7th Febyary 2020
I had a real bad experience staying at the lodge with the manager being rude and he gave my room away after I booked it!! I read now that someone else as recently as the 20th February who stayed at the lodge have also had the same problem as me with their room given away after they booked two months in advance!! You can read it and other comments further down this page. This Klass’s Cuckoo showed superbly at very close range but spent most of it’s time in the shade of a large tree while I was observing it.
At 08.00 this morning, I made my ways towards the breakfast area and there in the middle, was a table layed out for a single person. Everyone else were already tucking into their bread and jam and the other tables were made out for four or six people. I asked if I could please be put on the table that I should of got this morning and also asked if I could stay for another night? I offered to pay up front as that is what I was asked to do when I first arrived at the lodge but the receptionist said that I could do it later this evening when I come for dinner along with my passport details as she forgot to take them. Sound, so I thought and I got out in the field back in the Savannah and came away with ten new species. Rufus-crowned Roller was followed by a very showy Klass’s Cuckoo that I spent a good thirty minutes with. Also Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, 2 Lesser and Greater Honeyguide, 2 Villiots Barbet, 2 Yellow White-eye, 5 African Oriole and 2 Grasshopper Buzzard and the one bird that I was really hoping to see, 2 Grey-headed Bush-shrike. Of interest I also got Wryneck, Pied-winged Swallow, 5 African Golden Oriole, 2 Beaded Barbet, good numbers of White-throated Bee-eater and all four other roller species.
First thing in the morning
There was one species I really wanted to see while I was in this area, Grey-headed Bushshrike and I found two birds hunting together
Note the green legs and feed on this Klass’s Cuckoo which is only a fraction bigger than a House Sparrow
While on the cuckoo this Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver popped up briefly just above us
If only Golden Oriole showed like this African Golden Oriole
I flushed some 70 Helmeted Guineafowl out of the Mangroves
Male Western Olive-backed Sunbird
Male Variable Sunbird
Male Splendid Sunbird
This cow was trying to get rid of it’s passenger but the Yellow-billed Oxpecker wasn’t having any of it
Later on, back at the lodge, while looking at prices of going out on a boat or hiring a bike, I stopped the manager as he passed me to ask for more information about the trip on the boat. He wasn’t interested in what I was asking with his whole body turned away from me while I was trying to get some answers out of him. He only turned around to say yes and then to return to the position he was before. I could see that I was wasting my time here and he just walked away without a word. I’m still waiting for my welcome drink when I first arrived that everyone else seems to get! mate
In the evening the electric had gone off and the girl behind the counter was too busy to do anything with my passport details as she is also a waitress. I was hungry and again as the manager passed me I said to him ‘Good evening’ He didn’t even acknowledge me. Being vegetarian there is a limited menu, which is normal in Gambia and I exspect that here. However, when I was told that there was only two dishes available then made it hard work for me. Also they had run out of lemon. How do you run out of lemon in Gambia? The food in general was pretty poor with only chips and in my case, also fish, for the second night running as that’s all I could have. After dinner, my details from my passport were taken and I reminded the girl about the extra night, thinking does she want me to pay now. She just repeated ‘Yes, it’s OK to stay’
An hour and half had passed and while relaxing, the same girl came over to tell me that ‘I’m sorry but we are full tomorrow night and you cannot stay!!’ I was taken back but was also calm about it as she walked away. I checked on Booking.com if that was the case. Was I now getting paranoid about the manager really disliking me and was trying to get me out of here anyway he could. There lodge was full on the website! I made the short walk over to where the manager was sitting and told him that I asked this morning after breakfast that I would like to stay for another night? I was told by the receptionist that it was fine that I could stay for another night. His reply was short and blunt ‘She made a mistake’ And that was it! That’s all he said and put his head down and made it clear to me that he didn’t want to continue with the conversation and carried on with his work on his laptop in front of him. I stood there waiting for a least an apology but after a few seconds it was obvious that he was not going to apologise and he was also obvious that he didn’t want anything to do with the problem that he had created in the first place. Everyone makes blunders and I am not blaming the receptionist for, as the manager put it, ‘She made a mistake’ As you can imagine, I was very upset and kind of shocked over the whole deal by the way I was being treated by the manager. He could of at least offered to help me out with somewhere else to stay in the nearby area or at least make an effort of being friendly and like he cares. But no, he couldn’t even do a simple thing like that.
It’s a good thing that the Wifi was working that night or the electric didn’t go off again as I spent the next hour in sorting myself out with where I was goin to stay for the night that I had been promised in staying at Bintang Bolong Lodge. I sat at the next table from the manager and he had no intention of coming over to discuss the problem with me. He didn’t care and wasn’t interested in how I might be feeling. So I decided to go to him. What happened next was something I really wasn’t expecting. As I approached him, the creeks from the floor as I took almost every step would of alerted him of my presence but he still had his head buried in his laptop. He knew I was there because I was standing over him at his side and in a very immature fashion, he turned his head away from me just as I was about to open my mouth to speak!!I thought, was this really happening? He didn’t want to hear what I had to say and he made it clear by his very childish ways. Again I could see that I was wasting my time and said good night to him. He muttered something back under his breath.
At 24.30 I was awoken by staff having a small party more or less outside my room. There was no music but in conversation they were loud and had no consideration for the guest sleeping or in my case, trying to sleep. What else can go wrong before I get out of this place?
I told other guests of my experience throughout my two day stay and they told me, as I expected, that they all got a free welcoming drink each and felt very welcome when they arrived. they also told me to contact the owners of my experience by the manager. All of this could of been avoided if the manager was not unprofessional and I guess that vibe I had on the first encounter with him was spot on!
Here are other peoples views of their stay at Bintang Bolong Lodge and it seems as though the lodge also gave rooms away in some cases. It appears that if you have any problems at this lodge, even though they created the problem, they are just not interested and don’t care.
Reviews from Trip Advisor and Booking.com The first two comments are from February this year
What a rip off, crappy breakfast well if you class chicken and bread, no eggs rubbish. Unhelpful staff, gave our room away even though booked two weeks prior. Wouldn’t recommend to anyone. Rooms ok but no electricity overnight
Poor experience, rude management
The staff, on the whole, seemed tired and unenthusiastic – which is perhaps a reflection of the tone set by the manager who was most impolite – even hostile – when we mentioned the difficulty we were having getting water in our bathroom. if you’re looking for a place with friendly customer service, look elsewhere.
Nice place, dishonest managment
Booked 5h boat trip for 5000 to Bao Balon. Got 3h visit to empty forest an 1h bird watching trip. Was done on purpose to waste my time and money. Was told that this is not the first time.
Do not pay anything in advance if you feel you need to go there !
This is just what I’ve pointed out from out of the many that give it a good thumbs up for mainly the settings of where the lodge is. You can make your own minds up with my experience and the reviews above.