Dec 012009

The sacred Kachikally Crocodile Pool in Bakau has over the years become a tourist magnet for visitors to The Gambia with its 100 or so resident crocs. Some people believe that the pool has supernatural healing powers and in particular bathing with the waters can aid in fertility. There are dozens of these sacred pools in the Gambia (some without crocs) but this is the nearest to the Atlantic tourist strip. The place was first discovered by a wine-palm tapper, a member of the Bojang clan, over 100 years ago. The water’s crocodilian residents have since become so tame, that they allow visitors to pet them, and seem to prefer fish over red meat.

Infertile women travel from far and wide from both within and outside the Gambia to visit the site where they are washed with sacred water from the pool by specially trained women of the Bojang clan. After the ritual washing the women are given some of the water in a bottle to be applied to certain body parts before going to bed and first thing in the morning. In return, people washed at the pool are expected to make a small cash donation, a piece of cloth and a cola nut – half of which is shared among the elderly and the other half of which is thrown into the pool to appease the crocodiles. Once the ritual is performed, one is not supposed to shake hands with anybody from Bakau. Members of the Bojang clan are forbidden from exploiting the pool for financial gains lest it loses its sacredness. There are two other popular pools at Folonko in Kartong Village and Berending Bolong 4km from Barra.

Kachikally Sacred Crocodile pool is one of the leading tourist attractions in The Gambia. There are over 80 crocodiles in and around the pool which was founded over 500 years ago by the Bojang clan. The pool is said to aid infertile women and bestow luck on individuals. The pool’s crocodilian residents have since become so tame, that they allow visitors to pet them, and seem to prefer fish over red meat.

There is also a museum, souvenir shop, a refreshment bar as well as a 6 acre mini-forest which has a nature trail & is home to many tropical bird species,  local mammals & reptiles. Bakau Kachikally is just a 10 minute walk to the golden beach at Cape Point and just 5 minutes walk to Bakau Tourist Craft Market.

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