Cultural places in Africa
What happens when a population eats shellfish for a couple of thousands of years and keep dumping the shells on the same spot? They create artificial islands, made out of tens of thousands shells. This is exactly what has happened in the northern parts of the Sine-Saloum Delta. Out of the more than two dozen shell islands, the biggest are the island of Fadiouth. Home to a large Catholic village its inhabitants are still expanding the island. Connected to the mainland city of Joal by a 500m footbridge, as well as to a the shell mount that contains the towns cemetery. The cemetery, made up entirely of shells, is a sobering place and one of the few in the world where Christians and Muslims are resting in peace side-by-side.
Drumming and dancing are essential to what can be described as the traditional and animist Africa, and it is relatively easy to find in Senegal. As it is most widespread outside Dakar, the Muslim north, and centre of the country, it does require some travel. Especially promising are the Serer regions just north of the Gambia, the Bassari Country in the south-east and the Casamance, squeezed between Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. Once here, most accommodation, guides and tourist information will be able to point towards festivals and celebrations in the region's villages. It can be a somewhat hit-and-miss if anything is going on, but with enough time and patience, some kind of celebration will surely materialise. If not, any visit to these regions – outside the rainy season – should have plenty of traditional wrestling, called la Lutte, tournaments on offer.
The Drakensberg Mountains are covered with San rock art sites, and although the locations of many of these are not made available to the public, there are some spectacular sites that are easy enough to visit. There are thought to be at least 35,000-40,000 paintings and works of art in these mountains, and there is a single site, Sebaayeni Cave, which contains 1146 individual paintings! The paintings found in this region are nowhere near as old as those in Botswana or Namibia, but many of them are incredibly well preserved, and the many information centres, brochures and guided walks makes the Drakensberg an ideal place to explore San culture. The two best places to learn more are probably the Didima San Rock Art Centre and Giant Castle's Main Cave Museum. But if you want to avoid the crowds, it might be an idea to try to sweet-talk one of the guides or rangers into showing you a site away a bit more off the beaten track - just don't expect the getting there to be easy!