Gateway to The Gambia

Off the beaten track in West Africa

Summary

Off the beaten track small group tour in The Gambia, staying in traditional lodges, encountering fascinating wildlife, wonderful people and pristine beaches.

Activity code: GAGW

Duration: 11/12 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.

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.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT DURATION OF TOUR:
Jan 5th & November 16th are 12 days duration and so price includes the extra night supplement.
Jan 16th and November 27th are 11 days duration at the standard price.

Accommodation Summary

  • Boboi Beach Lodge: lovely, well-established beach lodge that backs on to a sublime tropical beach near Kartong. Great traditional food, very friendly staff.
  • 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.

Location Summary

  • 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.

Essential Information

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.

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Gallery

11 Day Tour exclusive of flights.

Prices from £1025 per person

  • Flights from UK inclusive of HOLD baggage (start at): £ 425 per person

  • Highlights Excursion package: £ 150 per person

  • Supplement for 12 day tour: £ 70 per person

Departures

  • DepartTrip / Resort
  • Wed 5th Jan 2022 Gateway to the Gambia 
  • Sun 16th Jan 2022 Gateway to the Gambia 
  • Wed 16th Nov 2022 Gateway to the Gambia 
  • Sun 27th Nov 2022 Gateway to the Gambia 

What's included on your small group tour ?

  • 10/11 nights ensuite accommodation
  • Breakfast daily
  • All land travel within The Gambia.
  • Experienced British guide throughout
  • Allahein River excursion
  • Reptile Sanctuary visit
  • Bush walk at Tendaba Camp

Recommended "Highlights Excursion Package" includes:

  • Bao Bolong Wetlands
  • River Gambia National Park river boat cruise/safari & chimpanzees
  • Cultural evening with music, dancing & Gambian buffet
  • Georgetown colonial history tour

Dinner recommendations and additional excursions can be booked and arranged locally.

Highlights

Itinerary

Meet your friendly British guide and excellent local driver at the airport. Transfer as a group to Boboi Beach Lodge in Kartong; allow 45 mins with a stop en route for essential supplies, such as bottled water and snacks.

Boboi Beach Lodge is an ideal place to relax whilst you become acclimatised to the Gambian weather; it is a small, family-run accommodation and you are quite likely to have the lodge and beach to yourselves. Light refreshments provided on arrival * (dependent upon flight schedule).

Once unpacked you will have the choice of an early night, drinks at the bar or a short walk along the beach with your guide after sunset which will offer the opportunity to experience the stunning night sky completely free of both light and industrial pollution. You may also get to see the mysterious ghost crabs or, if you are lucky, a turtle.

A first full day to experience Gambian wildlife and the culture of this country dominated by its rivers. The Allahein river actually marks out the southern border with Senegal (in fact, all of Gambia's borders are with Senegal). An early morning departure by canoe so that you may encounter a variety of birds (sea eagle, ospreys) as well as admiring the thick mangroves; in this area oysters grow on the mangrove stalks and the local women often spend all day wading in the water to harvest the oysters. Nearby Kartong beach is a working fishing area so there are always boats coming in with their fresh catch.

Later on this day you will visit the Gambia Reptile Sanctuary to meet some of the animals you may prefer to avoid in the wild!

Leaving the coast behind the journey to Tendaba Camp is an opportunity to see genuine African culture as you will stop at some of the villages along the way, breaking up a 4-hour trip with some lovely encounters.

You will also make a stop at the town of Brikama to visit a mini-mart so everyone has a chance to pick up any supplies they need (and also the last chance to get an ice-cream for a week!)

Tendaba is a former hunting lodge, now converted into tourist accommodation; it is the only place away from the coast with a swimming pool. On your first morning there is an introductory bush walk included in the tour itinerary - a key moment for your guide to show you some important skills for you to get the most out of your trip.

Whilst here there are so many additional activities to occupy your time such as a trip across the river Gambia (keep an eye out for dolphins) to the Bao Bolong Wetlands, famous for its birdlife (Highlights Excursion Package). You may also like to stroll through the neighbouring villages or visit a local school. If you are feeling a little more adventurous then a tracking tour with a local guide through the wild Kiang West National Park is an option, we offer a walking version or a less strenuous 4WD trip.

Georgetown is a further journey upriver (300km from Banjul) and is steeped in history, dating back to colonial times (early 19th century). Here we stay at a lodge on the banks of the river, just across from the huge island on which Georgetown sits. The lodge is surrounded by a natural forest which is home to inquisitive monkeys (keep a careful eye on your food!)

Renamed Janjanbureh in 1995 (although recently reverted to Georgetown) it lies on MacCarthy Island which is 10km long and 1.5km wide; it is linked to the northern mainland at Lamin Koto by a ferry service, while the south is linked by a 100m bridge, opened in 2010 at Sankulay Kunda village.

Most travellers' highlight of this tour is seeing the chimpanzees in the wild during a fabulous river safari (Highlights Excursion Package). You may also like to take another guided bush walk to see baboons, visit the mysterious Wassu stone circles or engage in some cultural activities, such as a history tour of Georgetown (Highlights Excursion Package) or a banquet with traditional Gambian music and dancing (Highlights Excursion Package).

During your time here you can also indulge in some individual shopping excursions or a sunset canoe trip or maybe some fishing (your guide can arrange for you to try your hand at catching the notorious tiger fish). Of course, you may also like to relax and simply enjoy the atmosphere at your river-front lodge.

After a relatively long drive (with a stop for lunch) you will be rewarded by the delightful Leybato Beach Lodge which has 24 hour electricity, wifi, hot water and an incredible beach-front location.

While there are no formal group tours here there are many options for individual trips on foot or by taxi. These include numerous restaurants and bars, the Gambia Botanical Garden, Bakau craft market, Serrekunda Market, Sacred Crocodile Pool, even horse riding on the beach.

On the slightly shorter 11 days (10 nights) trip you will depart for Banjul Airport and your flight home on Day 11.

On the 12 day trip Day 11 will be an extra day at leisure in Leybato Beach Lodge & you will transfer to the airport on Day 12.

Flexible Tailor-Made Holidays

  • We believe passionately that no two holidays should be the same.
  • With our flexible tailor-made holiday options you can travel at your own pace.
  • Rediscover a city, a resort or an island in a weekend or longer.
  • Take a small group tour or embark upon a more adventurous trip.

Trusted Service

  • ATOL cover for flight inclusive holidays.
  • One of us at Rediscover the World is very likely to have visited the hotels and travelled along the routes on your itinerary.
  • Dynamic, comprehensive travel app with all your documents, maps and much more.
  • Full financial protection for your holiday (TTA).

Why book the Gambia with us ?

  • More than 10 years experience of Gambia
  • Our guide has travelled extensively and will be happy to share his experiences.
  • Unrivalled expertise of our local partners
  • Personally chosen camps and beach lodges
  • Add excursions, cultural & wildlife experiences
  • 24hr assistance whilst in Gambia