In summer 2012 we visited James Island, also known as Kunta Kinteh Island. James Island is a very small island in the Gambia River. We went there by small boat from the northern riverside.
In 1456 the Island after Portugal acquired the island from local rules the Oortuguese started to build a fort. The location of the island in the middle of the river was a strategic place to control the waterway.
James Island is a World Heritage Site: "James Island and related sites present a testimony to the main periods and facets of the encounter between Africa and Europe along the River Gambia, a continuum stretching from pre-colonial and pre-slavery times to independence. The site is particularly significant for its relation to the beginning of the slave trade and its abolition......"
In Wassu each stone circle consists of about 10 to 24 massive and reddish brown stones.
The stones are between 1M and 2.5 M high and must weigh several tons, they told me.
Similar structures are found in the Sahara and in Guinee. In Gambia is the largest concentration, about 40 circles between Wassu and Kau-ur.
After my visit at the Wassu circles the four groups of stone circles in The Gambia and Senegal became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006, because ......"the stone circles of pillars and burial mounds present a sacred landscape which is created over more than 1500 years (probably between the 3rd century BC and 16th century AD)".
I will be there in February/March too. It will be my Gambia Trip # 15.
The real Gambia is to avoid the Hotels and live in the village. There are a lot of appartments and B&B offers.
If you want to travel, which I would recommend, do it on a private base with an experienced guide.
Gore Island is really worth a trip! Anyway, Senegal is taking better care of their tourist attractions. On the other hand, just the basic access in The Gambia is also an experience. I remember my private trip to St. James Island. We took the ferry to Barra, then a cab to Albreda, then a fisherboat brought us to the Island. The motor was down in the middle of the river, we had to changes boats right on the water... that is what I would call an experience.
Or to visit a woman's project of kanyeleng, that means women who where isolated from their families because they can't give birth. To see the way how they survive and become legend, because they are not afraid of nothing and nobody anymore was really impressing!
Whenever it makes sense, take local transport.
And: Senegambia is not THE GAMBIA. Like Reeperbahn is not Germany.
The sacred pools at Bakau have over the years become a tourist magnet for visitors to The Gambia. Some Gambians believe that the pools have supernatural healing powers and in particular bathing with the waters can aid in fertility. There are dozens of these sacred pools in The Gambia (some without crocs) but this is the nearest to the Atlantic tourist strip. There are over 100 resident crocs of the pool. The Katchikally Crocodile Pool at Bakau, were first discovered by a wine-palm tapper, a member of the Bojang clan, over 100 years ago. The pool's crocodilian residents have since become so tame, that they allow visitors to pet them, and seem to prefer fish over red meat.
Infertile women travel from far and wide from both within and outside the Gambia to visit the site where they are washed with sacred water from the pool by specially trained women of the Bojang clan. After the ritual washing the women are given some of the water in a bottle to be applied to certain body parts before going to bed and first thing in the morning. In return, people washed at the pool are expected to make a small cash donation, a piece of cloth and a colanut - half of which is shared among the elderly and the other half of which is thrown into the pool to appease the crocodiles. Once the ritual is performed, one is not supposed to shake hands with anybody from Bakau. Members of the Bojang clan are forbidden from exploiting the pool for financial gains lest it loses its sacredness. There are two other popular pools at Folonko in Kartong Village and Berending Bolong 4km from Barra.
You can actually touch the crocodiles if you are feeling brave enough!
When in the Gambia, do take a trip to the south part of Senegal, the Casamance. Go on a guided trip for one day and experience the Atlantic Ocean, the different language and the husle to cross the border and to get in again........
Near Wassu are several stone circles, believed to be burial sites and about 1200 years old. Wassu with its stone circles is one of the most famous sites in Gambia.
These stone circles gave me a very mysterious feeling, like also Stonehenge in England and the stones in Carnac in France did.
The archaeologists don't know yet the origin of these Wassu stones, so it is still an archaeologic and anthropologic mystery. It is believed, it must be the remains of a very old and developed African civilisation, before the old Ghana empire.
Besides these stone circles in Wassu there are three more large groups of stone circles. There are all together more than 1000 monuments along about 350 km of the River Gambia.
