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SEE, LEARN, FEEL, SHARE - Gambia's Top Experiences

My Magazine 2023/09
9 min
The Gambia, the smallest African mainland country, is an excellent destination for Africa's first-time visitors and for all those who have always dreamed of going on a different kind of trip to Africa. The Gambia has much to offer besides sun, sand, beach and accommodations, such as festivals, village life, cuisine, culture, music, dance, history, wildlife, river, nature and tradition! There are many options and various workshops, trips and activities that allow you to explore the beauty and culture of this vibrant destination in half-day and one-day trips. We work with trustworthy partners and professional guides who have been in The Gambian tourism industry for over 20 years. So, we invite you to leave the hotel for a half-day or full-day experience and make unforgettable memories! Booking with us also means that you will contribute to our current ongoing charity project for installing solar lights in Kerewan Samba Sira village, which is also part of our sustainable and community-based tourism project.

 

SEE

1) Wassu & Kerr Batch

In The Gambia, the ancient stone circles are found in Kerr Batch and Wassu, but over 60 stone circle sites have been identified.

The Wassu Stone Circles (located around Wassu in the Central River Region) and the Kerr Batch Stone Circles (situated on the Gambia's north bank) are believed to be burial mounds of Kings and chiefs in ancient times and have been dated to between 750-1000 AD. Local legend has it that there is a curse on anyone who disturbs those laid to rest there. This may explain why they have lasted so long with little human interference.

The stone circles of Senegambia were proclaimed a National Monument in 1995 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006.

2) Gambia National Museum

The Gambia National Museum, located in the heart of Banjul, is a cultural treasure trove that houses significant documents and exhibits concerning the history of The Gambia. Opened in 1985, the museum houses three floors of exhibits embodying the countries' cultural and historical identity. It also has photo archives detailing over 70 years of Gambian history.

The exhibits display the political and cultural history of the nation's capital, Banjul, the musical heritage of the Gambia, popular instruments throughout the country and the archaeological history of West Africa and The Gambia.

3) Kunta Kinteh Island

Kunta Kinteh Island (formerly James Island and St Andrew's Island) is a small island in the River Gambia. It was named Kunta Kinteh Island in 2011 to honour the 10th International Roots Homecoming Festival. It was the main point of the slave trade, where slaves were held in caves and prisons before being shipped off to the American colonies.

The extensive ruins of Fort James can be found on Kunta Kinteh island, which is close to Albreda and Juffureh villages. Albreda is famous for its old fortified trading post, also known as a slave factory. There is also a museum on the slave trade with a section dedicated to the Roots connection. Juffureh became famous after Alex Haley's bestseller book Roots, which is based on the story of a strong-willed Mandinka man, Kunta Kinteh, who was taken as an enslaved person around 200 years ago. Since then, many people have been coming to Albreda and Juffureh to find their roots or reconnect with the land of their ancestors.

LEARN

1) Plait your Basket

Fatou Sowe is a young Gambian woman whose skilful hands and indomitable spirit have created remarkable crafts. Fatou's baskets are intricately woven using dried grass and adorned with vibrant coloured ribbons.

Fatou will introduce the process of making baskets and plates of different types from the dried grass and colourful strands. She will share with you how she learned the skills and how she gets the materials to create different designs. Making a basket can take up to two days, and it takes some practice to start plaiting the basket from scratch. You will test your skills under the supervision of Fatou and finish the beautiful souvenir that will remind you of a unique experience in The Gambia.

2) Learn Tie-&-Dye and Batik

Batik is a traditional technique of dyeing fabric using wax to create various patterns.

Spend a day with Musa and learn how to dye fabric with traditional techniques of tie-dye and batik.

Musa will introduce two traditional fabric dyeing methods: batik and tie dye. You will participate in both processes from the first to the last step while enjoying an authentic community environment. You will not only learn about the traditional skill of dyeing the fabric but will also be able to experience the daily life of a Gambian family. After a traditional lunch, you will go home proudly with a beautiful souvenir made by you.

3) Make your own Bangle

Silver is a metal associated with beauty and protection. One of the most popular jewellery accessories in The Gambia are bangles, which are believed to protect the person wearing them. Spend a day with a silversmith and make your unique souvenir with special powers.

You will witness and learn the steps in making your bangle in the workshop in Serekunda. The process takes about three hours, and at the end, you have a beautiful hand-made silver souvenir you helped to make. You can conclude your workshop at the Senegambia Craft Market, where you can check out other hand-made silver jewellery and visit colourful shops with various hand-made products.

FEEL

1) Ninki Nanka Trail

The Ninki Nanka trail is a responsible tourism product promoting Community-Based Tourism and dispersing economic benefits to rural areas. There are many different itineraries of the Ninki Nanka trail, providing tailored experiences from 2 to 7 days long. There is also a possibility to arrange for a tailor-made trip. My Gambia Team, together with Ninki Nanka Encounters, eagerly strives to create new products and expand the Ninki Nanka Trail to all areas of the country.

