31 Reasons To Visit The Gambia

My Magazine 2022/05
25 min
“Where will I go next?” That’s the question every travel-lover daydreams about regularly. Where will their next adventure take them, and what will make it an unforgettable experience?

You may wish to visit certain destinations based on books you’ve read, movies you’ve watched, stories you’ve heard from your friends or other interests you may have. Some travellers know exactly where they will go next, but for some, choosing the next destination can be difficult. When you stand in front of a map, you are presented with endless exciting possibilities, and it can be hard to choose just one.

To help you ensure The Gambia is the gateway you want it to be, we’ve identified some of the reasons why you should choose The Gambia as your next travel destination.
Have a look and happy travels!

The Gambia has unique qualities over many other destinations, and it is becoming one of the most popular and attractive travel destinations in the world. The smallest country in mainland Africa is offering more than you can imagine!

1. THE BEST CHOICE FOR AFRICA’S FIRSTCOMERS

According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Africa has been one of the fastest-growing tourism regions of the last decade! Yet, despite this rapid growth of visitors, Africa is still last on the list of popular destinations for general tourists, and it is still common to hear travellers say that they are nervous about visiting this vast and mysterious continent.

Don’t judge all the African countries based on journalists who often focus on reporting only about the problems in Africa. The truth is that MANY positive stories never reach the general public. The Gambia is just one of many countries on the African continent, and it is different from many African countries. It is a small, quiet, affordable land of smiling people, where many travellers feel at home. The wonderful nature, wildlife, rich culture and traditions, interesting but painful history, colourful villages and above all friendly, hospitable people who are always willing to help.

The Gambia is definitely the best choice for Africa’s firstcomers. The country and its people will welcome you with open arms, guide you around and help you to create unforgettable memories.

2. COMFORTABLE FLYING DISTANCE FROM EUROPE

The Gambia is located only six hours away from major European destinations and capitals in Europe, making it a popular and financially accessible place for visitors, volunteers and tourists. You can find good flights deals from many European countries all year round. Even during the time of the COVID-19 epidemic, regular flights are available. Direct flights are available from some countries, such as Germany, Belgium, Spain and the UK.

The number of travel agents offering holidays in The Gambia grows every year.

It is now easier to travel to Africa than ever before.

3. DESTINATION FOR EVERYONE

The Gambia is the kind of holiday destination, which is suitable for every type of vacation, whether it is summer vacation for the entire family, an adventurous trip for students and young people, long winter holidays for retirees, a romantic getaway for honeymooners or an educational & volunteering group experience.

It is s suitable for the holidaymaker who loves to spend the holiday in a hotel, resort or lodge using their room service, offered activities, spa & beauty services, massage and the whole range of other hotel services. There is a fantastic selection of accommodation providers in The Gambia to accommodate your style and budget. Whether you’re looking for a stylish boutique hotel, beachfront hotel, luxury hotel and lodge or family-friendly hotel, you will certainly find something to suit your taste.

For adventurous travellers who don’t just want to visit a country but want to experience it. And want to experience everything. The Gambia, people and places offer a unique way of experiencing the country, its nature, animals, villages and the daily life of local people. Spending a vacation with locals is a guarantee of an intensive experience. You will see towns and villages that no travel agency travels to, taste local food and experience local customs, you will save money, experience public transport and much more. Attending local music festivals will make your journey even more magical.


Do you want to give back and really do something meaningful with your time at the destination? The Gambia, a small, beautiful Western African country, offers outstanding and unforgettable volunteering opportunities, whether travelling alone, with your partner or with a family. Many great projects are trying to improve different areas on the individual, local, and national levels. And don’t forget – this experience might completely change your life perspective.

The Gambia is also 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 by the hotels. If you decide to spend your vacation beyond the tourist strip, you have plenty of options for 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 guarantee for an unforgettable family trip.

You don’t want to spend a lot of money on accommodation, and you are not interested in history and museums, but when it comes to animals and nature, you are so ready for the experience!

