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Details of The Gambia, West coast of Africa and places to visit whilst visiting there like Serrekunda HubTrail

Updated on December 15, 2011

Gambia is not always a country that people think to travel too for a vacation or holiday, yet it offers some of the best cultural experiences you can get in a third world country as well as nice beaches and constant sunshine (or at least warm weather).

My first experience of Gambia, known by the locals as the smiling coast of Africa (because generally the people here are always happy), came in 2002 when my mum suggested we go see this small country on the west coast of Africa. She had already been three times before and was in love with it and the people. We decided to give it a go and stayed for a week. This week was so packed full of excursions and things to do we decided that we needed to return but for longer. This we did in 2005, when we stayed for two weeks in Senegambia, meeting the locals and relaxing.

Map of Gambia

Banjul capital:
Banjul, The Gambia

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A little about Gambia

Gambia is a very small country on the West Coast of Africa which is surrounded by Senegal. The population is 1,700.00, most of whom still live in compounds, rather than the houses that we are used to. The main religion in the country is Islam, although some are also Muslin. The capital of the country is Banjul, and just 15miles from here you can find Gambia airport which is as good as you will find in any country, but more about that later. The main market town is Serrekunda and again a great experience to see.

It has one of the most important rivers in Africa going through it, 'The River Gambia'. The river itself is 10km wide where it meets the sea and meanders through the country going into the heart of Africa. You can find various wildlife on the river even dolphins as well as the abundance of birds. The river itself is banked with mango trees and such like giving the wildlife a great habitat. There are many boat trips which take you out on the river and these are well worth a trip if you want to swim and take in the wildlife.

The people of Gambia are in comparison to the tourists rather poor. They live in what is known as compounds, usually a family network of grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters all living of the same area of land. There diet consists mainly of rice and fish. There is meat to be had, but with the river and sea so close to hand fish is plentiful. There is also plenty of fruit available with mangos and papaya being fairly high up on the list.

Banjul Port with a clip of dolphins at the end

How to travel to Gambia

There are three ways of travelling to The Gambia, one is by car, but this is really not for the faint hearted as there is a wide expanse of desert to cross where it is really not safe to stop. Another is by boat coming into port at Banjul Port. Again not a widely used way of travelling, but could be done. So with this in mind that leaves flying into the main airport which is 15 miles (24km) from Banjul, Gambia Airport.

The airport itself is not that much different to some that you would find in small countries in Europe really. You will find a restaurant and bar, post office, car hire, bank, tourist information office and duty free shopping. When departing your plane you will be transferred from the runway to the airport terminal via bus.

Before 2001 NASA had announced that Banjul International Airport would be used as an augmented landing site in the event of an emergency for any of the NASA space shuttles.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
River GambiaThe River Gambia
River Gambia
River Gambia
The River Gambia
The River Gambia

Places to visit in the Gambia

While staying in the Gambia you may wish to investigate and see some of the local traditions. There is much to see and do in this small country, but if you wish to see how the Gambian people do there shopping without a supermarket then head over to Serrekunda, the largest town in The Gambia. Here you will find an extremely busy town with a maze of streets with men and women on the sides selling a full assortment of things from furniture to food. The main market has changed somewhat over the years, originally it was more like a giant indoor market where you could hardly pass in the corridors and the shops where quite tiny. Now most of the market is out in the open which is more pleasant to the eye and nose, although it is still very busy and higgledy, pickledy. It is not recommended to go here without a local guide of some sort as there is a good chance of getting lost.

An experience not to be missed is the sacred Crocodile pool in Bakau. Here you will be able to get up close to crocodiles, even stroking them. For what ever reason these crocodiles prefer a diet of fish instead of meat. The pool itself is home to more than 100 crocodiles and is said to help woman with fertility issues.

There are other various trips that can be had when visiting The Gambia, some which take you along the River Gambia to the home of St James Island and the home of Kunta Kinte a Gambian who was captured and sold as a slave in 1767. There are also lazy day cruses down the river among the mango trees.

Serrekunda market in 2005

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The market at SerrekundaThe market at Serrekunda
The market at Serrekunda
The market at Serrekunda
The market at Serrekunda
The market at Serrekunda

Places to stay in Gambia

There are the usual beach resorts where you can stay for a package holiday within The Gambia, but if you fancy a little something different then you can allways try the eco holidays. These are holidays where you stay in lodges using sustainable materials such as wind and sun to heat water etc. Some of the lodges have also been built using sustainable materials.

However if you prefer the more traditional hotel with brick and mortar then there are plenty to choose from along the coast. They are

  • Bakau
  • Banjul
  • Brufut
  • Bijilo
  • Cape Point
  • Fajara
  • Kartong
  • Kololi
  • Kotu
  • Makasuta
  • South Kotu

Places to visit within the Gambia

Bakau, The Gambia

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You can find the Crocodile pool here

Banjul, The Gambia

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The capital

Bijilo National Park,:
Bijilo National Park, Serrekunda, The Gambia

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Kololi, Serrekunda, The Gambia

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Home to many hotels

Kotu, Serrekunda, The Gambia

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Home to many hotels

Serrekunda, The Gambia

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The place to go to see a proper Gambia town trading there goods and going about their daily business.

Fajara, Serrekunda, The Gambia

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St James Island:
St James Island, The Gambia

get directions

I hope that you have found this hub useful and interesting.  I have been to The Gambia twice and although it has changed since the first time I went, I still want to show this country to my son once he is old enough to appreciate the culture and the way the Gambian people live.  These people do not have much, but what they do have makes them happy.  Maybe we should all take a leaf out of their book and enjoy life no matter how little we have, after all there is more to life than money!

A few things that may help if you are travelling to The Gambia


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    • nasus loops profile imageAUTHOR

      nasus loops 

      7 years ago from Fenland

      Hi Joe

      Thanks for your comments. I was not aware that islam was the main region, probably as most of the people we became familiar with while there were muslin. Thanks for letting me know so that I may change it in my hub.

      I am pleased you liked it.

    • nasus loops profile imageAUTHOR

      nasus loops 

      8 years ago from Fenland

      Hi Arlecchino. Gambia is what you make it. You can have a typical beach holiday not much different to European holidays if you want, or you can go out and explore the country and the Gambian ways using the local tourist guides. My family did both over two weeks, one week exploring and one week chilling out.

    • Arlecchino profile image


      8 years ago from Top of the Cloud

      I've never thought about Gambia as a country that I want to visit. After reading your hub I have an idea that it can be unique and unforgettable travel. Thank you for sharing!


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