Go for a wander through the outer suburbs of Banjul, capital city of the Gambia, and you’ll come across all manner of interesting sights. I was particularly taken by the street sign welcoming me to the Gambia, and then by a set of charmingly painted tree trunks. But neither of those sights came close to rivalling that of Kachikally Crocodile Pool.
Kachikally Crocodile Pool, I am told, has been used as a spiritual site for upwards of 400 years.
Those seeking a blessing at the sacred site, or hoping to avail themselves of the pool’s healing powers, make their way here from across the country.
This sounds impressive but in truth the pilgrims aren’t travelling all that far; the Gambia is the smallest country in Africa – just 50km wide by 300km long.
After proceeding through the entrance of Kachikally Crocodile Pool, you are left to make your way through a small ethnographic museum.
When you’re done in the museum you follow a sandy track through a pocket of dense jungle.
Before long you are approaching the sacred crocodile pool.
And then… there are crocs.
Kachikally Crocodile Pool
The crocs aren’t in cages.
You aren’t separated from the crocs by a sturdy fence.
You’re amongst them; up close and personal
Luckily, the crocs are too well stuffed with fish to be interested in the pilgrims and tourists that wander past.
That being said, the larger ones will still favour you with a malicious eye should you come too close. Some of them even snap their heads at you and bear their teeth.
We were told to avoid one path altogether by a passing stranger as there was aggressive female half way along it.
Which raised the question, what if this passing stranger hadn’t warned us of this aggressive croc? What if we strayed a little too close?
The crocs aren’t just in the pool either. They’re scattered all around the grounds. Including in the sewers.
Tread with caution, would be my advice.
Are they Nile Crocodiles? Or West African Crocodiles?
The crocs of Kachikally Crocodile Pool are commonly described as Nile Crocodiles, a species well-known for being extremely dangerous to humans.
In recent years they have been re-identified as West African Crocodiles, also known as Desert Crocodiles (Crocodylus suchus). It’s a species that was only separated from the Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) in 2011.
And West African Crocodiles, you’ll be pleased to know, are thought to be more docile than their Nile cousins,
Practical information and how to reach Kachikally Crocodile Pool:
Kachikally Crocodile Pool is located in the suburb of Bakau, about 12 km from the centre of Banjul. The easiest way to get to the pools is by taxi. It’s also possible to get a public bus part of the way, and walk the rest.
More transport info here.