Gambia Holidays – Tours & Adventure Travel Guide
“Despite being Africa’s smallest nation, the country of Republic of The Gambia has a lot of wonderful and beautiful sights packed into its tiny exterior. With lush landscapes made up of tropical forests, beaches, savannahs and swamps, the country offers a diverse and versatile terrain that makes many adventurous activities possible. The Gambia’s lovely rivers are also popular sights that are integral parts of the Gambian way of life. With endless animal and plant species, The Gambia boasts some of the most spectacular natural surroundings found in the area, with many rare birds and other animals. In addition, The Gambia offers some of the most interesting historical sights and remains that present travelers a unique insight into the culture of the Gambian people.”
Gambia Holiday Highlights
History & Culture - The Gambia’s culture is one filled with many different influences, from the French and British to other African nations. Many of these groups have brought interesting architecture, customs and traditions that have made The Gambia into a vibrant and diverse nation. The country’s friendly and welcoming people give visitors even more reasons to explore the culture of The Gambia. Visit the Brikama Wood Carving Centre at the Abuku Nature Reserve to see local craftsmen at work. There is a large, busy market in Serekunda, The Gambia’s largest and most modern city.
Boating & Sailing - Thanks to the many nature reserves and forests that are lined with water, The Gambia is the perfect country to explore by boat. In fact, boating has been deemed one of the best ways to see the amazing natural surroundings and villages of the country, many of which cannot be seen any other way. The Gambia has some areas where visitors can explore on their own, as well as many guided tours available. Sailing is a popular sport in Banjul, The Gambia’s capital city. If you visit Dog Island you will witness unspoiled land and might possibly even see dolphins.
Birdlife & Wildlife - With nearly 600 different species of bird found here, it is easy to see why so many travelers take up bird watching while visiting. The Gambia’s most colorful and interesting birds can be found throughout the forests, nature reserves and national parks found all over the country. The Abuko Nature Reserve is home to many types of birds, as is the Kiang West National Park. There are also many wild monkeys and other animals such as hyenas and crocodiles that can be found throughout The Gambia.
When To Go
The Gambia’s climate is pleasant, making it suitable to visit all year round. The dry season runs from November to April, the hot season is May to June and the wet season is July to October.
- Be respectful of the customs and traditions of the locals, especially in the tribal areas.
- The Gambia’s culture is very religious, so visitors should show respect for holy sights and worship practices.
- Visitors should always use their right hand to present gifts as a sign of respect.
- Check the latest travel advice prior to travel.
Gambia Holidays In Focus
History and Culture
The Gambia might be Africa’s smallest country, but it still has cultural diversity. With an assorted number of residents, ranging from tribal groups to European imports, The Gambia has been influenced by many factors that have created a rich and inviting culture. Invading civilizations, the River Gambia, and the natives themselves have influenced the culture and bring a warmth and resiliency to be discovered by The Gambia’s visitors.
The River Gambia is filled with history itself, with its many fishing villages and bustling towns that have found prosperity from the water. The use of this river dates back to the 5th century, when the Carthaginians ruled over the country. Not long after, The Gambia saw a colonial period when it was overcome with various European nations, creating both French and British colonies. Today, many of these original settlements can be found, although most have gone into ruin. Nevertheless, there are many remarkable relics and remaining structures that offer a fascinating view of The Gambia’s past.
It is due to this history that The Gambia now has much cultural interest to offer its visitors. One popular example of the ruins that can be found in The Gambia is in Wassu. Located in this small village are circles of large standing stones that have held a certain mystique with visitors and locals alike. Due to various markings suggestive of the prehistoric age, the sight is believed to be an ancient burial ground. Another interesting historical area is in James Island where an ancient fort can be toured near the river.
The twin villages of Albreda and Jufureh are also popular cultural sights to visit in The Gambia. The colonial village of Jufureh has a slave trade exhibition that offers visitors a very interesting insight into the struggle of the African people. The town is more regarded in modern culture than historic, as it is one of the many African towns mentioned in the famous novel Roots by Alex Haley. In fact, Jufureh is so proud of this novel that they hold a weeklong festival every year to celebrate the book. Fort Albreda and Fort James are also important historical sights that offer significance to the city.
The musical traditions of The Gambia are also great ways of understanding the culture of the country. These traditions are made unique by the use of various native musical instruments including the kora, the tama and the bala. Music is often played for weddings, feasts, Ramadan and other holidays.
It is in the markets of The Gambia where visitors can see the creativity and color of the country’s people. These markets show the best jewelry, leather goods, clothing and other native crafts that are traditional to The Gambia. One of the most popular and well-regarded markets is the Albert Market, located in Banjul.
Boating and Sailing
The beautiful lakes and well-preserved wetlands of The Gambia offer many great opportunities for boating. By way of boat, visitors can get an up close look at the natural surroundings and exciting wildlife that can be found in many areas of the country. The Tanbi Wetlands, which are located near the mouth of the River Gambia, offer great boating options, with many guided tours available. In fact, the River Gambia is a fantastic place to find many areas for boat excursions that let visitors explore the marine that includes hippos and birds. The Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve is another good place for boating and is also a good place for bird watching. In addition, there are many deep sea fishing expeditions offered on the boats of the River Gambia that present visitors with an incredible opportunity to test their fishing skills on the open waters.
Birdlife and Wildlife
Taking a boat tour isn’t the only way to explore the wildlife of The Gambia. There are many opportunities to discover the colorful and unique bird life that can be found in the country. The Gambia, which boasts over 500 different species of birds, is a well-preserved country that is the perfect sanctuary for these rare species. In fact, The Gambia is one of the most eco-friendly nations, whose people are stringent fighters for the conservation of the beautiful landscapes of the country. One of the most popular places to find many of these bird species is on Janjanbureh Island, located in the eastern region of the country.
The River Gambia National Park, also known as Baboon Island, is a wonderful place to explore the natural wildlife. This park boasts a wide range of landscapes that include dense forests, swamps and rivers. This diverse scenery makes it an ideal location to explore the beautiful wildlife of the country. Baboon Island is especially famous for its large number of baboons on the five surrounding islands, as well as its rehabilitation center for chimpanzees.
- Stay at the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust in the River Gambia National Park to spend a night with semi-wild chimps.
- Visit Georgetown a historic town with bird watching, hippo spotting and forest walks.
- Tour the Makasutu Culture Forest to see many medicinal plants or take a canoe trip and visit a village to join in on the dancing celebration.
- Explore the Atlantic Coast luxury resorts.
- Visit the riverside markets in Basse, where some of the best local crafts can be found.
- Visit the Abuko Nature Reserve and go crocodile, monkey and bird spotting.