Visiting Gambia

Gambia is a small country in Africa and probably one of the least known tourism destinations in the continent. It has a narrow strip of coast on the Atlantic Ocean. English is commonly spoken in Gambia and this will help travellers immensely. Gambia is known for a wide range of historical and natural heritage, such as monuments, wildlife, national parks, ancient ruins, villages, historic towns and old colonial forts. Gambia is also a predominantly Muslim country and it is preferable to dress accordingly. Cape Point is a good sandy beach with various marine activities, such as sailing, windsurfing, canoes and jet skis. The country is also an excellent place for any bird watcher. The country offers more than 500 bird species in a relatively small area. This has encouraged many birdwatchers to return each year. The national sport of Gambia is Borreh or wrestling. Musicians beat drums until a person is completely pinned to the ground by his opponent. The winner performs a victory dance by circling the crowd and collects some money for his winning.

Banjul is the capital of Gambia and there are a few places tourists can visit. The lively Albert Market offers local handicraft, produce and a variety of products. The Gambian National Museum offers some very interesting details about the local African culture and the colonial era. The oldest protected area in the country is the Abuko Natural Reserve and located about 25km from the capital. It’s a perfect spot to find some birds and it covers about 180 acres of land. Wild animals regularly found in the Abuko Nature Reserve are monkeys, lizards, antelopes, hyenas and crocodile. There are about 50 species of trees in the reserve and it is illegal to cut them down. Brikama is a town with popular woodcarving center and we could see craftsmen at work in the area. Many wooden souvenirs and wood carvings can be purchased at a reasonable price. A palm forest called Makasutu is located on the bank of the Gambia River and it’s not far from Brikama. It also offers diverse ecosystem with dense forest, mangrove and savanna.

Gambia is also known for its historic sites. The fort James is an abandoned structure on the James Island and it was involved in the French-British War. Unfortunately, much of the island has been heavily eroded by the sea waves and some of British administrative buildings are in ruin. There have been attempt to protect them against further damage, which is quite difficult because the island is only a few feet above sea level and flooding could happen during high tide. Fort Bullen is another British fort and included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in early 20th century to protect the trading route along the Gambia River. It was also used during the WW2 to protect against possible Axis attacks from the north. Eco tourism can be found in a traditional villagem Tumani Tenda, which is inhabited by about 300 people. It’s a nearly self-sufficient community.