16 x things to do in Gambia besides enjoying the beach10 August 2017
discover all you want to do during your holiday in gambia
Even though Gambia might be three times as small as The Netherlands and even one of the smallest countries in Africa, you can easily spend months here and see, do or experience something different every day. Spotting hippos in de river, cooking dinner with locals, meet the offspring of the Kunta Kinte, navigate through the mangrove forests and watch the monkeys. What to do in Gambia? I’ve lined up the 16 absolute must dos for a week in Gambia and that’s still a small part of what ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa‘ has to offer. Have fun!
16 x fun to do in Gambia
Tanji Village Museum: Visit the Tanji Village Museum in the beginning of your trip to explore every detail of Gambia. Get to understand the several cultures, traditions and the country itself. Find out how they used to live here (and still do in the midland), which animals walked around here and what sorts of food they used to eat. Which colours they’ll wear when they meet their in-laws for the first time, what certain fabrics have for a meaning and what kind of things they sacredly believe in. Definitely a recommendation for whoever is interested in other cultures!
Take the ferry across the river: Taking the ferry means that you experience Gambia among the locals. The ferry is cram-full. There are animals walking around, people actually sell kinds of dishes and snacks here, people are singing and dancing and it is overall a very fun thing. Wat an experience!
Tanji Fish Market: One of my favourite things to do in Gambia is wandering around on the Tanji Fish Market. You really get to taste the authentic Gambia here. It’s the market in Gambia where it all happens. Aplenty of people, scents, colours, noises and countless other stimulations come together here. My tip: sit down somewhere for about fifteen minutes and absorb everything, look around you and observe. Let down your camera and enjoy the organized chaos here and ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa‘.
Senegambia strip: Want to dive into the nightlife of Gambia? Go to the Senegambia Strip and first eat a bite at one of the good restaurants, enjoy the live perfomances and visit a café or even a club afterwards. It’s the place where locals are more than willing to go out for a dance!
Paradise Beach: This is the perfect place for complete relaxation. A place where you nestle yourself on one of the lounge beds while ordering a cocktail, take a dive in the ocean every now and then of enjoy the locals dishes from Gambia. Walk towards the brightly coloured boats that just come back from the sea and surround yourself with fresh fish (beware: making pictures here is not really appropriate). You can also watch the ‘famous’ wrestling match at Paradise Beach where you’ll get to experience the real life work of the maraboe and most of all will definitely have a laugh.
Local cuisine: A tip for the foodies among us: taste as much as possible from the local cuisine. The dishes are so incredibly tasty that you’ll miss them instantly when you get back home. Make sure to try the ‘domoda‘ and ‘pancakes’, my favourites! Would you like to learn to make it yourself? The locals are more than happy to give you a quick cooking class!
Lamin Lodge: Navigate through the magrove forests in a small wooden boat and enjoy the nature and its peace and quiet. Plan this trip after your visit to the Tanji Fish Market and experience these two extremes of Gambia at once. If you’re in Gambia for a longer amount of time you can also book boat trips at the Lamin Lodge that take several days, where you’ll sleep among the stars, enjoy the Gambian music and perfomances and the delicious food of course. Tip: the ‘pancakes’ here are honestly so good and you can get fresh oysters here.
Get local: Dive into the several cultures and traditions in Gambia. Get out of the car for a second, ask if you can help carry the water or pulling the fish out of the water. Be creative! Ps: you can also ask someone at your resort or hotel if someone is willing to you with him for a day to really immerse in the culture and traditions.
Bilijio Monkey Park: The monkeys in Bijilio Monkey Park live freely and can do and please whatever they want, even if they love their ramble to the habited world every now and then. At the beginning of this beautiful park you get a bag of peanuts to feed to the monkeys who notice you within seconds you came in. They’re not scared or agressive at all, they’re actually really sweet.
National Park: What to do in Gambia? Go into the midland and go looking for hippos and chimpanzees in the River Gambia National Park. Either way it will be an amazing experience!
Kunta Kinteh Beach: One of the nicest spots in Gambia to have dinner, to relax and to make a walk on the beach is Kunta Kinteh Beach. A resort with a restaurant, some wonderful lounge beds and a beach with palm trees that instantly gives you that tropical feeling. Not only is the food here delicious, the vibe here is even better!
Kunta Kinte boat trip: If you would like to know more about the past of the slavery in Gambia you can book the Kunta Kinte boat trip. You might recognize the name from the famous serie ‘Roots‘ of the 70ies about slavery. The Emmy Award winning series tells the story of the Gambian slave Kunta Kinte and his offspring. You’ll head off to the village Juffureh where nowadays approximately 370 people are living and where you can meet his offspring. The place where slavery used to play a big part in the past. On the island you can visit the museum to know more about this horribe time. And make sure to pay attention when you set food on the island, there’s a big, beautiful momument with the words ‘Never Again’ where a man is pictured, his head like a globe and he’s holding a broken chain. Next you go to the small island James Island, where the slaves were temporarily held and subsequently were being sold. Whenever I think about it I get goosebumps. It’s so intense to see it with your own eyes but at the same time very important that you don’t shy away from it. After James Island you go back towards Banjul again and you can enjoy the warm Gambian sun on the roof.
Birdwatching: Nog iets leuks om te doen in Gambia is Vogels zoeken! Boek een gids om vogels te gaan spotten. Klinkt misschien saai, maar ze zijn hier oprecht heel erg mooi en kleurrijk!
Royal Albert Market: Een grotere en meer diverse markt dan de Royal Albert Market ga je niet vinden in Gambia. Je kunt hier werkelijk alles kopen. Van groenten tot verse vis en bijzondere kruiden, maar ook kleding dat voor je neus wordt gemaakt, telefoons en andere gekkigheid. Locals gaan voor werkelijk alles naar de Royal Albert Market in Banjul.
Go for a bike ride: A Dutch guy, how else could it be, offers bike rides in Gambia and not only are they a lot of fun for us Dutchies, but also very informative. Don’t worry, he won’t let you ride your bike when the sun is at its peak of the day.
Poco loco: If you’re into some delicious food and some dancing you go to Poco Loco. Live music, lots of locals and great lounge spots make for a great evening!
Have fun with these tips for all the great things to do in Gambia.
gambia TRAVEL TIPS
This is how you get there: Tui and Corendon fly every other day directly from Amsterdam, or with a short stop in Senegal, to Gambia. Did you know that the flight takes just about 6 hours and when it’s winter in our country, it’s summer over there? This really makes it the perfect destination for a sunny winter!
More convenient lists for Gambia? Have a look at our other lists:
- Check out our ultimate Gambia Travel Guide
- 28 x good to know about Gambia
- 7 x nice beach hotels in Gambia to relax in
- 8 x local dishes you’ll definitely want to try in Gambia
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