Formerly a British colony, Gambia retains some past influences, including the national language. However, the present day identity of this incredible country is undoubtedly all its own, with the vibrancy of its golden coast, intrigue of its reserves and parks and sweeps of the majestic River Gambia that transects the land. Wherever you wander, Gambia holidays will put a smile on your face.
Lively, vivacious, colourful and diverse, Banjul is a fitting capital for this fascinating destination. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the country’s larger hotel complexes and beach resorts can be found within its stretches, mainly along the city’s envy-inducing coastline of white sand and azure waters.
One of the largest and most bustling cities in Gambia is Serrekunda, a colourful and vibrant location that makes a great base. With a gorgeous, rolling coast and buzzing market scene, this is Gambia at its most vibrant. Serrekunda is replete with dazzling resorts situated around its northern coastal point.
For those who are looking for a Gambia holiday to experience its heavenly beaches, there is no better location than the stunning Kotu. Offering a dazzling array of luxurious resorts as well as charming guesthouses right by the water’s edge, this is relaxation like you’ve never experienced before.
If you are looking for a bit more civilisation from your holidays to Gambia, the country’s buzzing cities provide endless days of entertainment, with museums of African history, bustling bazaars and incredible traditional restaurants. The energy of the capital Banjul is particularly infectious – discover its colonial past, taste the traditionally prepared cuisine and meet the ever-cheerful locals.
One of the best times to visit the country is during the British winter when Gambia's rainy season has faded and the sun begins to creep out. While temperatures aren't unbearable, usually peaking at around 30C, there is still enough heat for you to feel satisfied by your winter escape. January and February prove very fruitful periods to visit the country, ironically in its dry winter season. Gambia's wet season tends to run from June to October when the temperatures get hotter and the humidity levels increase further, proving a more challenging period to visit.
Made famous by the novel "Roots", Jufureh and James Islands have slowly increased in popularity as some of Gambia’s most mesmerising cultural attractions, perfect for history lovers. Jufureh is not visually impressive, but boasts an incredible slavery museum with replica slave ship. James Island is much more picturesque, but it is the remains of Fort James, a major colonial outpost dating back to 1661 that make it worth a visit.
Those looking to discover Gambia’s hidden natural wonders should put their best hiking foot forward and head to the incredible Bijilo Forest Park. A community environment and small-scale reserve, many well-trodden paths snake their way through verdant vegetation and fascinating wildlife, with a lively population of red colobus and patas monkeys, sure to put on a show.
Those who enjoy bartering for a bargain will delight in the frenzied atmosphere of Banjul’s Albert Market. Fabrics, shoes, housewares and an endless array of local fruit, veg, herbs and spices collide in this explosion of business and trade. Get stuck in with your best haggling techniques – you never know what you might find!
The smallest nation on the African mainland, Gambia is a beautiful country boasting rich wildlife and nature reserves, a vibrant capital city and some beautiful beaches. Despite its size, you’ll find many things to do in Gambia such as spotting crocodiles in rivers, hopping around historical islands and haggling for some bargains in a buzzing market. You’ll have luxurious resorts and charming guesthouses awaiting your arrival as you discover a country of immense traditions and colonial heritage.
Gambia attractions spread beyond the natural gems and colonial memories, with a great deal of satisfaction gained from interacting with the friendly locals and discovering the spirit of Africa.
Gambia is a great place to try some traditional African fare including jollof rice, a West African rice dish served with tomatoes, onions and spices combined with fish, meat or vegetables. Domoda is a meat stew and is another common dish found in this part of Africa.
The country’s capital Banjul is home to the most diverse culinary scene. You’ll find the typical and traditional West African dishes at a variety of eateries, as well as finding many internationally-friendly restaurants serving up western dishes. One of the best restaurants in the city is Cabana’s Beach Bar & Restaurant where you can pick up a variety of different dishes.
When in Gambia it is worth trying the country’s signature fruit juice known as baobab juice which comes from the fruit of the same name and a wildly large tree.
One of the most exciting things to do in Gambia is touring one of the country’s picturesque and wildlife-rich national and nature parks. The River Gambia National Park is full of interesting flora and fauna, as well as the majestic river that flows through the country to the ocean. The tropical rainforest that inhabits the park is full of interesting species such as a series of baboons, monkeys, warthogs and aardvarks. You can spot the baboons up close on the intriguing Baboon Island which provides a wonderful experience in the heart of Gambia’s natural world. Other parks and reserves that Gambia boast are the Abuko Nature Reserve and Kiang West National Park.
If walking is your thing, one of the most suitable Gambia attractions for hikers is the Bijilo Forest Park. Many paths snake through this protected area situated a few hundred metres from the coast. Pretty scenery and energetic monkeys will make your walks even more enjoyable.
For a slightly different adventure, taking to the bustling market in the city of Serrekunda is an unforgettable experience decorated by colourful fabrics and mesmerising aromas.
One of the country’s most alluring residents is the Nile crocodile, found in many rivers and pools throughout the country. Families will love going in search of the giant beasts, and one of the best settings to try and spot them is the Abuko Nature Reserve which was Gambia’s first ever wildlife reserve. You will definitely be able to spot some crocs at Kachikally Crocodile Pool which is home to up to 80 of the mighty reptiles, all roaming around or hanging out in a sacred pool.
One of the top things to do in Gambia is to revel in the perfection of the country’s beaches. Playing around on the sandy strips is a great way of spending a day. Grab a football and have a match with some locals or indulge in some of the water sports on offer.