The Gambia has fascinating flora and wildlife, vibrant ecosystems, varied landscapes and many different animal species. From savannas to mangroves, beaches to cities, and bushes to villages. There are no “Big 5″ in The Gambia, but there are over 500 bird species and many other animals to be spotted, which makes it a heavenly destination for animal lovers. Animal and birdlife are extremely diverse and exotic. The wildlife of the Gambia is dictated by several habitat zones over its total land area of about 10,000 square kilometres. Birds, monkeys, chimpanzees, baboons, crocodiles, snakes, hippos, tropical fish, antelopes, zebras, rhinos, giraffes, and many more are waiting for you in The Gambia and Senegal wildlife reserves.


The Gambia is a perfect winter holiday destination for retirees who want to escape from the cold winter weather in Europe. Africa offers a warm sun all year round, peaceful hotels & lodges and reasonable prices. Today, more and more retirees are looking for meaningful holidays. Visiting new places, socializing with locals, tasting the local cuisine, bird watching and dancing to the rhythms of local music are just some of the activities The Gambia offers. The friendly people of Gambia will always take good care of you, and you will never feel you are alone In Africa. Hospitality and being respectful towards elders are values that Gambians are born with.

You are someone who heads off on holidays to go cycling, sport fishing, hiking, meet other groups to play football, or head off with friends to play golf.

Experiencing the world beyond the borders of holiday resorts and learning about the destination through local places and residents with their stories of life will make your holidays in The Gambia unforgettable. There is no better way to feel the heartbeat of a country than through different activities organized by locals. The Gambia offers a wide range of activities: cycling trips, yoga, dance classes, diving, surfing, fishing,…

You like to travel to gain greater knowledge about culture, history, architecture and local cuisine. Your journey starts before leaving home. You read the books and websites to get background information about your journey. The cultural heritage in the Gambia is very ethnically diverse and offers many unique experiences for visitors. Among the attractions are performances and the arts – dance and music are highly developed and very important. The Gambia does not disappoint with its cuisine having diverse and exciting food. Lastly, Gambia is full of historical buildings, monuments and archaeological sites, most of which were confirmed by UNESCO. Every two years, there is a big international Roots Festival organized in The Gambia, which holds an international reunion. Most of the people attending the festival share something in common; purest love for their motherland, dearest Africa and the heritage which goes back to the days of slavery.

We want young people of the world to think differently! Travelling to Africa can be a significant step and a lifetime experience for them. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about the cultural traditions, cuisine, music, local language, animals and nature. Travelling to Africa can also encourage developing solidarity, mutual understanding and tolerance among young people. We would like to see prejudice gone and to connect people throughout the world because we feel we can overcome cultural and religious differences together.

Sometimes it’s good to go in a group! Individuals with common and divergent interests usually come together in social or thematic groups. Travelling in small groups lets you feel like you are exploring a destination independently, but at the same time, a group creates a good vibe. It is a unique way to build friendship in addition to all other experiences that move the group and each individual.


People usually coming in a group are ornithologists, cyclists, marathon runners, artists & musicians coming to perform or participate in festivals, retirees, and adventurers coming to Africa to discover real, local life, tradition, and culture. But recently, the most common group of travellers are volunteers coming to Africa with a mission. Programs focus on social changes, social justice, education, animal protection & rehabilitation, and medical assistance. Each trip has its benefits and becomes a powerful experience.

4. UNIQUE CHARM LIES IN ITS SMALLNESS

The Gambia is the smallest country on the mainland of Africa. It is located in the West African region. It borders the Atlantic Ocean in the west and Senegal from all other sides, but it still retains its own clear identity.
On 11,295sq km (4,361sq miles), it has many attractions at a short distance, and therefore you can discover it all without spending a lot of time and money. This is also one of the reasons why 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.


1,300sq km (500sq miles) of the country’s area is the river, so the landmass is technically around 10,000sq km (4,000sq miles). The Gambia is very flat land. The highest point in the country reaches only 53m (174ft) above sea level, though the riverbanks do include dramatic sand and laterite ‘cliffs’, which make impressive vantage points.

