David has been selling his artwork to raise money for the fund but sales have been slow, so now we have to make new plans to raise money. David has had a lot of experience staying with local people and really believes that many travellers would enjoy the experience of living like the natives. We are encouraging local people to open their homes to visitors and live life the way they do, participating in ordinary life, both in work and play.
At the moment we can offer you a home stay with Phurbu and his wife, Tenzin, along with their two little girls in the Tibetan refugee camp of Tashi Ling, Pokhara, Nepal. Phurbu is an experienced trekking guide and can take you to Annapurna and Everest base camps, along with a trek to the border of Mustang, overlooking Tibet. Alternatively, you can just stay at the colony and experience the ups and downs of everyday life, amidst a still vibrant Tibetan culture.
You can also stay in Brikama, the music capital of the Gambia, West Africa with Famara “Pa” Gibba, his wife Mariama and their two children. Pa has a very nice guestroom, that he built for David and his family to stay. It’s part of the Gibba house and shares a Western style bathroom with the family. As Pa is the manager of a small UK charity, working with a local school, he also boasts a wifi satellite connection. Gibbakunda is in the heart of Brikama and within an easy walk of Brikama’s many pubs, music clubs and the famous woodcarvers market.
David is now trying to raise money to build a home for Elizabeth Jatta, she has been living in a zinc shed since her mud brick house was washed away in a flood, three years ago. The plan is to incorporate two guestrooms, so that Elizabeth can make an income from a Serrekunda township home stay programme. This will also include an office with internet access and provide a permanent West African base for Bus Fare and provide a full time job for George Jatta, our current part time manager. From here we hope to run Bus Fare tours, accompanying migrant workers in the Gambian tourist industry, to their home villages in Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Guinea Bissau.
We can currently offer anyone holidaying in the Gambia, the opportunity to travel into the little explored areas of West Africa. We can arrange guides on tailor made tours of Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau. No visa is required for European nationals to visit Senegal, our Mali expert, Oumar Diarra and our Guinea Bissau guide, Lucas Jatta can arrange visas for their respective countries, very quickly and at a surprisingly low cost.
GUINEA BISSAU ADVENTURE
The Guinea Bissau border town of Sao Domingos can be easily reached within four to five hours of the Gambian Resorts, after a short stop at the Guinea Bissau visa office in Fajara. Lunch can be taken in the fascinating French colonial town of Ziguinchor, capital of the Casamance region of Senegal, before changing cars for Sao Domingos. Lucas will arrange overnight accommodation in this atmospheric Guinea Bissau border town, where you can eat an ever so cheap and gigantic fish platter, washed down with wonderful Portuguese wine, imported at a fraction of its European cost and mix with many African races, waiting for the border to reopen, to continue their journey along the West African corridor. Next day you have a choice to visit the exotic chain of the Bijagos Islands, the little known Parque Nacional do Cantanhez, of this former Portuguese colony or stay in the forest village of Cassalol, Lucas’ home village. The Cantanhez National Park, near Jemberem marks the most westerly point that the African elephant roams and is also the home to wild chimpanzees.
The Bijagos Islands are under the same rule as the more renown Cape Verde chain but far less visited. It would take at least a week to visit each island and learn more about their unique inhabitants. The charms of Bijagos women are spoken of in breathless tones in every West African bar. The ferry to the capital, Ilha de Bubaque leaves Bissau City every Friday afternoon and returns late Sunday evening.
The forest village of Cassalol, is very much untouched by the passing years, with no electricity they have no access to television and its influences. As the people are more or less self-sufficient, they have little to spend their small income from cashew farming on. During the summer season they make cashew wine and harvest probably the best palm wine in the world, all year round. You’ll stay in Lucas’ brother’s house, living like Quamiso’s family, washing behind the house and using the forest as your toilet. With no running water, the family have dug a sweet water well, you can add iodine tablets as a precaution but bottled water is available at the one village shop. The shop is also the bus stop for Sao Domingos and for the ghost beach of Varella, where the family catch fish after a nine kilometre walk. Most days you can have the Atlantic beach of Varella to yourself, enjoying the beautiful sandy beach, framed by abandoned hotels which are returning into the sand. Many entrepreneurs built here, hoping for a tourist boom that never came, their money should have first gone into a metalled road from Sao Domingos, rather than the forty miles of mud track that is the only means of entry today.
Please note that currently the Foreign Office still warns against travelling in the Casamance region of Senegal. It has been a very long time since there was any trouble from the separatist movement and quite frankly, Senegalese roads are in far better condition than those of the Gambia.
Bus Fare Tours takes you by local transport, travelling the way the locals do and takes you into the locally owned bars and restaurants and most importantly into the homes of everyday people, living life the way they do. You will also get the satisfaction of sharing the joy of reuniting families and childhood friends. So many people are forced to travel thousands of miles to find a living, only to find that they don’t earn enough money to return home. Bus Fare hopes to expand and enable migrant workers the opportunity to return to see their loved ones occasionally. You too can share in the joy of reunion by paying the cost of their bus fare.