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Out of all the places you have been, which was your favourite? I don’t know about you, but I find it impossible to narrow it down to just one place. I love so many destinations for different reasons. One of those favourites is The Gambia in West Africa. And one of the reasons I love to visit The Gambia is because it’s the country that made me fall in love with travel.
Until I visited The Gambia, I’d never pushed my boundaries or stepped outside my comfort zone and it wasn’t until travelling to Africa that the world opened up to me. I am now so passionate about travelling that I want everyone to experience it. And I want you to visit The Gambia, the smiling coast of Africa, too. So, in my attempt to get everyone booking tickets, read on for 5 reasons to visit The Gambia right now.
1. The people
Known as ‘the smiling coast of Africa’, this is one of the best reasons to visit The Gambia. One of the first things I noticed 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 local families. These families were complete strangers to us but by the end of the day, I felt like I had known them for a lifetime. If you want to meet happy people, visit The Gambia.
2. Step outside your comfort zone
If plucking, gutting and preparing a chicken for lunch sounds like your idea of fun, it definitely wasn’t mine. Call me whatever you want: prim, prudish, snobby. You’re right, I was all those things because when I was handed a dead chicken, I was horrified. Our western world shelters us from many of life’s harsh realities but when it comes down to it, we are as strong as we let ourselves be.
Rolling up our sleeves, we dove right in. And I’m so glad we did because although being outside my comfort zone isn’t always the most comfortable place to be, it’s the only place to learn.
3. You’ll learn that happiness doesn’t come from owning things
When you live in a materialistic society, it is easy to be sucked into consumerism and made to feel that you need possessions to be content. But visiting The Gambia turned this mindset on its head.
Granted, no one should have to, live in poverty. But one of the primary lessons I learned from my time in Africa is that happiness does not result from the things you own; happiness is a mindset. And the people of The Gambia are the champions of this – always smiling, always dancing, always looking out for each other. So, while many in The Gambia are materially poor, they are rich in many other ways.
4. It’s easy to get off the beaten track
In this day and age, it can be extremely difficult to get off the beaten track and discover new and unspoiled destinations. While The Gambia is far from undiscovered, it is easy to escape the tourist trail and experience the culture of the country if you really want to.
The majority of tourists stay in the resorts of Kololi and Senegambia, where you’ll find hotels, guesthouses, bars and restaurants in abundance. We, however, stayed in Bakau, which is a little further up the coast, away from the resorts. By staying in Bakau, we were able to immerse ourselves in the local culture and see a glimmer of the real Africa.
The people of The Gambia are extremely hospitable, so don’t be surprised if you are invited to eat at a stranger’s home. Of course, you should always be cautious when around strangers, especially in a country you’re not familiar with. On the other hand, we accepted two invitations to eat with local families and because of this were able to see so much more of the country and culture.
5. It’s a beautiful country and has something for everyone
Whether you’re looking to relax on a beautiful beach or soak up the culture of a new destination, The Gambia has something for everyone. The scenery, the food, the culture and the people make this one of my favourite places on earth. What’s more, the best time of year to visit The Gambia is from October to April, making it the perfect spot for some winter sun.
Without a doubt, this tiny country captured my heart and I can’t wait to return. Do you need any more reasons to visit The Gambia?
Book a trip to The Gambia
Book flights with Skyscanner
Book accommodation at the African Village hotel in Bakau
Book a package holiday with The Gambia Experience
When I was younger I was invited to go to Gambia year in year out with my best friend and her family. They always had such an amazing time and explained it as you do; great locals, appreciating what you have, etc etc… but I have always had a huge fear of needles and you have to have so many injections to be able to go there and not contract a disease that my 11 year old self wimped out every time and decided that not having an injection was better than going… I wish I could go back and knock some sense into me…
I would however love to visit now I’m older and dispite the phobia of needles, I think it might be worth it!
Thanks for a great post, and for sharing Gambia with the world – people should definitely know about it!
I think, if I remember rightly, it’s also where Akon is from! haha!
Love, May x
The Little Blonde Backpacker
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post!
I really hope you get to go to The Gambia someday, it really is an amazing country.
I found that I only had to have an up to date Tetanus jab and Malaria tablets to enter the country. You shouldn’t need too many injections to be able to travel as it’s not a massively at risk country for diseases. You should definitely give it a try though, I’m sure you would love it!
Thanks again for stopping by! If you need any advice about the Gambia, drop me a message, always happy to help.
This was back around 10 years ago, so the injections may have been different then! I really hope I can go one day, and if I do I’ll stop in for some advice! Seems like you do love the country! 🙂
Really nice, positive and well written. Love the place too…
Thank you so much! It is an amazing country!
Great post about the Gambia 🙂 Japan was the first country I ever travelled to solo and will always have a special place in my memories – fascinating culture and very friendly people.
Thanks for your kind words. I imagine Japan is an amazing place to visit. It’s on my list!