The unique charm lies in its smallness which enables visitors to get a deeper insight into the lives of people, culture, daily life, customs, wildlife and communities.

5. PEACEFUL & GREAT VALUE DESTINATION

The Gambia is a stable and peaceful country. There is no war, and most of the Gambians are friendly and hospitable people. Freedom and peace are also mentioned in their national anthem. It is very important for all the nation. In addition, the country is affordable and was also ranked as one of the best value holidays destinations in 2014 and won the 2019 tourism destination of the year award. It is definitely a destination where you get more for your travel money!


It is a reasonably safe country to travel and explore as long as you take sensible precautions to safeguard your possessions. There are several checkpoints everywhere in the country. Remember that you need to be careful, like in your town or any other destination. If you would not go to someone’s house after knowing him or her for half an hour, don’t do it in The Gambia as well. Pickpockets are in every country, also in The Gambia. Don’t take valuables or large sums of money to the beach, markets and when crossing river with the ferry or display them in public. It is also recommended to lock documents, valuables, and money in a safety deposit box in your room.

6. MANY OPTIONS TO COMBINE YOUR HOLIDAYS

As one of the smallest countries with a wide range of accommodation options, activities and projects, it is a perfect destination where you can combine adventure, relaxation and exploration.
You can make your holiday in Africa unique and magical like nowhere else.

You can relax at the paradise beaches and amazing holidays resorts, self-catering apartments or lodges, whether alone, with family or on your honeymoon. If you want to experience the country beyond the tourist strip, you can visit some animal parks, nearby villages, and local schools and go for a daily river cruise to see mangroves, birds, creeks, etc. There are also many volunteering opportunities for you and your family. If you escape the Atlantic resort area, you will experience another side of the country. When travelling to explore the interior of The Gambia, you will find yourself deep in classic West African landscapes scattered with traditional villages and crisscrossed by red-earth roads, rich in eco-tourism opportunities, wilderness, wildlife and birdwatching. In addition, you will experience West African music and rural culture as there are always vibrant festivals, events full of traditional drumming, energetic dancing as well as customary wrestling matches, going on.

7. ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS

There is a fantastic selection of big and small independent hotels in The Gambia to accommodate your style and budget. Whether travelling for business or leisure, you will find the best hotel room to suit your needs.
Most tourist visitors to The Gambia still have hotels pre-booked for their stay as part of a flight-plus-accommodation package. Still, it’s perfectly possible to take an ad-hoc approach to find accommodation, allowing your itinerary to be flexible.


At certain times of year (particularly at the peak holiday times of Christmas, New Year and Easter), the busiest tourist hotels are all booked in advance – and the most popular places may be completely sold out throughout the season – but it’s always possible to find somewhere to stay if you are happy to look a little off the beaten track, and not limit yourself to the hotels used by tour operators only.

Choosing a lodge as an accommodation type is perfect for birdwatchers, fishing enthusiasts and anyone keen to spend time in nature and with locals. The Gambia offers a wide range of lodges to visitors.
Choosing a self-catering holiday cottage or vacation home is the best way to benefit from the freedom to come and go as you please, meet friendly Gambian people, and embrace the real Gambia.

For low budget travellers, backpackers or independent travellers, there are a variety of tourist guest houses available offering basic accommodation and a very local environment.
There is enough choice that will fit any budget and any style.

8. RESTAURANTS & BARS

As tourism in northern Kombo has expanded in recent years, so has the choice of restaurants & bars, with a huge range of styles on offer, from modern European to Lebanese, from simple barbecues to elaborate Asian banquets.


The resort area has the greatest concentration of international-style restaurants in the country – in fact, it’s not all that easy to find traditional Gambian food in any of the tourist restaurants. Go to restaurants in a relaxed mood because you’re likely to find that the service is a bit slow. If you are on holiday, you should anyway not rush and adjust yourself to the Gambian atmosphere.

