Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

“There goes the fear. There it goes.” – The Doves.

When you leave your hometown gloriously behind, these are the days you live for. The idea of stroking and touching a fully alive, awake and undrugged crocodile had me buzzing. There’s no time for any scaredy cat nonsense here. You run on adrenalin and you go do it and don’t look back.

“I’m just high on the world” – Mark Knopfler. 

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

It had serious memories lingering in my mind though as I headed to Kachikally in Bakau, The Gambia. Memories of those adrenalin charged moments of madness to grace my back (packing) catalogue:
– The time in Batu, Malaysia when I first had a snake round my neck
– The Drake Shake on route to Antarctica
– The hyena feeding at dusk in Harar, Ethiopia
– The sky diving in New Zealand
– The bungy jumping in New Zealand

Jonny Blair backpacking in New Zealand

The day I jumped off Auckland Harbour Bridge in New Zealand

This had all the makings of a classic yet again. Touching a crocodile? “Are you gegging me? Themmuns are dangerous!” (Northern Irish accent).

“These sacred moments of silliness are where I find my heaven.” – Gigolo Aunts

A crocodile at Kachikally

A crocodile at Kachikally

But here I was out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t backpacking anymore. I had no backpacks, no luggage and no laptop. I was out in the Gambia and Senegal with MoneySupermarket.com’s Lost Luggage challenge. Hashtag this beast for a feast: #MSMLostLuggage – there are a load of fellow travel bloggers on it too.

Jonny Blair Senegal Money Supermarket MSMlostluggage

My Secret Senegal trip with Money Supermarket #MSMlostluggage

So yes, no backpack, no rucksack, no change of clothes, no laptop. But perhaps more importantly, no fear. When you’ve backpacked alone through Venezuela, Afghanistan and Iraq, these days out are where you come alive. I’m in my element today as I headed to the Kachikally Crocodile Pool in Bakau, the Gambia.

Kachikally Crocodile Pool in Bakau, the Gambia

Kachikally Crocodile Pool in Bakau, the Gambia

Getting to Kachikally Crocodile Pool
Public transport in the Gambia doesn’t really cater for tourists. Oddly, this place isn’t even on a bus route. Even crazier, it’s damn hard to find. So do what I did and hire a driver to take you here, wait for you and take you back.

Zachariah and I - my driver

Zachariah and I – my driver

My driver was Zachariah. I paid him £30 for the entire day out. But bear in mind this included a load of other sights and pick up from the Banana Lodge where I stayed, and a lift back there. If you plan on just doing the Kachikally Crocodile Pool, then work out a price and barter your driver down. Most people only need an hour inside this place and for me that was enough. I love a short sharpburst of adrenalin – in and out.

The drive to Kachikally in Bakau, The Gambia

The drive to Kachikally in Bakau, The Gambia

Entrance to Kachikally Crocodile Pool
The entrance is a gate and there is a lady who will charge you 100 Dalasi (around $2 US) to go inside. There are murals on the entrance and the place looks “touristy”, however for today, I am the only tourist. You get given a ticket that looks like the one below. If you are with a driver like I was, the driver can get in for free assuming they are Gambian or live locally.

Entrance to Kachikally Crocodile Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Entrance to Kachikally Crocodile Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Entrance to Kachikally Crocodile Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Entrance to Kachikally Crocodile Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Ticket "office" at Kachikally Crocodile Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Ticket “office” at Kachikally Crocodile Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

My ticket for Kachikally Crocodile Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool
Before you make the walk through a jungle within a village to the crocodile pool, there is a museum. In here, you can read up on Gambian culture and history down the years. The country used to be called Gambia, now officially we should call it The Gambia, they gained independence in 1965 and after a revolution in 1994, the country is a presidential republic with the same leader for the last 20 years – Yahya_Jammeh.

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Also in the museum are some traditional Gambian clothes and musical instruments as well as historic photos down the years including the royal visit from the British Queen.

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

Museum at Kachikally Crocodile Pool

The Walk to the Crocodile Pool
After touring the museum, we head through a short jungle area, 2 or 3 minute walk and here we can see people harvesting fruit and vegetables.

Locals harvesting

Locals harvesting

The walk to the crocodile pool

The walk to the crocodile pool

Harvesting

Harvesting

On route to the crocodile pool

On route to the crocodile pool

After speaking to a local lady selling gifts, something crazy happens. A CROCODILE IS STANDING BY MY FOOT AND I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE!!! He was so camouflage.

Sorry mate, I didn't even see you!

Sorry mate, I didn’t even see you!

What is important here is that this is dangerous and the crocodiles are NOT drugged or asleep. You walk here at your own risk, though there is always a guide around – at least there should be. When you see the sign below, take the advice it gives you and step four metres to the left and suddenly, you have crocodiles all around you.

This is entirely at your own risk

This is entirely at your own risk

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Crocodile Pool
There are around 100 crocodiles here at Kachikally Crocodile Pool. It’s their territory and they mark it. I’m with my driver Zachariah and we are introduced to Moses Bajo, the guide. Moses shakes my hand and then we walk next to a crocodile. Moses nonchalantly touches, strokes and massages this crocodile. It moves a little bit but generally it’s just relaxing here, chilling out. Crocodiles spend so much of their lives not moving. They’re damn lazy. But don’t tell them that or they will bite you bollocks off and kill you.

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

But one question I need to ask here:

Why don’t the Crocodiles Attack Us?
I was thinking to myself maybe they are drugged, maybe they are asleep. But they are neither. They are fully awake and conscious. So why don’t they attack us? Moses tells me “because they are not hungry”. I’m confused, I thought all they did was swim and eat. But actually, the real reason why they are not hungry is because Moses feeds them thousands of fish, day on day, every morning. When the sun comes up, these beasts get a treat – an all you can eat fish buffet. Because of this, they are stuffed, they are full and they are not hungry. I visit around 11 am, though anytime in the morning is recommended. Moses is super confident as he strokes the crocodiles.

