Makasutu (Holy Forest)

Makasutu (Holy Forest)

Makasutu Cultural Forest is an eco-tourism destination located in the Gambia. It is a privately-owned forest reserve covering about 1,000 acres and is home to various wildlife species, including baboons, monkeys, bush pigs, and more.

Makasutu is also known as the Holy Forest and is a great place for visitors to experience the diverse flora and fauna of the region. The forest has different habitats including gallery forest, savannah, and wetland, which attract a wide variety of birdlife.

Visitors can take part in a range of activities, such as guided nature walks, canoe trips on the River Gambia, birdwatching tours, and cultural tours to the nearby villages.

One of the unique features of Makasutu is the range of accommodation options available, including treehouses, floating lodges, and traditional African roundhouses, all designed to blend into the natural environment.

Makasutu Cultural Forest is located in the Kombo Central district of the Gambia, near the town of Brikama. The forest was discovered in the late 1980s by a group of British investors who were looking for land to build a hotel. However, they decided to preserve the forest as a conservation area, and over time, it evolved into an eco-tourism destination. It is owned and managed by Lawrence Williams and his Gambian wife, Isatou Sarr Williams. They founded the eco-tourism project in the early 1990s with the aim of preserving the natural environment and promoting sustainable tourism in The Gambia.

The name “Makasutu” means “holy forest” in the local Mandinka language. The forest is considered sacred by the local people, and it contains several small shrines and sacred groves. It is also home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including monkeys, baboons, and over 250 bird species.

The Makasutu Cultural Forest has become a popular destination for tourists who are interested in ecotourism and cultural experiences. It offers a range of activities, including guided walks, bird watching, canoe trips, and cultural performances. The forest is also home to several eco-lodges where visitors can stay overnight.

The entry fee for Makasutu Cultural Forest varies depending on the package chosen. They offer a range of packages including a half-day tour, a full-day tour, and an overnight stay. The prices start from around 2000 Gambian dalasis (approximately $40 USD) for the half-day tour and go up to around 7000 Gambian dalasis (approximately $140 USD) for the overnight stay package. Prices may vary depending on the season and availability.

It operates with flexible hours, depending on the activities and events scheduled. It is recommended to contact the establishment directly for specific opening hours and tour availability.

There are several activities that you can do at Makasutu (Holy Forest).

Here are some examples:

  1. Nature walks: You can take a guided walk through the forest and learn about the local flora and fauna.
  2. Canoeing: You can take a canoe ride down the nearby river and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
  3. Bird watching: Makasutu is home to over 250 species of birds, making it a paradise for bird watchers.
  4. Cultural experiences: You can participate in cultural workshops and learn about local crafts, music, and dance.
  5. Relaxation: You can simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings and relax in the beautiful natural environment.
  6. Wildlife watching: Makasutu is home to several species of wildlife, including monkeys, baboons, and bush pigs. You may also see crocodiles in the nearby river.
  7. Overnight stays: You can stay overnight in one of the lodges within the forest and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.

It has hosted visitors from all over the world, including celebrities, dignitaries, and other notable figures. They also offer a range of activities and accommodations, including lodges and camps, nature walks, bird watching, canoe trips, cultural experiences, and more.

Some of the notable visitors include former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in February 2007, former US President Jimmy Carter in 2008, singer Annie Lennox in 2006, and actor Jude Law, among others.

Where is it located?

It is located in the village of Kubuneh, near the town of Brikama, which is approximately 35 kilometers from Banjul, the capital of The Gambia. It can be reached by car or taxi, and the journey takes around 45 minutes from Banjul. Many tour operators in The Gambia offer tours to Makasutu as well.