Off the beaten track small group tour in The Gambia: traditional lodges, fascinating wildlife, wonderful people & pristine beaches.
Activity code: GAGW
Duration: 11 Days
Enjoy "the Smiling Coast of Africa" on a small group tour to the true Gambia. Explore the real country beyond the beaches, away from the tourist crowds and return with fascinating stories of encounters with wildlife and Gambia's vibrant culture.
This unique tour of Africa's smallest country combines land and river travel, delightful lodge camps, bush walks, village visits and a couple of days on a palm-fringed beach to relax at the end with your new friends and your wonderful guide.
Our guide and all-round Gambia expert on this tour, Paul, has been travelling to the country for many years and truly loves the place and its people. Initially working for a charitable organisation focused on conservation, he developed an extensive knowledge of the country and made many contacts that enable this tour to be such a fabulous opportunity for unique wildlife encounters and an unforgettable experience in a beautiful country.
The Gambia Explorer tour is ideal for birdwatching enthusiasts - experienced local guides are available at all destinations (small local charge).
Starting from the pristine sands of Kartong you will travel along the great river Gambia to Tendaba, continuing a few days later to the historic, colonial settlement of Georgetown, located on its own island in the river. Along the way you can take in the incredible beauty of the natural scenery, join a river safari to see the chimpanzees in their natural habitat and encounter a whole host of wildlife from birds of prey to hippos and dolphins.
- Boboi Beach Lodge: lovely, well-established beach lodge that backs on to a sublime tropical beach near Kartong. Great traditional food, very friendly staff, wifi.
- Tendaba Camp: large, superb location in the village of Tendaba, right on the south bank of the river. Restaurant, wifi, electricity (pm), swimming pool, fabulous bar perched alongside a jetty.
- Janjanbureh Camp: lush, jungle-like gardens, opposite Georgetown. Solar power, well-ventilated, pleasant rooms, attractive river-side restaurant.
- Leybato Beach Lodge: one of the best-loved accommodation in the area, located on the beach with rooms set amongst an oasis of palm trees and a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of hammocks and summer huts scattered around the grounds. Good en-suite rooms, wifi, 24hr electricity, hot water, restaurant/bar with good value food and drink.
- Kartong: one of the oldest settlements in The Gambia with a high reputation for bird-watching, boosted by the Kartong Bird Observatory nearby. Tourism development is well managed here thanks to the efforts of the Kartong Association for Responsible Tourism (KART), a body that aims to ensure local communities benefit from development whilst controlling any negative impacts on the environment and livelihoods. In our opinion, these aims also produce excellent visitor experiences. Your tour here concentrates on the Allahein River, Kartong Beach and the Gambian Reptiles Farm; other places of interest include the Folonko Sacred Crocodile Pool, the Lemonfish Art Gallery, Balanta Village and the Kartong Community Forest Reserve.
- Tendaba: one of the largest camps up-river (100km from mouth of the Gambia), a bird-watchers' paradise and the best place to visit the mangrove-lined Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve, Gambia's largest protected area (a fascinating boat trip here is part of the Highlights Excursion package).
- The River Gambia National Park protects an area of jungle-fringed river and many small islands, one of which hosts the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project (included on the Highlights Excursion package); the RGNP also supports healthy populations of monkeys, baboons, hippos, crocdiles, warthogs and manatees. Other places of interest in the area include the stunning stone circle at Wassu (part of the UNESCO Stone Circles of Senegambia).
- Georgetown / Janjanbureh: a fabulous mix of wildlife (see above), cultural and important historic sights are on offer here. Janjanbureh itself is located on MacCarthy Island which is now linked to the southern shore by a new bridge so visiting is straightforward. A number of buildings on the island date back to the colonial period and some sites and museums relate directly to the history of the slave trade in West Africa.
As The Gambia is close to the equator temperatures and daylight hours remain relatively consistent, ranging from 25 to 35 degrees (albeit moderated by sea breezes, particularly at night). Best times to visit are November through to February which is after the wet season and a good time for bird watching. The earlier dates bring the clearest skies with stunning sunsets and views of the stars whilst the latter dates are the best for spotting mammals such as warthog and antelope in the shorter grass.
Good, comfortable footwear, sun protection (including a wide-brimmed hat) and light/cool clothing are important - we will provide full advice and packing suggestions with your travel documents. Passport must have at least 6 months validity beyond your return date. Malaria tablets and an effective insect repellent should be arranged in advance.
We will provide information relating to any allergies or special diets upon request - The Gambia is good for some allergies, e.g. lactose intolerance, but not so great for others such as those with a peanut allergy, as they are an important ingredient in many dishes and so are prevelant in kitchens throughout the country.
NB. Bottled drinking water is available throughout the tour.
Your holiday is fully covered by ATOL if flights from the UK are booked with this package.