Introducing The Gambia
It’s easy to miss The Gambia on a map of mighty Africa. This tiny sliver of land is a mere 500km long and 50km wide, and, with the exception of an 80km shoreline, it’s entirely enveloped by Senegal. But beach-bound tourists have long known how to trace this oddly shaped country on the map. Its magnificent coast invites visitors to laze and linger, tempting with luxurious beach resorts and bustling fishing villages. But there’s more to Africa’s smallest country than sun and surf. Stunning nature reserves, such as Kiang West National Park and River Gambia National Park (also known as Baboon Island), and the historical slaving stations of St James Island and Jufureh offer peaceful pauses from the clamour of the nearby coast. And The Gambia’s vibrant culture is always there to be taken in by open-eyed visitors. Traditional wrestling matches regularly take place, the heaving markets of Banjul and Serekunda & the Atlantic Coast have you soaking up the atmosphere and sharpening your negotiation skills, and the striking performances of kora-strumming griots can be experienced during weddings, baptisms or public concerts.
Bird-lovers will easily be seduced by this compact country. On a tour upriver, the cries of over 300 species will follow you as your pirogue (traditional canoe) charts a leisurely course through mangrove-lined wetlands and the island of Georgetown. Even if your ornithological skills don’t go beyond identifying an inner-city pigeon, you’ll be tempted to wield binoculars here, and can rely on an excellent network of trained guides to help you tell a pelican from a flamingo.
Best places to stay in The Gambia
West Africa travel guide
West Africa has cachet and soul. Home to African landscapes of our imaginations and inhabited by an astonishing diversity of traditional peoples, this is Africa as it once was.
West Africa's best wildlife parks
Everyone knows about the great national parks of eastern and southern Africa – Masai Mara, Kruger and Serengeti all conjure up images of majestic landscapes, packs of lions lazing in the shade and herds of elephants roaming the savannah...
Africa - The Gambia (Chapter)
The Gambia’s beaches invite visitors to laze and linger on package tours, but there’s more than sun and surf. Fishing villages are nature reserves are within easy reach of the clamorous Atlantic resorts, ecolodges and small wildlife parks dot the...
The Gambia destination guides
The Gambia & Senegal: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s The Gambia & Senegal guide provides a selection of literature to get you in the mood for your trip. Very few travel books have been published about the region, but you can still read your way into the countries’ culture through a whole range of related topics...
West Africa Cruise - Accra to Marrakech
From the M/S Expedition, you’ll get the chance to explore one of Africa’s most vibrant (and curiously underexplored) regions from a hotel that goes wherever you do.
Senegal to Ghana
The quintessential West Africa overland trip, this tour from Dakar to Ghana leaves no cultural, natural or historical stone unturned on its eastbound journey across the continent. Very much off-the-beaten-track, this is a fairly physically demanding tour that involves a lot of camping, hiking and trekking – though the bulk of it is undertaken in a comfortable overland truck.