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  • In Makasutu
    In Makasutu
    by toonsarah
  • Kapok trunk
    Kapok trunk
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    Albreda football pitch
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Most Viewed Favorites in The Gambia

  • Wafro's Profile Photo

    Souvenirs

    by Wafro Written May 4, 2004

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    Favorite thing: In the Gambia they’ve got very skilled woodcarving artists, so when you need a souvenir for at home, don’t hesitate. You can find souvenir shops all around the country. But don’t pay the price they ask, you have to bargain for a reasonable price.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Music

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    Banjul

    by traveldave Updated Oct 17, 2010

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    Favorite thing: Banjul was founded by the British in 1816 as a trading post and a base from which to attempt to suppress the slave trade going on in nearby French West Africa. It is located on Saint Mary's Island at the mouth of the Gambia River, and is connected to the mainland by bridges to the south and ferries to the north. The city's original name was Bathurst, after Henry Bathurst, then-Secretary of the British Colonial Office. In 1973, the name was changed to Banjul, which is a corruption of bang julo, the Mandé tribe's words for "fiber." The Mandés gathered a type of fiber that grew on the island for use in making ropes.

    Banjul is Gambia's capital and largest city. But with only about 360,000 inhabitants in its metropolitan area, it is one of the smallest capital cities in Africa. It therefore lacks many of the attractions of larger, more cosmopolitan cities, and there is little of interest for the traveler. However, it is still worth visiting the capital city to experience Gambian urban life. Most travelers only go to Banjul to take the ferry across the Gambia River on their way to the river's north bank or Senegal.

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Road from Basse to the Senegalese border

    by sachara Updated Feb 10, 2005

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    Favorite thing: From the Gambia to Senegal we crossed the border between Basse Santa Su in the south-east of the Gambia and Velingara in Senegal.

    The 25 KM long road between Basse and Velingara is unpaved, dusty and bumpy. The Badiara Senegalese borderpost between those two towns in the middle of nowhere is told to be the most friendliest borderpost entering Senegal.

    We arrived in Velingara in Senegal in the late afternoon without CFA, The petrol station didn't take euros and the banks were closed. So it took some time before we had CFAs , could refuel and continue our route.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Visiting villages, some madinka or wolof words

    by sachara Updated Feb 10, 2005

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: If you visit a village or compound it's nice to speak or know some words in the local language (madinka or wolof)

    yes: haa/waaw
    no: nahi/dedet
    thank you: abaraka/jere jef
    goodday: fo waati koteng/ cijamma
    goodmorning: hera laata/ jamanga fanaan
    good afternoon: hera tiinyanta/ jamma a endu
    good evening: suuto ye diya/ nyu fanaalal jama
    what is your name: i too ndi/ na nga tudda

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Gambian streetlife

    by sachara Updated Feb 10, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: The streetlife in Africa is always very lifely, like here in Soma.

    I can sit for hours soemwhere in the street and have a look what is going on in the streets. Ther are all kind of trading activities and small business, all types of transport and a lot of people.

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Cows along the road

    by sachara Updated Feb 10, 2005

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    Favorite thing: In the rural areas of the country, but even in or near the towns we saw always a lot of cows along the road.

    In thse areas I liked this type of cows with their nice horns. After some time you learn how the cows act, when you encounter them en route, especially when they cross the road or not.

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    Traditional villages

    by sachara Updated Feb 10, 2005

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    Favorite thing: Everywhere in the Gambia we saw many traditional villages. The round huts are made of the local natural materials. So they have mud walls and thatched roofs.

    Villages like this are allready constructed for many centuries in the same way and perfectly fit in their natural surroundings.

    Related to:
    • Architecture

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Car wrecks in the street

    by sachara Updated Feb 10, 2005

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    Favorite thing: At so many places in the country I saw old car wrecks in the streets. Sometimes these car wrecks looked rather surrealist, almost like modern art.

    It looks like nobody cares about it. And I suppose, there doesn't exist an environmental police either.

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    Vultures

    by sachara Updated Feb 10, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: In Gambia we saw several times prey birds and vultures along the way to the east. Often the vultures were sitting in the tops of trees, waiting for their meal.

    Suddenly we saw also this one, only a few meters from the mainroad, eating a cow or donkey. We couldn't see it properly.

