See the trail route:
Experience the hospitality of the Jola Village in Ndemban. Only 45 minutes away from the main tourist concentrated area, the authentic village on the South River Bank will enchant you with the rhythm of life, tradition and skills. After greeting the head of the village, you will tour around to see community gardens and learn about the role of the blacksmith in society. Take a walk to the waterside to get insight into the oyster collection practice and learn about the method of salt production. Join the workshop on traditional tie & dye and learn new dance steps with the women's group. Relax in the community restaurant by the creek and enjoy a delicious local meal. As the night falls, sit down by the campfire and get intrigued by the stories told by the hosts.
Be taken away by the welcoming chants of the Kanyelenga Women's Group as you head to the village chief's house to learn about the history of the settlement. Learn how to prepare a traditional dish, vegetable domoda, with ingredients collected fresh from the garden. Meet the local artists and create your own unique souvenir from a palm leaf, which will help you fight the heat of the Gambia's inland. Learn about the tradition and role of the Kanyelenga women and understand the spiritual rituals they perform to help barren women.
Explore the culture and history of Janjanbureh. Follow the city tour to the Kankurang Center and learn about the famous Mandinka mask, Kankurang and other masking traditions of The Gambia across many ethnic groups. Discover the meaning of the holy place with strong spiritual power, the sacred baobab. Round the liberation tree and hear about the island's painful history of the slave trade. Be present for the authentic and resourceful process of making silver jewellery at the silversmith's workshop. Stop at the Methodist church and city market while gathering much valuable information about Janjanbureh from the friendly local guides.
In the afternoon, it's time to cross the river and take the donkey cart ride to the Jola Village of Jamali. Join the villagers dancing while enjoying the warmest greeting accompanied by drumming and clapping. Relish the views as you walk through the authentic village of mud huts with thatched roofs to reach the bantaba of alkalo, the head of the village. You are welcome to ask all the questions and be enticed by the story of the village's founding and traditions that are still taking place. The daily life of the residents is simple and self-sufficient. All they need is produced in the village. Pay a visit to the family of woodcarvers, whose skills are well respected and required for the settlement. Test your skills in traditional agricultural work and participate in making and tasting the delicious meal, peanut rice pudding.
Take a boat trip on the Gambia River to spot the mysterious Ninki Nanka. Apart from the dragon-like creature, this is the natural environment of the hippopotamus, the most dangerous African animal; many species of colourful birds and different types of monkeys. With a bit of luck, you will be able to observe chimpanzees, which are part of the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project, living on one of the three islands on the river.
The river will take you further to the village of Wassu, where you will discover the Gambian Stonehenge, 11 megalithic circular stone structures; monolithic monuments placed on the burial ground of the royals living in the area between the 3rd century BC and 16th century AD. The city became a national monument in 1995, and in 2006 it was added to the UNESCO list of natural and cultural heritage.
Kaur village is an old trading centre and groundnut depot where you will learn about groundnut production. Embark on a journey to get to know the Wollof culture through a cultural presentation by villagers. Meet the alkalo, pound the millet with local women and enjoy the performance through which you will gain knowledge about the characteristics of the local culture.
Refresh yourself in a camp located at the top of one of Gambia's only hills that looks down onto the river and wetlands before you continue your visit to the Njaw women's recycling project.
The project, started by a courageous woman from the village called Isatou Ceesay, to support financially poor women, increase their income and improve the standard of living for their families and community. Despite limited resources, Isatou creatively dealt with their village's plastic trash problem through a recycled crafts project. Learn about their mission and visit the shop offering a range of recycled and other locally-made crafts.
Another shopping experience before lunch at the hidden camp is waiting for you at Farafenni Local Market, where you will be able to overwhelm yourself with the selection of incense, spices, kitchen utensils, clothes, nuts, as well as colours, smells and tastes.
Catch a small pirogue at Katchang landing site, which will take you to the other side of the river while allowing you to enjoy birdwatching in wish to spot a decent number of bird species out of 600+ residing in The Gambia.
Continue your journey on the river to reach Albreda and Juffureh Village, to follow the footsteps of Kunta Kinteh, the strong-willed Mandinka man, who was enslaved and taken to America in the 18th century. Learn about the history of the slave trade and visit the remains of the forts on Kunta Kinteh Island.
As the sun slowly sets, enjoy Mandinka stories accompanied by kora, the traditional Gambian instrument played by griots, the carriers of history.
Let the river bring you to the capital city of The Gambia, Banjul, which offers an All Senses market walking tour through the oldest market in the country. Climb on top of the Never Again Memorial Arch and see the spectacular view of one of the world's smallest capitals. Conclude your journey in the National Museum of The Gambia as you revive the complete experience under one roof.
Ninki Nanka trail offers many variations and combinations of activities. Check other options under Trips and activities. You can always send us your suggestions of which activities you would like to do, and we will create a completely customized tour for you as a part of the private tour.
The trip is easy to moderate. The most activity expected from you is when you have to board a boat. It will include some walking, but there will be no serious activity. The most demanding part is the long drive and the heat, which intensifies as you move deeper inland.
We recommend bringing sun protection (headwear, long, lightweight clothes, sunglasses, sun cream) and mosquito repellents. Make sure you bring enough water (you can also buy it on the way) and some snacks if you get hungry quickly. Pack everything you need for a seven nights stay. We recommend comfortable wear.
The trip is organised by the Insitute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG) in collaboration with Ninki Nanka Encounters (NNE).
ITTOG specialises in hands-on training mainly in the Travel and Tourism sectors with special emphasis on travel agency, tour operations, tour guiding, ground operations, events management, entrepreneurship/business skills development, responsible/sustainable tourism, community-based tourism, and general tourism business management.
NNE Foundation is a small, new Gambian charity and UK community interest company (CIC) working towards the responsible development of the Ninki Nanka Trail as a community-based tourist destination.
They work on projects with communities, tourism businesses and local government to develop experiences, products and community-based tourism designed to create inspiring, cultural interaction between travellers and local people and use tourism to create livelihood opportunities for host communities along The River Gambia.
We do believe it's time for another adventure. Don't spend all of your time in The Gambia in one place. Go out and explore! There are so many beautiful experiences waiting for you. Let us help you pick one - and take care of all the rest.