2017-06-16 / Travel

Janjanbureh camp—Monkey business

By Warner M. Montgomery


This riverboat was the only public transportation on the Gambia River. This riverboat was the only public transportation on the Gambia River. Many years ago, Linda and I spent a week in Gambia, West Africa, at Janjanbureh Camp owned by Peter, an Englishman. We were met by Gisella, the German manager who seemed quite out of place— white face, puffy sleeves, and disdainful countenance. She gave us the upper room in Monkey Quarters, a tree house.

Linda and I hauled our backpacks up the ladder to our room. The mosquito netted bed was triangular in order to fit in the tree. The thatched roof covered our room, a small porch, and a tiny bath—all home to numerous monkeys, birds, and insects.

We washed up and went to the dining area for lunch where we found a buffet of Afro-European food and cold beer in a barrel of ice. The eating area was covered with a giant parachute and overlooked the Gambia River. The only problem was keeping the monkeys from snatching our food when we weren’t looking.


Three meals a day were served at of Janjanbureh Camp in The Gambia. Three meals a day were served at of Janjanbureh Camp in The Gambia. We sat with Michele and his teenage son, Peter. Michele, a lawyer, bragged that he made a lot of money but “... got fed up with being a prostitute for millionaires.” So, at age 50, he began to look around for places to invest his money. He found The Gambia and bought a lodge.

He whispered to me, “My reason is to live and love… to love all women, especially the tall buxom, shiny black ones.”

He cast an eye at his son sitting next to him and told me, “My son Peter doesn’t like black women… yet!”

Peter ignored his father who whispered to me, “I am on a spying mission, looking for a place to retire. The camps are so dirty, so disorganized. This morning I went on a safari and the truck ended up in the ditch.”


The office and outdoor beds at the Janjanbureh Camp. The office and outdoor beds at the Janjanbureh Camp. Michele then pulled me close and whispered, “If I owned a hotel and a restaurant in this country, I would have a clean place. The toilets would be cleaned everyday. The bungalows would be cleaned everyday…but this is so hard in Africa…pfffttt.”

Then, he said “We are going on the boat to see the hippos.” And he disappeared

As Linda and I sat back to enjoy our dessert, a monkey snatched a cake from Linda’s plate. The monkey was reprimanded by a pair of parrots as he ran up the tree to enjoy his prize.



The main street of Banjun, capital of The Gambia, was always crowded. The main street of Banjun, capital of The Gambia, was always crowded.

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