Banjul airport to Abene
- Porters - If you want the porters help, let them take your luggage (they will expect payment of about £1). If you don't want help, you have to be quite firm.
- Journey to Abene from Banjul takes 2 hours (approx) and costs 45,000 CFA for a car, Jan can arrange for you.
- Water - it is easier to have a bottle of water with you for your journey to Abene.
- Food - bring a snack if you think you'll need it. There are places to stop but it's easier not to.
- Borders - There are various points where you'll get your passport stamped. Just be polite and don't take photos.
Toilets are usually a hole in the ground! Showers are usually a bucket (traditional African style). At Cassiopeia there are en-suite western-style toilets and showers in some rooms - others have private separate western-style toilets and showers.
- CFA - Check out exchange rates just before you go to make sure you are getting a fair rate. Change money when you get there. Approximate rate in 2017 was 725ish to £1
Traveller's Cheques - these are not used and not recommended.
Bring cash ( £ sterling). How much depends on whether you are buying drums, lots of clothes etc. Bring more than you think you'll need !
Cost of accommodation & food
See the Accomodation page on this website for details. There are also various places to eat out in Abene.
Get ready to barter - don't be embarrassed - it can be fun and is expected.
There are mosquitos around but as Abene is by the coast this minimises the number .Wear insect repellent from early evening onwards. If for any reason you go to Ziguinchor (largest town in Cassamance) or further inland, you would get bitten so wear all the time!
- Mosquito repellent - Use a roll-on one that has Deet in it and a spray for head and don't forget the soles of your feet!!!!...... Cassiopeia has window net-protection.
The Big Tree - Jan and Sadibou can arrange to take you there
Bird Island and otherIslands - well worth a visit to chill out for the day.
It can be hot during the day but not so hot at night during December and January when you might need a light jacket at night e.g. denim.
Footwear - Everywhere you walk in Abene it is sandy! Leave your stilettos at home guys! You could wear sandals/flip flops day and night (insect repellent on feet/ankles at night).
Tailor-made clothes - There are various tailors. You go and get your material (sometimes people come to house to sell or go to Kafountine (7km, 6,000CFA return by bush taxi) where there are lots of places selling material). You can have your own design made or an outfit in traditional design. Do this early (as with many things in Africa, takes time to get done!). A man's shirt costs about 5,000 to 15,000 CFA.
Bottles of water (approximately 600CFA per2 litre bottle). You will use around 2 a day.
Available at the house.
Most meals are pretty similar with rice, vegetables and meat, fish or Eggs.
Cassiopeia offers alternatives such as couscous and pasta salad is regularly served and the frits are delicious!. If you are veggie bring nuts and seeds for protein. Breakfast is a French-style baguette and fresh fruit such as papaya, pineapple, grapefruit and oranges, cheese and confitures.
There are various bars dotted around village plus a few venues where discos are held. They sell the same drinks (fanta/sprite or coca cola or beer). Usually there is a disco or something happening somewhere in Abene most nights esp Friday nights. Many of the discos start with a "programme" i.e. a group performing, followed by disco till early hours. The Senegalese wear anything from really traditional clothes to trendy gear. You may find "friends" accompanying you to the disco (for free entry!).
Costs about 500 to 1000 CFA to get in to disco e.g. 65p to £1.30.
Drinks are about 600 for Sucre (fanta, cola),800-1000 for beer and 2000-3000 for a bottle of red wine.
Most people can speak French. Some speak English and other European languages. The African languages spoken in Abene are mainly Mandinka and Diola. They love it if you learn some local phrases.
Sun protection cream and after-sun e.g. aloe vera
Plasters or tape for drummer's blistered hands (depending on how much you play)
Teachers can be arranged and booked at Cassiopeia.
Other teachers - Whatever you plan with a teacher, get it written down (even if he can't read) including costs, start and finish times and what you have received. Prices vary !
Dancing - Lessons with Ananaou are fantastic, they are 1.5 hour sessions
No drumming on Fridays