A friendly stay
We returned to Gambia as a last minute spur of the moment and got a great deal at Kombo Beach which turned out to be an excellent choice. The hotel grounds are just stunning - the room was spacious and clean. We had a lovely patio that was our favorite spot in the morning and in the late afternoon when we returned from the beach or from (re-) exploring The Gambia. Breakfast was fab, so was the service and all the staff were very friendly. We just loved it. Excellent location, spot on the beach. We counted it.....47 steps from our room to the ocean!
lovely pool, stunning garden, friendly staff, good service. Just excellent.
Very clean hotel and it has been refurbished since our stay. The swimming pool and bar was quite busy so we headed for the beach. There was a small bar there which was quiter and had a BBQ. Right on the beach although you had to pay about a £1 for a sun lounger although wooden with a comfortable cushion.
Try the golf course just down the road.
A very small market next door and a couple of restaurants near by.
A taxi rank opposite which will take you to some of the nicest restaurants I have been to (weezos).
Very good beach hotel
Good beach hotel. Nice and friendly people.
Food is not to bad. Rooms are good.
Securety is very good.
Nice swimming pool and terras.
You find this shop inside the Kombo Beach Hotel and has a lot of souvenirs on sale but also an impressive collection of native jewellery, clothes, music and other interesting items. Prices are reasonable and fixed. You don't need to barter. What you also can do is visit this shop and use their prices as a guideline for when shopping at the craft markets.
We have just returned from a week at the Kombo Beach Hotel. The hotel was very good and there was plenty to do and see as we do not like to sit by the pool all day. We walked to Kololi along the beach, took about an hour - there is a small creek which you can wade across. At Kololi we went to the Monkey Park - they do insist you have a guide as they say that Bumsters enter the park from the beach side but I think this was just a bit of hype to persuade you to have a guide. As the guide was only about 5'4" I think it would be us protecting him. They tell you that the guide is free but give him a tip. The rules of the park state that you should not feed the monkeys - we were a bit suprised to find the guide calling them and feeding them nuts.
We also walked to Serracunda - we went along the beach to the Labada bar, walked through the bar and up a path at the back which comes out opposite Kariba Avenue, if you walk to the end you will eventually come to Serracunda. There are severeal good eating places along Kariba Avenue, Butchers shop (only open at lunchtime in the low season), Mamas and Weezos which was a bit expensive.
We walked along Atlantic Road to Bakau where the crocodile pool is - the village is a bit of a maze but very interesting.
We hired bikes for two days. On the first day we went to Tanji where there is an interesting museum and on the second day to Abuke nature reserve. The Tanji ride was easy and the roads were quite good.
The Bumsters are a nuisance - one evening they followed us to the 'Sailors' restaurant and actually waited outside - then walked back with us to our the hotel when we left - couldn't work out why. Most of the time they want to persuade you to go to a particular restaurant as the owners pay them commission.
We went on the 'Treasure Island' trip which was very good - we went across the border to Senegal and then back across the border to a Gambia island called Ginke which had the most beautiful beach.
Hated to leave!
Beach front location.
Great food - breakfast looking over the beach is a must.
The weather was brilliant.
Beer is cheap.
Rooms are clean.
There are always lots of sunbeds, so the sunbed fanatics who have to put their towels out at 5am in the morning can relax.
Shops just outside the hotel for water and general necessities.
Taxis, a few bars and a little market just outside too.
Three restaurants - one serves snacky things and tea and cake (mega coconut cake!) in the afternoons by the pool. One is the buffet and the food is smashing. The other we didn't try, so I can't comment. There's a wine bar too, and it was lovely to sit outside it in the evenings.
Good entertainment most nights. Other nights we went off to the town where there is loads of good music going on. Taking a taxi is cheap. It can be a tad hair raising mind you!
The wine is pretty dreadful, but we drank it anyway! The evening meal in hotel costs a lot if you have it every day, which we did when we went at Christmas for 2 weeks, but the food and service are very good.
The safe is expensive to rent.
Some nights the entertainment was truly bad, but that is a minor drawback.
This was our second trip to the Kombo Beach Hotel in the Gambia. The first was great (1st trip was with the Gambia Experience - their rep was fabulous). The second trip was even better, as we knew what we were doing. Good thing too, as the First Choice rep was a right grump. Had full board first time, but having B&B was better for us this time, as we tried local restaurants etc., and we met more people that way. Tourists/reviewers whining about the beach sellers [----------] - all these people are trying to do is make a living, plus if you say a humorous or friendly ‘no’ every time you see them they are friendly and interesting to chat with once they know you don't want to buy. We made a lot of new friends that way, and hardly bought a thing, and we were never intimidated by anyone.
The first day it takes ages to get anywhere on the beach, as you end up talking to everyone!
