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Janjanbureh

Point of Interest


Janjanbureh or Jangjangbureh is a town, founded in 1832, on Janjanbureh Island in the Gambia River in eastern Gambia. It was formerly known as Georgetown and was the second largest in the country. It is now the capital of the Central River Division and is best known as home to Gambia’s main prison. The Wassu stone circles lie 22 km northwest of Lamin Koto, on the north bank across from Janjanbureh.
It is also noted for being the site of the first church in Gambia and the first high school, according to one expatriate who was born there.
The island is known locally as McCarthy Island, and is located in what used to be called McCarthy Island Division. The island is accessed by bridge from the south bank, and small boat ferries or government ferry on the north bank. In 1995, both the city of Georgetown and MacCarthy Island were renamed Janjanbureh respectively.
Janjanbureh is also the name of the district in which the town of Janjanbureh is located.

 

 

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Wassu Stone Circles

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Janjanbureh Cultural Festival

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Colonial Architecture

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Mungo Park Memorial

 

 

 

 

Janjanbureh Cultural Festival
In 1983, elders and the educated elite decided to revitalise the cultural practices and norms of their ancestors, with the purpose of educating youth. The ideas came together in the form of an annual festival, first held in that same year and organised by the Janjanbureh Cultural Association. The festival is comprised of various cultural activities, and gives a chance for visitors to meet and talk to elders about various traditions and practices. The opening of the ceremony is marked by a musical performance with drums and dance, with a show of various types of Kankurang mask masks.

Colonial Architecture
A few old buildings of minor interest are dotted around Janjanbureh. Best known among these is the pair of dilapidated waterfront warehouses touted as having slave-trade associations by local guides. The roofless and rather fort-like CFAO Warehouse, immediately east of what is now the ferry slipway, is often referred to as the Slave Market, though in fact it was constructed in the late 19th century and only ever served as a storage place for legitimate goods. However, it is possible that the same site was used as a camp and assembly point by slave traders in the 16th and 17th centuries.
On the opposite side of the ferry slipway, the socalled Slave Dungeon – a dank subterranean storeroom adorned with recently added chains and lit by flickering candles to enhance its sinister mood – is also part of a warehouse, built in the late 19th century by the mercantile Maurel & Prom Company. Another landmark with tenuous slave trade associations is the Freedom Tree, which was planted in front of the police station to replace the ‘original’ in 2002, and has become the subject of a legend very similar to the one associated with the Freedom Flag at Albreda. Be warned that local guides are adept at guilt-tripping tourists by showing them this trio of spurious sites and then angling for money.

Mungo Park Memorial
About 20km east of Janjanbureh is Karantaba Tenda Village. Close to the village on the riverbank is an obelisk on a thick, square base called the Mungo Park Memorial. This place marks the spot where the Scottish explorer began his adventure from The Gambia and into the interior, to follow the course of the Niger River on the 2nd December, 1795. This tourist attraction can be found at the following coordinates: latitude: 13.55 / Longitude: -14.57.

Wassu Stone Circles
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed site is 20km north of Lamin Koto. The megalithic Wassu Stone Circles, dated between 927 and 1305 AD., are comprised of 11 circles and their related frontal stones.

 

AccomodationHoliday room choices in Janjanbureh are mostly eco-tourism orientated bush lodges or basic guesthouses, most can be found on or very near to the banks of the River Gambia. There is the in town Talamanca Lodge, with a diner, 3 rooms with ensuite shower and WC. The in town Alakabung Lodge has 10 ensuite rooms plus meals. There is the Baobolong Camp and the Janjang Bureh Camp. On the mainland and to the west is the Kairoh Garden Guesthouse, Kuntaur. There is also the island based Bird Safari Camp with 36 rooms of tents or thatched huts, a pool, bar and restaurant.

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