Aimed mainly at the adventure traveller and special interest groups, the Trail provides a well-rounded visitor experience. Combining river-based and overland excursions, the Trail offers immersive and meaningful interaction with local people. It enables visitors to discover Gambian natural and cultural heritage while experiencing the important oral legend of the Ninki Nanka dragon - a mythical dragon said to reside in the creeks of the River Gambia, with stories providing accounts of a benevolent dragon bringing great fortune and a malevolent dragon bringing danger and even death.

The main focus of the Ninki Nanka trail is exploring upper river regions, using The River Gambia as one of the paths for travel. Usually, the provinces are not the first choice when it comes to experiencing The Gambia, which is why the Ninki Nanka Trail is so important. It allows a visitor to value the hidden jewels of the remote villages and to get closer to the traditions and heritage of Gambian tribes. It also combines river cruises that enable a visitor to fully embrace Gambian nature and animal world beauty.

If you don't have time to experience a proper Ninki Nanka Trail, let us take you on a one-day tasting of The Real Gambia! Visit communities along the river Gambia creeks and combine it with exploring the culture, traditions and lifestyle.

The accommodation provided is diverse. You can experience a homestay, sleeping on a boat, camping or staying in different eco-lodges, guesthouses and lodges along the river Gambia.

2) Tanji Kayaking

Embark on one of the signature sunrise tours, where you can experience Gambia's amazing nature coming alive as the sun rises over the tranquil mangroves. Or take a relaxing sunset cruise and enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty as the sun sets over the beautiful Gambian vista. Even if you are not a birdwatcher, enthusiastic nature and animal lover, or have never kayaked before, we promise you will enjoy this trip.

Your adventure begins in Tanji Fishing Village - approximately a 30-minute drive from the main tourist areas. Enjoy a peaceful breakfast on the lonely island and dip your feet into the healing muddy water while reconnecting with nature. Take in the breathtaking, picturesque scenery and calm, serene surroundings. The sound of the birds and water is the only sound you hear. You can see many beautiful birds such as Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Abyssinian Roller, Reef Heron, Spoonbill, Pelicans, etc.

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.

3) Serekunda Market

Join us for an authentic shopping venture! A must-do while in The Gambia is a visit to the Serekunda Market, which is the largest in The Gambia, spreading across a fair share of the town.

The mixture of colours, sounds and tastes might overwhelm you at first. But, as you get used to the crowd and the atmosphere, you can start enjoying your shopping venture while getting familiar with the local products, vegetables and fruits you haven't seen before and everything else that Serekunda Market offers.

Known for being one of the oldest markets in The Gambia, Serekunda Market has become a profound cultural destination that sits proudly at the top of the list of places to visit in The Gambia, making it a memorable stop for travellers. It is a great way to discover the daily lives of Gambians, such as what they eat, how they dress and how they relate to each other.

SHARE

1) Volunteer in a Nursery School

Kids are the World Nursery School is located in Brufut, a village about half an hour from the main tourist area. Most children in the village do not have regular schooling opportunities but are always desirous of new knowledge. As a volunteer, you will join teachers in planning and carrying out educational activities such as storytelling, sports, outdoor games, playing instruments, singing, learning letters, numbers and basics of the English language, and any other learning activity that can be done with the equipment and materials available in the school.

The working days are from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 1 pm, which means afternoons and weekends are free for you to decide whether you want to attend any suggested activities or excursions or just plan your free time yourself.

2) Volunteer in Environmental Protection

Volunteering experience in Gunjur is an excellent opportunity to combine spending time with the local community and learning the way of life, religion, traditions and the local languages. It is also an opportunity to give back to the world by engaging in environmental activities in one of the most environmentally aware communities in The Gambia.

Tree planting as a part of the project Trees for Schools, language class on Mandinka or Wolof, visiting the women's gardens and engaging in horticulture activities, shopping at the local market, visiting the hatchery and turtle protection site, data collection on the sea turtles of Gunjur, visiting the local nursery school and doing a lesson on environmental protection are some of the activities which you will be a part of while in Gunjur.

3) Volunteer in a Village Community

There are many options to join volunteer work in village communities across the country. This type of experience allows you to taste the lifestyle of the people living in remote areas, many times deficient in electricity, water supply, and medical services, but first and foremost, education opportunities.
Come in and share your knowledge in exchange for probably the most memorable moments of your life. Living with communities will make you feel like you are one of them. You will be reminded of what is really important in life and how it is when the community comes together to take care of one another. Your contribution to knowledge exchange, either as a school assistant, medical worker, construction worker, tailor or seamstress, environmental conservationist, etc., will be paid back by making you part of the family forever.
Travel with us to Kerewan Samba Sira, Njau, Gunjur, Tanji and make your stay in The Gambia one of a kind.

 

Apply here and begin your life-changing journey.

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