Filed Under (General) by Rob on 14-07-2011

We were recently privileged to have two weeks holiday in the Gambia, West Africa, which was very pleasant (in spite of the three day drive each way!)

Here are some reflections on holidaying in the Gambia. It is a good place for your hols if you like:

* Beaches: they’re clean, peaceful, long, sandy and the sea is relatively calm, certainly compared to Benin (see this post about Beninese beaches).

* Shopping for nice food at a decent price. There were several great supermarkets stocking many British and American products which we cannot get in Mali. This was a bonus for us (but not worthwhile if you’re flying there!)

* Wildlife: if you like monkeys, crocodiles and some other wildlife, then it’s pretty good (but don’t expect herds of elephants, giraffes or zebras – you won’t see them!

* Birdlife: if you’re a bird-watcher, then the Gambia is almost essential! Even without trying hard I saw at least three kinds of kingfisher, two kinds of hornbill, an owl, a violet turacao, and a grey plantain-eater. And all pretty close by too!

* Swimming pools and nice food! The two often go together. We found that – in ‘off season’ at least – if you buy a drink or something to eat you can swim for free at many of the pools. Our favourites were the Sun Beach Hotel at Cape Point and the Kairaba Hotel in Senegambia, but there were plenty of other good pools, all spotlessly clean and with excellent food.

The Gambia is not the place for you if you like:

* Hills and mountains, as neither exists in the country.
* Driving on nice roads! This is still Africa and whilst the tourist area had nicely tarmacked streets, elsewhere in the country they are not always as good. Ironically, the worst roads by far were between the Gambia and Senegal – are they trying to keep the French out???
* Complete peace with nobody bothering you. At the pools, yes, but on the beaches there are often ‘bumsters’ as they are called, who will follow you wanting to be your friend. Ignore them and they generally go away.
* Lakes as these are rare if there are any! However, we had a wonderful day on the peaceful inlet at Lamin Lodge.

There you go! We enjoyed our hols and one day (“when the kids have left home”) we may well fly back out there for a relaxing week of sunshine, who knows?

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