Fort Bullen festival brings you music from the people of the Lower Niumi district. Here people make music themselves, with whatever can make a sound – skilfully drawing on traditional rhythms, patterns and stories to voice, hands and instruments.
The festival features much dance from various traditions in the Gambia. If you are interested in learn some moves and actually do some dancing, we have teachers who can take you on that physical journey.
This is a chance to have drumming lessons looking out over the sea, with the sea breeze to keep you cool. All the teachers are extremely experienced, it is amazing what can be achieved in a very short amount of time and how many rhythms you can go home with!
Go out to sea and catch a barracuda , or whatever you can, for the freshest fish your ever going to eat. Drink attaya on the boat and cook your fresh fish to eat with bread, baked locally in one of Barra’s many bakeries.
Delicious food is prepared with love and in a way that is hard to replicate unless you have the knowledge handed down over the years and the ingredients to make it sing. What to do with tamarind, how to stuff and grill fish, Domida, the food of the gods.
Nuimi boasts much in the way of sport. Champion wrestlers are from the area, 4 out of 5 swimmers representing Gambia in the 2018 China Games are from Barra. The Gambians take their football very seriously and you can see them training hard along the beach. You can also watch exciting local league football matches.
Find time for yourself on secluded beaches and try to remember the last time you were the only ones on a vast stretch of shoreline. Walk along the beach to the neighbouring village of Jinak. Make a shade, swim and relax along the way – two hours of beachy heaven!
Everywhere you go by road in the Lower Numi district is going through the bush and its natural beauty is breathtakingly exciting. There is wildlife and so much to explore.
You don’t have to be a bird watcher to get an enormous amount of pleasure taking an early morning boat ride down the mangrove Blong that goes out of Barra into Jinake, the island next door. Watch the fish jump, the kingfishers soar, the pelicans in their grandeur, all with the caress of the fresh air. Just beautiful.
The festival hosts a small market during the event but there are local traders and craftspeople everywhere, throughout the year.
Food and Drink
Try pure local Gambian honey from wild bees in the forest or Wonjo leaves to soak and make your own version of the nation’s famous refreshing drink – after being taught the skills in your cookery lesson.
Take a trip into one of the many bustling markets and grab a bag of delights. You will not get anything more local or pure than the freshly ground peanut butter. Alternatively, try some Baobab fruit to suck or blend it into a fantastic smoothie. Each ingredient has a touch of wild magic, which will stay with you long after you have left!
The Gambia is known for its ground nuts and they are available in many forms, but the tree-hanging cashew nut is really rather special. How they grow, and are then processed after being harvested, is fascinating to witness. If you come at the right time of year, you can watch it happen for yourself.
If you are looking for gifts to go home with then you’ll not be disappointed. Consider buying a bag woven from recycled strips of plastic, furniture made from local bamboo, a traditional calabashe or even a beautifully crafted Djembe drum. Or, for a special present, try making your very own beautiful spoons and bowls.
The Craft Market in Banjul is a ferry ride away and provides a more ‘in depth’ shopping experience. Lots of fun, if not a little exhausting!
Lower Niumi is not short of fine tailors either – they are quick and super creative. After helping you to design an outfit, they will then make it up in one of the beautiful local fabrics of your choosing.
With 67 villages, some hidden away deep in the bush, and with many exciting places to explore, such as the Nuimi National Park and mangrove forests, there is so much to see and do in The Lower Nuimi district!
Kunta Kinteh Island, Juffereh
One important place you should not leave without visiting is Kunta Kinteh island. Many come here to pay respect to the ancestors and to acknowledge the horrors of transatlantic slavery. “Never Again”, states the poignant monument, which was built at the place where many Africans were torn from their homes, families, cultures and humanity. James Island was renamed Kunta Kinteh Island in honour of an ancestor of Alex Haley, who was made famous by his novel, “Roots” (published 1976).
We can also link you up with masters and guides who are willing to teach and share their skills and knowledge at any time you wish to visit, not just for the festival.