One could easily visit The Gambia simple by basing themselves in the Senegambia area just outside of Banjul. As long as you’re not planning on heading too far inland, everything you want to see and do in The Gambia is likely within striking distance of the many hotels in this area. Personally, I’d recommend Serekunda, a mere couple kilometres from the Senegambia area, as a base because the number of hasslers and bumsters are far fewer. Regardless of where you chose to stay, you’ll never be far from good eats, the wildlife park, or the beach.
Time Needed: 3-4 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 30-45$ per day
Things to Do and See
- The Beach: While for many, the beach is the main draw of The Gambia I feel like it may leave you a bit unsatisfied. The beach is a bit messy and there is no chance you’ll be able to spend an entire day there without being hassled. However, some of the hotels have decent beaches with security and beds.
- Bijilo Forest Park: If this park seems slightly put on for tourists, well, it’s because it is. This chunk of reserved and along the beach just beyond the Senegambia strip might be slight “set-up”, however there is a great variety of bird life and a couple of species of monkeys. You’re basically guaranteed to see green vervet monkeys here but there is also a good chance of spotting red colobus monkeys as well. It will likely take you an hour or so to walk around. Guides are good, but not exactly necessary.
- Abuko Nature Reserve: A bit of a drive out of town, but easily accessible by public transport or a taxi, this reserve is a great way to spend a morning. There are a number of different animals in the park. Among the usual suspects you also might get to see the impressive monitor lizard. There is also a rehabilitation center on the property with a number of hyenas as well as some rare primates.
- Kachically Crocodile Pool: Although it is really put on for tourists these days, the historical significance is cool. Moreover, you’re not likely to be able to get closer to Nile crocodiles anywhere else in the world. Hell, you can even pet them here if you’d like.
- Banjul: Of course, if you’re wanting to check out the capital city, it’s completely possible to do so on a day trip.
Where to Eat
Most hotels in town have their own restaurants, as is the case in most of west Africa. However, there are a number of decent places to eat on the Senegambia strip.
- Kora: This was my favourite place for dinner and it’s open quite late as well. I paid about 10USD for a good meal and a beer. The menu is pretty varied.
- Green Mamba: This place was phenomenal and not what you’d expect in Africa. It has a bit of a Mongolian Grill feel to it.
- Paradiso Pizza: I didn’t eat here, so I can’t tell you if it’s good. But, I passed by and it looked really good. It’s right on the strip as well.
Where to Stay
There are more places to stay in town than you could ever imagine. Where you stay is going to depend on your budget. I stayed at the Sukuta Camping just outside of Serekunda which was great. It’s quite and on a calm street well away from all the bumsters and other annoyances of the main tourist zones. I was told that the best place to stay in town for budget plus travellers was Luigi’s, but it was a bit out of my budget.
Getting out of Town
Truth is that you don’t have to get back into Banjul if you want to get somewhere. However, you have to be comfortable with public transportation. I got to Ziguinchor via the turntable, it seemed like there were people heading in all directions from there.
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