Most tourist places have a terrace so you can dine in the sun by day or under the stars by night. Local places may just be a few wooden benches and oilcloth-topped tables.

The bar and club scene is similarly divided into two camps – tourist places and local places – although there’s often a healthy overlap of clientele between the two. Many tourists get their taste of the resort nightlife on a “Gambia by Night” tour organized by their hotel reps – a coach-driven bar crawl for a flat fee of around 25€/15£, where you are driven from bar to bar, sampling a complimentary glass of something at each, and dancing to whatever sounds they’ve slapped on to celebrate your arrival.

For live music, local radio, guides and taxi drivers can be a good source of information about forthcoming events – many of which aren’t widely advertised. If you plan a full-on night out, remember that nothing really gets going before midnight here.

9. CLIMATE

The Gambia is known for the most favourable climate in West Africa. The weather is tropical with dry and rainy seasons. Coastal areas are dry from mid-October to mid-June, while the rainy season lasts from June to October. Inland, the cold period is shorter, and from May to June, the daytime temperatures are very high.

Most days are sunny, even during the rainy season. Many tour operators invite visitors only during months from November until January or February when the rains are over, humidity has dropped, the roads are passable, and the bush is still green and busy with birdlife.

We believe you can travel to West Africa any time of the year because every time of the year is something special. Temperatures in the resort areas beside the Atlantic vary little throughout the year, while humidity levels fluctuate. Rainy days are few in the rainy season. It is usually raining at night. Sometimes it can be sunny in the morning, heavily raining at noon, and again sunny in the afternoon. However, birds, flowers and fresh vegetation are all abundant at this time, mangoes are in season, the resorts are uncrowded, the sea is at its warmest, and, between the spectacular thunderstorms, the days are bright and clear. There are also some local beach festivals happening in the summertime.


As there are not many tourists during the rainy season, you will have more chances to spend all your time with locals. The average temperature is 30°C. Sunshine hours from December to July are from 9 to 10 hours. The country enjoys virtually uninterrupted sunshine and high daytime temperatures with almost no rainfall from November to June. From July to October, the humidity level is high, and the sunshine is punctuated by heavy tropical showers.

10. THE BEACHES

80km of coastline, Gambia boasts magnificent golden beaches backed by swaying palms and sprinkled with scenic lagoons. However, the seas have undercurrents and high waves, so although paddling in the shallows is okay, better to keep swimming in the hotel pool. Almost all the beaches around the major hotels have lifeguards on duty during the day, and there is a flag system where the red flag means that sea conditions are not suitable for swimming.

If you like buzzing beaches, head to Senegambia, Kololi or Paradise Beach, where you can ride horses, play the drums with the locals and even get involved in boxing lessons. If you’re more into peace and seclusion, then Fajara, Brufut or Sanyang are ideal for relaxing on a sunbed while sipping a cocktail.

Most of the time, just a simple walk down the beach of the Atlantic Ocean can bring unexpected and pleasant experiences. The long, sandy beach is a place for many people who enjoy walking, jogging and exercising at the beach. As wrestling is a popular sport here, you might see a group of men training for the wrestling competition. There are also many fruit and juice sellers that offer delicious, fresh, tropical fruits juices! You should try it when visiting The Gambia.


Many birds can be spotted when walking along the beach, but also expect to see some dead fish, jellyfish, cattle bones, shells and other natural sea decorations on the sand. In the time of the off-season, you will feel like you have the beach all for yourself.

11. WILDLIFE

A journey to Africa must include observing animal life. Although there are no “Big 5” in The Gambia, many other animals can be spotted. In addition to over 500 bird species, you can see hippos, monkeys and baboons, small antelopes, other mammals, crocodiles, snakes, dolphins and more. This makes it a heavenly destination for animal lovers as well. Animal and birdlife are extremely diverse and exotic. The wildlife of The Gambia is dictated by several habitat zones over its total land area of about 10,000 square kilometres. 

