Gambia – The Place Where The Adventure Starts

The entire idea of travelling is to explore hidden corners of the world and learn more about distant cultures. The Black Continent had attracted people from all over the world centuries ago, and it seems it is starting to be a magnet again. And if you really want to feel the pulse of Africa then you should head south of the Sahara region. Gambia may be the best spot for you since it has everything you need for an adventurous vacation.

gambia market

Where To Find It?

Gambia is a real hidden gem since it is the smallest country in entire Africa. It is located on the western shores of the continent and completely surrounded by another exotic country – Senegal. The Atlantic Ocean is its only connection to the rest of the world, but you can easily access it by plane. And once you are there, you can always take a cab to reach any place you want. Most of the visitors use boats for travelling through Gambia. Namely, the country is split in half by the River Gambia which is completely navigable, so travelling by boat is also a major tourist attraction.

Gambia’s tropical climate is one of its top assets together with astonishing nature. The coastal region is the most populated part of the country, and this is where its capital, Banjul, is located. The upriver part is less inhabited, and if you are an adventurous type, you can go there and witness the untouched beauty of Gambia’s savannah. There are also a few reserves where you can see many animal species such as monkeys, bushbucks, chameleons, crocodiles, hogs, antelope, and hippos, in their natural surroundings.

Foggy Past Of The Country

People have been living in Gambia for more than five thousand years, and it seems that this continuum has never been ended. The Carthaginians have made some trade routes in Gambia and the Romans have made contacts with the natives too. During the middle ages, Gambia was a part of the vast Mali Empire, and in the 15th century, the entire region was acquainted with Islam. The first European country that made contacts in Gambia was Portugal. They have established trade routes for exporting ivory, ebony, beeswax, gold and many other things. The Portuguese were later replaced by the Dutch, then the Germans, British and French, and all of these nations have left a trace in this small country. Gambia finally became an independent state in 1965, and ever since then it has started to develop tourism as its primary activity.

gambia fishing

What To Visit?

Gambia’s capital Banjul will probably be your first stop, so you should take some time to check out its top attractions. The best places to get more information about the country’s past, culture and traditions are definitively the  Gambian National Museum and African Heritage Museum. If you are a fan of shopping, then you should check out the Albert Market which was built in the 19th century. You can find a lot of exciting stuff here, from local fruit and vegetables, exotic spices, to unique souvenirs. Also, check out the impressive colonial buildings at the McCarthy Square, and the beautiful War Memorial and Fountain right next to the square. The oldest mosque in the city dates back to the 19th century, and its amazing architecture will leave you breathless. It used to be called the Independence Drive Mosque but now they have renamed it to Masjid Abu Bakar Saddiq.

The Fort James Island is something you should definitively not miss. Visiting this place may be emotional because this used to be the main centre of the slave trade. You will have a chance to see how these poor people used to live and learn more about their desperate fortune. And if you think that only Britain has Stonehedge then you should go and visit the Stone Circles of Senegambia.

These are just some of the head spots in Gambia, but once you get there, you will have a chance to check even more of them.

gambia travel

Accommodation Suits Everyone’s Budget

It does not matter where you want to stay in Gambia, or which of the beautiful resorts you want to visit. One thing is for sure: you will always have a vast variety of options when it comes to accommodation. For instance, if you are to visit Kololi, the most popular resort in Gambia, you will find numerous luxurious hotels along the entire coast. All of them are excellently equipped, with large gardens and extensive terraces. Even though these hotels are placed right on the beach, they still provide you with a lot of shade since they have many palm trees all around. It is actually easy to find a peaceful spot for having some rest, read a good book and simply enjoy your vacation. Hence, you can, for instance, visit the large hotels like the Kairaba, or the Senegambia. Each of them will take your breath away not only with its beauty but also with an excellent service.

Should you visit a smaller version of Kololi, called Kotu, you will not be disappointed at all. Namely, the place offers beaches with the most beautiful sunset, top rated restaurants and of course, all kinds of lodging. So, if you travel with your family, a good recommendation is a Kombo Beach Hotel. There are a couple of the restaurants in it, and there is always something going on in or around the hotel. You will certainly never feel bored here. On the other hand, if your vacation considers you and your other half, then Sunset Beach Hotel is the right choice. Most of its rooms have balconies with an unforgettable view over the sea. What is more, this hotel is suitable for solo travellers, since the staff, as well as other guests, at the Sunset Beach Hotel, are very polite.

