Looking for a destination that combines off the beaten track adventure with endless palm-fringed jaw-dropping natural beauty, fantastic nightlife, fascinating architecture, stunning wildlife and a rich local culture will find all this and more in the Gambia. A country for those that want a little more from their package holiday deals to the Gambia than just a couple of weeks lazing by the hotel pool, Gambia bubbles with an infectious energy that arrests the senses and ensures that boredom is never a possibility.
To Love Gambia is to love the sun-baked country that boasts modern, bustling cosmopolitan cities, vast nature reserves. long, snaking rivers and charming small towns and villages, alongside tourist resorts that are well equipped to meet the needs of even the fussiest of travellers. A visit to the Gambia can be as relaxing or as adrenaline charged as you choose - opportunities for adventure sports and outdoor excursions abound, whilst less adventurous types will find no shortage of hotels catering to the pampered holidaymaker. Of course, it's perfecly possible to combine both these elements during a holiday in the Gambia - tailor made breaks can involve taking river and land wildlife-spotting excursions interspersed with a couple of days in luxury hotels, complete with spa treatments and gourmet dining.
Holidays in The Gambia
This fascinating part of Africa attracts holidaymakers from every walk of life - from avid wildlife photographers and adrenaline junkies to beach bunnies - and increased competition between tour operators means that a trip to the Gambia needn't break the bank.
One of the smaller of the African nations, Gambia can easily be explored by organised tour and many visitors will want to take in a number of the bustling capital, Banjul, where colourful outdoor markets sell everything from exotic spices to locally-made handicrafts. From here, visitors can travel along the stunning Gambian coastline, which is dotted with holiday resorts catering to those who want to enjoy the Gambian experience whilst indulging in a little pampering at the same time. Those who like to get a little further off the beaten track should make a point of visiting the many small towns and villages that lie within easy reach of the tourist resorts - here, visitors are guaranteed a warm and friendly welcome from the locals and will have an opportunity to soak up a little of the rich local culture.
Of course, for many people, the Gambia is synonymous with abundant wildlife and it is true to say that the flora and fauna are a major part of the Gambia's attraction to foreign visitors. It is possible to take land-based jeep safaris, or river trips up the magnificent River Gambia, keeping an eye out for local wildlife that includes hippos, monkeys, chimpanzees, crocodiles and alligators. Both land and river trips can be as back-to-basics or as luxurious as the visitor chooses - luxury boats make regular trips up river, as do simple vessels where your mosquito net will be very much necessary if you want to keep biting insects at bay. Simple jungle lodges provide bare bones accommodation for those prepared to rough it a little on their trip to the Gambia, whilst luxury eco-lodges offer a better level of comfort for those whose budget will stretch to it.
The Gambia is a Paradise on Earth for birdlovers - there are some 540 species of birdlife to be found here, many of which are as fascinating, beautiful and colourful as the country itself. Families who want to see some of the wildlife up close without straying too far from civilisation should make a point of checking out the botanic gardens at Bakau and adults and children alike will be fascinated by the Kachikaly Crocodile Pool nearby, where the huge snapping animals can be observed in total safety.
Banjul itself combines modern shopping centres and entertainment complexes with historic sights and a taste of local tradition. The many restaurants in Gambia offer a chance to sample delicious local cuisine, which combines Portuguese, Arabic and French influences to lip-smackingly good effect. Those who like it hot will love the spiciness of the local chillies, incorporated into many dishes and the exotic native fruits, vegetable and roots mean that Gambian cuisine offers many options for vegetarians as well as dedicated carnivores.
Close to the capital, resorts such as Cape Point, Bakau and Kotu boast well equipped hotels along the golden sands as well as opportunities to try your hand at activities such as watersports and quadbiking. Golf and tennis are alternatives for those who like to take their exercise with a little less of an adrenaline kick. Nightlife in the resorts tends to be lively and families are well catered for. For visitors on a budget, more basic accommodation can be found in the towns and villages along the coastline.
Most UK visitors to the Gambia will arrive at Banjul's international airport and tour operators will be on hand to transfer guests to their chosen accommodation.