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Ideas for families coming to The Gambia

My Magazine 2023/11
14 min
Is The Gambia suitable for families? In our opinion, it is. However, before travelling, it is necessary to do your homework and find out where you are going. Travelling to almost any destination in the world requires careful planning.

More and more families are looking for new destinations for their holidays. In the fast pace of life in a material world, parents strive to enrich their children with a unique experience. Time spent with children is never wasted. However, if children learn something new about another culture, way of life, animals, music, and village customs on their trip, this is precious knowledge for life.

The Gambia is an appropriate place for a family vacation and experiencing diversity together. The children will enjoy playing on the long sandy beaches, splashing around in the pool and the activities organized for them. If you decide to spend your vacation beyond the tourist strip, you will have plenty of socializing with the locals, making new friends, having fun, and learning for the whole family ahead of you. Animals, people, music, cuisine and exploring the culture are the right guarantees for an unforgettable family trip.

As the smallest country on the mainland of Africa, it has many attractions in a short distance, and therefore, you can discover it all without spending a lot of time and money. This is also one reason it is becoming one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. It does not fail to compete with others. On the contrary, it has more attractions in one place than many other African countries.

Here are some general recommendations for family holidays in The Gambia

 

Health Precautions

All individuals planning travel should seek advice on the potential hazards in their chosen destinations and understand how best to protect their health and minimize the risk of falling sick. Forward planning, appropriate preparation and careful precautions can protect their health and minimize the risks of accidents and acquiring the infection.

Seek advice from your doctor (or travel clinic) to find out which vaccines are recommended for your family. Yellow fever is mandatory only for those entering from a listed country (for example, Senegal).
You can also read the information on the WHO (World Health Organization) website.

Also, seek malaria advice.

Travel clinics will give you more detailed information and recommendations for paediatric antimalarials. It is very important to follow prevention advice. You can bring a mosquito net with you, but know that many accommodation facilities have a mosquito net.

There are quite a few natural repellents on the market, as well as others that can adequately protect you. Bring a child-friendly insect repellent with you, as it is pretty hard to find it in The Gambia. You can also buy electric mosquito repellent in The Gambia, which chases mosquitoes from your room. If there are no nets on the windows, make sure doors and windows are closed well.

Before booking an accommodation place, find out if they are child-friendly. Quite a few capacities are adults-only (some do not accept children under 12, some under 16), but there is an increment of child-friendly accommodation places in The Gambia. Ask for an extra bed or baby cot in advance if needed. Some facilities have a children's pool, a children's menu, and animation for children.

You can stay in a hotel with a swimming pool directly on the beach, in self-catering apartments, lodges, guest houses or an African hut in an eco-lodge in the middle of nature. Some have a pool, and some are close to the river.

What to bring with you?

Bring light, short, and long clothes, hats, and sunscreen.

You can buy all kinds of floaters in The Gambia, but the offer is limited, so you can bring some.

Diapers, porridge, milk powder, and baby care products can be purchased at well-stocked stores but may be more expensive than in your country.

Take the basic/needed medicine with you. There are some better-stocked pharmacies in the vicinity of Serrekunda, which also offer some dietary supplements, vitamins, and supplements. We definitely recommend that you have essential medications and probiotics with you.

Never go out without water.

Seek advice about where to eat, as the locals eat pretty spicy food.

The Atlantic Ocean can have dangerous currents, so swimming in deep water is not recommended. It is best to paddle in the sea and swim in the pool.

Touching monkeys and other animals is not recommended (it can be very dangerous). The observation will be extremely interesting for your children.

Children will probably love the pools and paddling on the beach together with animal spotting. You have a vast range of activities for children.

 

What to do with children?

It depends on the age of your children, but here are some suggestions.

BEACH

There are many amazing places on the beach where children can enjoy playing with the sand, paddling in the water, playing with a ball and horseback riding. There are many beaches with bars & restaurants, sunbeds, and shades. Most places offer international dishes with fast-food options like French fries, fish & chips, pizza, hamburgers, etc. You can also come with your own food and drinks and spend a day under palm trees.

