across the desert until the Atlas Mountains show in the distance, snow in Africa.

South of Atlas Mountains and over Senegal, desert, immense sandy areas of absolutely no habitation, no roads and no sign of life. Seemingly endless, two hours of crossing the sands, features become their own oases to draw one's eyes, lines drawn in the sand by geologic forces and wind.

A small river under the plane but there is a huge river near the horizon, it must be Gambia!

The huge river draws nearer as the noise from the engines are cut and the descent begins.

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