You enjoy a great beach holiday, as do most people. As your contemporaries happily ship off to the same standard sun spots year in and year out though, you have started to become jaded at going to the same old sterile beach resort tucked cosily behind the secure walls of an all-inclusive compound.
You long for the spice of exoticism that accompanied your travels earlier in your life, when you traipsed the underdeveloped tropical countries of the Americas, Asia and Africa like it was no big deal. After passing the halfway marker of your mortal existence in recent years, a midlife crisis like no other has been assailing you, as you yearn to get back out onto the roughly-defined trail once more, before your health renders you unable to do so.
Wanting to combine it with a fine beach destination to sugar up the pill for your more risk-adverse spouse and family members, you’ve decided head to Gambia. Located deep in the heart of West Africa, by booking flights to Banjul via flythomascook; now, with the trip set in stone, you’re wondering what to expect and what to do once you’re on the ground.
In order to help you put your concerned relative’s minds at ease, we have outlined the attractions that await you there, and what you need to consider before a trip to this very exotic locale.
Being the smallest country in West Africa, Gambia has a very short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, so most of the beaches you’ll be frequenting will be situated near the capital, Banjul. Here, as you lounge happily in the bright sunshine, beautiful goats will sometime amble by and remind you exactly where you are!
Due to the intensely negative stigma attached to Africa (and the western part in particular), overcrowding will likely never be problem here, making this country an ideal place to truly get away from everything back home in the western world.
The vivid manifestations of paradise (palms, clear water, soft white sand, etc) before you, combined with the lack of fellow foreigners will have you pinching yourself in disbelief!
Despite the tantalizing delights on display along the coast, you may want to peel yourself away from your sunbed at some point to experience the heart and soul of this small but proud nation. The first sight you’ll want to see is Abuko National Park, a nature reserve that contains an abundance of animals native to this region. The three animal species that you`ll want to look out for here are monkeys, snakes and crocodiles, so keep your camera handy and your lower limbs out of snapping range!
If you want to get better acquainted with the crocs in a controlled environment, then make tracks for the Kachikally Crocodile Pool. Here, the animals are more docile, having been around and cared for by people their whole lives, so they can be touched without fear (though you never know, so if you skip this one, we won`t think less of you!)
Finally, for a taste of street life in Gambia, check out the Albert Market in the heart of downtown Banjul. Here, you can find a variety of goods changing hands, from the colourful vestments that are traditionally worn by the locals, to everyday foodstuffs , as well as a slew of handicrafts that you`ll want to bring home to your nervous relatives. After all, they are probably convinced that you`ve been captured and are being held for ransom at this point, so it`ll go a long way to compensate them for the stress they put themselves through.
While it is highly unlikely that anything described in the last paragraph will ever happen to you in Gambia, there are dangers and annoyances that one needs to be aware of before heading to Gambia. First, there are a group of people, usually unemployed men, called bumsters that will repeatedly beg you for money during your time here. A polite refusal is usually all you need to get them to back down, but it you give in to them, they will expect more from you in the future when they see you.
If anybody says they saw you at the hotel where they were working and they invite you back to their house for a drink, do not go, as it is usually a pretext to get you somewhere so they can rob you.
Finally, those who identify as gay or lesbian should keep their orientation concealed on a visit to Gambia, sad as it is to say this. Homosexuality is a jailable offence here, and locals may react violently if you reveal your true self to them.
An easy introduction to West Africa
Despite the issues just discussed, Gambia is an excellent way to ease yourself into exploring the nations of West Africa. Once you have gotten acclimatized to the way things are here, it won`t be long before you are planning visits to the more challenging nations in the region!