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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > October-December 16 (76) > THE INSIDE TRACK ON… THE GAMBIA


A destination on a page

Why visit?

The Gambia is the closest thing in sub-Saharan Africa to a short-haul destination out of Europe. Indeed, boasting a sunny dry season that neatly coincides with the northern winter, this small and friendly Anglophone country is ideal for sun-starved Brits seeking a quick Vitamin D fix or first taste of African hospitality. The tropical coastline offers a great choice of facilities, from swanky resorts and quirky midrange eco-lodges to no-nonsense package hotels and budget-friendly camps. And while beach holidays predominate, the country is also renowned for providing a superb introduction to West Africa’s rich birdlife, with almost 600 species recorded in an area half the size of Wales, ranging from dazzling parrots and turacos to decorous crowned cranes and a wide variety of raptors and waterbirds.

Where to go

Despite its tiny size, The Gambia possesses three distinct touristic zones. Smallest but most important, the short coastal strip extending immediately south from the capital Banjul accounts for less than one per cent of the country’s area but more than 95 per cent of its hotels and other tourist facilities. Far less developed is the remainder of the coast, where eco-lodges and camps replace package hotels and urban development, and are aimed at more independent-minded visitors. By contrast, the interior, dominated by the River Gambia, makes almost no concession to tourism, making it ideal for genuinely adventurous travellers seeking to experience grass-roots culture on its own terms.

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