Travel Bloggers on The Gambia

I went to the Gambia in December and as per my Vietnam research I thought I’d check out what the other travel bloggers are saying about this little country, the smallest in Africa, and share it with you.

I’ve been invited by the Gambia Experience along with Nellie from wildjunket.com, Kat from travelwithkat.com and Lee, who’s representing globalgrasshopper.com.

Travel Bloggers on Gambia

Farming, fishing and tourism are the big industries in The Gambia – and hopefully during my five days there I’ll get the opportunity to support them all. We’ll be checking out the Makasutu Forest on foot and via canoe, visiting a village and a school and cruising down the river by night. We’re also going to a monkey park, hanging out with a bird watching pro and making the most of the markets at Banjul before experiencing a fishing village.

All I know about The Gambia so far is that my friend went and said she melted in the heat, and that it’s on the west coast of Africa. So, with my brain as absorbent as a sponge, I’m ready to find out more.

Luxury lodges, on stilts

I’ll be staying at Mandina Lodges, like Simon from wild-about-travel.com did. Check out her pics from her trip. This one has got me really excited – she went into the Makasutu Forest too. Can’t wait to check out all the colourful birds in there. I’ll be staying in a lodge rather than a house on stilts, which will be fun. Hopefully I’m less likely to be bitten that way as those little mozzies just love my blood.

Travel Bloggers on Gambia

Schools, villages and fish markets

Jayne paints a vibrant image of life at the Tanji Fish Market and on board the buses. She also touches on the controversial topic of voyeurism when it comes to Africa, and the effect rich tourists have going over there. Sometimes it makes me really uncomfortable when I see travellers going into schools and orphanages – can you imagine someone coming to London and wanting to visit the children’s homes? Everyone seems to do it when they visit Africa though. This is a huge topic for a different time, but visiting schools abroad is definitely something I’m confused about. It is on my itinerary too, so I’ll be keen to learn more about what the teachers over there think about it.

Community projects

Monica from thetravelhack.com visited some of the successful Gambian community projects while she was there. From the torch project where families are given torches to use at night that double up as generators, to the Stove Initiative which gives stoves that run on briquettes made from peanut shells to the poorest families. She also visited a school and a clinic, both of which are really struggling to provide for the communities they serve.

Tourism in the Gambia

Kat is the organiser of the whole trip, and seems to know all there is to know about the Gambia. We’ll all be travelling together, but she’s been a few times before. Check out her Welcome to The Gambia post for more facts about the country, and what happened when a bunch of bloggers went there in April.

“It may be the smallest country on mainland Africa but it has a big, big heart, the friendliest people you could hope to meet anywhere and is known as The Smiling Coast of Africa with good reason.”

Travel Bloggers on Gambia

For more practical information on visiting the Gambia James Merriman also has a lot of advice over on his blog. From taxis to conversions to vaccinations, his post if full of useful advice. And he has this to say about the ‘bumsters’ who follow you around…

  • Say it isn’t your first time to The Gambia – This tricks the bumsters into thinking you have been here before, and know how to handle them.
  • No means no, don’t say maybe – If you don’t want to go on that fishing trip, or buy that souvenir, be polite but firm, and say no thanks.
  • Don’t hand out personal details – Try not to tell the bumsters your real name, or hand out email addresses or telephone numbers. Try not to tell them which hotel you’re staying at either.

Photography in the Gambia

Photographer Jason Florio and his wife visited The Gambia and took some incredible images and made videos. They journeyed up the river for over two months and 1000km meeting the local people and hearing their stories. It was an incredible project, and in their words aimed to…

“Create an historical – visual /audio/written – document of the peoples, cultures and environment along one of Africa’s last, free flowing, major rivers – The River Gambia.”

RIVER GAMBIA EXPEDITION – PHOTOVILLE 2013 , Brooklyn, NY 19-29 Sept from jason florio on Vimeo.

Social issues

Jo from indianajo.com discusses the ‘prostitution’ and female sex tourism in The Gambia. I witnessed a simliar experience in  Zanzibar at the most awkward wedding I’ve ever seen, on a beach in Nungwi. The lady must’ve been pushing 60 and a strong, fit 20 year old with a face like thunder was holding her hand reluctantly near an arch decorated with flowers. That night we saw them again on the beach and they joined our campfire, she told us they were now married. He just stared at the flames. Apparently the young guys hang around the expensive hotels hoping to pick up a rich and ripe oldie. According to Jo, it’s the same case here.

Travel Bloggers on Gambia

Volunteering in the Gambia

Maddi paints a beautiful picture of her summer in East Africa – in Senegal and The Gambia – and has written a great blog about every experience at Maddigoestoafrica.wordpress.com

“My neck of the woods is called Dippa Kunda and it is characterized by dusty, rocky roads and an assortment of compounds with corrugated tin roofs and mosaic tiled pavement.”

If you are looking to volunteer in the Gambia, I’d definitely recommend checking out Kate’s blog at katbb.blogspot.co.uk. She left the area two years ago, but I’ve been glued to her posts about her experience as a VSO. Kate can offer a deeper understanding into the issues plaguing Gambia better than anyone on a quick holiday there, which it seems is what most people seem to visit for.

I ended up having a great time in Gambia – click through to find out more about my adventures.

