Tourism in The Gambia
Message Board

Have you taken a holiday in The Gambia, and would like to share your experiences, thoughts, observations, or comments with others? If so, please make your comments here or read below what others have had to say about visits to The Gambia.

And don't forget to look at the other message boards available on The Gambia Resource Page: the Guestbook, Reconnect with old friends, and Recipe comments.

Saturday, May 23, 1998 at 11:58:22 (EDT)
Sandra Burton
Tividale, UK
My 6yr old son Gareth and I are spending two weeks in the Gambia from 15 October 98 and are staying at the Hotel Palma Rima. We are really excited about our holiday and if anyone has any info about the hotel, facilities, proximity to beach and what sort of creepy crawlies we can expect to see in or out of our room (preferably out) I would be most grateful. Also what is the hotel food like?

Many thanks
Sandra and Gareth

Friday, May 22, 1998 at 12:34:01 (EDT)
Jon Fletcher
Stratford Upon Avon, UK
Have visited several times this little piece of heaven on earth.

Monday, May 18, 1998 at 09:02:40 (EDT)
Regensburg, Germany
I`d like to go to Gambia on October `98.
Can anyone give me informations about the country, the hotels, the people,
the food, the beach,... ?
I would be very happy, if someone will take time to tell me about his
experiences in Gambia.
Especially, I`m interested in the Senegambia Beach Hotel.

Thank you !!!!!!

Monday, May 04, 1998 at 16:55:09 (EDT)
The Netherlands
We are leaving for Gambia at 24th May.
And we are looking forward to a great holyday. If there is anyone who's also at the KOTU village during these day's.

Please send me a @ mail!!


Wednesday, April 22, 1998 at 20:11:39 (EDT)
Alan Rawe
Hull, UK
You may notice that Sara from Hull is going to The Gambia in October and has used this site for some time, well I'm glad to say that I am going with her. We will be staying at the Badala Park Hotel. Sara has asked for info on many important things. but I was hoping to find info on a personal interest, namely DRUMS. I know there are some very fine drummers in The Gambia and as I am a dub-reggae drummer; I thought it would be good to meet a Gambian drummer and buy a drum. If anybody has any info or contacts please e-mail me. I am also a Music Worker for the Youth Service and I would like to know if there are youth clubs in The Gambia I would be greatfull for any info, Thanks.

Monday, April 20, 1998 at 13:49:50 (EDT)
sara Elvin
Hull, UK
Hi, I am spending a week in the Gambia in October. It was very difficult to get booked in anywhere and have ended up staying at the Badala Park hotel as it is the only hotel with a room left on the date we can go. Can anybody tell me anything about the hotel and how close to the beach it is or any useful information. I would love to know about any good trips to go on, getting around, eating out, the weather in that time of year, will I be troubled much by insects in the room and any information you think would be of interest. I would love to hear from anyone who is from the Gambia or who has visited.

Wednesday, April 08, 1998 at 11:08:39 (EDT)
Jan Pieter & Renske
Leiden, Netherlands
Hi everybody,

We are going to The Gambia! Looking forward very much!
We are going to travel around the country for about three weeks, without arranging stuff in advance, just see and enjoy.

But since our plane arrives in Banjul late at night, we'd like to book a nice hotel or pension for the first few nights. Need not be luxuruous, somewhere by the beach. Perhaps one of you can advise us on a place you particularly enjoyed.

Thanks, Jan Pieter & Renske

Sunday, April 05, 1998 at 04:33:18 (EDT)
Richard & Sharon
Milton Keynes, U.K.
after reading the holiday experience page for the Gambia we are really excited about our trip on the 7/4/98 staying at Hotel Palma Rima,Kotu.(hope the fishing's good)
p.s. will let everyone know how it went when we get back!!

Thursday, April 02, 1998 at 12:22:42 (EST)
Milton Keynes, Dull UK

Thursday, March 19, 1998 at 15:37:51 (EST)
Vicki Larkins
Cheltenham, England
I went to The Gambia in September 1997 with my boyfriend and can honestly say it was perfect. I was fascinated by the culture and since my return I have been writing a dissertation on the impacts of tourism in The Gambia and have been truly amazed by som (message truncated accidentally) Cheers!

