The Gambia is one of Africa's smallest nations. and at 11,000 square kilometers, is just over half the size of Wales.
It has unique qualities over many other destinations. It is only 6 hours flying time from major, European countries, there is no jet lag and it is a popular and affordable winter holiday destination attracting tourists in search of sun and cultural experience, of which this unique country has plenty.
The shape of the Country is long and thin, pointing like a finger into the continent and following the course of the River Gambia from which the country took it's name. Unlike many African countries it is quite safe to go out alone and explore all this wonderful country has to offer. Nothing is rushed here - life moves at a slower pace and The Gambia has its own GMT - Gambia Maybe Time!
You are guaranteed to meet some of the friendliest people found anywhere on the African continent. that is why The Gambia is known as the smiling coast.
The Gambia is generally recognised as having one of the most agreeable climates in Africa - sub tropical, with dry and rainy seasons. Expect hours of glorious uninterrupted sunshine between the months of October and June when the daytime temperature can climb over 40 degrees C, with the coastal aresa slightly cooler as the Atlantic breeze gently lowers the temperatures. However, the average temperature is usually in the region of 31-32 C all year round. The rainy season lasts from July to September although most days will have sunny spells. The temperature is very slightly warmer during the dry season.
A melting pot of various cultures, The Gambia is steeped in both colonial and African history and is a legacy of the struggle between European nations for power in West Africa.
The country’s population of just 1.5 million is made up of eight ethnic groups along with some fairly large communities from neighbouring countries in West Africa. The result is a mix of the Francophone and English-speaking peoples in The Gambia and Senegal, with Senegambian integration blurring the borders between nations and families.
Much of the region’s heritage can be traced to inter-tribal conflict and coalition. Into this mix can be thrown ancient tribal ceremonies, musical instruments and traditional dances.
In addition, the region has been shaped and influenced by the slave trade. Today, the memory of those times has been revived through the Alex Haley novel ‘Roots’, which tells the story of Kunta Kinteh, taken as a slave from the village of Juffureh, on the Gambia River.
Trips to this village, the trading station of Albreda and the former slave fortress of James Island are popular excursions for tourists.
In addition, the Roots International Festival, which commemorates the forced enslavement of Africans, is a magnet for descendants of slaves who come from across the world to share in their ancestral roots. The event is also a showcase for the cultural heritage of The Gambia.
The Gambia’s best known musical instruments are undoubtedly the drums, the balafon (an African xylophone), the kora (a 21-stringed harp) and the xalam (a four-stringed instrument).
Among these traditional instruments, the most distinctive is the drum, which has played a major role in the culture of the region. There is a surprisingly wide range of types, with different drum sounds being used for different events. The incessant beating of the drums can be heard throughout The Gambia, and most hotels have at least one cultural night each week when local musicians entertain guests with dancing and music.
Capitol of Gambia. Hub of the commercial industry, Port of commercial shipping, ferry terminal to cross to Senegal, all major head quarters, and home of state house, presidential and government offices.
Again a thriving fishing port and centre of all activities for the everyday working Gambian. Famous for its colourful streets and bustling businesses. Head offices of all major banking sectors.
Kanifing / Serrekunda
These areas are particular to the materials sector of business here in The Gambia, also home to the Famous Banjul Brewery, Julbrew. Every construction or mechanical need can be found in these areas.
The Beautiful area of kotu boasts stretches of unspolt beaches and is situated in a up and coming tourist area, new hotels and business are being introduced every day, already home to some wonderful beachside hotels, Kombo Beach hotel to name but 1.
Kololi, Bijilo, Kerr Sering
Kololi is is the centre of the tourism sector, with easy access to stretches of beachside hotels and a section called Senegambia. There are two casinos on the strip not to mention a whole host of bars and clubs - all of which throb into the early hours. The strip also boasts banks & exchange bureaus, internet cafes and shops. It is generally fairly relaxed in the day and really comes into its own during the evening and night.the heart of nightlife for holiday makers, within 15 mins walk from this area are Kerr Sering and BIJILO, The beauty of Bijilo is there is very little here! Situated about five minutes south of Kololi, there are no restaurants or nightclubs to disturb the peace, just a couple of beach bars on a long stretch of beach with very few people on it. Lots of private homes are built in these areas.
Following the main highway will take you towards Brufut passing residential areas such as , Brusubi, Tranquil, Brufut, Tangi, Batokunku, Sanyang and Kartong out towards the Senegal border.
All of the above named have peaceful and beautiful unspoilt beaches, with access to amenities but far enough away for that non tourist feeling.
Kartong is one of the oldest and unspoilt coastal villages at the southern most tip of the Kombo Coastal Road. Set very close to the Senegalese border it homes the only sand mine in Gambia plus a fishing centre.
Kartong, however, is possibly better known for its festival usually held in March hosting the very best of music and dance in West Africa.
Bakau is a bustling town with a maze of small dirt roads and is an ideal area to experience the real Gambia.
Bakau can be a bit overwhelming if you've not travelled in Africa before - but it's so alive and so full of colour and life it'd be a real shame to miss out. We advise either hooking up with a few other people who want to visit, or finding yourself a friendly taxi driver to help you out.
There are a few excellent restaurants serving traditional Gambian dishes along with banks, supermarkets, post office and the popular Kachikally crocodile pool. There is a very good craft market and local fruit and vegetable market along with the famous fish market which is a sight (and smell) to behold.