12. CHIMPANZEES & HIPPOS IN THE 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 in the world where you can see chimps in their natural habitat and how fantastic it is that The Gambia is one of them! There are over 120 chimpanzees on islands; two families live on Baboon Island. There is a rehabilitation project running to save these amazing creatures.

Really magical and magnificent!


A hippopotamus 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. The giant hippopotamus is the second heaviest land mammal in the world and is a very dangerous animal as they come very close to humans to eat. Boat trips on the river Gambia offer an amazing experience and a chance to look inside the natural environment of animals living in The Gambia.

13. MIGHTY RIVER GAMBIA

The River Gambia is one of Africa’s great waterways. Raising some 1,130km (702 miles) inland in what is now the Republic of Guinea, the water journeys relentlessly westwards, crossing the border into The Gambia 480km (298 miles) from its mouth.

The River Gambia has been and continues to be the main source of irrigation for communities in rural areas, allowing for enhanced food production. Typically, the river becomes inundated with seawater at certain times of the year, especially in parts of the Central and Upper River Regions. During this period, farmers use the river water by embarking on mass irrigation farming. It is also synonymous with fishing, and a good number of the population living close to the river make maximum use of it directly or indirectly.


River Gambia National park offers an amazing experience and chance to look inside the natural environment of animals living in The Gambia. It is one of the most navigable and exciting adventures you will always want to repeat.

14. HISTORICAL SPOTS

If you are interested in history, you should investigate historical spots in The Gambia. For visitors to the city of Banjul, the capital of The Gambia, the Arch 22, National Museum, King Fahad Mosque, St. Mary Cathedral, Monument to the Unknown soldier and the Banjul State House are popular sights to see. In Tanji, you will find the Tanji Village Museum; in Bakau, there is Kachikally Museum and Crocodile Pool and Village museum in Gunjur. An important historical attraction can also be found in Barra, the Fort Bullen. Slavery museum in Juffureh/Albreda and Kunta Kinteh island. Stone circles can be found in remarkably large numbers in Wassu. Kankurang museum, Freedom tree, Methodist Church, and Colonial cemetery can be visited in Janjanbureh. These are just a few of the most visited and known. There is much more to be explored.

15. THE TRIBES OF THE GAMBIA

Society in The Gambia is made up of several discrete ethnic groups who are found not only here but across a whole swathe of Western Africa. Many Gambians have family ties in neighbouring French-speaking Senegal, Mali and beyond.


Mandinka – by far the most widespread of The Gambia’s peoples; they make up more than 40% of the total population.
Jolas – are thought to have been the earliest arrivals to the region.
Fula – widespread across Western Africa, is the second-largest group in the country.
Wolof – a minority within the country’s population, they are thought to have descended from African royalty and reached The Gambia from Mauritania.
Serehule – rulers of the Kingdom of Ghana and the pre-eminent merchants of West Africa, the Serehule arrived in the 19th century.
Serer – one of the oldest tribes in Senegambia, they are traditional fishermen.
Aku – descendants of formerly enslaved people that returned to Africa in the 19th century.

16. ART VILLAGES AND PROJECTS

Artwork is all around you in The Gambia. Traditional Gambian society sets great store by the oral arts of singing and storytelling and pays relatively little attention to the visual arts. Following ‘tourist-friendly’ themes, you will now find art villages, galleries and different art workshops /projects in the Kombo area, in addition to all the craft markets where you will see locally produced sculptures, carvings, batiks, pottery, woven objects, etc. If you are an artist by heart, you will enjoy it!


We highly recommend visiting Mama Africa Cultural Center & Residence.

17. 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’s 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 proper introductions or offer themselves as a tutor. A lesson could be a simple jamming session on the beach or a more intense session of detailed technical instruction.

18. WRESTLING

This is the oldest sporting activity in the Senegambian region, dating from before the 13th century and probably originating in Mali. Successful wrestlers were and still are seen as extremely important and able men with great innate spiritual and physical powers. As with all Gambian ceremonial occasions, the events are colourful and noisy affairs, and music is inseparable from traditional Gambian wrestling. The basic instrument is the drum, with each ethnic group having its own traditional wrestling tunes. If you wish to watch a wrestling match, they occur in Serrekunda and a few other places throughout the country. The best way to see a match is to organize a visit through a local guide or a Gambian friend.