Wednesday, March 18, 1998 at 20:23:04 (EST)
S. Elvin
Hull, England
Hello! I have been reading so many wonderful stories about the gambia that I am planning to holiday there at the end of October. I would like any information about the country. Could anybody tell me what the weather will be like, will it still be rainy? which hotels are best to stay in? does anybody know what the Senegambia hotel in Kololi or the Novotel Kombo Beach are like. Also is the (message truncated accidentally) Thankyou. Sara

Monday, March 09, 1998 at 09:29:27 (EST)
Helen Jones
London, UK
Just had my second visit to The Gambia in a year and am now planning my third at the beginning of April to start a correspondence course on Nutrition. I hope to be there for around 3-4 months with any luck (and budget permitting!). The place is so amazing (message truncated accidentally) a bien tot

Monday, March 09, 1998 at 06:39:15 (EST)
catherine anderson
Portsmouth NHBR, England
Catherine Anderson @
Well Im back from holiday and what a week it was! If you are planning to go say hello to The Happy Corner! outside Holiday Beach Hotel and also visit the Badala Beach Bar and say hello to Abraham! Have a good time if you ever go there!

Sunday, March 01, 1998 at 14:58:21 (EST)
Suzy Larkin
London, UK
I have just returned from a week in the Gambia, staying at the Kairaba Beach hotel (next to the Senegambia) I had a wicked time out there, everyone is so friendly, we went on the 4 Wheel Drive with West African Tours, it was excellent, i strongly recommend it, remember to take lots of pencils and excersise books for the kids, they also love mints and hair ties! Does anyone have any information with regards to sending e-mails to people in the Gambia - do they have "internet cafe's" as such, as I met a very charming Gambian and would like to keep in touch, I am hoping to go back there in May/June maybe to work in a hotel or something, any information about doing volunteer work in schools etc would be very much appreciated. Everyone who's going, enjoy, it really is a truly wonderfull experience.

Tuesday, February 17, 1998 at 11:35:31 (EST)
catherine anderson
portsmouth, England

Im going to Gambia in 2 days so I will be sure to tell you all about it and I will say hi to all of the people you have met during all of your experiences cheers for all of your tips they will be a great help..... Thank you all again.

Monday, February 16, 1998 at 12:36:41 (EST)
J Rodgers
Oakham, UK
My wife and I have just returned from a superb week in Gambia, staying at the Novotel Kombo Beach. The weather was hot, the sun shone and the people were extremely friendly. We particularily wanted to do some bird watching. We met several official bird guides, all knowledgeable young men, and we went on several trips with one Momodou Barry. He took us around Abuko the reserve close to the coast, and to Tendaba about 140 km up country. There are other guides Ebramin Jellow, Gib Saidy and Samma Mamboeth who can all be found on the bridge over the Kotu stream close to the Kombo Beach. If you are interested in birds do look out for them. We saw 149 species in the week.

Sunday, February 15, 1998 at 10:00:31 (EST)
Sonja Botman
Bovenkarspel, NH Netherlands
My Boyfriend in I are planning to go to Gambia in June. Can anyone tell me anything about the weather that time a year, nice hotels (esp. Hotel Laguna Beach), excursions, safety etc. All information is Welcome!

Friday, February 13, 1998 at 14:57:19 (EST)
Carmen Heinze
apeldoorn, the Netherlands

Im planning to go to the Gambia in july. Can anyone tell me whether Ill be troubled much by the rain. Any other tips welcom ofcourse.

Carmen Heinze

Thursday, January 22, 1998 at 16:00:36 (EST)
Gersten Hasper
Amsterdam, Netherlands
We visited The Gambia last November 1997 on our honeymoon.
It was really great to meet people and to see the country.
We stayed in the brand new Kololi Beach Hotel, they didn't even finish building it by then.... We made a trip to George Town. We saw a lot of the country on that trip.
Great country, fantastic !

Wednesday, January 21, 1998 at 22:55:06 (EST)
willy goedeke
boca raton, fl
can anyonone tell me how the tarpon fishing is in gambia?

Wednesday, January 21, 1998 at 09:44:50 (EST)
Sarah Wheeler
Northwood, Middlesex England
I have visited The Gambia twice in the last year and can honestly say that The Gambia is a truely beautiful country and the people even more beautiful. I have made many friends both in The Gambia and since I have been home - I would love to hear from people who have experienced meeting / marrying someone from The Gambia.