VISIT A LOCAL NURSERY OR SCHOOL

Ever thought of volunteering in a local nursery with your children? Or do you just want to pay a visit to a Gambian school?

It is one of the most unique and meaningful experiences you can have as a family. Voluntary work gives young people a unique chance to express their commitment through unpaid and full-time voluntary activities abroad. In this way, they develop solidarity, mutual understanding and a higher tolerance among people back in their home country.

Please note that it is not recommended to take photos of the children and post them on social media without parents' approval.

Do you want to visit Kids Are The World nursery in Ghana Town, Brufut? Contact them on Whatsapp at +220 791 2618.

CHIMPANZEES & HIPPOS IN A NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

In addition to all other experiences, The Gambia can give you a magnificent view of chimpanzees and giant hippos in their natural environment. Did you know that there are only a few countries where you can see chimps in their natural habitat? Fortunately for us, The Gambia is one of them! There are over 120 chimpanzees on the islands, and 2 families live on Baboon Island. There is a rehabilitation project to save these amazing creatures. It's really magical and magnificent!

Hippos can be spotted at the River Gambia National Park. It is recommended to take a riverboat trip at low tide to have more chances to spot them. Giant hippopotamuses are the second heaviest land mammals in the world and are dangerous animals as they come very close to humans to eat. Boat trips on the river Gambia offer a fantastic experience and a chance to look inside the animals' natural environment living in The Gambia.

It is good to know that River Gambia National Park is approx. 250km away from Senegambia, so it is recommended to dedicate at least 2 to 3 days to spend upriver region. There are so many things to see and do there! And people are really kind and helpful.

Please check out this amazing trip by clicking HERE

EXPLORE THE SOUTH OF THE GAMBIA

If you are interested in having an insight into the daily life of locals, seeing reptiles and turtles, learning about history, nature, religion, and culture, and if you love good food, then this is a perfect trip for you.

This excursion is part of our responsible tours. All people contributing to your experience on this trip make earnings directly on the spot.

Please click HERE to find out more. 

SEA TURTLE PROTECTION PROJECT

Your holiday in the Gambia and supporting the Sea Turtle Protection Project is one of the best ways you can personally help promote a sustainable alternative to the negative impact of mass package tourism in The Gambia. The sea turtle conservation program in Gunjur is geared toward raising environmental awareness and nurturing grassroots economies and social development. Spending a day out with this team of conservation volunteers is a real-life experience you cannot afford to miss in your life.

Please contact us at travel@my-gambia.com if you want to know more about the nesting season and volunteering programs.

MUSIC & DANCE

Music and dance colour every corner of daily life in The Gambia. Live performances, which often continue late into the night, are an unmissable introduction to Gambian social life at its most exuberant.

But traditional music is far more than just entertainment; it is the most valued and celebrated of the arts, used to spread news, tell stories, cement relationships, and express religious beliefs. As such, it has a crucial role in cultural rituals.

A great way to immerse yourself in The Gambia's musical traditions and get under the skin of local culture is to sign up for a series of lessons with a professional musician or dancer.

Many kora, djembé, sabar, and balafon players are happy to offer interested visitors an introduction to the basics of their instrument; the musicians who play at the resort hotels can sometimes make useful introductions or offer themselves as tutors. A lesson could be a simple jamming session on the beach or a more intense session of detailed technical instruction. Children will love it!

CEREMONIES

During your stay, you are very likely to hear, before you see, a Gambian ceremonial occasion taking place. Occasions such as weddings, naming ceremonies, initiation ceremonies and other special Muslim and Christian festivals are celebrated by lavish feasting, drumming, music, and dancing. A village will also celebrate the arrival of a special guest, the event marked by the dancing of the kanali – a group of women dancers. If you are invited to a celebration, do not miss it.

THE TASTE OF A VILLAGE LIFE

Visiting some of The Gambia's most remote villages is a great way to learn about tribal rituals and rural life. Culturally, there is much to discover about rural Gambia in this region, particularly if you have a good guide to translate. Tribal traditions are in many ways more intact here than anywhere else in the country, and villagers are generally proud to share and explain elements of their culture, such as music and dance, with interested visitors.