19. CEREMONIES

During your stay, you are very likely to hear, before you see, a Gambian ceremonial occasion taking place. Events 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 being marked by the dancing of a group of women dancers. If you are invited to a celebration, do not miss it out.

20. 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 the rural Gambia in this region, particularly if you have a good guide with translation skills. 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.

21. BIRDWATCHING

The Gambia provides a first-class destination for any birdwatcher. It is situated close to the northern limit of the tropical rain front, and The Gambia is right in the middle of the narrow transitional zone between semi-desert and tropical rain forest. Consequently, the country’s bird list includes species from both of these areas, with the species to be seen varying with the onset of the rainy and dry seasons. Add to the African endemic species the many European migrants that either pass through The Gambia or spend the winter there, and one can see why the bird list is so extensive. Because of the proximity of the rainforest to the south and the desert to the north, there is always the chance of spotting something unusual that has overshot on migration or a food-finding tour. Therefore, Gambia’s birdlife is astonishingly diverse, and the 560 -plus bird species have relatively few predators. Characteristics sights are pied crows, urbanite magpie-like birds that are common throughout the Sahelian region; electric blue Abyssinian rollers perching conspicuously on telephone wires and bare branches; the marvellous, lurching flight of hornbills swooping across the road in the forest areas; and unmistakable gaggles of noisy, glamorous long-tailed glossy starlings just about everywhere. The Gambia s also a regular haunt of Palearctic migrants – migratory species from Europe and Asia that overwinter in the tropics.

Photo by Jana Šnuderl

22. FISHING

The growing popularity of recreational fishing since the early 1990s has now made The Gambia one of the most sought-after fishing holidays destinations in the world, offering a wide variety of fish species and fishing activities in different places. 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. If you are an adventurous angler, we invite you to the smiling coast of Africa, where you will get the best fishing adventure. Coming alone or with a group of anglers or your family, The Gambia offers activities that fit any travel style.

23. FESTIVALS & NIGHTLIFE

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’s 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. There has been a growing movement to revive some traditional festivals and promote cultural heritage in The Gambia. Such events are helping to attract more tourists and as well helping to present Gambian music, art and dance to the world. If you are excited to experience a festival and love different cultures, dance and music, then The Gambia is a perfect destination. Festivals are happening all year round. If you would like to attend any particular festival, then let us know, and we will send you all information.

24. ECO-TOURISM

The Gambia has fascinating flora and wildlife, vibrant ecosystems, varied landscapes and many different animal species. From savannahs to mangroves, beaches to cities, bushes to villages. Gambian nature reserves are very important for the Gambians and also for visitors. This hidden, little treasure of West Africa, The Gambia, favours eco-tourism, reconciling the environment, wildlife and local community.


Therefore, many eco-lodges offer activities with a low impact on the environment like walking, cycling, river cruising and bird watching. Food served in the restaurants is as local and seasonal as possible, and you can expect simple yet charming accommodations that emphasize the enjoyment of Gambia’s stunningly diverse beauty. Many eco-tourism projects have been developed in past years, and we believe that in the near future, The Gambia will become one of the best eco-tourism destinations in the world. As a strategy for sustainable destination development, The Gambia has definitely chosen a responsible tourism policy that has been prepared by the responsible tourism partnership and has been produced and agreed upon through a multi-stakeholder process. The government’s policy is to promote tourism and its contribution to economic growth. Their objective is to increase the contribution of tourism to our economy and raise the living standards of Gambians. The government continues its efforts to broaden the tourism market, improve quality standards, and ensure rational use of the Tourism Development Area.

