About 3 hours drive south of the Senegalese capital of Dakar, in the Siné-Saloum National Parc in the Fatick region, Susanne Bohn and her husband have started on an exciting journey to create a sustainable tourism project to enhance the local area.
In 2011 the Bohns bought a one hectare piece of land just over a mile away from the river delta of the Siné-Saloum and five miles from the Senegalese Atlantic coast. Susanne had worked and traveled extensively in West Africa in countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, The Gambia and Morocco, but after spending a lot of time in Senegal, they both fell in love with the people and their country. They love Senegal for its “its music, its mysticism, its power, its pride, its helplessness, its beauty, its poverty...its opulence!” And out of this passion they decided to build a sustainable eco-lodge where people from around the world can visit to connect with their own humanity as well as explore authentic Senegalese culture, in harmony with the environment.
Fifteen students from the ecosign Akademie für nachhaltiges Design in Cologne, Germany, have used this project as part of their studies to design the treehouses with new innovative concepts, but keeping within the balance of being eco-friendly and modern. Their ideas were entered into a competition and the winning team will spend three weeks working with the local people in Senegal helping with the construction of the buildings.
During the first half of 2014 the first of the seven planned treehouses was completed. The next phase is to raise the money for the remaining treehouses using only eco-friendly materials and sustainable energies. The thirteen foot high treehouses will provide comfortable but basic accommodation for guests. A restaurant, swimming pool and a center to hold workshops to teach traditional crafts will complete the site. Using local labor and other local expertise will ensure that the project is kept within the community and those in and around the park with benefit from the project too.
A solar water pump will be used to aid the sanitation and help water the vegetable garden, which will also help to contribute to the local market economy. Heating, lighting and cooking will be provided by solar energy to ensure the site remains fully eco-friendly and sustainable.
Through this project Susanne wants to show that economic ambitions do not have to compromise social values. Heritage does not have to suffer at the expense of tourism. It is her hope that her guests will come to Senegal to learn about the people in a warm, friendly environment and be a positive influence on the country, the national park and most importantly on the people of Senegal and their rich culture.
For more information or to get involved in this project: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sobna-ecolodge-nachhaltiger-tourismus-im-senegal-sustainable-tourism-in-senegal