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Vultures and fruits in the tree

    by sachara Updated Feb 10, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: In Soma, when we were waiting for the repair of our tyre, we had a good view at a tree with peculiar fruits at the other side of the road.

    In the same tree we saw two vultures, waiting, but waiting for what ? it was not really a place to find dead animals.

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  • David&Pauline's Profile Photo

    Back to Nature

    by David&Pauline Updated May 21, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: You must meet Lucas Jatta, a rastafarian palm wine tapper. His open air "Nature" palm juice bar is next door to the Badala Park Hotel, Kotu, just past the bush taxi stand. Do buy some of his palm wine and fresh fruit grown there in the palm stand. He is a very warm, and loving man with a large family to support.

    Fondest memory: Spending all of Christmas day 2001 in Lucas Jatta's compound in Kotu Township. Sharing his hard won food with his wonderful family. The evening was spent at a bar in the heart of Serrekunda, watching a sea of humanity pass by. We danced our way into Boxing Day at the unique Rasta Garden in Kololi. Lucas and his brother Abraham are terrific company and very trustworthy. We write and phone them regularly. Here are some words from Lucas:
    Welcome to my Gambia, if you are planning your first trip or have had the fortune to visit my country many times before let me show you The Gambia as we, the people live it. My name is Lucas Jatta, I am a palm tapper, as was my father who hailed from Guinea Bissau, before me. I am of the Jola tribe, I am a Christian and follow the ways of the Rastafari which gives me a different perspective on a country which is mostly Moslem. I should like to invite you to see The Gambia from that different perspective and as I spend so much of my life atop the palm trees I see much that goes on. Do come and visit me soon and we shall all have a happy time.

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    Birds of The Gambia

    by toonsarah Updated Mar 2, 2014

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    Favorite thing: The Gambia is considered to be a birdwatcher's paradise, and even as non-experts and only mild enthusiasts we had great fun spotting and photographing (or in some cases trying to photograph) the myriad species here. Those we saw included:

    At Ngala Lodge, Fajara
    ~ Common Bulbul
    ~ Long-tailed Glossy Starlings
    ~ Pied Crow
    ~ Red-billed Firefinch
    ~ Red-billed Hornbill
    ~ Senegal Coucal
    ~ various species of dove including Mourning Dove and Laughing Dove
    ~ Whimbrel

    At the Botanical Gardens in Bakau
    ~ Green Wood Hoopoe
    ~ Long-tailed Glossy Starlings
    ~ Red-billed Hornbill

    At Calypso on the Cape
    ~ Caspian Tern
    ~ Cinnamon Roller
    ~ Pied Kingfisher
    ~ some sort of weaver – Habib said Village Weaver but after studying some photos I think it was more likely a flock of Red-billed Quelea

    In Bijilo Forest Park:
    ~ Hooded Vulture
    ~ Red-billed Hornbill
    ~ Red-throated Bee Eater

    In Makasutu:
    ~ African Darter
    ~ Bearded Barbet
    ~ Black Kite
    ~ Blue-spotted Wood Dove
    ~ Cattle Egret
    ~ Goliath Heron
    ~ Great Kingfisher
    ~ Great White Egret
    ~ Greenshank
    ~ Grey Heron
    ~ Hooded Vulture
    ~ Long-crested Eagle
    ~ Long-tailed Cormorant
    ~ Long-tailed Glossy Starling
    ~ Malachite Kingfisher
    ~ Piapiac
    ~ Pied Crow
    ~ Pied Kingfisher
    ~ Purple Heron
    ~ Purple Starling
    ~ Red-billed Firefinch
    ~ Red-billed Hornbill
    ~ Redshank
    ~ Sandwich Tern
    ~ Senegal Thick-knee
    ~ Speckled Pigeon
    ~ Spur-winged Plover
    ~ Swallowtailed Bee-eater
    ~ Variable Sunbird
    ~ Village Weaver
    ~ Violet Turaco
    ~ Western Grey Plantain Eater
    ~ Western Reef Heron
    ~ Whimbrel
    ~ White-faced Whistling Duck
    ~ White-throated Bee-eater

    Fondest memory: It is impossible in such a long and varied list to pick out favourites but I was fascinated by the majestic Goliath Heron, which stands 120–152 cm (47–60 inches) tall and yet moves so slowly and carefully along the bank looking for fish, or flies so apparently effortlessly despite its size. I managed to capture a brief moment of that flight on video, as well as some footage of one that stalked the decking of the neighbouring lodge early one morning.

