Gambia, formally the Republic of the Gambia, is a West African country that is surrounded by Senegal, except for its western coast along the Atlantic Ocean. It is the smallest country in Africa. The Gambia is separated by the Gambia River, which runs through the country’s middle and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Gambia River, which flows through the country’s heart and drains into the Atlantic Ocean, divides it in half. Here are 17 amazing facts about the Gambia.
Relax on the beach
The Gambia’s 80-kilometer-long (50-mile-long) coastline is dotted by lovely golden beaches, allowing visitors to relax and make the most of their free time sunbathing in the sun.
These beaches are spread out throughout a 14.5-kilometer (9-mile) stretch of broad, level sand that is occasionally interrupted by dunes or small, rocky beachfront at the base of low sandstone.
The Gambia’s coastline is everything a tropical paradise should be: warm sea, kilometers of sandy sand beach, and swaying palm palms.
The country has relatively mild weather all year, making it a must-see tourist destination.
Take advantage of the opportunity to cruise down the Gambia River
The Gambia River flows 1,100 kilometers (684 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean’s mouth near Denton Bridge to the country’s interior, where it originates in the Guinea-Conakry Fouta Djallon mountains.
It is one of West Africa’s longest and most navigable rivers.
The river splits the country into two land strips on either side, and it is the country’s most noticeable feature.
It is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination, particularly for day trips into the interior.
NOTE: Excursions down the river will take you to various unusual species, ancient slave trafficking spots, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Visit the Wassu Stone Circles
These sites, located in the Central River Region, are thought to be the resting places of ancient monarchs and leaders.
The stones range in age from 750 to 1000 AD, and their layouts range in diameter from 4-6 meters (13-20 feet), with ten to twenty stones in each.
In 2006, it was chosen and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Each stone is about 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall, and tourists and archaeologists have long debated its origins and actual significance.
Although the Wassu area has the most stone circles, the country has hundreds of similar structures.
Bijilo Forest Park will transport you to another universe
Bijilo Forest Park, often known as Monkey Park, is a small reserve on the seashore near Banjul. It boasts an increasing primate and bird population.
The primate species include:
- red colobus
Many tourists came to the area for several purposes, including bird watching and experiencing the lovely qualities of this ecotourism reserve.
NOTE: Local tour guides are always prepared to escort you through the extraordinarily lush foliage, gallery forest, grass, and low shrub as you approach the Atlantic Ocean’s coast.
River cruising the Gambia
The Gambia River extends almost to the sea and is fashioned like an outstretched finger.
By boarding a traditional-style river pirogue and cruising past oyster creeks and through mangroves, you can witness life unfold along the river’s banks.
TIP: Keep a watch out for local fishermen and oyster women in their dugout canoes as pelicans and ospreys swoop overhead.
Go birdwatching early in the morning
A river ride in a dugout canoe early in the morning is well worth the effort: the birds sing a lovely song as the forest surrounding the water awakens.
The Gambia has long been known among seasoned birdwatchers, but you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy its 550 species.
An expert guide will take you on a morning dawn chorus that will open your eyes – and ears – to the country’s hidden natural beauties.
Meet a group of chimps who go island hopping
The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre is Africa’s longest-running chimp initiative, with over 100 chimps now housed there.
It’s in the middle of the Gambia River, between three islands.
NOTE: this place can only be reached by boat.
Learn how to make Gambia-style cuisine
A visit to Ida’s cooking school begins with a stop at the local market, where you may barter for supplies and learn about the country’s favorite flavors.
With over two decades of hospitality experts, this adorable Gambian cook will demonstrate how to prepare an ordinary dinner in Ida’s home kitchen while sharing stories about her origin.
Take a stroll through the Makasutu Culture Forest to pamper yourself
Makasutu Culture Forest is a private woodland and ecotourism reserve in the West Coast Region’s Kombo Central District.
It was established in the 1990s by two Britons, James English, and Lawrence Williams, who fought to preserve the area as an ecotourism attraction.
A virgin forest with riverine palm and hardwood trees, mangrove streams, salt flats, and savanna make up the almost 1,000-acre protected reserve.
It has been a popular day-trip destination due to its religious significance in recent years.
Its dense greenery provides visitors with access to one of The Gambia’s most magnificent, highly forested locations.
The reserve is also known for its thriving primate population, including monkeys and baboons.
Bijilo Forest is a small wildlife reserve about 30 minutes outside of Banjul. Red colobus and vervet monkeys live there.
The routes vary in length and are well-marked.
The Abuko Nature Reserve, with its lovely woods and over 300 resident bird species, is also easily accessible on foot.
You will be able to see:
- Red-bellied paradise flycatchers
Take a walk through the mangroves
The woods and mangroves of Makasutu provide a haven for The Gambia’s animals – and daring visitors.
For moreover a decade, this has been a privately held protected area.
You can see mongoose and baboons on the park’s nature walk, barter for locally manufactured things in the market, and eat local peanut stew and jollof rice at the café.
Sail to Janjanbureh, a colonial island
Janjangbureh, formerly known as Georgetown, is a historic colonial administrative headquarters in the Central River Region.
During the colonial era, formerly enslaved people populated the 200-year-old island settlement. The beautiful, elegant island has a lot to offer visitors, especially those looking for historical adventure.
The people of this old hamlet are always cordial and approachable to guests, making it by far the most pleasant place to visit in The Gambia.
TIP: It is an excellent area for bird watching and animal hunting due to its geographical location.
Go to an art village
As part of the Wide Open Walls project, the Ballabu Wildlife Conservation Area communities have been turned into a living art show.
Caricatures of indigenous creatures and critters, reminiscent of Gambia-style street art, cover the exteriors of homes and buildings.
Investigate the heinous history of the slave trade
The history of The Gambia is intricately related to the slave trade.
Visit the fishing village of Albreda, a historic French stronghold with fortified slave camp remains and a tiny museum dedicated to its history.
Take a boat trip to Fort James Island, also known as Kunta Kinteh Island, to explore the ruins of one of the British Empire’s most important slave forts.
It’s a visceral sensation.
Spend time with the community elders
The Ndemban Homestay on the river’s south bank looks into rural Gambian life, replete with dancing and singing, cooking lessons over an open campfire, and instruction in the traditional batik tie-dying craft.
Whether you’re aiding with cashew nut roasting or conversing with local officials, this is an entertaining way to learn about Gambian culture.
Fish for supper
Take a fishing expedition down a tributary of the Gambia.
The tour includes:
- A traditional boat trip
- Tackle and bait.
The Abuko Nature Reserve should not be missed
The Abuko Nature Reserve was established in the early twentieth century to serve as a water gathering station for the surrounding settlements. It was formally founded in the 1960s.
The 260-acre preserve, which attracts over 30,000 visitors each year, is densely forested and one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
The reserve is home to:
- approximately 400 bird species
- African palm civets
- A variety of monkey species.
Its strategic location, adjacent to one of Europe’s closest tropical woods, makes it an ideal destination for exploration.
The Gambia, despite its small size, is rich in culture, history, and natural beauty.
There are various stunning beaches, diverse scenery, and lush forests, so whatever you’re searching for in a vacation, you’ll find it here.
If you want to relax in the sun, a few days on Senegambia’s beautiful beach coastline are in order. You might also enjoy a leisurely boat ride along the Gambia River.