Attractions in The Gambia

Gambia is one of Africa’s hidden treasures, the smallest country in mainland Africa found on the West coast. A holiday destination full of charm where the locals are friendly and welcoming, the sights are colourful and breath-taking and where cultural traditions are preserved with pride. The pace of life is calm and serene promising a holiday that will leave you feeling relaxed and uplifted.

This small country in western Africa has become more popular recently as a beach destination for European travelers. It’s a relatively short flight, there’s no time difference, and lodging is generally very affordable. River Island National Park in Banjul is fantastic for watching wildlife (especially the native baboons).

Many people choose a holiday to Gambia  solely for the beautiful unspoilt beaches. Unlike many tourist spots, you won’t be struggling to manoeuvre between cramped up sunbeds as there is plenty of uncrowded space to stretch out and soak up the sunshine.

Places to see in Gambia

Explore the eclectic collection of towns and villages on your trip to Gambia. The capital city of Banjul is accessible through an impressive cream archway, which leads to a mixture of shanty buildings and mosques. Serrekunda is Gambia’s largest town, and is often busier than the capital city. The town is a maze of dust filled streets, brightly coloured clothed locals and roadside stalls which make up one of the main markets.

Abuko Nature Reserve

Abuko Nature Reserve

Abuko Nature Reserve, Africa, was the Gambia’s first reserve and is located in the Western Region (WR), (geographical coordinates: 13.41°N, 16.65°W). Part of it was accorded a form of ‘protected status’ back in 1916 when the source of the Lamin (Bolon) Stream was fenced to form a water collection point.

Abuko’s size was extended from 188 to 259 acres in 1978 and enclosed in a 2.5 metre fence with the help of the WWF. It is among six protected wildlife management parks and covers an area of 105 hectares (roughly 2 sq. km). The park  is rectangular in shape with a surrounding narrow strip around its boundaries acting as an extra buffer zone. Later in its development 2,000 malina trees were planted to act as an extra barrier against encroachment by locals.

Today, Abuko is the Gambia’s most visited tourist attraction receiving approximately 33,000 visitors per year. One interesting fact is that it is the nearest tropical forest to Europe.

Albert Market

Albert Market

Albert Market is in Banjul on Liberation Avenue and is the capital’s main urban market. It was named after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The market used to be called the Colonial Engineer’s Yard and later re-named the Liberated African Yard. It stood on what used to be called Wellington St. which was later re-named Liberation Avenue.

It is essentially an emporium that is pungent, lively and bustling with a large selection of vividly designed fabrics, carved wooden masks and fresh produce which is packed to the brim. All this is laid out within a labyrinth of alleys and hundreds of rickety stalls and purpose built shops. It is open from 8am to 7pm.

Arch 22, Banjul

July 22nd Arch

The July 22nd Arch is a monument that spans the Independence Drive which is the road that leads into the Gambia’s capital. A good reason to visit the monument is for the panoramic views you get of the city from the top floor terrace. Here you get a better idea of the place as an island city, encircled by the ocean, the River Gambia and parts of the Tanbi mangroves. Soon after the opening of the Arch 22 one lift was abandoned having been made unusable due to subsidence caused by the soft soil. Cars have also been banned from driving between the columns and have to take the Marina Parade route instead.

Brikama craft market

Brikama Tourist Craft Market

The market was established in the town of Brikama in 1975 moving later in 2007 to the new site on the main road. There are 57 craft stalls though there are over 200 members who make and sell their artwork and other products in the nearby area. You will find the usual items for sale such as Djembe drums, painted calabashes, chains and a dazzling variety of masks and other wood carvings from the famous woodcarvers.

Home to some of the most talented wood carvers in the country, this craft market offers a wonderful selection of woodcarvings and souvenirs that can be bought at a reasonable price.  You even get to see some of the craftsmen at work some times. Just remember to always bargain on the prices.

Kachikally crocodile pool Gambia

Kachikally crocodile pool Gambia

The sacred Kachikally Crocodile Pool in Bakau has over the years become a tourist magnet for visitors to The Gambia with its 100 or so resident crocs. Some people believe that the pool has supernatural healing powers and in particular bathing with the waters can aid in fertility. There are dozens of these sacred pools in the Gambia (some without crocs) but this is the nearest to the Atlantic tourist strip. The place was first discovered by a wine-palm tapper, a member of the Bojang clan, over 100 years ago. The water’s crocodilian residents have since become so tame, that they allow visitors to pet them, and seem to prefer fish over red meat.


 Forth Bullen

Fort Bullen

The British built this fort in 1826 to protect the trading route of the Gambia River and repel any attacks on what was Bathurst, now Banjul, on the opposite side of the river estuary. A few ramparts, crumbling turrets and toppled rusting cannon lie around the historic site. There is a small beach here and a guard post, but little else remains of one of the Gambia’s earliest fortresses. It was renovated in 1996 as part of the Roots Homecoming Festival and is open to visitors. The large square fort has low around towers at each corner, and one can walk along the battlements overlooking the river mouth. An informative leaflet on fort’s history is available from the National Museum in Banjul.


Kiang West National Park

The Kiang West National Park (KWNP) was gazetted by ‘The Government of The Gambia in 1987. With approximately 11,000 hectares, KWNP is Gambia’s largest park. Within the boundaries can be found almost all of The Gambia’s geographical variances: mangroves, salt bats, partially closed canopy forests, laterite extrusions and bolong tributaries. In addition, over 300 species of birds make their home there. The KWNP has been developed for international guests, tourists, Government agencies and school children as well as other visitors.

Stone circles in Wassu/The Gambia

Stone Circles

These are the famed stone circles of West Africa.  They consist of rings up to eight metres in diameter of 10 to 24 rounded, reddish-brown, laterite pillars, from one to two-and-a-half metres in height. The Stone Circles have now been identified as burial grounds more than 1,200 years old. Made of hewn laterite there are scores of these sites dotting the landscape.


Posted on April 9, 2014, in Explore Destinations, General Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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