As much as tourism-developed areas of The Gambia are attractive and pleasant, offering a wide choice of dining options, beautiful beaches and fancy hotels, they do not represent the complete image of The Gambia, which is entirely different once you step out of your comfort zone. Believe us when we say it is worth swapping your AC room with a swim-up pool for a few nights of a less comfortable bed, possibly with mosquitoes or two around and lower water pressure in the shower, to be able to really embrace and discover the hospitality of the people, living in rural areas, their humble yet happy lifestyle and the warmth they radiate when they are sharing their meal with strangers. And the nature! The magnificent nature around the source of life – River Gambia. One of the rarely seen – unspoilt jewels of tranquillity that shelter colourful birds, monkeys, lizards, hippos and even dolphins! It is a perfect way to balance your travel by experiencing all the aspects Gambia has to offer.
Ninki Nanka is a product that promotes community-based tourism and enables village communities to be part of the income distribution, which is fair. 100% of income from Ninki Nanka sales remains in The Gambia. Each person who takes part in Ninki Nanka Trail – be it a lady playing drums in Jamali, Bakary – the local guide of Ndemban, Jambajabally dancer of Janjanbureh, the lady who is leading the workshop of salt production, our uncle in Jamali playing riti, boat captain in River Gambia National Park, Almamo, who is preparing us delicious lunch, Musa who hosts us with the biggest smile or every other person included - is benefiting by offering their service. And because you decided on the Ninki Nanka Trail, they now can provide those services to you, which they could not do before the creation of the Ninki Nanka Trail.
On Ninki Nanka Trail, you are not just observing. You are interacting with people and being hands-on with their daily tasks. They will welcome you and invite you to try out, not just watch. You will be put in the middle of the village community where you can dance with them, pound the rice with them, dance with the traditional masquerades, ask their village leader any question you like and visit their homes with warm invitations.
Ninki Nanka Trail is not only a trip. It is learning, feeling, seeing and sharing. Learning through many workshops such as tie-dye material dyeing, soap making, palm leaves fan making, rice pudding making, producing salt and many more. It teaches you the elements of the daily life of village communities and shares traditional skills.
It is one of the smallest countries, but its nature is breathtaking. Talk about the river not being polluted by ships and motorboats on every meander. The feeling as you drive amongst mangroves is indescribable—calmness and serenity as you will barely pass by a fisherman on their rowboat here and there. The country is giving habitat to more than 560 birds and hides many rare animal species in our nature parks. There might not be any giraffes, elephants or lions, but you will be able to encounter chimpanzees and hippos in the River Gambia National Park, living in their unfenced natural environment.
If you don't like to follow the mainstream or you are a bit tired of the "over-friendly" greetings of the tourism-concentrated areas, if you are a nature lover and would like to spend your holidays in a quiet environment, then Ninki Nanka Trail is perfect for you. You will stay away from busy places and be able to enjoy views of nature and honest hospitality.
Not only have communities involved in Ninki Nanka additional option for income generation, but they have also evolved in education and gain from the charity aspect of Ninki Nanka as 10% of sales income directly goes back into community funds purposed for projects, benefiting the whole village, such as building community kitchen, fixing the water well, etc.
The fair distribution of income and the cultural responsibility that is part of the trip make it one of the most harmless types of tourism. Every Ninki Nanka explorer is taught about the cultural norms and hosts' way – how to behave while interacting with communities without disrespecting their tradition, religion or lifestyle. Yet, on the other side, village communities underwent training through which they learned about the visitors' way – what is normal for you, what you like, what you don't like and how to accept you without harassment. That way, the experience can be pleasant for both sides, and the beautiful element that remains in this type of travel is the exchange of experiences and knowledge, accepting other cultures and widening the horizons.
If you are looking to experience The Gambia outside classic tourist offers and get a genuine insight into the community life of the villages across the country, join us on the memorable adventure!