Click HERE and HERE to get more information.

FISHING

If you are an adventurous angler, we invite you to the Smiling Coast of Africa, where you will get the best fishing adventure. Coming with your family, The Gambia offers activities that fit any travel style.

Sea and river fishing is good all year round, particularly line-fishing from the beaches along Gambia's southern seaboard. Deep-sea fishing up to 30km offshore is the best from the middle of May to October. Sportfishing is excellent during the summer from June to December but good all other months. Boat anglers who prefer to avoid rough waters and saltwater bolongs are perpetually tranquil and appealing. Wild waterways make an ideal habitat for a range of tropical fish and an ideal marine environment for the light tackle angler. With more than 70 different fish species in many inshore reef sandbars, rocky outcrops, and deep channels, as well as the Gambia River, these features provide an ideal marine environment for creek fishing.

One of the most popular trips for families who want to combine boat trips, nature, and fishing is the Fishing Boat Trip.

COOKING WITH LOCALS & HOME VISIT

A home visit of a family gives you a chance to experience the daily life of a Gambian family in one day. This experience doesn't only help you see the life of the locals but creates a much-needed extra direct income for the community members involved in the trip. Your children will be able to play with other children and see what toys/subjects some children in The Gambia use to play.

PRIVATE RIVER CRUISES

River cruises are one of the most fascinating activities in The Gambia. A traditional Gambian pirogue takes you deep into the heart of rural Gambia. Falling asleep to the sounds of the nighttime river and waking up to the spectacular African sunrise is an experience you will never forget. Along the way, you will have a unique glimpse into the traditional lifestyles, culture and wildlife of The Gambia.

Itineraries can be designed around your particular interests and move at your pace as it is a privately owned boat and specialized for small groups (max 6). Whether you're into nature, outdoor activities, culture, cooking, music, or just sitting and relaxing on the top deck with an iced drink, just let us know, and we can arrange the perfect experience.

Please get in touch with us for more details and information.

KAYAKING ON TANJI CREEK

Even if you are not a birdwatcher, enthusiastic nature and animal lover, or have never kayaked before, we promise you will enjoy the trip with Gambia Kayaking. After going once, you will surely want to return again and again.

Kayaking is a step closer to nature, water and animals. While rowing in the calm creek with no currents, your ride on a tranquil river, enveloped by the gentle breeze and birds chirping, will take you far away from the boisterous land. You will enter a world of unalloyed peace and tranquillity. You can even step out of the kayak and walk in the mud at low tide. Don't be worried about your physical strength; the guide will follow your pace or take over if you feel tired.

Sunset and sunrise kayaking trips are two extremely popular and most wanted trips. However, it is also possible to rent a kayak for a whole day (without a guide). Or you can book an organized full-day trip which includes breakfast and lunch.

The trip is recommended and suitable for all ages. It is a getaway trip for friends, couples, groups and families with children. It is possible to arrange the trip also for people with disabilities.

LAZY BOAT TRIP

Sailing along the River Gambia offers a unique experience for many holidaymakers visiting the country. With so many things to see and do in The Gambia, sailing along this majestic river or creeks should be at the top of your list.

There are several options for spending a day on the river or creek. You can go for sports fishing, kayaking, river cruises, lazy boat trips, sailing on a small pirogue, exploring the countryside with the boat while relaxing on the boat's deck, birdwatching trips, or visiting historical spots. Kunta Kinteh and the island of Janjanbureh are attractions often visited by tourists.

PAINTING CLASSES

Explore colour, texture and perspective, creating your very own painting. Painting workshops are the perfect way to discover your artistic side in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Zizo, the friendly art instructor, provides guidance and support, so no art experience is required. With all the materials provided, workshops are a great way to get creative.

MUST SEE 4 in 1

Visit the most known and must-see spots of The Gambia in one day and make some memorable moments from the capital city, crocodile park, monkey park and fishing village! It's a great trip combining 4 popular sites in one day.


Kindly check all the details by clicking HERE.

POTTERY WORKSHOP

Grab the opportunity to experiment and experience working with clay during a workshop. You can witness and be part of making a clay product using different techniques.

