There are so many great reasons to visit the Gambia. Beautiful beaches, deep blue skies, pretty much all year round sunshine, and add to that the fact that it’s in the same time-zone as the UK, then what excuse can there be for not visiting this fantastic holiday destination.
This tiny country of 500km by 50km is the smallest in Africa and has a wealth of opportunities for the visitor from land based excursions to river trips.
Gambia's Nature Reserves
A visit to Gambia wouldn't be complete without visiting some of their famous nature reserves. Kian West National Park is the country's largest wildlife reserve and is home to nile crocodiles, patas monkeys, marsh mongooses, and over 290 species of birds. River Gambia National Park (Baboon Islands) is made up of 5 islands. Here amidst the lush jungles and swamps can be found Gambia’s endangered hippopotamuses. You will also find chimpanzees living on 3 of the larger islands.
Gambia's 80 km of largely unbroken shoreline affords many opportunities to soak up the warm African sun tempered by the breeze of the Atlantic and swaying palms. Cape Point, in the Northern Kombo, is a beautiful and unspoilt beach with water-sports facilities. If you want to see the daily lives of Gambian fishermen hauling in their catch, then best to head for Bakau beach. Watching Gambians about their fishing business will afford you many photo opportunities worthy of the national geographic. The Fajara beaches consist of small beaches set alongside red rock cliffs making up a rather dramatic coastline and is great for sunsets. Just be careful when swimming, there have been known to be dangerous undercurrents.
Kunta Kinteh Island
This island lies 30 km upstream right in the Gambia River and is a reminder of the British Empire's stranglehold on Gambia, although the Portuguese had claim on it first. You can take a rather solemn walk amidst the ruins of the Kunta Kinteh Island Fort and other buildings related to the European occupation of Africa. Kunta Kinteh Isalnd, or James Island, played a key role in the lamentable slave trade in West Africa all those years ago. This incredibly small piece of land was used as an interim holding pen for slaves before being forcibly taken off on to Senegal and to the Americas as part of that dreadful trade. The island is part of the very popular Roots tours that can be easily arranged from your hotel. Due to its significant and rather sad history, this tiny island is now a UNSCO World Heritage Site.
Kachikally Museum and Crocodile Pools
If your feeling brave and want a close up encounter with a crocodile, and I mean very close encounter, the Kachikally Crocodile Pools allows you to pat them on the back. They are so well fed with fish that human flesh off the bone doesn't particularly interest them. That said, it wouldn't be a bad idea to exercise some caution. The pools in which the crocodiles live are thought by some to have healing properties and attract infertile women from near and afar in the belief that after bathing in these pools they will make them fertile. The museum provides exhibits and information about various fertility rituals and practices of Gambians.
There's plenty of nightlife in Gambia too, and a vast array of restaurants serving up local delicacies to popular Asian cuisine. Some places such as Kotu and Kololi will allow you to enjoy a quiet and relaxed night out with a few bars and restaurants and live music, while Senegambia is a lot livelier with plenty of bars, restaurants and nightclubs to choose from. A night out in Gambia can be surprisingly cheap and a meal for around the £5 mark is no problem to find.
You could save even more money if you choose stay in one of the all inclusive resorts for a completely stress free experience. Some great deals can be found to Gambia, particularly if you're prepared to go on a last minute holiday. Whether you're looking for a package holiday, or want to go it alone and find your own accommodation, Gambia has some great hotels to choose from that will make for a perfect stay.
So visit Gambia, and see for yourself just why so many visitors come back year after year to the beautiful Smiling Coast.
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