Tuesday, January 20, 1998 at 16:30:20 (EST)
Susan Kane
Northern Ireland
I visited The Gambia last as an educational trip. It opened my eyes to whole new culture and way of life. As a holiday I would recommend it both to those who like to lie around and soak up the sun and to those who love to get around and absorb a different culture.

Friday, January 16, 1998 at 12:14:32 (EST)
Riona MacNamara
Dublin, Ireland
I'm going to the Gambia in March. I'd really appreciate any advice and tips, particularly on cheap accommodation for a woman travelling alone!

Friday, January 09, 1998 at 16:46:48 (EST)
Cambridge, UK
I will be working in The Gambia as Resort Manager for a major UK Tour Operator flying out on the 15th of Jan. After working up from Resort Rep and Resort Manager over the last 5 years in European destinations, I am looking forward to the challenge. If anyone has any useful tips or comments, please email. If you are visiting the country in the next 3 months, maybe I will see you.

Julian Pearl

Monday, January 05, 1998 at 21:47:19 (EST)
A. Prox
Hamburg, Germany
We are preparing for a longer stay in Gambia probably for 3 to 6 month starting Feb 1998. Who could help us with adresses for housing? We would like to rent a small place. What about pirces?

Please send information to Thanks.

As well we are planing to send some materials from Germany to Gambia by Container. If there is anybody who would like to participate in sharing this Container please contact me.

Sunday, January 04, 1998 at 17:17:46 (EST)
Francis Glynn & Family
London, UK

In a strange way, this started nearly 20 years ago with ROOTS and Kunte Kinte, my wife and I were so moved by the Alex Haley story that we named our first son Toby, ‘Roots people’ will see the connection.

Then 20 years later and ready for our first ‘foreign’ holiday, we booked for the cheapest holiday we could find, for us and 3 of our 4 children.... to the Gambia, ironically not Toby, who is now studying at University. It was only after getting travel brochures that we recognised “The Gambia” as the home of Roots... it brought the hairs up on the back of our necks.

We knew nothing of The Gambia, except that it was around 30 degrees in December and that there were a variety of recommended vaccines, which for the 5 of us seemed to cost as much as taking another person. We over packed not knowing what to expect and left Gatwick airport UK, with rain lashing & wind blowing extremly cold, really typical English winter weather... the plane punched through the cloud within minutes and from then, with the exception of starry nights, we saw nothing but sunshine for 6 incredible days.

We had changed some pounds into Dalasies and the rest into travellers cheques before leaving, there was really no need, the Gambians are more generous than our own multinational banks and agents, most prefer sterling.

We arrived on a 30 degree Gambian evening, at the very modern terminal of Banjul International airport, with the sun just preparing to set, and from there by coach through the villages and Serrakunda centre on our way to the Holiday Beach Hotel at Kololi. The travel rep. spoke but we were silent transfixed by the sights and sounds of an African evening that I was just totally unprepared for.

The villages were what we call ribbon developments and nothing much more than the simplest of mud or concrete block huts covered with a low pitched tin roof, all looked to be painted a deep and dusky red, but later I realised this was dust of the red Gambian sand, December is well into the dry season!! Outside each building people were standing talking and as we approached and past, waved and smiled at us, as if we were long loved relatives returning from some distant place, not just one or two people waving, most of them and all of the children. This really is the smiling coast of Africa.

The Holiday Beach Hotel is very clean and very basic, the bungalow type buildings we were in had a large living room opening from a good sized covered veranda, there was space for a cooker and fridge and eating area at the far end, but only the sink was in position. There were 2 very basic double beds, clean sheets and not very soft pillows. A loo and shower completed the accomodation, plenty of hot water, and UK type plugs and switches for the electrics. Our arrival was accompanied by exactly enough people to carry one case each and with the absence of anything less than 50 dalasi notes (3 UK pounds) each case carrier was tipped with a UK pound coin. Half board meant eating at the “Scala” restaraunt, a few hundred yards from the hotel’s main entrance.

It would be difficult to get better food in the UK without paying a lot of money for it, the evening menu was limited for us half boarders but Wow!!, beautiful fish and wonderful meat served at a very leisurely pace, most evening meals took over an hour but with the inside rooms air conditioned it was a very pleasant way to chill in the early evening. If you get the offer of half board at the Scala, take it!!.