Street Art in Kubuneh, Gambia
A Glimpse into Life in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town
tagged in bloggers

21 Comments

  1. by Helen Jones-Florio on November 26, 2013  1:13 pm Reply

    Hi Vicky

    Thanks for the mention about our 'River Gambia Expedition'!

    Happy trails
    Helen & Jason Florio

    • by Vicky on November 26, 2013  11:21 pm Reply

      Your photos are incredible. I admire your dedication and passion – no worries about the mention!

  2. by Jo on November 26, 2013  1:32 pm Reply

    Hey Vicky, thanks for the link. The Gambia does have its darker side, which completely surprised me. But it wouldn't stop me going back - the beaches, the people, the food - all amazing!! Have an fantastic trip and let me know if you need any more travel tips. I travelled with The Gambia Experience - a great company.

    • by Vicky on November 26, 2013  11:21 pm Reply

      Hello Jo, that's really good to hear. That's kind of what I felt about Zanzibar, as I say. Anything that's different is strange, doesn't mean it's totally wrong, it's a different way of life. I'll be interested to learn more about the issues you spoke about in your blog poat and see what I find. I'm really excited to visit Gambia and I'm sure my time there will be fun as well as enlightening. Thanks for the offer for help, I'll let you know if I have any questions. x

  3. by Matthew on November 26, 2013  5:02 pm Reply

    Hi Vicky,
    It would be great if you can share your experiences in Gambia with us at Tribal Tourist.com. Perhaps some Twitter feeds and Facebook uploads? What do you think?

    Also where you are staying so I can add these tour operators and hotels to Tribal Tourist. In 2013. You could be our Tribal blogger for December.

    Regards,

    Matthew
    Tribal Leader

  4. by Simon on November 26, 2013  10:33 pm Reply

    I hope you'll enjoy The Gambia as much as I did when I visited last spring. To me, it was a wonderful experience and one of the best trips of the year. I truly look forward to reading your impressions.
    And big thanks for mentioning my journey.

  5. by Monica on November 27, 2013  11:46 am Reply

    How exciting, I can't wait to hear all about your experience.
    Thanks for mentioning my post :)

  6. by Anna @ thelondonscrapbook on November 28, 2013  9:56 am Reply

    Good morning! I nominated you for the versatile blogger award :) My reasons are here: http://thelondonscrapbook.com/2013/11/28/versatile-blogger-award/

  7. by Kathryn Burrington (@GambiaXperience) on December 5, 2013  11:42 am Reply

    This time tomorrow we'll be on our way! As with the last trip, as well as writing on my own blog, Travel With Kat, I'll be promoting everyone's post on the Gambia Experience's blog too, http://www.thegambiablog.co.uk/
    Can't wait to wake up in our floating river lodges Saturday morning! See you tomorrow :-)

  8. by Laura Zera on January 5, 2014  6:54 am Reply

    Interesting curation of info, Vicky. Look forward to reading about your experiences, assuming that you've returned home!

  9. by Jesper on January 15, 2016  6:55 pm Reply

    Thank you for some interesting information. I'm really looking forward to our visit of the country in a few weeks. :)

    • by Vicky on January 17, 2016  4:40 pm Reply

      Hope you enjoy it Jesper!

  10. by Drumles Den Haag on November 13, 2016  6:35 pm Reply

    Love this post and the beautiful pics. Going there in februari. Cant wait :)

  11. by Romy on February 1, 2017  5:06 pm Reply

    I just visited The Gambia a couple of months ago and will have to go back now that I've read this list!

    • by Vicky on February 12, 2017  9:17 pm Reply

      Do! Let me know if you make it there again :)

  12. by david white on July 3, 2017  5:13 pm Reply

    Hi Vicky, interesting read, made me squirm a bit as I run an eco-lodge in Gambia and have witnessed what you describe first hand for many years. It's such a shame that poor countries such as Gambia attract so many visitors looking to take advantage of someone else's misfortunes in life. Hopefully, as Gambia moves toward better pay and conditions for its people then this situation will change and the women and men you talk about won't view Gambia as this type of destination again.

    • by Vicky on July 5, 2017  11:42 am Reply

      Yeah definitely. I think it will be hard to turn it around, but as long as things are pointing in the right direction then I guess we just have to be patient.

  13. by Bob on May 3, 2018  8:08 am Reply

    Yes, I'm sure you "ladies" are going to Gambia for the nice friendly people, food and beaches and some research. hah
    Might I suggest you are all going there for young, strong black lads with strong generous cocks. Tsk tsk "disgusting" ?? No not at all. We all have our needs that need to be met.
    Just stop the bullshit of it being "exploitation". Who the f**k cares what it is. If everyone is happy - stop condemning and mind you own businesses.
    And "ladies" after you go home having being services (well and truly) - don't point accusing fingers at older gents doing the same thing.

  14. by Bob on May 10, 2018  6:57 pm Reply

    David
    I can tell you are a dreamer.
    I posit you still believe in the tooth fairy?
    An easily earned buck is an attractive proposition irrespective - "for a labour of love" - (of money). haahah

  15. by Eric Wilson on January 14, 2019  11:24 am Reply

    Gambia, formerly referred as Bathurst is the capital African Destination where the most of the travelers must want to go often to entertain their-selves with their families. Nicely Shared!

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