Things to do: Djoudj – That Bird Place

Djoudj – That Bird Place

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For year’s I’d been hearing about that bird place up north of Saint Louis.  Not being a “birder,” I generally ignored Djoudj, not just because of its distance from Dakar, but also because I thought it would be boring. I was wrong on both accounts.

Our caravan left on a Saturday morning and drove straight to Hotel Siki in Saint Louis, about a 4-hour drive along a pleasant paved two lane highway.  Home of former Senegalese boxing champ, the hotel has a well-appointed restaurant with cute décor and a diverse menu. Thinking this would be our last good meal for a couple of days (we were wrong about that too), we all stocked up on fresh spring rolls, delicious chicken curry and heaping bowls of pasta. From there, we bypassed the picturesque Saint Louis waterfront and headed straight up towards Djoudj, another hour and a half drive, most of it on a dirt road.

We arrived at the Djoudj Hotel, which can best be described as basic. The have the traditional “firm” mattresses, with supplied bed nets. The electricity comes on from 7pm to midnight (so bring a flashlight for the early morning). There is a well-shaded pool (water temp was very very cold in February) and plenty of space for the kids to run around and get their 6-hour car ride willies out.

The hotel sits at the entrance to the bird sanctuary, and that’s what we came to see, so after dropping bags in the rooms, ordering our food for dinner,  we all piled back in our cars for a driving tour of the park.  We went to a few look-out stations and were able to see birds a plenty, but also saw jackal, warthogs, and monkeys. At sunset, we headed back to the hotel to clean up for dinner. We were nervous about the meal, considering the lack of options, (chicken, beef and fish), but we were all pleasantly surprised.  The food was simple but plentiful.

The next morning, after a simple breakfast of Nescafe and baguette, we headed out of a boat tour, which was really the highlight of the entire trip.  Thousands and thousands of pelicans were swimming, fishing, flying and feeding all around us. Our guide explained what their different markings meant, and was quick to point out other species, including sea hawks, flamingos, African darters, ospreys, and many, many more that someone who cared about birding may have written down. For me, the pelicans stole the show, with their majestic wingspan and the sheer number of them.  We boated out to the rock where the babies learn to swim and fly.  There were thousands upon thousands of pelican babies waiting for their parents to fly back and feed them. Downwind from the rock was quite the olfactory assault, where these young birds devoured the regurgitated fish their parents brought back. But the unpleasantness is short-lived.  Along the banks, we saw crocodiles, monitor lizards, and warthogs.  Adults and kids alike: this was an amazing outing.

Suggestion: bring some veggies and fruit to supplement the meals.  The cook was very happy to add them to the menu.  The extra fruit and other contributions for breakfast also made the meal much more balanced and enjoyable, especially for the kids.

After returning from the boat tour, we had lunch, checked out and drive to Lodge Ocean et Savane, a lodge south of Saint Louis. Despite the 10km of rutted road to get there, this oasis was definitely worth the detour.  Nestled on a saltwater lagoon that runs into the ocean, the hotel offers private family bungalows.  There is a refreshing pool and lots of lounge chairs for relaxing, but also kayaks, stand up paddle boards and kite surfing options for those more adventurous enthusiasts. The restaurant was decent and cell reception is spotty at best, so this is a great place to escape for a night or two.

Practical Information:

Djoudj bird sanctuary is an amazing place, especially for bird-lovers.  We strongly recommend you visit the park during the peak migratory season, December –March.  The lodge is not always open during off-peak months.  It is possible to make the trip to the park from St Louis in a day, but it would be a long long day.

We used a guide for the park, which was very helpful.  He made it a lot more interesting for the kids, pointing out birds and animals we might have otherwise missed, and he also brought a super high powerful scope so everyone could get really great views of the birds.  The guide we used was Idrissa Ndiaye.  His contact info is: 221 77 405 40 33 (mobile), 33 963 87 02 (landline), idressawestafricaspoonbills@yahoo.fr.

Djoudj Lodge:

Contact info:

senloisirs.calao@gmail.com

http://www.hotel-djoudj.com/

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Pricing:

SGL room= DBL = 27 000 CFA

TPT/person/day = 1 000 FCFA

Breakfast= 3 000 CFA

Meal (Lunch or Dinner)= 8 000 CFA

Boat trip = 4 000 CFA

PARITY OF THE CFA : 100 CFA = 0.15 €

For you quotation please that the park entrance fee is nearby national parks close to hotel.

Park entrance fees

Visitor entry : 5 000 FCFA

Vehicule entry : 10 000 FCFA

The Djoudj Hotel too doesn’t accept card payment only in cash.

 

Lodge Ocean et Savane info:

+221 77 853 64 28

www.oceanetsavane.com

oceanetsavane@orange.sn

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For half-board for bungalows:

Adults: 39,000 /night
Children: 12,250/night
Directions:
To come to camp, take the direction of st louis. When you arrive in Louga, take the road on your left just after the Total petrol pump. Continue this road for 32 km, you arrive in a village called Potou and start track.
Turn right on the main track and drive for 9 km and you are at home.
The camp is on your left.