14 October 2019

Visiting Bandia Reserve in Senegal

Bandia, Senegal

When planning your vacation to Senegal, you are probably going to add the Bandia (pronounced Banjia) Safari Park trip to it, especially if you are a first time traveller to Africa. Am I wrong? I don’t think so. It’s known that trips to Africa are often linked to Safari and wildlife. After all, who doesn’t like to snoop around the world of the animals? It has its own charm indeed. 

And this is how we also found ourselves having this adventure in Senegal.

 Bandia Reserve in Senegal

Bandia Reserve is a small nature reserve of about 3500 hectors of fenced natural habitat in the village of Bandia, 65 km from the capital Dakar and 220 km from the colonial city of Saint Louis. Its history is dated back to 1981 with the establishment of the PARBOF, an autonomous project for the reforestation of Bandia funded by USAID with initially a Senegalese and an American codirecting. For the Senegalese side it was Feu Baubacar Sidibe, the senior officer for waters, forests and hunting and for the American side it was David Guibson. After only three years, the American side withdrew and the project was completed by Mr. Sidibe in 1986. Animals from elsewhere in Africa were taken here to populate the reserve. 

And to have your curiosity satisfied, you must also know that the Bandia reserve in Senegal is a privately-owned tourist attraction

Public Transport in Senegal

Getting to Bandia by public transport
That being said, from Saint Louis we moved to Bandia by public transport. We had to take the taxi only to the bus station “gare” of Saint Louis, from where we took the Sept plaz (seven-seat car) to Kèbèmer and from Kèbèmer, a minibus to Bandia which dropped us on the main street about two km away from our hotel in Bandia village. 

 Bandia Reserve in Senegal

From the main street, we walked down a red sandy path full of baobabs and peanuts plantations. It was fascinating to see the peanut pickers at work and the donkey carts that occasionally crossed our path full of puddles due to the rain of the night before.

 Bandia Reserve in Senegal

We were a little surprised to see that we were the only ones sleeping in Baobab Soleil hotel that day. There was a German family living in Senegal who had come only to use the pool that evening but other than them, no one else. So once they left, we were alone in the immensity of the nature and silence. After a drink at the pool and a good dinner with some rosè wine we went to sleep. It all seemed to me surreal. Obviously, even that evening, Alessandro did not fail to make sure that there were no insects around. He has a phobia of them. 

Réserve de Bandia Senegal

The next day, the girl at the reception helped us book a cab for visiting the Bandia Nature Reserve and to the take us up to Ndangane for 20.000 cfa. At least this is what we understood… 

 Bandia Reserve in Senegal

When we negotiated with the taxi driver nobody had alerted us to the fact that we needed a 4by4 vehicle for the safari; we realized only at the entrance of the Reserve that it was not doable with our car. At that point, the only option was hiring a vehicle at the Bandia Reserve. 
 Bandia Reserve in Senegal


Bandia Wildlife Reserve Cost
The entry fee for adults to the Bandia Reserve was 12.000 cfa per person. An Obligatory guide cost of € 6500.00 was also added to the price.
Those safari cars offered by the reserve were big, they could accommodate 9 to 11 people. The cost of the hire was 46.500 cfa. The cost for entering with your own vehicle was only 10.000 cfa . I wondered why the girl at the hotel didn’t tell us this. We would have picked another car. And, above all, why doesn't the administration include the safari vehicle cost to the entrance ticket since Bandia Reserve is located off the beaten area and most of the tourists reach the place by their own cab?
That meant we would have spent 76.500 cfa total,which is around € 116.00, which was a very big expense for us. 

Things to in Gambia

We, therefore, decided to wait for other visitors in order to split the hire of the vehicle. In less than 15 minutes, six French people arrived with their own four-wheel drive.

They gave us a ride on their jeep for 16.500 cfa for both of us. Basically they did pay for their vehicle fee and the guide. In so doing, they had to pay nothing and we could save 60.000 cfa. It was a good deal for both parties.

The reserve is open from 8 am to 6 pm and if you are a couple or even alone, I recommend you go on the safari trip in Senegal in the morning since you have more probability of joining a group with whom you could split the cost.

things to do in Senegal

Visiting Bandia Wildlife Reserve
Once on the vehicle, we moved throughout the park with the guide sharing with us a huge amount of information about the history and the animals. He was really informative and he knew exactly where to find the animals at different times of the day. Sometimes he even allowed us to get out of the vehicle or go closer to some animals. It was worth paying the extra cost for the guide.

Even the driver, probably used to these kinds of trips, seemed quite familiar with all the routes.

Things to do in Senegal

Bandia Reserve flora and fauna
There were many giraffes that populated the park. It was nice seeing them moving their long necks through the branches of the trees. In addition to the giraffe, there were then the monkeys, gazelles, antelopes, buffalos, ostriches, zebras and rhinoceros. While driving on the bumpy road we also saw a huge variety of trees which are native to West Africa.

 Bandia Reserve in Senegal

Therefore, all in all even if it was very expensive and not perfectly organized, the place was nice. Definitely it is fantastic for those ones who, like us, are seeing “wildlife” in Africa for the first time. And it is a great place for taking some good photos. 

At the end of the tour, we met at the exit our taxi driver, who took us to Ndangane.


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