Escape, relax and learn to play
the kora in our idyllic rural compound
Booking now for: Nov 2020 – April 2021 and beyond
We welcome guests throughout our winter season for a tailor made, all-inclusive holiday. People come to learn the kora, but others come just to experience an unusual yet relaxing holiday.
A kora retreat is the perfect get-away from the cold, from as little as one week up to several months to soak up West African music and culture. Play as much or as little of the kora as you like!
Kora Holiday Prices:
- 490€ per week
- A non-playing kora partner or friend sharing the room is charged at 120€ per week.
- kora tuition
- loan of a kora
- private room
- all meals and hot drinks
We offer discounts and work-exchange to music students and those on low-incomes who wish to study the kora. Please get in touch if this applies to you.
We have increasing numbers of guests who simply want to enjoy a holiday in a beautiful location. They enjoy being part of an interesting community in a different culture, with that essential quality of the opportunity to really relax as everything is taken care of. Either go into town to shop, browse the colourful market, have some clothes tailor-made, or stroll to the beach along sandy tropical paths.
Want to be active and learn something? We now have Moussa Camara a batik artist on site most days and he can work with absolute beginners or those with experience. You can go kayaking in the mangroves with Adam and myself (any excuse and we’re there!). There are sand-painting artists in the village very happy to teach you the art and our good friend Elhadj, tailor extraordinaire, will even help you make a skirt or simple dress. All craftspeople are paid direct, usually for around 15 euros a day.
Non-Kora Holiday Prices:
One person, one room
- 220€ per week
- 340€ per week
- private room
- all meals and hot drinks
We have separated out the cost of airport transfers as some people come to us direct and also because the cost can be shared. Most people however are collected from Banjul airport by our good friend Ansumane and we arrange this for you. The cost is 60 euros per trip, each way and is shared between the number of people being collected.
Late flights mean spending a night at Ansumane’s home in The Gambia as the border closes at night. He has a simple private guest room with double bed, mosquito net, private toilet and shower facilities. You will find a torch handy as he often has not been able to recharge lights.
Find out more below….
Our large family compound is on the outskirts of this small town onthe coast of southern Senegal, just below the Gambia. Situated a 20 minute leisurely walk to a beautiful, deserted beach or the vibrant and bustling fishing port community. We can provide you with plenty of opportunities to explore its markets, local shops and guided river or bird watching tours. Live music events, festivals and carnivals are dotted throughout the winter season – ask for exact dates.
Kafountine has a host of wonderful wildlife, outstanding natural beauty and a friendly laid-back local culture and lovely fresh local food making this area a real haven.
All levels of ability welcome, from absolute beginners to experienced players. Lessons adapted to your ability and your aims with teaching conducted in the morning leaving your afternoons free.
Truly custom make your own kora experience; either immerse yourself in an intensive kora retreat or take the laid back approach with a gentle introductory holiday.
Simple, comfortable and clean with Double, Twin or Family rooms available
Non-kora playing guests are very welcome and can be accommodated for 120€ per week if sharing a room.
All bedding and towels are provided, and all beds have mosquito nets. There is wifi available but not at the houses, in an attempt to retain that truly relaxed and remote feeling.
We also have two lovely new eco-lodges – each tucked away in its own private garden. One is close to the observation tower and wildlife pond.
Each lodge is a simple one-roomed double-bed house. One has been built with woven bamboo walls and the second with pampalan, the stems of the huge ronier palm leaves.
Both are light and airy, and have private outdoor showers and aroma-free (!) compost toilets.
There is a 100€ per week supplement for staying in either lodge.
All our prices include all meals and hot drinks which are served in the dining
area at the main house. There are tea and coffee making facilities at each lodge.
Breakfast – fruit, bread, spreads and porridge are regular fare, with the majority of the fruit grown on our land.
Lunch – a variety of traditional Senegalese dishes cooked on site by our lovely cook, Jida. Eaten communally, no menu. Mostly fish and rice, very occasionally chicken if the seaid rough and there’s been no fishing! Vegetarian option if required.
Dinner – a light meal often pasta, salad or if you’re lucky homemade chips
All drinking water is drawn directly from our well and is clean and fresh, though bottled water is readily available in town for those who prefer it.
The best way to get here is to fly direct to Banjul airport in The Gambia.