However, another chance for the visitors whose pockets are not so deep is Bungalow Beach that offers self-catering apartments. These are excellent opportunity to have some privacy away from the crowd. Plus, they are much cheaper than the hotels.

Visiting Bijilo will undoubtedly be a discovery since the place is ideal for a peaceful vacation, but at the same time is set near Kololi where people usually come to a party. It is only 5 minutes away from Kololi if you drive with a taxi. But, don’t think that a small and quiet place like this one is boring or mediocre. At the matter of fact, in Bijilo, one will have the chance to stay in the most luxurious hotel in the whole Gambia. Its name is Coco Ocean Resort And Spa. A splendid Moroccan architecture, stylish decor and super quality service will make you feel like in heaven. The hotel has many rooms and suites on offer, and if finances are not your issue, then we strongly recommend this hotel while visiting Gambia.

But those who want to experience authentic Africa should inevitably go to Bakau. Here you will indeed feel like a local since visiting a fish market, or crocodile pool would be like a routine. And when it comes to accommodation, African Village would be a great pick. It is a somewhat modest hotel, but at the same time very friendly. African Village is not expensive, and its staff will make sure nothing lacks you.

Along with a countless number of hotels, hostels, and private apartments in Gambia, one can also rent a guest house. These houses are very luxurious, and should you rent them you will indeed feel like royalty. In addition, all those who want to spare money on accommodation are welcome to visit camps or take B&Bs. You will find these easily since the Internet abounds with accommodation ads for Gambia.

gambia homestay

Cuisine – Fulfills Even The Highest Demands

Tourism in Gambia is so developed that there probably is not a cuisine that you will not find here. The country, and especially touristic regions, abound with all kinds of restaurants, many of which are specialised in a particular kind of food. Hence, Chinese, Italian, Lebanese or Indian cuisines are not foreign here, and we certainly won’t mention international meals. So, even if your palate is super demanding, in Gambia you will surely not stay hungry.

What is more, Gambian cuisine is a must during your visit. Getting to know a country you are visiting for the first time means trying its traditional dishes. This is, actually, an excellent way to understand more of its culture.

A tradition dictates that in a family, all the members sit around one large bowl of food, and each person eats in front of him, with a right hand. However, such a tradition is not always in practice. In most of the restaurants, visitors and travellers eat the way they are used to.

When it comes to food, you should know that the most popular food in Gambia is rice. It is served very often but with a wide variety of different sauces. But aside from rice, there are many other interesting as well as tasty dishes. For instance, you can go for ‘Akara’, which is an excellent choice for breakfast. It considers black-eyed peas that are grounded into flour and then fried. ‘Akara’ is usually served with a sauce (onion, chilli). The most popular lunch served in Gambia is certainly ‘Domada’. It is made of peanuts and mustard, tomato paste, onion and black pepper. Of course, it is served with rice. Dinner, again, has a famous Gambian snack on offer – ‘Afra’. Here you have a choice as to decide which kind of meat will be chopped and grilled right in front of you, and then served with a spicy sauce or mustard. Many visitors eat ‘Afra’ for lunch as well.

Gambian cuisine does not consider only the above-mentioned meals. But, let’s say that you would be surprised how many other excellent dishes are on regular offer in many local restaurants in Gambia. We will let you in on a secret: Don’t miss to try ‘baobab juice’, ‘okra stew’, or ‘jassa’. But be careful not to gain some weight while on vacation in Gambia.


Different Activities On Offer

Visiting Gambia means exploring the country to its tiniest parts as well as doing various interesting things. Apart from visiting Albert’s Market and spending your savings on the souvenirs for your beloved ones, Gambia offers you a wide range of activities. A very popular destination is Bijilo Forest Park. This is a small reserve and forest which is a perfect chance for an escape to a natural surrounding. Another, sacred spot for the locals is the well-known Kachikally Crocodile Pool. The pool is a home to at least 78 crocodiles, both grown up and babies. And there are always appealing diving, hiking, or bicycling expeditions organised in Gambia. Also, many women attend cooking courses here to learn Gambian local recipes. Of course, it is all about how you imagine your vacation. But in case you want it to be full of activities, don’t hesitate to explore Gambia.

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