Kids will also love discovering all of the colourful and striking arts and crafts that are sold in many of the large markets in Gambia’s cities. Gifts like African drums, crazy wood carvings and vibrant traditional masks will have the kids asking for your wallet.
Banjul is the best destination for those seeking out some Gambian culture. The capital city is home to a number of decent museums that aim to inform visitors of the country’s history. The Gambia National Museum is a cosy little attraction housing various cultural and historic artefacts, while the African Heritage Museum boasts a large collection of African art and statues. You can also find two cathedrals and a number of mosques in the city which will give you an idea of Gambia’s religious stance.
Kunta Kinteh Island, formerly and most famously known as James Island, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains the ruins of a fort once occupied by the British during the British Empire. The island is now most famous for its role in the Alex Haley book Roots.
One of the best attractions in Gambia has to be the beaches. The country is blessed with a very attractive Atlantic coastline which eventually snakes into the Gambia River. Lounging around on one of these many beaches should help you recharge your batteries. The capital Banjul has some great spots, but the best is arguably Sanyang Beach located just south of Serrekunda.
Taking a boat trip along the Gambia River is a sedate and interesting experience. Laying back on board your ride and absorbing the rainforest sounds and surroundings is a great environment in which to fall into an afternoon nap.
Just outside of Serrekunda is the beach resort of Kotu. Home to the majority of the country’s major resorts, you’re bound to find rest and relaxation on Kotu’s wonderful beaches or the luxurious hotels that serve its visitors.
Banjul is home to various craft markets, perfect for picking up little treats for a loved one, or loved ones back home. There are a lot of handcrafted goodies there, made in the traditional fashion, so keep your eyes peeled, you’re bound to find something good. You may also want to spend a day, or two at Sanyang beach. As one of the most beautiful beaches in the country, it is a fantastic place to enjoy the sun, and just relax. Bakau has a few art galleries to visit, as does Banjul. Many of these showcase cultural treasures, but there are a few that cater solely to West African artists. It is definitely worth visiting.
Visit the fantastic Makasutu Culture Forest, where you learn about local plants and a demonstration of local music and dance is performed. Bird watching is also very popular among guests to Gambia. The Tanbi wetlands and the Tanji Reserve provide fantastic opportunities to see exotic, and migrating birds. There are many fantastic beaches, so spending a day splashing in the surf is a must.
Although there is a terrific local cuisine, many western dishes can be found at the resorts. But, if your willing to give it try, you should. With amazingly fresh produce, and fish caught right outside the hotel, you’re in for a treat. Bakau has a number of great restaurants. One of the local favourites is the late night barbeques, or “Afra” takeaways. These are often found on the beach, cooking fresh caught fish. Typically only tourists frequent the clubs and bars, as many Gambians do not drink. You will find these places near the resorts.
Invest in a hotel that will leave you feeling truly inspired, and stay in one of the hotels that Gambia is renowned for. Alternatively, find a quiet retreat where you can save money and be in the heart of the scenic surroundings either way lowcostholidays.com has a hotel for you
Gambia is a wonderful holiday destination, and that is thanks in part to the lovely towns within its borders. Banjul, the capital, is home to fantastic beaches, wonderful museums and terrific local cuisine. Kololi is another beach town, full of seaside bars and a very relaxed atmosphere. Bakau is a little bit livelier, with a greater selection of restaurants, bars and hotels. Though this is the primary destination for visitors, Bakau doesn’t lose an ounce of its West African charm.
A must see in Gambia is the Abuko Nature Reserve. Here you can walk through the tropical forest and view a host of fanatically exotic creatures, such as, crocodiles, monkey and reptiles, not to mention the equally exotic birds that call Gambia home. Something truly special to visit is the Wassu Stone Circles in Eastern Gambia. These stone circles date back some 1200 years, and are shrouded in mystery, but are thought to be an ancient burial ground for an extinct society. While in Bakau visit Arch 22, a large structure with a truly interesting design.
With the heat index cracking the mercury on certain days, you’ll wish there were fewer things to do in Gambia. The beaches provide plenty of water sports activities, which will help keep you cool. There is water skiing, surfing and sailing, or you can try your hand at fishing. But, if you’re dying to feel the wind in your hair, then rent a quad bike, and zip across the beach on four wheels.
During the first week of February, Gambia is host to the bi-annual Roots Homecoming Festival. This commemorates the forced enslavement of the African people, and invites people from all over the world whose ancestors were forced into slavery, or were affiliated with slavery, to find atonement. This culminates with dance and music, sporting events, trade fairs and carnival parades. The Kartong Festival invites people from all over the world to celebrate music and culture, similar to the Abene Festival in the village of Abene.
Take a journey to the Abuko Nature Reserve, and there you will find crocodiles, monkeys and a host of other exotic species, along with over 300 varieties of birds. At the Katchikali Crocodile Pool, in the village of Bakau meet a few of the friendly crocs. They are wild, but well fed, and mostly content, so it’s a great experience to see something special. Similarly, take a tour of the Makasutu Culture Forest, where you will learn about medicinal plants, followed by a display of local music, and dance.
Gambia has so much to offer in the way of cultural activities. For instance, you can take dance and music lessons from local teachers. You may even have the opportunity to have a djembe, or drum, commissioned from a local craftsman with the help of your music teacher. Riverboats are also available, where you can tour the River Gambia, through the River Gambia National Park, where monkeys fly overhead, Hippos lounge and pelicans relax.
Expect exciting cultural nights when in Gambia. Many of the resorts put on performances of drumming, dancing and fire eating. These tend to be very lively, and audience participation is highly encouraged. But, if you are looking for something a little more subdued, some resorts organize a softer traditional music, played on a type of African lute.