You can then be met at the airport by our associate and good friend Ansoumane who will take you on the 90 min drive, crossing over into Senegal to our compound. This trip is charged separately at 60€ each way; up to 4 people can share this trip and cost.
- Wifi is now available on site, though not at the houses, so you can remain blissfully disconnected if you prefer.
- Solar power enables the charging of phones, cameras etc. There is no power in any of the rooms. We supply you with rechargeable lights.
- Bikes are available to borrow
Lots more advice or information is available so please do contact us for any queries regarding anything from the area, flights, health, money or local culture etc..
To give you a taste of life in Kafountine and at our home there, here is a beautiful piece written by regular visitor Annie Menter of Arts and Society
Blog from the Bush
I have a feeling Serge Gainsbourg might have rather enjoyed this run down little eating house on the edge of town, although it probably doesn’t quite match the jaunty romanticism of his sixties song ‘Couleur Café. I love the ‘Rainbow in my Mind’ image alongside these two old geezers.
Five days in and my head and my heart have become attuned to life back in the bush. A shift in thought processes, a slowing down and reconfiguring of my days. Connections that have lain dormant between annual visits start to resurface. A walk into town throws up new images as well as familiar faces and known landmarks – greetings with strangers are exchanged always with a welcoming smile. I lie in bed musing on what needs to be done before the heat of the day forces us into the shade to consider our options. The night orchestra of cicadas steps away from centre stage and the sound waves are taken over by myriad bird songs, competing for air time- I begin to recognise a few – the double whistle of the Gonolek, the gentle murmur of the Laughing Dove, the chattering banter of the Bulbuls and the cheerful notes of the Paradise Flycatcher. With the wind in the right direction this jam session is underpinned by the drone of the Atlantic heading up the beach a mile away.
Visitors arrive. Malang the painter hoping to sell a few canvases but happy to chat and hang out. Monsieur La Crevette, his bicycle laden with juicy prawns for supper. Buba arranging a river trip through the mangroves deep into the heart of the Casamance. Gida brings warm baguettes for breakfast, while Moussa organises a visit to Ousman the aluminium smelter on the other side of town. Simon and I are keen to document the process of how the ubiquitous cooking pots and ladles are made. A shopping trip to the market produces pawpaw, bananas, aubergines, tomatoes, freshly made peanut butter, fragrant honey and dangerously hot red and yellow chilli peppers as well as bags of hibiscus flowers and baobab fruit for life saving drinks in the heat of the day. A lunch of spicy fish and rice and lazy conversation around the communal bowl sends us straight to our beds for an afternoon siesta, then a leisurely game of boules in the ‘keno clearing’ before heading to the beach around 4pm.
The sandy path though the bush to the beach is imprinted on my brain. Past the palm wine tapper perched precariously beneath the palm fronds gathering the potent sap, past women with impossibly heavy head loads, a family of four balanced circus style on one bicycle, the children chanting ‘toubab, toubab’ at the sight of me, a donkey cart over laden with wood for the fish smokery. Frothy pink branches of bougainvillea beckon us down the final stretch of path before it opens out onto an empty beach, apart from the odd cow gazing out to sea and a few roaming dogs. The expectation of being immersed in the warm waves that are rolling into shore is almost too much and I head straight out towards the sinking sun. A pirogue glides silently across the horizon like a child’s boat in a shadow puppet show. I swim as hard as I can then turn to float on my back, the sky above a blue backdrop for an osprey heading inland grasping its fish tea, a pied kingfisher hovers before plunging headlong into the water and the terns show off their aerial skills as they dip and dive a few feet away.
Up the beach at his make shift Baobab Bar, Kofi is waiting with freshly squeezed mandarin juice and coconut milk and we easily pick up the conversation started 12 months ago.
Walking back to the compound, the bush turns to deep green and then black throwing up dramatic outlines against a blushing sky – evening rushes in and with it comes the inevitable cicada sound-scape and the smell of wood smoke as stoves are lit and families gather. Someone is drumming and a taxi’s sound system blasts out a mix of classic Marley and Senegalese rap. We turn the corner and the blast of the passing taxi is replaced by a sweet kora melody laid over with the percussive clatter of supper preparations. Time for a cooling shower gazing up at a now night sky pocked with stars ….. for now this is home.