25. MARKETS

The Gambia has several street markets where you can find anything from food to clothes. If you really want to experience daily life, you should visit some. It can, though, be an overwhelming experience, with locals inviting you to take a look at their products and trying to sell everything they possibly can. If the market is crowded at the moment you are there, you would need some patience to get out of there. We recommend taking a local guide along for a more effortless experience. Apart from numerous tiny markets, there is Albert market in Banjul, Serekunda market, fish market at Bakau, Bakau craft market, Senegambia craft market, Cape Point craft market, Fajara craft market, Kotu craft market, Brikama craft market, livestock market in Brikama, Tanji fish market, Barra market, Farafenni Lumo (country market).

26. RESPONSIBLE VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES

Choosing appropriate volunteer work is very important for The Gambia and its people. Many projects in The Gambia offer volunteering opportunities all year round. Volunteers should not take on jobs meant for locals. The main reason to volunteer should be a knowledge exchange, discussing long term solutions for locals and spending meaningful time in The Gambia.

27. LOCAL TRANSPORT

Getting around The Gambia is quite a challenge and lets you experience the daily life of the locals. Local transport is something you should try when in the Gambia. There are no railway lines in The Gambia. The country has one international airport, Banjul Airport. The most common way to get around is by road or river. There are some options to choose from, but it all depends on what you are interested to see or which side of a country you want to go to. The main roads are generally well maintained with streetlights. You can choose between local taxis, tourist taxis, bush taxis, ferries, local boats, and cycling (cycling in The Gambia can be a bit challenging, with narrow, often pockmarked roads and drivers who pass dangerously close as they sputter past), buses and rent-a-car.

28. COOKING WITH LOCALS, YOGA, DRUMMING OR DANCE CLASSES

And more! You can choose among numerous activities in The Gambia. Many owners of smaller hotels, lodges or guesthouses are deeply involved in communities; therefore, they offer plenty of things to do and experience. Cooking experience, yoga sessions, drumming or dancing classes, batik workshops, sand painting, wood crafting, soap making, etc. If you think there is not much to do, we can assure you that you can have a very busy schedule!

29. RIVER CRUISES OR KAYAKING EXPEDITIONS

For the adventure traveller, there are a few options to choose from. River cruises are one of the most fascinating activities in The Gambia. You will feel like you are part of a documentary film that you have watched recently on a TV Channel. See life unfurl along its banks by hopping on board a traditional-style river pirogue, motoring past oyster creeks and through mangroves. Watch the local fisherman or the oyster ladies in their dugout canoes while pelicans and ospreys fly overhead. Kayaking trips also offer you a truly unique way to see the River Gambia.

30. NATIONAL PARKS & RESERVES IN THE GAMBIA

The Gambia is not a safari destination in the same league as East or southern African countries. It does, however, have large stretches of unspoiled wilderness and several national parks that are worth taking in if you are interested in seeing West African fauna. Abuko Nature Reserve is the first protected area in The Gambia. Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve is The Gambia’s largest protected area and the less-visited. Bijilo Forest Park is a small area where it is easy to spot monkeys. Kiang West National park, woodland habitat commonly explored by vehicle from Tendaba, is home to baboons, bush pigs, various antelope and many bird species.


River Gambia National park, formerly known as Baboon Islands National Park, is a group of five lushly forested, protected midriver islands downstream from Janjanbureh. The islands are home to a colony of rehabilitated chimpanzees. If you take a river cruise trip, you will spot many birds and, if you are lucky, also hippos. Niumi National Park, situated on The Gambia’s northern Atlantic coast and including Jinack Island, this park is noted for its untouched stands of mangroves. Tanji River Bird Reserve is the only officially protected bird reserve in The Gambia, and it includes the offshore Bijol Islands, an important breeding colony for birds and turtles. Makasutu Culture Forest is a privately owned forest that comprises many different ecosystems. It is home to hundreds of varieties of birds, three species of monkeys, monitor lizards and many more.

From all the above mentioned, we believe that kind and friendly PEOPLE of The Gambia will be the most important reason to enjoy your holidays and to return back to The Smiling Coast of Africa.

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