After not seeing any crocodiles in the Abuko Reserve, and with a day to spare, I decided to go to the Katchikally crocodile pool which was a mere ten minutes from where I was staying. After my adventure of visiting the slave museum in Jufureh the day before, I did not feel like another day with all kinds of tricky connections and buses that did not show up. I expected a crocodile farm the kind I had seen before, and when the taxi stopped driving in a sandy street of the Katchikally neighbourhood, I felt a good vibe in the air, and decided to explore the streets more after seeing the crocs. An artsy entrée gives way to the gardens, and to my shock, I saw an adult crocodile lying on the ground - well camouflaged. I continued walking, and saw two smaller crocs playing; when I tried to follow them, I got a remark by some guys sitting at a small pool that I should not get too close: the mother was around.
At first, I thought they were once more Gambians on the hunt for foreigners and their money, but they soon turned out to be the friendliest people I had met in the country. Just sitting a few steps away from a couple of adult crocs, they patiently explained that the crocodiles in the Katchikally pool are all tame. Indeed, you can walk around them, and even stroke them. From time to time, they move around, but they are considered safe. To me, that was a totally new sensation: the Nile crocodiles I had seen until then, had always lived in the wild, and looked awfully dangerous. The story is, that Katchikally was founded around four hundred years ago, and has gained significance as a place to increase fertility. Couples who do not get kids, come here for special ceremonies in a small space next to the pool I was shown. If they then get pregnant, the child is normally called after the neighbourhood.
Even though there were only four crocodiles around, the guys told me that there were around a hundred in the Katchikally sacred pool. Another foreigner showed up, who turned out to be a compatriot, and for the first time since I left home, I was speaking my mother tongue again. I touched and stroked the skin of one of the crocs; the skin appeared to be remarkably soft. The size of the crocs is determined by their living environent: since they live in a small pool, they are relatively small for their age. I cautiously walked a trail through the park; there were more crocs out there, and I was still not sure any of them would like me step on it. I ended up talking more with the guys, visited the small museum at the entrance which holds artefacts of Gambian history and culture, and when I finally walked out of the gate, I just had enough time to walk to the beach to see the sun set.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Katchikally Sacred Crocodile Pool (Gambia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Katchikally Sacred Crocodile Pool.
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