After my visit at the Wassu circles the four groups of stone circles in The Gambia and Senegal became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006, because ......"the stone circles of pillars and burial mounds present a sacred landscape which is created over more than 1500 years (probably between the 3rd century BC and 16th century AD)"......
Anyone considering a beach holiday in the Gambia and Senegal, may want to look West and venture deeper into the real Africa. Whether you just have a few spare days away from the beach or would like to spend three or four weeks travelling around the sights of Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry, Oumar can take you there. For those lucky enough to spend several months away from the cold winters of Europe and America, Oumar can take you deeper into the forests and deserts of West Africa. Oumar can speak several languages outside of French and English, including Mandinka, Bamanan and Fula , the main tongues of West Africa. This will give you entrance to people and places denied to those on a tourist package.
For those looking for Music and Culture, such as the Festival of the Desert in December and the Festival on the Niger in January, Oumar can organise the trip for you. He can tailor the tour to suit your budget, whether it's luxury hotel or a tent in the desert , Oumar will organise it for you.
Close to the Banjul International Airport you find the Gambia is Good Farm yard. Gambia is Good is bringing together thousands of local farmers. The supply Gambia is Good and they in return sell the crop to the Hotels, Restaurants, Supermarkets etc. Thus providing a livelyhood for the local farmers and making the hotels etc less dependant on foreign supply. At the farm yard you can see some of the crops they are growing, get introduction into all Gambia is Good is doing and taste solar baked cakes etc.
This day out is fun to do. We got to know about it through posters in Kombo Beach Hotel and we didn't want to miss this. Fantastic work Gambia is Good is doing.
We came across this great website for Gambia River Cruise. We contacted them and within a day we had a trip arranged. We chartered a boat just for the 2 of us and it was just fantastic. The boat itself is huge - the crew is fantastic and the day itself is one to remember for the rest of our lives. If we ever get married we want to do it on that boat.
Upperdeck with lovely deck chairs and a lounge area - below comfortable sitting area and a kitchen where the cook is preparing some finger licking food. We caught some fish, we took a dip and we saw the local women collect oysters from the mangroves. All in all just SUPERB!
On Bakau New Town road you will find a bit hidden The Saloon. This is a multi purpose place. Hair and massage Saloon downstairs, Art Gallery upstairs and there is also a lovely food place. The whole building is a gem with loads of different styles and you just keep on looking around. If you are lucky the owner will show you his garden with the most beautiful orchids and other exotic flowers.
just rent some mountain bikes and drive towards Serrekunda - avoid the big road with loads of traffic - and then just drive around this bustling city. You can park your bicycle e.g. at a local bar, have a drink and then ask the waiter to look after your bikes whilst you visit the market. You just wander around and you will be amazed at what you all see. In general the locals don't pay much attention to you unlike the beaches were you will often be approached by locals to try and sell you trips, souvenirs etc. It is so refreshing to see the day to day life in a busy city.
Just walk on the beach and you will find friendly Gambians riding horses and offering you to rent their horses for 30 minutes. You will pay about 300 Dalasi and riding along the Atlantic Ocean is just relaxing and gives you that perfect holiday feelling
within walking distance from the Kotu hotels you find the Kotu Bridge and a bit further down the Kotu ponds. To beautiful pieces of nature which are home to many colourful birds. The Kotu bridge gives you a great view over the Kotu stream with its mangroves and palm trees and on the other side the Atlantic Ocean.
The Kotu ponds is a nice strech of nature to wonder through and the pond itself is covered in hundreds of flowers.
The first area in the Gambia to be given protection.Famous worldwide for its birdlife even non birdwatchers will enjoy see the birds here.Gambian birds are amazingly coloured .Get a guide they will mimic bird calls to help you see more birds,as of Nov 09 150 Dalasis an hour two or three hours is plenty for non birders.there is an animal orphanage in the park expect the usual request for money to help with upkeep .the Hyenas here are huge must take some feeding .early mornings are best ,open at 7 am.
for a day just lying on a beach its hard to beat this.Sand Palm trees and good food and much less hassel here than on other beaches.Also if you get bored lying on a sunbed ther are Lakes behind the beach to go birdwatching
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