Buy fruit on the beach - it's great - you sit in the shade and you are served whatever you fancy right on the sand. Or your 'fruit lady' will even bring it to you at the hotel beach if you make an arrangement with her. You will meet lots of these 'fruit ladies', but once you have chosen one in particular, you are 'her' customer / 'friend' for the duration, and the rest leave you to it. That makes 30 less people to talk to every day ;o] The same goes for the 'juice men' - pick one, and that's it - plus the fruit juice is nice too.
Take lots of pencils, note pads and school supplies of any type. They are gratefully received at the schools (any school), and it’s good fun to see the kids. Join GTS before you go. They are very helpful with advice, and you can arrange for one of the local chaps to collect you from the airport, which is a great time saver.
Be prepared for total chaos at Banjul Airport! It's like a madhouse, boiling hot and noisy. The less baggage you have the better, as you can escape faster! Keep a tight hold on it, as everyone wants to carry it for you, but they charge you (it's not a lot if you do let them). We will be going again for Christmas 2006, and we are booking the 'Gala Dinner' for sure; that is something not to be missed. It is a real 5 star dinner on Christmas Eve. And just a few bits of tinsel on the Baobab tree - very refreshing after the million ads we have in the UK that drive you mad.
our second trip
this was our second trip to kombo beach. we went 2 years ago when the hotel was not owned by the gambia experience.
back then it was a superb hotel, fantastic food and service.
we took 2 friends with us this time who were on their first trip to gambia.
the rooms and maid service were of the same standard but there were more of the locals allowed into the hotel in the evening which would not have happened under the old owners unless they had been on invite. these locals never bothered us. we found this time due to the hotel being owned by the gambia experience that most evenings until about 11 oclock we were subjectd to native drummers and native singers who took great exception if you did not put a "donation" into their hat. seeing them once or twice is ok but not every night. again this sort of "begging" would not have been allowed under the old owners. we like to give when we want to give and not be made to feel forced into it.
the food has deteriorated but is still reasonable in the evening half board resteraunt but the snack bars which serve all through the day and evening are very good. serving up pizzas, melts, toasted sandwiches, chips etc for those who want it.
they even extend to serving you your lunch and drinks on the beach.
as to the bumsters.
just tell them to go away, then ignore them and they will leave you alone.
we were never pestered during our stay in the hotel grounds. but I do have one comment to make. the hotel will not tolerate any local going into the room blocks they will have them removed. on both our stays we had never known any of the staff to go into the blocks or ask to go into the blocks, they would not risk it, they would lose their job and would be unemployable for life.
there are very many excellent resteraunts to eat at. for a small taxi fare (about £3 return)you can go to the senegambia strip and eat any of the worlds cuisine.
left of the kombo beach there is an excellent indian resteraunt. the couple we went with the husband is indian so they are real connisuers of indian food and they said that it was the best indian food they have ever had. we would never go to the captains table again which is a continental resteraunt just down the road from the kombo beach. their food was extortionately expensive and my friend and my hubby got seriously ill from their food.
on the beach we just ignored the bumsters and they just get fed up and leave you alone. if you show even the slightest interest they will be around you like a rash. so don't show an interest. unless you want to buy the soaps, carvings or beach towels.
we did have anna and anna maria a mum and daughter who own a fruit stall further up the beach supply us with the most gorgeous fresh fruit salad for about £1 every lunchtime. fresh pineapple, paw paw, melon, banana etc. because all the other sellers knew we bought from someone they left us alone.
the dogs on the beach were just as beautiful as normal and our dog chews we took were either eaten or burried for later and they knew exactly where they had buried them. they are not nasty and all they want is a bit of love and stroking. they are not rabid and are looked after by gam vets.
we booked our trips through an official guide called landing (out of the kombo gates turn left) the official guide hut is just next to the entrance of the market.
the market near kombo beach is now 1/4 of its usual size and not worth shopping at. if you walk along the beach a little further you will find a bigger market. but if you want really special carvings and presents get the guide to take you by car to Brikama wood factory. my friend got a large beautifuly carved chess set for £20.00. we never saw anything like it anywhere else. you will get hassled to go into every stall but stick to a firm "we are going to look in every stall and then decide what to buy. they are very poor people and don't want to lose a potential sale so be firm at any of the markets that you got to.
get a guid to take you to the best silver stalls we got some beautiful filligree silver this trip and for a fraction of the price. our guide took 35 minutes to beat a good price for us and it was an experience to watch how the experts haggle. sets you up for haggling yourself. start at a 1/3 of their asking price and never pay a half. if they are stubborn then just walk away they will ocme after you. I got a lovely painting this way.
do take trips out with guides, they will show you the real gambia go to an out of the way school to take books pencils white and coloured chalk and you will be met with a welcome that will live with you forever.
we went on the sand buggy 1/2 day and that was the best experience of all the holiday. riding your own sand buggy (you get tuition my friend doesn't drive) was awsome and we got to see villages and compounds that a car cannot get to. we even had an impromptu dance session with villagers who wanted to teach us how to dance gambian style.
