The Gambia is much more than getting the cheapest package holiday and lying on the beach for seven days. The country boast wonderful nature, local cultural experiences and last but not least their biggest assets, the wonderful smiling people. Check out my seven tips on fun things to do in The Gambia! …in no particular order!
This is a wonderful start of the day. You wake up with the birds; enjoy a morning coffee and breakfast before heading for the river. Alex or Amadoe will paddle you further up the river, or down toward the Atlantic coast (where the river ends). Enjoy the peace and quite and experience the river waking up for a new day. You can enjoy a short stopover in Senegal for lunch. Why not try Gjestehuset TinTing? At the way back from your river trip, I recommend a stop at Lemonfish Art Gallery to admire some beautiful art or The Reptile Center to learn about different creatures in The Gambia.
Gunjur is one of the largest villages in The Gambia. Yet, it doesn’t really feel like that, as The Gambia consists of several small villages, many of them merging into each other. Gunjur is situated about 45 – 60 minutes drive from Senegambia, the main tourist area. The village is still unspoilt for tourists and you will get a proper local experience. Stroll down to the fishing village and see the fishermen coming in with their catch, visit the local market, the church and mosque, one of the schools and most likely one of the locals or Serani, your guide, will invite you for a cup of ataya (tea) in their compound.
During the week, I do suggest an active day out! The Gambia is easy for cycling, as the country is flat! Your challenges might be the sandy roads from time to time… This is a wonderful way of exploring the local villages. You get easy in contact with the people and you will stop at places you wouldn’t have thought about if you were in a car! An exciting day, full of surprises!
The Gambia has many different projects that you can visit and support. My suggestions are to visit the Paper Recycling Skills Project. This is an initiative where they recycle old newspaper etc and turn it into beautiful books, perfect for your souvenir gifts to giveaway when you are back home! The profit goes to school material in the country.
My second suggestion is to visit Maalis Music School, set up and run by Alagi M´Bye, a famous kora player that has also been playing in Scandinavia. The music school is located at his compound in the outskirt of Serrekunda. He is passionate about teaching music to youngsters and the kids in his street. He is a fantastic storyteller as well! Worth a visit!
I simply love the Gambian food. It is very tasteful, and most of the comments I get from travellers are the same… wouldn’t you just love to learn to cook like a local? With Ida we go to her compound in Brufut and spend the morning making our lunch. It includes being dressed up in local colourful clothing, going to the local market in Tanji to buy vegetables and fresh fish and back at her compound to learn how to cook it! The perfect ending is of course to enjoy the lunch!
This trip is with a very engaged local naturalist, Lamin Bojang. He knows the birds in the area. Walking with him in the nature he will not only tell you what you see but also what the different species can be used for! For the past years he has been working on setting up a Village museum in Gunjur to protect the local culture and natural heritage. He is at the stage where he is collecting artefacts for his museum. You can join him on a treasure hunt! This is a change to really get into the local history, visiting people and places you would never even have thought about and at the same time supporting a good cause.
Lets unwind and feel the breeze from the Atlantic Ocean on a secluded beach away from the hustle and bustle. Lets take along a couple of fishing rods (might be lucky catching a Captainfish, Ladyfish or a Butterfish), a barbeque and a cool bag with cold drinks. What else can you ask for? No need to say more
Lets add in a number eight… Spend the week away from the busy tourist area and try places like Footsteps Eco Lodge. Experience a truly eco-friendly place where you can be sure that your holiday is benefitting the local community.
Please add on the list by leave a comment!