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Trip of the month: Overnight village experience in Ndemban

My Magazine 2023/01
6 min
A homestay in Ndemban village is a great way to experience the local culture and way of life. It typically involves staying with a local family in their home and participating in their daily activities, including farming, cooking, and participating in community events. Homestays can also provide an opportunity to learn about the local customs, history, and language. It's a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and gain a deeper understanding of the typical Jola village and its ways of life.

You will be greeted by the hosts (the village guide), who will show you around the homestay and provide you with any necessary information.

Visiting the village chief

Upon arrival in the village, the first stop would typically be to visit the village chief. This is an important cultural tradition, as the chief is a respected leader in the community. During the visit, the chief may welcome you to the village and give you a brief overview of the village's history and customs.

Visiting the fortune teller

The fortune teller can provide insight into your future and answer any questions you may have. This is an interesting cultural experience, as fortune-telling is an important tradition in many parts of The Gambia.

Visiting the blacksmith

The blacksmith is a skilled artisan who creates a variety of items such as tools, weapons, and jewellery. The blacksmith will give you a demonstration of their craft and explain their role in society and the spiritual beliefs connected to them. You will be able to purchase some of their work.

After visiting the blacksmith, you will return to the village riverside restaurant for a traditional meal and workshop of the traditional crafts commonly practised in the village of Ndemban.


Tie-dye is a traditional textile-dying technique that involves tying or binding parts of the fabric to create a pattern before dyeing it. In Ndemban village, tie-dye is often done using natural dyes made from plants, fruits, and other materials. The technique is usually done by hand, using a variety of knots and bindings to create different patterns. The fabric is then dyed using natural dyes, and after the dyeing process, the ties are removed to reveal the pattern.

Soap Making

Soap making is also a traditional craft in Ndemban village. The process of making soap typically involves mixing oils, such as palm oil or coconut oil, with an alkaline, such as lime, to create soap. The soap is then poured into moulds and left to cure for several hours or days. Once it is cured, the soap is cut into bars and left to dry. In Ndemban village, it is also common to add natural ingredients such as herbs, fruits, and essential oils to the soap to give it additional benefits of moisturizing, exfoliating, and fragrance.

Both tie-dye and soap-making are done by the women of the village, who also sell their products to locals and visitors. It's a way for women to earn an income and preserve their culture and traditions.

Salt production

This is an important activity in Ndemban village. Salt production in the village is done through traditional methods, which involve the evaporation of seawater to extract salt. The process typically starts with the collection of seawater in large shallow ponds, which are then left to evaporate under the sun. As the water evaporates, the salt crystals begin to form and are harvested by hand.
Travellers visiting Ndemban village have the opportunity to see the salt production process demonstration and learn about the traditional methods used to extract salt, as well as the importance of salt production in the local economy.

Oyster collection

Oyster collection usually takes place in the estuary along the coast of the village, where oysters are found in abundance.
The process typically begins with finding a suitable spot in the creeks to collect oysters. This is usually done during low tide when the oysters are exposed and can be easily harvested. The villagers use traditional tools such as oyster rakes, cutlass and plaited baskets to collect oysters from the roots of mangroves.
Travellers visiting Ndemban village may have the opportunity to participate in the oyster collection as part of their homestay experience. They may be able to learn about the traditional methods used to collect oysters and gain insight into the importance of oyster collection in the local economy.

Storytelling around the fire with a kora player

The kora is a traditional stringed instrument played by the griot (a traditional storyteller and musician).
During the activity, guests would gather around a fire in the evening and listen to stories and songs played by the kora player. The stories and songs often focus on local history, culture, and legends. The griot can also improvise his songs based on current events and audience participation. The kora music creates a unique and mesmerizing atmosphere, while the stories and songs give an insight into the cultural heritage of the village. It's a great way to learn about the culture and customs of the village, as well as a way to be entertained in a traditional way.

Visiting the village vegetable garden

Visiting a vegetable garden in Ndemban village is a great way to learn about local agriculture and sustainable farming practices. It typically involves visiting a community garden, where various vegetables are grown using traditional methods.

During the visit, you will have the opportunity to learn about the different types of vegetables that are commonly grown in the village, such as okra, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. You will learn about the traditional methods used to cultivate the vegetables, such as the use of organic fertilizers, crop rotation, and companion planting. The villagers may also show you the irrigation system they use, whether from a well or the river.

You may also have the opportunity to participate in the farming activities, such as planting, weeding, and harvesting. This can be a great way to get hands-on experience with local farming practices and learn about sustainable agriculture.

Cooking with locals

This is a great way to experience the local cuisine and learn about traditional cooking methods. It typically involves working with a local family or group of villagers to prepare a traditional meal.

During the cooking experience, the locals will guide you through the process of preparing a traditional meal, including the use of local ingredients and traditional cooking utensils. You may have the opportunity to learn about the different dishes that are commonly prepared in the village, such as stews, soups, and curries. You may also learn about the spices and seasonings that are commonly used in the local cuisine.

This activity is usually done in the host's home or in a communal kitchen, where visitors can interact with the locals and learn about their culture and way of life. Cooking with locals is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and gain a deeper understanding of the country and its people. It's also an opportunity to share and exchange cultures and learn new recipes.

Your late afternoon departure can be a bittersweet experience, as you will likely have formed a connection with the host family and the community. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure a smooth departure. Before leaving, it's a good idea to inform the host of your expected departure time. This will allow them to prepare for your departure and ensure family members are available to say goodbye. Make sure to pack all of your belongings and leave your room in good condition before leaving. Take the time to say goodbye to the host and thank them for their hospitality.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth and respectful departure from your Ndemban village homestay experience with a lifetime memory to cherish.

Ready to book a private or group tour? We are here for you. Check out more details and send an inquiry to book your spot on an overnight Jola village experience in Ndemban!


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