Learning an instrument - it's one of those things you always wish you'd persevered with as a child, or wish you could force your own child to keep at. So the idea of a holiday entirely based around learning one of Africa's most beautiful instruments seems like an opportunity not to be missed. The Kora Workshop, based in Kafountine in western Senegal, offers the chance to spend a week or two learning how to play the Kora, or West African Harp, amongst some of the most scenic spots and varied wildlife that the country has to offer.
A former French colony, Senegal obtained independence in 1960, and although it has retained certain aspects of French culture such as the language, it has also developed a very distinct and unique identity in the local dialect 'Wolof' and in its cuisine, like Maafé and Yassé. So even if you end up being a hopeless Kora player, at least you'll have the chance to dust off that rusty high school French!
From the moment you touch down at Banjul airport, you're made to feel welcome. After being met at the airport, you're driven to the compound on the outskirts of Kafountine with simple and clean accommodation which makes you feel instantly at home and comfortable. Then it's into lessons (at least five hours a day) with experienced and dedicated teachers and hosts, Adam and Kath.
The rest of the time is left free to relax or explore the area. Although all meals are included (and deliciously fresh), head into Kafountine for a meal to get more of a feel for the local charm and beauty. Or head to the beach - only 20 minute lazy stroll from the compound - for beautiful stretches of sand and amazing vistas out to sea.
The project runs from November to April, with the two owners returning to the UK during the summer months to teach the Kora at festivals and other local events. By far the best time of year to head out, the prices are all inclusive except flights (the lift to and from the airport, all meals and tuition). The only money you'll need is for souvenirs or any activities you want to try outside the compound.
The hosts put a great emphasis on sustainable energy and resources, with clean water being drawn from the compound's own well and solar power generated for those needing to charge phones or cameras. The Kora Workshop is a truly delightful way to spend a week or two, away from the pressures of hectic schedules and cold, dark winter days.
Tel: 01600 750600
Address: The Kora Workshop
Prices: £400 for one week with extra weeks at £200 per week (£150 deposit when booking)Petra, Jordan