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.
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.
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.
If you visit a village or compound it's nice to speak or know some words in the local language (madinka or wolof)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the Lower River Division south of the Gambia River with all the mangroves and tidal wetlands we were sometimes wondering, where were we travelling.
Is this tropical Africa or are we back in the flat and green wetlands of the Netherlands ?
You get a better rate in the Gambia for currency rather than travellers cheques. In Feb 2007 I got 51 Dalasi to the £ for cash as against 49 for t. cheques.
You will need a room safe obviously, and you will also get a better rate outside the hotels, but only at designated currency exchange offices. One such place is Barries very close to Sarges hotel in Kololi.
Fondest memory: Visiting a school taking writing materials can be very rewarding
In the Gambia there are three kinds of religions. You will find muslims, animists and christians in this country.
In many towns we saw mosques. I liked the local architecture of these African mosques.
In African countries I always like to see the creativity of the people by using second hand materials for almost everything, they construct.
In Gambia I saw a lot of doors made of oil drums. This door in Soma looks really nice.
The Kombo Beach is the only hotel we have been to in The Gambia, we stayed here the first time and...more
well such an extraordinarily well run venue in Gambia. German influence, very efficient. What...more
AU Hwy, Brufut Heights, PO Box 3311, Serekunda, Gambia
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples