Hiking is something enjoy but I never really get the chance to do. I bet Lagosians will agree that Lagos isn’t the best place for you to take a hike. Amidst all the fumes from generators, the nasty okada rider speeding past you unaware, the horrible Danfo driver mounting the culvert in a bid to avoid traffic. In that instance, you probably have to step aside or something for him to have his way even though it’s your right of way. HIKING!!!! HELL NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You’d be better off just holding the thought in your head.
Then I went to the Gambia, a calm serene country with less development than Nigeria and a population of about two million people. Somewhere in this country lies a game reserve not far off from its largest town, Serrekunda and I got a chance to take a hike there.
It was mid day and the sun was almost scorching as we approached at the entrance to the reserve. My tour guide, Lamin had asked if I would be interested in driving round the park but I turned down the offer. I wanted to hike instead. I totally forgot that I wasn’t geared up for hiking…I mean who goes hiking wearing sandals??? As if that wasn’t enough to worry about, I got another shocker of my life…There are snakes in the reserve!!! Huh?! (Like I was expecting that).
“That’s why I was asking you If you wanted us to drive.”
Oh boy! Too late now. I presume a lot of people have a phobia for snakes and I’m no doubt, a part of that statistic.
I HATE SNAKES!!!
But too bad, we have to move on. Lamin then made matters worse by stressing the fact that it was mid day and they would be out to bask in the sun…Not exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks Lamin!
We started the hike walking on a narrow part through trees and shrubs. Lamin has been hiking in this reserve for years so he knew every path to take. After walking for a couple of minutes, we got to an open area in the reserve where there was a lake and a wooden house. He then gave briefed me on the flora and fauna of the reserve but I didn’t pay much attention because I spotted a very unique bird somewhere on a tree. The Gambia is quite famous for bird watchers so I wasn’t that surprised but in that instance, I appreciated its beauty. I also kept seeing a particular specie of Monkey jumping about so I asked Lamin for the name.
“It’s called the green vervet Monkey. We have a lot of it here in the reserve.”
As we continued hiking, I made sure I was just a few feet away from Lamin. My sandals and feet masked with white dust and my guard high up getting ready to spot a snake somewhere so that I can flee from it. Lamin started asking me questions about Lagos, Nigeria, our culture as I was more than happy to answer him (It took my mind off the snake ish for a while).
After about thirty minutes of hiking, We got to a part of the reserve where a couple of animals were kept. They had Hyenas, Baboons and a Senegalese Parrot. These are some of the animals bred in that area of the reserve and will be released back to the reserve sometime in the future. The whole idea of Abuko Reserve is to revive the area by introducing some of the animals that used to exist there and from the look of things, that will take a while to achieve.
I was really thirsty so I asked Lamin if we could stop at the mini shop for a drink. As I was gulping down the Lemon soft drink, a guy selling souvenirs kept trying to make me buy some, showing me samples that might interest me. For the most part, I was glad we hadn’t spotted any snakes so I didn’t mind him bugging me. We spent about twenty minutes in total at the mini zoo and off we were. I continued answering Lamin’s questions as they kept coming and he also would stop by to mention a thing or two about any unique flora I spotted.
“This tree is called African Lubana.” he said and we passed by a particularly large tree with branches sprawling all around it. “It is used to cure a lot of diseases and It is also a good Viagra.” He seemed to stress the second part of the statement more…Yea yea
In all, the hike lasted about two hours and once we got to the exit. I was glad! For starters I got to hike in a serene environment and the best part, I didn’t spot any Snakes!!!