Out of all the places you have been, which was your favourite?
If you ask someone who travels a lot that question, they will often tell you that it is the place that made them fall in love with travelling. That place will always hold a special place in their heart because it opened their eyes to what they were missing.
That’s the way I feel about The Gambia, West Africa. Up until then I had never pushed my boundaries or stepped outside my comfort zone and it wasn’t until I travelled to Africa that the world opened up to me. I am now so passionate about travelling that I want everyone to have the same experience. That’s why I decided to do this post. You may think Africa’s not for you, maybe it’s not your cup of tea or you think you’re not cut out for it. But this post will hopefully convince you otherwise. Read on to find out why you MUST visit The Gambia.
- You will meet some of the friendliest, happiest people in the world.
The Gambia is not known as ‘the smiling coast of Africa’ for nothing. One of the first things that struck me when we landed in this beautiful little country was how warm and friendly the people are. While we were only there for a week, we meet so many happy and hospitable people and were invited to eat with two families. These families were complete strangers to us but by the end of the day, I felt like I had known them for years. If you want to meet happy people, go to The Gambia.
- You will step outside your comfort zone and realise what you are capable of.
If someone had told me at the start of this trip that by the end of it I would have plucked, gutted and prepared a chicken for lunch I would have laughed in their face. I have to admit I was horrified when we turned up at a family home and were handed a dead chicken to prepare. I had absolutely no idea what to do and, more importantly, I didn’t want to do it! But then it dawned on me that just because I live in the western world and buy my meat from a shop it doesn’t make me any better than anyone else. I decided I had to get over myself and get on with it. It was at that point that I realised I am as strong as I let myself be. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it and get over your fears. You will only know what you are capable of when you step outside your comfort zone and have a go.
- You will learn that you don’t need material things to be happy.
When you live in a materialistic society it is easy to be sucked into consumerism, where you are made to feel that you need the latest phone or that new bag to be content. When I visited The Gambia I noticed how happy the people were. A lot of the people we met were far from rich, in fact some of them lived 6 people to one room with barely any possessions. Yet they were always smiling. They appreciated what they had, rather than always lusting after more. Their relationships with one another were stronger because they had the time to be together. Their time was not consumed by gadgets, to-do lists and careers. I learnt that you don’t need ‘stuff’ in order to be happy. Rather, it’s the people around you and experiences that make life what it is. That is the simplest form of happiness.
- It’s easy to get off the beaten track.
I like to get off the beaten track when I travel. I’m not about to lie around a pool and have cocktails brought to me by a butler when there is a whole world out there to be explored! I wanted to see the real Africa. While I appreciate that The Gambia, with its tourist industry, isn’t as raw as some African countries, it’s really easy to get away from the resorts. Sure if you stay in Kololi or Senegambia you will be confronted with all-inclusive hotels and restaurants serving pizza (which is fine if that’s what you like, but it’s not what I like). We stayed in Bakau which is still on the coast but away from the resorts. We were able to immerse ourselves in the local culture and see a glimmer of the real Africa.
- It’s a beautiful country in every way and has something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking for some chill time on a beautiful beach or a culture rich getaway, The Gambia has something for everyone. Not only is it scenically beautiful, the people and their culture are stunning too. Plus the food is pretty awesome! This small country captured my heart and I can’t wait to return.
Is there a place that captured your heart? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.