A peaceful atmosphere radiates from Banjul, Africa’s smallest capital city. You feel that you are wandering around a village rather than a commercial centre.
Banjul, the capital of Gambia, is situated on an island, since it is separated from the mainland by a small river. The city was founded by the British in 1816 as a slave-trading centre. Today, most of its 50,000 inhabitants work in the peanut industry, as they are Gambia’s main export.
The Albert market is the living heart of the city. You can easily spend a few hours wandering around there looking for a charming souvenir. A visit to Gambia’s National Museum is also worthwhile. Its collection of photographs, maps and documents about archaeology, the peoples of Africa and the colonial period will certainly captivate you. Nearby, there is also the 35 metre high archway, which was built to commemorate the coup of 22 July 1994.
SLEEP The African-accented, Austrian-run Leo’s Beach Hotel and Restaurant (46 Brufut Heights, Brufut, leos) is set in lush grounds with views of the Atlantic. It’s a sublime place to cool your heels in the Gambian sun.
EAT Set in romantic gardens in the diplomatic quarter of Fajara, Gida’s Garden (Atlantic Boulevade, Fajara, www.facebook.com/gidasgarden) is designed for meat and fish lovers alike. Think imported US steaks and fish plucked from the Atlantic, just a stone’s throw away, then cooked to perfection for a very reasonable price.
- Just 45 minutes from the bustling beach area of Sene-Gambia lies the sacred Makasutu Culture Forest (Brikama Highway, 5km east of Brikama, www.mandinalodges.com/makasutu-forest). Cruise the mangrove-lined waterways in a traditional dugout while watching local fisherman and oyster gatherers ply their ancient trades, and stay for the evening’s cultural extravaganza, where masked stilt walkers and local performers take part in traditional dances around the glow of a giant campfire.
- There are plenty of generic carvings in The Gambia, but Gallery A (Bakau, opposite the fishing port) has authentic and unique pieces of art sourced from around West Africa by Cameroonian artist Nfam Yacouba.
- Tear along bush tracks with West African Powersports (AU Summit Highway, Brusubi, westafricanpowersports.com). The company offers quad bike and UTV buggy off-road adventures, with two- and five-hour guided tours along sandy paths, rocky tracks and creek crossings cutting through small villages and farmland. The lunch stop at a local restaurant on a deserted beach is the perfect break.
Taxis from Yundum International Airport to the main tourist hotel hub of Senegambia cost around GMD700/€15 and can be booked in advance. See www.airporttransfer.gm
for more information.