The Republic of The Gambia is a country in West Africa which is surrounded by Senegal on three of its sides. The Gambia borders on the Atlantic Ocean on its west side.
One of Africa’s smallest countries, what The Gambia lacks in size, it more than makes up for in personality. It’s short, 80km stretch of coastline is an enticing collage of golden sands, picturesque palms and charming fishing villages – a paradisal picture that has encouraged tourists to flock to the resorts that have put The Gambia on the traveller’s map.
However, there is more to The Gambia that you’ll find simply lazing on the beach with a cocktail in hand. You can explore colourful markets, sample exotic cuisine and get up close and personal with an incredible selection of wildlife, from bush pigs to hippos. Then, of course, there is the charm of the Gambian people – it’s no coincidence that The Gambia is nicknamed ‘the smiling coast of Africa’.
If you’re looking to embrace the laid-back lifestyle and soak up some of that African sun, The Gambia might just be your next big adventure.
Gambia’s beaches are a huge draw for visitors, particularly because there are an abundance of coastal resorts mere steps away from the sand. Visit Sanyang if you’re on the hunt for something a little more secluded – here, you can expect hammocks, a quiet bar and nothing to disturb you, save the sound of the surf.
Nature lovers should remember to pack their binoculars as The Gambia offers a host of world class wildlife-spotting opportunities. Whilst you’re very likely to encounter the mischievous Green Velvet monkeys cavorting in the grounds of your hotel, a trip to the Abuko Nature Reserve or Kachikally Crocodile Pool will enable you to glimpse some of the rarer breeds of The Gambia. The Animal Orphanage at Abuko cares for parrots, hyenas, chimpanzees and monkeys and is well worth a visit.
The epicurean traveller might choose to take a Gambian cookery class – The Gambia Experience offers the chance to cook with the charismatic Ida Njai who will take wannabe chefs to the local market before bringing them to her home to prepare a meal and sit down to enjoy it with her family. From a delicious fish benachin (or one pot stew) with rice, to the fragrant peanut-based domada, the spices, vegetables and exotic fruits of The Gambia offer a tantalising menu that’s hard to resist.
You can’t visit this West African destination and pass up a chance to cruise on the mighty Gambia River. Book a boat trip, relax and take in the sleepy scenery, local community, diverse birdlife and you might even spot a hippo or two. Some tour companies, such as Secret Escapes, offer river cruises with luxurious onboard accommodation for a memorable way to explore the waterways of West Africa.
Travellers looking to lounge on the sands of a beachfront hotel or resort will find themselves well catered to in The Gambia, but those who would prefer something a little more unique might want to consider a stay in one of the many eco-lodges that have become a staple of the country’s tourist offering.
Green hotels have become a popular choice for travellers drawn to the spectacular natural charms of The Gambia and the area has embraced sustainable tourism to excellent effect. Sandele Eco Retreat earned a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and won The Guardian’s Ethical Travel Award, thanks to its use of sustainable technologies and focus on the wider community. Expect handmade wooden furniture, including four poster beds, relaxing plunge pools and a selection of activities.
The Gambia enjoys a year-round temperature of around 30C, so really any season will offer a welcome bit of warmth. December through to April is the main tourist season of the country so you might find prices are a little higher. During December and January you might notice a chill at night, but it’s nothing a light jacket won’t fix.
If you choose to visit outside of peak season, the beaches become a little quieter around May. This is also when the humidity begins to rise, and by the end of June, the rains will be begin in the form of an occasional shower. However, these are usually short-lived and the sun will soon pop its hat on again. July and August will see frequent rainfall – mostly at night – but it’s unlikely to affect your holiday too much. In fact, the rains will turn The Gambia a vivid shade of green and the surrounding landscapes will be teeming with wildlife. By September the temperatures rise again and the sea will become increasingly warmer.
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