Several hours’ drive south of Dakar, Senegal, the Sine-Saloum Delta encompasses 700 square miles of braided streams, mangrove swamps, glimmering flatlands, and salt wells in green, yellow, and orange hues. Travelers interested in fishing and bird-watching will find both in this surreal landscape. Anglers can hire pirogue owners through their hotels to navigate the bolongs (waterways) that allow fishing. About 80 species of freshwater and marine fish thrive here, including grouper, snapper, and barracuda.
Hundreds of types of birds, including flamingos and herons, populate the delta, drawn by the abundant fish and diverse habitats. Adventurous birders should sail offshore to the Île aux Oiseaux (Bird Island) in the Parc National du Delta du Saloum, a water and forest reserve in the southernmost part of the delta. From April to August, pink-backed pelicans dive into the ocean for fish, and colonies of royal terns and other seabirds lay their eggs on the low-lying island. The boat ride to get there can be choppy, but lucky visitors might spot dolphins and manatees along the way. After a day outdoors, retire to the Lodge des Collines de Niassam in the northern coastal community of Palmarin, where baobab treehouses and huts balanced on stilts in the lagoon keep you close to nature, even while you sleep.
Photo by Candace Feit. This appeared in the December/January 2010 issue.