we will go to gambia again but we will go bed and breakfast and eat out at the senegambia strip as it is very cheap to get there and tha taxi man will wait for you.
we loved the kombo beach! a family with an 8yo.......whilst this hotel isnt your family saver, kids club kinda place you can find anywhere in the world...... we found it to be lovely and definatly authentic, staff cant do enough to help...beach is beautiful meals (especially breakfast with the egg station) are well above average....entertainment was so-so but to be fair we thought that was mostly down to the "week" we were there!! staff really tried!
the locals will try to befriend you on the beach usually to try and sell you something but in a country like this what else can you expect? i left my shoes for a girl selling fruit on the beach so obviously other people do 2 (sorry!) be firm with them tho and they will leave you alone! please if you do nothing else take pens books paper whatever you would take for your own kids to learn! these are proud but poor people and will hassle you but ask them why and they will take you 2 see how they live ........we did and we were truly humbled....the photos i have of my boy playing football with the kids out there will be treasured forever
Good hotel- too much hassle
I travelled on my own in April 2006 to the Gambia and this hotel after much research. I stayed on a bed and breakfast basis.
Arrival was met by the expected porters insisting on taking your case to the transfer coach for the obligatory £1. On the way to the coach very young children will be begging for money and sweets.You should not be alarmed by this as this is a third world country with no welfare state, little industry and few chances of employment.
If you dare to venture outside of the hotel complexes you will find genuine people trying to scratch a living by selling their produce or crafts. You will also find people begging for money as they literally have nothing. You will see this on the way to your hotel.
THEN THERE ARE THE SO CALLED BUMSTERS. I will comment on these later.
The reception at the Hotel Kombo Beach was impressive and efficient.After a very friendly greeting by all Staff I was shown to my room which was basic. This was clean, spacious and had a great bathroom. The rooms are cleaned daily to a good standard and the bed sheets are changed every other day.Towels changed as required.
The hotel has lovely grounds and poolside. Plenty of choice with four restaurants and various bars. Staff are friendly and always smiling. I ate there the first night which I found adequate but expensive.
Ventured out of the hotel gates to buy water from a mini market 100 yards away and was immediately surrounded by three so called bumsters who tried all sorts of reasons why I should give them money. They even offered to fetch my water.
Previous reports about dealing with these so called Bumsters state that a firm No will suffice. These are not young men who want to practice their English. They are experienced and hardened conmen who are very adept at their trade. In most countries they would be arrested.
As a single traveller I like to explore the area alone and meet and talk to local people. I hired a bicycle for a week and found most people friendly and willing to chat. They will also want to sell you something or ask for money. Don’t be put off by this, they have next to nothing.
Whilst riding around I found that the so called Bumsters were also mobile and would ride alongside wanting to extract money from me. I had to be quite rude to get rid of them. Every day out of the hotel was difficult as I was constantly approached by ‘non genuine Gambians’ wanting to take me somewhere or part with money for any number of reasons.
To put all into context, an average days pay for a working Gambian is £1 or less. I saw a pay slip from a security Guard who worked a twelve hour day for six days a week. This was 1,016 Dalasai (approx £22 a month). Any pay they receive goes to their compound to feed the family.
I am told the so called Bumsters can easily take £30 a day in the high season. They wear expensive sportswear and trainers, smoke, drink and --- knows what else. I have called them the ‘so called bumsters’ because this is a too friendly name for them. In fact they are the low life of the Gambia and may well be responsible for many people not returning to a country which needs the tourism badly. I know many people who will not return for this reason alone and I have just joined their ranks.
If you want a poolside holiday in a great location by the beach with great weather then the Hotel Kombo Beach will not disappoint. But if you venture out of the Hotel grounds - BEWARE.
Kombo Beach Hotel - Kotu - The Gambia
Hotel Kombo Beach in Kotu.
kombo beach hotel
my boyfriend and i are going to be staying here at the end of february and i was just wondering if anyone could tell me anything about it and the surrounding area?
Also, mosquitos! how much of a problem are they here and should we bring our own mosquito net or will the hotel provide one?
any tips for restaurants, activities, day trips etc would be greatly appreciated too!
RE: kombo beach hotel
Hi, been to Kombo Beach twice now and it's a great hotel. A few bars surround the hotel. Hotel doesn't supply mosquito net so you might want to take your own. Good restaurant to try is Churchill's english restaurant in Kotu, or just a few yards down from Churchill's there is an italian restaurant - can't remember the name but it's a big white building. Have a great time.
RE: RE: kombo beach hotel
We stayed there last November, rooms are ok, food was very nice but if you want to go on the beach for the day get up early to put your towels on the beds,we found that if you were any later then 8am the beds were all taken even though alot of the guests never sat on them till dinner time,take plenty of mozzie spray, not alot to do on a night near the hotel we used to get a taxi to Senegambia, lots of bars and good eating places there, try scarlettes the steaks are great