Banjul, the proud capital is particularly noted for it’s bustling Albert Market, full of lively stalls and local produce including leatherwork, wood carvings, tie-dye and batik prints plus tapes of African songs. Banjul, located on an island at the mouth of the River Gambia is a sleepy little place, but oozes character and charm. There are a number of good hotels and an increasing number of bars, restaurants and discos where the local specialty, a peanut-based stew can be sampled alongside Gambia’s home brewed beers - not bad for the smallest capital city in Africa.The Atlantic coastal resorts of Kololi and Kotu, although retaining some African ambience are much more geared towards commercialised tourism than Banjul. With modern hotels lining the endless stretches of sand, the visitor can choose between lounging under one of the thatched umbrellas on the beach or enjoying the luxuries of the hotel pool under the sweltering African sun. There is a scattering of bars and restaurants to sample although the choice of eateries is more varied at Kokoli. For a taste of urban West Africa, away from the pristine resort environment, check out nearby Serekunda, the Gambia’s largest town with it’s thronging markets and busy lifestyle. The Gambia is just that little bit different to your average holiday destination but never fails to impress.Banjul Market.
It might well sound like it’s fruit and veg market stuck in the middle of a London suburb but Banjal’s Albert Market is as far away from the gray mist of Blighty as you could possibly imagine. A sweaty swirling cavalcade of African urban society the locals flock here in there droves to purchase the days essentials the row after row stalls that appear to be on the brink of spilling there load onto the hard floor. If there are laws against noise pollution they are not being enforced as the dizzying cacophony struggles to reach an unattainable crescendo. Bells tinkle, drums, pound, people sing and money drawers clickety click as vendors compete for every spare decibel with eerie commercial mantras. As the day goes by and the temperature rises the pungent air only adds to the disorientation the smell of spices, incense, citrus, fresh seafood, smoked fish, matured wood, leather, body odour, animals and perfumes mingling with the hot dust and perspiration to become all pervading. The colour scheme has been stolen directly from a madman’s paint palate. Striking hues bleed into one another and clothing and produce become indistinguishable to the naked eye. It is addictive, it is insane, it is wonderful, it is Africa. Gambia’s Beaches.
Gambia’s beaches are legendary and stretch for about twenty miles from Banjul to Kartung. The beach at Banjul itself is OK but its proximity to the major shipping lines can sometimes result in some rather unpleasant odours. Cape Point has a marvelous beach with fine white sands and busy backdrop with excellent hotels, bars and restaurants. Between Bakau and Fajara there are several lovely beaches where you can find peace and solitude but unfortunately the rocky outcrops offshore can make it unsuitable for swimming. Carry on south towards Kotu and Kololi and the beach is a virtually endless strip of sugary sand and gently rolling waves. A word of warning; these beaches face the Atlantic and strong currents can make swimming dangerous; never swim if the red flag is flying and remember a gentle breeze on the beach could be very much stronger only fifty yards out to sea.Kiang West National Park.
Gambia’s biggest park Kiang West National Park covers 11,000 hectares of vastly diverse and fascinating countryside – mangroves, mud flats, partially closed canopy forests, dry woodland, grasslands and low lying geological formations. The highest point is the escarpment that runs parallel to the Gambia River at 65ft its not bad for a country this flat. The wildlife is phenomenal, with over 300 species of bird alone and mammals that include baboons, warthogs, antelope, colobus monkeys, mongoose, hyena, leopard and bushbuck. Marine life includes crocodiles, manatee and dolphins. The KWNP was developed to accommodate international tourism and has become a favourite with school trips and families vacationing in Gambia. River Journey to Georgetown.
The boat journey from Banjul to Georgetown is two hundred miles of storybook adventure, through jungles and swamps eerie abandoned settlements, battlefields and bustling African cities. As you pass the two hundred year old British built Fort Bullen at Barra Point it feels like the point of no return, like you’re leaving civilisation behind for good. Next stop Albreda the former French trading post with its famous flagpole a symbol of emancipation. It’s not far to Juffre a place inextricably linked to Albreda through literature and TV. The ruins of Fort Saint James are another reminder of the European trade in human flesh and the circles of Stone around Wassu take us back over 800 years to mysterious burial rituals of forgotten tribes. Last stop before Georgetown is Baboon Island National Park a wonderful wildlife sanctuary and the final frontier before returning to civilisation.
Juffre and Albreda.
On June 25 1999 the village of Juffre finally honoured a near life long ambition of a best-selling Afro-American writer. His dream of building a mosque in the village, which inspired him to write his bestseller was fulfilled, better still the fund he had inaugurated went one step further and they were able to open not only the mosque but also the Alex Hayley School Complex. The book, of course, was Roots an international hit that spawned one of the most successful TV mini series of all time. Hayley traced his ancestry back to the village of Juffre, which was once home to his great grandfather Kunta Kinte who became synonymous with the African slave’s struggle for freedom. Every year Gambians celebrate a national heritage week called appropriately the Roots Homecoming Festival in his honour. Nearby Juffre is the town of Abreda the former trading station where legend holds if an escaped slave reached the flagpole they were freed. Both Juffre and Albreda have deep emotional significance in the hearts of the Gambian people to visit them is to pay your sincerest respect.
Gambia is a small West African country with a population of just 2.2 million people. It has a tropical climate and is bordered by Senegal to the north, south, and east. The Gambian economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, fishing and tourism. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and accounts for more than half of the total GDP. The main crops grown in Gambia are peanuts, millet, sorghum, and rice. Fishing is another important sector and the Gambian waters are well known for their seafood, including lobster, shrimp, and tuna.
Industry in Gambia is limited to a few key sectors such as textiles, food processing, and construction. There is also a small manufacturing sector, which mainly produces soap, clothing, and building materials. The largest industry in Gambia is tourism, with the country drawing visitors from Europe, the Americas, and other African countries.
Gambia’s export industry is small and mainly focused on peanuts. Other exports include timber, fish, and processed foods. The country also exports small amounts of textiles and manufactured goods. However, the majority of Gambia’s exports go to Senegal and other African countries.
Gambia’s economy has been growing steadily in recent years, mainly due to increased investment in tourism. In addition, the government has implemented a number of reforms that have made the country a more attractive destination for foreign investors. Despite this, Gambia still faces a number of economic challenges, including high levels of poverty and unemployment. In order to further develop its economy, Gambia must focus on diversifying its exports and improving its infrastructure. Additionally, it must continue to attract foreign investment and encourage the growth of its small and medium-sized businesses.