Lord knows, I’ve got a sizeable backlog of writing regarding all the great hotels I’ve stayed in, but I was so fascinated to hear about Robert Dogue’s guest house in Senegal that I’m running his guest post on it before I travel there myself. I enjoyed how evocative his description of the House of the Lion was. Robert writes:
Close to the village of Abene in the Casamance region of Senegal West Africa is a lovely guest house set in 1.6 hectares of palms flowering shrubs and fruit trees. It is several hundred metres from a lovely unspoilt beach where fishermen can be seen unloading their catch from colourful painted boats.
The guest house is called 'House of the Lion' and has 7 mosquito-netted double rooms with flushing toilets. Showers and electricity are obtained via solar panel. All food is organic, fresh and locally sourced with both African and European dishes being cooked and served. Some fruits come from our own trees and cool, delicious-tasting drinks are made at the guest house or are obtained locally.
Visitors can take a trip in a dug-out pirogue along the mangrove swamps, where there are fresh-water oysters, to 'Bird Island'. There, pelicans and other birds can be seen nesting in season. If sea-fishing is to your interest then this can be arranged off Abene. Or if you wish to learn to play the djembe, sabar or kora, or learn African Dance sessions can be arranged with local musicians and dancers. There is an annual Music Festival in Abene which is always held two weeks after the Muslim Festival of Ramadan.
Roman Catholic Mass is held every Sunday in one or another of the local churches. The service is sung in French and Wolof by a lovely choir, to the accompaniment of African drums. There is also space at the guest house for Yoga or T'ai Chi sessions to be held. If you are quiet and observant you may see a chameleon hiding in a shrub and little green Senegalese parrots flit through our trees on occasion. There are many lizards and sometimes small alligators. A family of golden brown monkeys graces us with its presence from time to time and little squirrels scamper through the trees. Locally there is a sacred silk cotton tree many hundreds of years old. Wood carvings, jewellery and batik can be bought at the Craft Centre.