Moses Bajo - crocodile expert, The Gambia

Moses Bajo – crocodile expert, The Gambia

Moses Bajo and I, stroking the crocodile!

Moses Bajo and I, stroking the crocodile!

Moses Bajo and I, stroking the crocodile!

Moses Bajo and I, stroking the crocodile!

And it’s my turn next.
I don’t have time to be scared of course. I’m launched straight in. At first I just give its back a touch. Then I put my whole hand on it, then both hands, then I stroke its tail. The crocodile only budges a little bit. It feels like rock. I was running on adrenalin and not scared. I kind of trusted Moses however as I was touching this one crocodile, two more emerged in the background, one of them was right by Zachariah’s foot as he took a photo of me, it was crazy! I also got a bit braver as I stroked and started taking selfies as the tail jerked just a touch!

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

You can probably tell by the photos that it was great fun and not really that scarey, once you can trust them!! But still, in the back of your mind, that crocodile could kill and eat us within minutes so don’t go overboard by giving him a full body massage!

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Zachariah Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Zachariah Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

Sacred Kachikally Crocodile Pool
So you need to know that the Kachikally Crocodile Pool is sacred. It has healing powers. Women flock here if they are infertile, they bathe in the pool then they are told not to shake hands with anyone and they will become pregnant. I didn’t go in for a dip though – I drew my limits at stroking their bodies!

Kachikally Crocodile is sacred

Kachikally Crocodile is sacred

Kachikally Crocodile is sacred

Kachikally Crocodile is sacred

Moses at Kachikally Crocodile Pool
Moses Bajo is the crocodile expert here. He looks after them but he has a huge problem – over population and escape. In fact, as we were leaving we saw a crocodile outside the complex crawling along the road. This freaked me out a bit as these crocs are more wild than you’d think. What Moses does here is he feeds the crocodiles so they are too full and not hungry to attack humans. I see a croc with his mouth open. They do this to catch flies and cool their body down in the heat.

Kachikally Crocodile Pool needs your help

Kachikally Crocodile Pool needs your help

Kachikally Crocodile Pool needs your help

Kachikally Crocodile Pool needs your help

To keep the crocodiles full and fed, it takes not just manpower but MONEY so a voluntary donation is expected. I handed a backpacker budget donation over (you expected that) but you can give as much or as little as you want and if you are rich, it would be nice to put money back into this place as Moses works hard to keep the population down. Sadly this means crocodile abortion/egg destruction. Otherwise, us humans are at risk. A population of 100 odd crocodiles is a lot of fish to feed them every day. I have a lot of respect for Moses doing this job. If you want to help and donate, please contact Moses here:
Moses Bajo
Telephone: (+220) 7775621. Email: mosesbajo@yahoo.com .

Kachikally Crocodile Pool needs your help

Kachikally Crocodile Pool needs your help

There is not much information online about Kachikally Crocodile Pool sadly and they don’t seem to have an official website, but this site has some details on it:
http://www.accessgambia.com/information/map-katchikally-crocodile-pool-museum.html

This photo shows a crocodile that has escaped into the wild…

Kachikally Crocodile Pool needs your help

Kachikally Crocodile Pool needs your help

And I really hope that this blog article helps spread the word about this place and that you enjoyed reading my story. It was great fun. Thanks to Moses, Zachariah and all at Kachikally Crocodile Pool for this crazy experience!

Souvenirs at Kachikally Crocodile Pool
You can buy souvenirs a plenty. I’m normally only after a fridge magnet for my Mum and some postcards for my brother. I found them all here in the stalls.

Souvenirs from The Gambia

Souvenirs from The Gambia

Postcard from the Gambia

Postcard from the Gambia

Fridge magnets from the Gambia

Fridge magnets from the Gambia

“Keep on chasing down that rainbow. You never know what you might find. Over the sunset on the horizon, it might be a dream but it tastes like poison. I’m going to take that tiger outside for a ride. What a life!” – Noel Gallagher.

Here are some videos from my time at the crocodile pool, please note that I say in one of them that the crocodile is sleeping, but it’s actually not – it’s awake yet resting:

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
This entry was posted in Africa, Animals, Bakau, Crocodiles, Gambia, MSMLostLuggage. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Stroking Crocodiles at Kachikally Pool, Bakau, The Gambia

  1. Ray says:

    That’s awesome! But, where does Moses get that much fish on a daily basis to keep them fed?

  2. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Ray, Thanks for the comment. Bakau is by the sea – fishing is a huge industry in Senegal. The biggest issue is the money – the funding – I donated a bit and so does everyone that goes and that should pay for the fish and the upkeep and the wages of those that work there. Somehow, I don’t think they get enough money for it though, hope things work out as it’s a great tourist attraction and also a sacred site. Safe travels. Jonny

  3. Ray says:

    Okay, thanks for the explanation! Based on the photos and videos you shared here, it really feels like you were in the middle of nowhere in Africa. And by that, I mean no where near civilization or the Atlantic Ocean. Great photo ops, though!

  4. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Ray, It was the opposite, it definitely wasn’t the middle of nowhere! This place is very close to the Atlantic Ocean (5 minutes drive!) and Gambia is apparently the most populated area in Africa by person per square kilometre, so there were people all around. Gambia is also Africa’s smallest recognised country. Bakau, Banjul and Serrekunda are well populated, I just didn’t feel the need to write about the cities around in this article. There are some photos of me with the kids in another article and I’ll write about the top touristic sites in another article sometime. Safe travels. Jonny

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