The best places to visit in the Gambia and Senegal
The Arch 22, Banjul
The road into Banjul is dominated by a large white Arch 22 which was built to commemorate the 22nd July peaceful military coup of army lieutenant Yahya AJJ Jammeh in 1994. He has remained as the Gambia's president after 4 successful elections.
This tour also includes King Fahad's Mosque, which combines a modern style with the old Islamic style.
Tour cost £15 per person.
South Gambia Safari
This tour includes a full day safari in the south of the Gambia. Transport is provided using qualified drivers in open jeeps, trucks, green taxis or local yellow taxis. The tour incudes a visit to Katchikali sacred crocodile pool. This deep pool is home to more than fifty reptiles that are friendly enough to touch and photograph. With luck a walk in the surrounding woodland may result in the sighting of a two metre long monitor lizard. There is also an interesting museum at Katchikali.
The tour continues with a visit to the Monkey Park, where you can play with monkeys as they are friendly and not dangerous to human visitors. The next stop is a visit to feed the vultures in Senegambia Hotel, and then on to the biggest wood craft market in the Gambia at Brikama. This is followed by a stop at paradise beach in Sanyang. Here visitors can have some food, swim a little and relax on the sun beds. We make a final stop on the return trip to Tangi which is the biggest fishing centre in Gambia.
Tour cost £35 per person. Drinks are included.
Wassu stone circle
The stone circle is near the small town of Kuntaur between the larger towns of Farafeni and Jangjabureh (George Town). The stone circle dates back to the Iron Age, so about 700 or 800 years old. A relic of a once prosperous civilisation, the stone circle was probably erected as a burial place for the chiefs. The stone circle in Wassu is made up of 11 stones, the tallest measuring 2.59m and it is the best example of its kind. The stone circle can be accessed from the north bank road and it is a popular stopping point for long distance boat trips. Visitors can travel on flatbed horse-drawn carts from the river. There are clean toilet facilities.
This boat trip from George Town can be programmed either as a one-day trip or a day and a half. There is an over night stay at a comfortable campsite. This tour provides a good insight in to local life. From the boat one can view most of the villages, the stone circle and hippos.
Tour cost £110 per person. Everything is included except food.
The Roots tour is a study of continuities, of consequences of how a people perpetuate themselves, of how each generation helps to doom or liberate future generations. A visit to James Island is combined with trips to Albreda and Juffureh, the town made famous by "Roots', the novel by Alex Haley as the birth place of Kunta Kinte.*
James Island lies in the estuary of the river Gambia, near the north bank and the remains of a ruined castle, Fort James, can be found here. There is a ferry crossing to James Island between Banjul and Barra, a port alive with energy from the hustle and bustle of travellers to West Africa. The north bank towns of Albreda and Juffureh have some displays addressing the slave trade, which was never very active on this part of West African coast.
Tour cost £40 per person, all inclusive.
* 'Roots' is the extraordinary account of Alex Haley's twelve-year search for his family's origins. Tracing his ancestry through six generations of slaves and free men, farmers and blacksmiths, lawyers and architects - back to Africa, he discover a sixteen year old youth, Kunta Kinte, who had been torn from his homeland and in torment and anguish brought to the slave markets of the new world. It was this young man who held the key to Haley's deep and distant past.
Kunta Kinteh was born 1750 in Juffureh. One day in the year 1767 while Kunta was searching for wood to make a drum for his younger brother, four men chased him, surrounded him and took him captive. Kunta awoke to find himself blind folded, gagged, bound and a prisoner of white men. He and others were carried in the slave ship, the Lord Ligonier, for three months on a voyage to North America. In America his owner gave him the name Toby Waller and he lived out the rest of his life a slave until he died 1822. Roots was also made in to a television mini series and Kunta Kinte was portrayed as youth by Levar Burton and as an elder man by John Amos.
Fathala wildlife reserve
Fathala wildlife reserve is 6000 hectares of original protected forest. Visitors to the reserve can experience an authentic part of the African wilderness. There is a visitor centre and a cafeteria where one may enjoy refreshments or a delicious meal whilst observing the diverse bird life.
Fathala wild life reserve has had great success saving the rarest and the most beautiful of all antelopes from extinction, the giant eland. The reserve is also home to giraffes, rhinos, roan antelope, water buck, red colobus monkeys, lions, monkeys and Mahogany trees.
This is a once in lifetime experience, to walk along side Africa's most majestic predator, the lion. Visitors can interact with young lions with no collars or leashes. The walk takes approximately 40 minutes.
Tour cost £100 per person.
Makasutu culture forest reserve
The Gambian name Makasutu is a local Mandinka word which means "holy and sacred deep forest". The Makasutu cultural forest is located about 5 kms to the north east of Brikama. It is a lush green wilderness fed by a tributary of the Gambia River called Mandina Bolon. On the edge of the tributary, surrounded by lush bush mangroves, stands a private eco-tourist lodge called Madina lodge.
There are a variety of eco-systems within the Makasutu reserve such as savannah, mangroves, dense mature tropical forest, guinea woodland and semi-wooded grassland.
Part of the itinerary for the day is a chance to enjoy some Jola traditional tribal dancing, drumming and singing as well a meal at the Baobab restaurant and bar which serves a traditional Gambian lunch prepared with organically grown Gambian produce.
The tour also includes a guided canoe ride among the mangroves and creeks, a chance to try out some traditional herbal medicine and remedies, bird watching on the salt flats by the river that are teeming with birdlife such as the European pied wagtail. Pottery making, furniture making and wood carving lessons are also available and visitors may marvel at the skills of a palm wine taper at work as he climbs quickly to the top of a palm tree using just a rope.
Tour cost £40 per person, lunch included.
Just relax on a boat ride through the creeks. Lunch is cooked on the boat and there's opportunity to fish in the river or just chill out on the sun beds.
Tour cost £35 per person
A day's fishing in the creeks.
Tour cost £38 per person, drinks included.