8 Reasons Why You Should Visit The Gambia In 2019
Two years ago while searching for a unique travel destination, I came across this little country in Western Africa called The Gambia. I knew nothing about it so it was a spontaneous decision to go, and I am so happy I made it! It turned out to be one of the most memorable trips I had ever taken, leading to friendships for life!
The Gambia is also known as the Smiling Coast! This tiny country is a year-round destination, it's authentic and still unspoiled with beautiful nature to enjoy, beaches to relax on, wildlife, and very welcoming smiley people!
The Gambia is about the 3 S's; Sun- Sand- Sea, as well as cultural experiences, food, and even going on safari unique to this region. Exploring this country is a fun and interesting journey indeed!
When to go
The Gambia has two seasons wet and dry season: Wet Season is from June to October, the dry season is from November to May which typically has cool temps and is more breezy. We traveled in October and there was not a drop of rain in sight, and the heat was definitely ON!
Most countries don’t require a visa, check here what the requirement are for your country:
The Gambia suffered under the rule a dictator for 22 very long years. His brutal and reckless rule finally ended but the damage and repercussions will take a while longer to fix. This country is poor but is slowly showing signs of recovery. The people are so peaceful, friendly and immensely proud of their country. We felt very safe traveling around, unlike other countries in Africa ripped apart by war and tribal & religious problems, here you will see none of that!
Where to stay
We flew to Banjul and from there it was a short trip to Kololi where our hotel was- The Seneganbia Beach Hotel. Located on the beach and right on the Senegambia strip where you’ll find bars & restaurants right outside your hotel door. Tasty and lively. This location is an absolute winner! Central for daily trips, night life, and the beach of ocurse.
For more details: http://senegambiahotel.com/wordpress/
7 ways to explore The Gambia:
Enjoy the beach: And when I say that I don’t mean solely in an obvious way..Walk down the beach, you’ll meet and see the local fishermen, little restaurants, the locals will invite you to play football with them..It’s a wonderful way to engage and get to know the locals. While walking down the beach, we made friends that took us to visit the surrounding areas in their jeep, introduced us to their culture in a way we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. They even taught my son how to play the drums and do a traditional dance.
Visit the capital, Banjul: History, culture, colors and organized cause is a perfect introduction to your African adventure.
Enjoy the wildlife around you: It’s magical! In our hotel and in most resorts in the area the monkies were a regular fun encounter, watch out for your bags though, they will rob you blind if you let them lol The Kachikally Crocodile Pool is believed to have healing powers, locals come here for a blessing, worth a visit for sure. The different nature parks are proof of how humans & animals here co-exist in peace and respect.
MUST VISIT! Take a day trip to James Island better known as Kunta Kinteh Island: It tells the story of slavery, you’ll visit the ruins of an old fort and prison belonging to colonial Britain. From here African slaves were transported to America. This historic journey goes back 200 years back in time to Alex Haley’s “Roots”.
Enjoy floating along the Gambia River or spend the day driving in a 4x4: Great ways to explore! You can start your cruise at Janjanbureh, if you’re lucky you can spot hippos, crocodiles and colorful birds.
Visit a local market: My favorite is in Serrekunda, the largest town in The Gambia.
Visit the Wassu stone circles declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006: The locals believe that if anyone disturbs the stones they will be cursed.
Cross over to Senegal through Bara and enjoy a safari in Reserve De Fathala: It was amazing! It’s on a smaller scale but you will be able to come so close to the animals, it will knock your socks off! Tip: Make sure you have the right vaccinations! You’ll have to show your vaccination book in order to cross the border.
Don’t miss out on the local food dishes! If on the Senegambia strip, have lunch or dinner at the African Queen.
Bring pens and if possible and footballs to give to the children. We saw no one begging for money but everywhere we went children asked us for pens and footballs.
The national sport here is wrestling believe or not. Go watch a match in Banjul.
Agree on the price when taking a taxi before you get on board, it will make things much easier.
This trip started an ongoing romance with this beautiful country and its people. Since coming back, I am in touch with two wonderful individuals over there who are very involved with their communities, together we help local causes. There’s a wonderful non-profit organization in The Netherlands called www.goodsforgambia.nl, they do great things! This charity makes it possible to send over goods often, easily and with a very low price tag. One cause I’m proud to be committed to it sponsoring local schools in poor villages. With the help of kind people around me, we have sponsored two schools in two villages where the children go to school, only they don’t have money for pens or even notebooks. Through donations, I was able to send 120 school kits made of everything a child could want or need. We’re very proud of being able to make a difference in these children’s lives.
My second cause is sport & football. Through making small talk with our waiter one night, of course, football came up, he mentioned that he trains children voluntarily, teaching them football also so they don’t wander the streets but rather have a goal and a focus to keep them on the right path. He had one ball and that was about it. My son Tristan plays football, it is a major part of our lives, we love the sport! We decided to sponsor both his teams’ ages 6 to 17. We designed uniforms and through additional donations, we made sure the children have football shoes and the coach has balls and other items he needs. Our teams are called ‘Tristan United’. The boys and the coach insisted as a sign as respect and gratitude that my son’s name will be a part of the team’s name. We added United to send a message if we all came together, judge less, accepted more, and help each other, the world will be a better place! Wouldn’t you say?
Don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you might have: email@example.com
Did you travel to The Gambia using my tips? Do tell!
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