One can witness the process of making a clay product with different techniques. Depending on the workshop's choice, one can test one's skills in making clay art and take a souvenir back home.

FESTIVALS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

Several festivals take place each year in The Gambia. Children usually enjoy music, masquerade, dance, and different performances. One of the most interesting festivals is the Janjanbureh Kankurang festival.

The main purpose of the festival is to showcase the unique cultural expression of the Kankurang and other masking traditions of West Africa so that the Island will gain visibility and attract more and more visitors who would like to experience an intangible authentic cultural heritage.

The 7th Janjanbureh Kankurang Festival is usually scheduled from the 26th to the 28th of January 2024.

Apart from the Janjanbureh festival, there are many others based around the high season (especially December- March) and other annual Islamic and Christian festivals.

If you follow our page, you will know when some of the festivals will take place, like Kartong Festival, Sanyang Festival, Kora Festival, Coming Home – Roots Festival, Gambia – Cultural & Reggae Festival, Gambia Food Festival, Fashion Week and more.

ENJOY A DAY BY THE SWIMMING POOL

We highly recommend booking an accommodation place with a pool. Children will love it. But if you are staying in a place with no pool, several places offer an opportunity to spend a day around the pool for families. Charges differ.

If you want to make a reservation or you need more information, please send an e-mail to travel@my-gambia.com or call/WhatsApp us at +220 214 0000.

KACHIKALLY CROCODILE POOL, BAKAU

Kachikally is one of the most known places in The Gambia, but it is mainly for tourists. Many people visit it because of the unique experience of touching the real-life crocodile. Alongside more than 200 crocodiles living in Kachikally, you can also do the forest walk and learn from the exhibits in the ethnographic museum. But amongst the locals, Kachikally is known for its healing powers of the water. We got to talk with the Alkalo (village leader) and descendant of the Bojang family, who has been taking care of the place since the beginning. He explained how it all began and what are the three most important aspects of the site today.

Trips including Kachikally:

REPTILE FARM, KARTONG

The reptile farm is an institution privately owned but working with the government. The aims are to participate in research, collect data or samples, help preserve the natural fauna in The Gambia, and mainly to help Gambians live in peace with their wild population of reptiles in general and snakes in particular.

Photo by Kaja Škorjanc

You can combine a trip to Kartong with other interesting activities.

THE FAJARA GOLF CLUB

Another great place for children and adults is The Fajara Club. Their facilities cater to children of all ages. Dive into our refreshing swimming pool, perfect for water-based adventures. You can swing into action with thrilling tennis, table tennis, and squash, guaranteed to keep you active.

The golf course is suitable for the older kids, where they can tee off and show off their skills.

After an active day, visit the 19th Hole for mouthwatering snacks and delicious meals.

Non-members can join the fun by paying affordable daily rates.

For any questions, please feel free to contact them directly!
Veronica Sabin - 220 7458905 or
Bakary Njie - 220 7053821

KING'S & QUEEN'S SHOW

A fusion of talents is set to grace the stage in a mesmerizing performance that will leave you breathless.

A live band, their melodies pulsating through the air, setting the rhythm for a troupe of world-class dancers who will captivate your senses with their graceful moves. But that's not all - prepare to be amazed as skilled acrobats defy gravity, soaring through the air with daring stunts that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

This show promises an unforgettable night of music, dance, and acrobatics that will transport you to a world of wonder and excitement.
Mark your calendars because you won't want to miss this extraordinary extravaganza!

The spectacular show is happening EVERY Thursday from the 26th of October, 2023, to the 25th of April, 2024.

Location: Sofa Nyama Centre Stage | Senegambia Behind Sofanyama Restaurant
Doors open at 7.15 pm
Dinner buffet served from 7.30 pm
The show starts at 8.00 pm

Please note that we continuously add content to our website and social media, so please check for updates before arriving in The Gambia.

If you need information or you want to book accommodation, a trip, a workshop or a travel photoshoot with your children in The Gambia, kindly get in touch with us via e-mail at travel@my-gambia.com or WhatsApp message to +220 214 0000.

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