Kevin and Lamin, two locals introduced themselves as we strolled back to the hotel, we took them for bumsters, they were pleasant, friendly and welcoming, they didn’t ask for money, they didn’t try to sell us anything. Lamin had a shop in “Happy Corner”, a right angle of about 6 small covered stalls, immediately outside the hotel, some were open till late at night, Lamin’s sold bead bracelets, polished stones, incredible shells not very commercially presented. We chatted and promised to come back to look round properly the next day.

Helen looked very pale, it was hot and stuffy, Helen looked even paler, she made it to the door then went headlong onto the stoney sand outside..... she had totally passed out, dead weight, .... all around came to help, chairs arrived from nowhere, a fan was produced, Helen was there but like they say ‘curtains drawn - no one at home’, the kids were brilliant so were the Gambians and within 10 rather scary minutes, a weak and wobbly Helen was making it back to the room, feeling a bit embarrassed and shaken but basically OK.

Electric fans and fridges and strong boxes, are available from the hotel at around 250D a week each, we did without the electrics and managed fine without the strong box, we didn’t have much to be stolen, but in retrospect, I think there was more risk from our fellow travellers than from the local people.

The sun, never failed to appear in a blue sky to brighten our breakfasts in the hotel’s open sided dining area, even at 7.30 in the morning it was pleasant to be outside, breakfast was bread, ham, cheese and a variety of fresh fruit, you could pay more and have bacon and eggs!!! We missed making a hot drink in the morning or late at night, next time we’ll take a small travel kettle. The pool was clean and open for swimming at 10.00. The first morning, the travel rep. was calling to brief us. The night before Lamin had said he could take us round and about , we liked him, but were a little unsure.

The rep. offered a trip for every day, most were 25 to 30 pounds sterling per person per trip and with 5 of us we reckoned we could maybe make two trips, but have nothing else left to spend. Coke etc outside the hotel was 3D, in the hotel bar 10D, Jolbrew the local beer was 5D out, or 15D in, mostly we drank out. Cards were 4D and stamps to the UK 2D. To send an ordinary letter from the UK to Gambia is almost 1 pound, 17D, I guess Gambian visitors to the UK don’t mail a lot of postcards!!!

The rep. also said the way to see the ‘real’ Gambia was to make friends with one of the locals... we had a family discussion.... we all pretty well felt the same way, we had so much to spend and when it was gone it was gone, the air company, tour operator and hotel had already had their cut, anything else we had should be spent with the locals.

We bumped into Lamin outside his shop. It was OK though, Abrahim would look after his shop, he could take us round. Were we happy to travel on the local bus, or bush taxi, or did we want the diamond tourist taxis? Local bus was the cheapest, for the main journeys Kololi to Serrakunda 2D per person, Serrakunda to Banjul 3D per person. Bush taxis varied, but for 5 of us, plus Lamin we never paid more than 25D. On one day, we hired a large car for the 6 of us, from early in the morning to 8 in the evening that was our most expensive single item it cost 800D (50 pounds sterling) maybe we could have got it cheaper, but a dayout on a tour would have been almost 2000D, so it seemed a bargin for our large party, Lamin and Abrahim looked after us from 9 in the morning till whenever we liked, early some evenings, the early hours after a night at the Bahamas beach club.

I don’t want to describe the sights we saw, the places we went, the things we did, the foods we ate, the people we met, because it may spoil it for you, the Gambian experience is a two way thing like most experiences, what I will say, is that it was a real treat, I have never met nicer people, never felt so at home away from home, never experienced friendship so intense, I feel I have know Lamin and Abrahim for 6 years not 6 days. At the “Happy Corner” of shops they called us the ‘Happy Family’, it would be hard not to happy.

We returned to England on Christmas Day, all feeling homesick.... for The Gambia and two weeks later, we still feel the same. If anyone reads this before visiting Kololi in 1998, please visit Happy Corner and give our warmest regards to Osman, ‘the boss’, from the ‘Happy Family’ who visited them just before Christmas, and if you see Lamin or Abrahim remind them that we will be back to see them all at the end of the year, but that we expect Lamin or Abrahim in England later this year. Take pens and little note books for the kids you’ll meet, take clothes that you can leave behind to make room in your bags for the fantastic batiks and woodcarvings that you’ll want to bring home.... Please feel free to email us at Have a great time.....

See also messages Holiday Exchange Messages from 1997