07 February 2014

parc national des oiseaux du djoudj

for our first day trip, on saturday, february 1, tamar and i joined a group of volunteers to drive a couple hours to the parc national du oiseaux du djoudj.

on the way, we stopped at a village where we saw the women working on goat hides to make leather. goats are one of the most common farm animals in senegal and their meat is very popular - i didn't know they could also be used for leather, but it makes sense, since there are no cows here. it was interesting to see the process but the pungent smell and the mounds of goat hair everywhere were pretty gross, so i didn't need to spend too much time there.

village children gather 'round.

it was a scenic drive, and we stopped a couple times to look around and take photos.


fishermen's traps.

approaching the entrance to the park.

these women couldn't have been more photogenic if they'd tried.

soooo gap yah.

after arriving at djoudj, we boarded a pirogue (a flat-bottomed, outboard-engine boat) and headed out into the swamp. we saw a huge variety of migratory birds whose names i don't remember as well as some menacing crocodiles, colorful reptiles, a large python, and baby warthogs. the craziest sight, though, was the pelicans. the enormous, ugly birds, some white and some black, congregate by the thousands on islands and in swimming squadrons.

"where the pelican is king."

it started out small...

very excited to be on the boat.

a few more pelicans...

i may not know much french, but i will never, ever forget that "oiseaux" means birds.

a few tagalongs. tryna get a free tour perhaps?

oxen graze at the side of the water.

about all i saw of the first crocodile.

the onslaught.

as we approached the epicenter of the colony, the squacking grew loud and flying birds swooped in right over our heads. even our guides said that we'd come on a special day - the sight of the pelicans, the just absolutely immense numbers flying overhead, swimming in circles, and fishing in sync, was hard to comprehend, even in the moment. definitely an unforgettable experience.

so. many. pelicans.

you just have no idea how many.

i think i have almost as many photos of pelicans as there were individual pelicans in the park. oof.

they all seemed to dive for fish in sync.

a massive crocodile! this was the only photo i could take before he slithered underwater.

a cool rainbow lizard.

you can kind of see the massive pelican island in the background.

picnicking on the boat, though the only vegetarian options were bananas, clementines, and a local brand apple soda. all of which were delicious, by the way.

he spotted a python. the python probably spotted him, too.

the python definitely spotted me. i took a photo and bolted. it was staring me down.

baby warthogs!!!! so little!!!

on the way back, we were supposed to stop by the mauritanian border, basically just to say we'd put one foot in another country. but of course, this is africa, and nothing ever goes as planned. we got a flat tire - er, our tire exploded in a loud and bumpy awakening, and we were stranded for at least half an hour in the desert sun as it was changed with difficulty. without another spare, traversing the even worse roads to mauritania was too risky, and we had to turn back.

pathetically stranded.

we didn't make it to the border, but we did literally draw a line in the sand. close enough, right?

how can you complain about african coffee? a shot of espresso, and at least as much sugar.

feels good to be almost caught up on catching everyone back home up. and to be posting photos! so exciting.

x, m

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