    I also enjoyed watching the many different birds around the swimming pool at Mandina. The firefinch photo was taken there, as was another short video.

    I have also put more bird photos into a travelogue as I had far too many for this tip!

    Next tip: Bijilo Forest Park

    Related to:
    • Birdwatching

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    River life

    by toonsarah Written Mar 2, 2014

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    Favorite thing: The Gambia River defines the country – almost literally. The Gambia’s boundaries were set in 1889 when Britain and France agreed to divide up the disputed territory in this region, with France having the major share (present day Senegal) but Britain, crucially, retaining control of the river through the establishment of a Crown Colony, British Gambia, which consisted of a 25 mile wide strip of land on its north and south banks.

    The river is 1,130 kilometres (700 miles) long, with about half of that length flowing through The Gambia and all of that part being navigable (the border was set at the limit of navigability). It is tidal to a point about 460 kilometres upstream of Banjul and salt water reaches about 150 kilometres upstream, influencing the flora and fauna – in particular, mangroves are prevalent on this stretch. So you need to travel further upstream to find the crocodiles and hippos that many visitors are eager to see.

    We enjoyed a boat ride on the river on our way to the villages connected with the slave trade. Here, near the sea, it is naturally at its widest (over 10 kilometres wide at the point where it meets the sea). The banks were for the most part distant smudges, and there was relatively little to be seen. But we were lucky enough to spot dolphins – in the distance on our outward journey but much closer on the return; indeed, a couple of them came to swim briefly under our bow.

    We also saw a few fishermen in their traditional colourful pirogues, mainly near Banjul and around the villages, but as most prefer to fish at night, when it is cooler, there were not a great number of these. Nevertheless the trip gave us some insight into the reliance of the Gambian people on the river that runs through their land.

    Later in our holiday we saw much more of life beside the river, as we spent four days in a lodge nestled among the mangroves in Makasutu. I will write a separate page about that peaceful location soon.

    Next tip: the Roots excursion

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    Kapok trees

    by toonsarah Written Mar 2, 2014

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    Favorite thing: The other stand-out trees for me from the Gambian landscape are the massive and often ancient Kapok trees. Also known as silk cotton trees, the fibres from the pods of this tree are used to stuff mattresses and pillows, sofas etc., and can be used for insulation. They grow to a large size and the trunks are massive, with striking buttresses. We saw these both inland in Makasutu and in places near the coast. The tree in photo four is the so-called Serekunda Big Tree, a silk cotton tree so well known that it has given its name to this district of the town (tell any local you are going to Big Tree and he will know where you mean).

    Next tip: Makasutu

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    Take a tour with Habib

    by toonsarah Written Mar 2, 2014

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    Favorite thing: As an alternative to doing the holiday company's excursions I would recommend booking a trip or two with a good local guide. One of the best, judging by the many plaudits he gets, is Habib. He can be booked through the reception at Ngala Lodge or via the contact details below, and offers a range of half-day and whole day trips.

    Although we did one organised excursion (to see the various places associated with the slave trade in general and with Alex Haley's book "Roots" in particular) for the most part we prefer to do our own thing – either alone or with a guide, depending on the location, ease of getting to places and so on. So we booked Habib's services for two morning trips in the more immediate area and after chatting to us and making some suggestions he came up with a great programme.

    The first trip took us to Serekunda market, where he guided us through the narrow lanes and told us about all the produce on sale. From there we went to Kachikally Crocodile Pool, then to the Botanic Gardens and finally to Calypso at the Cape where we all enjoyed a cold drink and a spot of bird watching. We were out for over three hours and he charged us just £15 per person. Our second trip was shorter, just to the Bijilo Forest Park to see the monkeys; we were out for about two hours and he charged just £10 per person for this.

    Habib is very knowledgeable, looks after his customers well and is great company. Seeing the sights with him costs roughly half the price of a comparable excursion and you have the benefit of flexibility and the complete attention of your guide. Do give him a try.

    You can contact Habib on (220) 989 1905 or email habibmisel@hotmail.com

    Next tip: Bakau fishing village

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