The Gambia and Senegal

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Niokolo Koba Simenti

It started in 2000, when I visited Niokolo Koba and at that time, Hotel Simenti was run down. I thought then, that it was a place of paradise, as a retreat from all the pressures of life, and concentrate the mind on things natural, and things that actually mattered. A place to get away from all the material things, together with the Western pressures of having to buy material things.

It made such an impression upon me, that I sought to become involved with the Hotel, and be happy to live in paradise, instead of just visiting, but moreover, to be able to put something into the Hotel and its’ surroundings.

I searched the web and eventually made contact with Senator Amadou Thiam. With his help, agreement was made with the owner of the Hotel, for me to be Manager. This will commence during 2004.

At Christmas 2003, I visited the Hotel and formalised the agreement with the owner, Monsieur Gueye. At the same time it became apparent that. Because of the location

Of the Hotel, there was also a need to become involved with Niokolo Koba as well. There needs to be a coexistence, and a person to coordinate the Simenti area of the Park.

As a result of this I went to Dakar where I met with the aide to the President and subsequently with the Minister of the Environment and his aide, alng with Senator Thiam.

It was outlined that we would attempt to get International funding for various projects, but at base level I would have to start from scratch, and try to involve the local villages in whatever I seek to do. This would have been my aim in any case, and this can start immediately, with making traditional craft furniture and screens, and sewing traditional textiles for use in the Hotel. It is also my intention to start farming an area of land to supply the Hotel with fresh food and to use the surplus for local consumption.

Overall aims. The overall aim is to make the Hotel traditional and environmentally friendly with the Park and "melt" the Hotel into its’ surrounding environment. To bring the Hotel to a better standard internally, to attract environmentally aware visitors. To build an "executive" roundhouse accomodation to attract Senegal Government and International Government Officials. To allow villagers to produce items required at the Hotel and to instigate training to help them with a skill, of which there can be many. To form a study centre, based in the Hotel grounds. The studies can include the flora and fauna and ornithology of the area, along with music and traditional arts.

When there is a basis in place for all the above, International NGO’s will be approached to try to make this area of Senegal, both the Park and the surrounds, beneficial to every inhabitant, both human and otherwise, to every visitor, but above all beneficial to the rest of Senegal, the Planet and its’ future.


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