Explore Africa in the Gambia

The Gambia is an increasingly fashionable destination for travelers in search for the road less traveled, with plenty of comforts on hand to ease the experience. Africa’s smallest mainland country, The Gambia lies within Senegal in West Africa.

December is the ultimate time to travel, falling just outside the hot rain season, giving cooler clear days and nights. The Gambia has a short Atlantic Ocean coastline that is not to be missed if you have a passion for peace and seclusion. The great Gambia River is integral to life and culture for Gambians and the thin country runs either side of it. You can cruise for several hours along the mighty river in an impressive Catarmaran, stopping for lunch at Sitanunku Lodge and float back home in time for your dinner. You can find out more here.

Beach Tranquility

The Gambian coast is less crowded than other idyllic beach resorts and has very reliable temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius. There is a refreshing sea breeze and plenty of shade – and impromptu beach wresting matches are also very common, especially nearer the large hotels, such as Kairaba Hotel at Kololi, Ocean Bay at Cape Point and Kombo Beach at Kotu.

Rural village tours

More than 63 percent of Gambians live in rural villages, if your travel style takes a deeply cultural bent then make sure you experience village life in The Gambia. Soak in the difficult lifestyles but the easy smiles, and spontaneous music and dance. You will be welcome to visit a local school, the children will perform their traditional songs and dances; you can repay their efforts with much coveted pens or footballs from market stalls. For further tastes of the real deal, experience the thick of Serrekunda, Bakau and Banjul markets. Bargain for everything from onions to dresses; support the talented local artisans and buy elaborate wood carvings, leather and batik cloth, African music, jewellery and sand paintings. Check out this website for more details on getting around the Gambia.

Wildlife tours of the Gambia

The forests of The Gambia have a plethora of vibrant bird life guaranteed to charm even the least of birdwatchers among us. I would recommend the bird watching tour with Malick Suso Tours, who work in conjunction with British TV presenter Chris Packham, who can’t praise The Gambia enough: “there are lovely people and so many good friends, the excellent hotels and food, the feeling of safety when I’m out and about and of course the accessibility and abundance of incredible bird life, which never ceases to amaze me” says Packham. During December you can book private tours for around GBP195 for three days.

Gambia cooking schools

If you are interested in international cooking, or if you simply recognise the way to truly experience a culture is through the preparation and eating of the food, Ida Njai’s fascinating cooking classes in Brufut are a brilliant few hours spent. Ida will take you to buy your ingredients before inviting you into her home to help to cook a strenuous and satisfying meal. Ida’s Home Cooking Courses always get rave reviews, and at around GBP30 per person, don’t miss out on a brilliant day. You can find more on cooking schools in the Gambia at gambia.co.uk.