19 Jul 2017 5 top tips on how to get the best of your Gambia Experience
The Gambia is so much more than sunbathing and being a winter-sun destination. It has countless of experiences to offer and you can easily fill a week or two and still want to go back for a second (and third!) visit. We have collected a few tips on how you can make the most out of your Gambia experience!
1. Be curious and go local
Don’t sit inside of your hotel area – go out and explore! Add value to your experiences and visit places with a local guide. Tell them your interest and what you want to explore, and you are about to get an experience of a lifetime. Ask for day trips that are not necessarily on their normal tourist menu. Gambians are also very friendly and welcoming; so don’t be surprised if they invite you home to meet their family!
The local dishes are very tasteful. Why not learn how to cook them, so you can brag by showing and serving your friends and family back home!
2. Be active and walk the beach stretch and the trails
The Gambia faces the Atlantic Ocean with a stretch of 80 km from north to south. The whole stretch is beach. You can easily walk it during a week, or portions of it. Walk from lodge to lodge and enjoy the variety of what the beach has to offer. From Jinack Island where you will hardly meet a soul, crossing the river to busy Banjul, pass the beaches where most tourists visit before you enter the south part of the stretch. From Tanje fishing village and down via Sanyang, Gunjur to Kartong you will meet less and less people…
Another alternative is to walk the trails off road and the beach. Gambia offers a wide range of trails that connects villages and nature. Beautiful to walk (or cycle) and it enable you to meet the people and places in a different (and more eco-friendly) way than if you travel in a car!
A few golden rules… Walk during the morning or in the late afternoon. It will get hot in the middle of the day! If you plan for a full day walk, make sure you add in a lunch break during the hottest time of the day. Always bring a lot of water and protection for the sun. Do your research so you know how far you have to walk before the next beach civilisation! Happy walking
3. Be adventures, meet the hippos and the chimps as you follow the cotton trail
Most people spend their holiday along the coast only. But hey, be adventures and travel a few days up-country. You will meet a different Gambia. The cotton trail connects it all. Travel to the easternmost town in Gambia, Basse famous for its market that connects traders from Mali, Senegal, Guinea and other West African countries. Some km beyond Basse, meet the farmers, living in the most pristine villages.
Do a boat-trip on the river to see the chimpanzees and the hippos. A must-do experiences this part of the country. Afterwards visit UNESCO-listed WASSU stone circles. Half way down to the coast, stop at Njau village to meet up with the Woman Initiative that turn waste into craft… They are also in charge of spinning the cotton. Make a stop in Brikama to meet a group of cotton weavers, with traditions through generations. Back on the coast, one of Gambia´s most famous artist will show you the work he does with the cotton!
There you go – a length long Gambia experience connected by the cotton!
4. Be open and stay at an eco lodge off beaten track
Gambia is a small country, and you don’t need to travel far to be able to move away from the busy tourist area. Less than an hour from the airport and the busy tourist area you can spend your holiday at a beautiful eco lodge located in the bush and by the sea. It is powered by the sun (solar panels), has composting toilets (do not smell!) and grey water usage. The high-class kitchen provides a menu that changes every day and accordingly to local ingredients that are available. All of the staff are from the surrounding villages. You can also dip into the only fresh water pool in The Gambia
There are many trails around the lodge to walk or cycle and the next-door protected forest holds a rich biodiversity. Join a local expert to learn about the variety and local use of the different trees and vegetation! Or walk 30 minutes in to Gunjur village where you can explore local culture and interact with the people.
5. Be an outsider and travel off-season
Did you know that there is absolutely no reason why you should not visit The Gambia in May and into June? The weather is still warm and dry during the day and cooling nicely down in the evenings. May is also the season for the mangoes and the cashews. Most of the tourists have left the Gambia and you will get a different experience than if you travel during the main season. This is also the time when the flowers as blooming and the colours are amazing. If you are lucky, you will also catch one of the first heavy rainfalls that will totally change the scenery afterwards! Or, come in October and catch the last leg of the rainfalls (it might even have stopped by then!). All shades of green await you!
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