The Amazing Things to Do Along the River Gambia

Tourists on an expedition along the River Gambia
Tourists on an expedition along the River Gambia | © Gambia Experience
Photo of Sheriff Janko
6 August 2018

Sailing along the River Gambia offers a unique experience for many holidaymakers visiting the country. With so many things to see and do, make sure sailing along this majestic river is at the top of the list.

Renowned for its navigable nature, the River Gambia provides year-round fun. Daily river cruises, tours to the charming riverside villages, bird watching and exciting adventure activities are just a handful of things to do that are available to visitors.

Tourism really started booming in The Gambia way back in the 1960s. Since then, each year thousands of holidaymakers visit the country, making tourism the nation’s most successful industry. The country’s peaceful nature, hospitable people and charming villages makes it a preferred destination for the ever-increasing number of annual visitors.

Go sport fishing

Today sport fishing remains a favourite activity for tourists. The International Boat Fishing Competition is an annual event that attracts not only international anglers, but also tourists and other investors. Foreign anglers from across Europe come to participate in this intensive fishing competition in an attempt to catch fish like snapper, cassava fish, lady fish and captain fish to name a few. The fishing methods for the competition usually take the form of live baiting, dead baiting, drifting, and trolling, and anglers are provided with baits depending on their choice of catch.

Sport fishing boat on the River Gambia | © African Angler

Sail out to Oyster Creek

Exploring the small river creeks onboard a small canoe, or ‘pirogue’, is an amazing experience. These outings expose visitors to tributaries along the River Gambia where locals harvests oysters. One of the best areas to visit is Oyster Creek, situated to the east of the Denton Bridge on the way to Banjul, the capital city of The Gambia. Boat trips to help you explore the beauty of the River Gambia can be organised from Denton Bridge and Barra Ferry Terminal in Banjul harbour, or arranged directly with locals for a minimal fee.

boats waiting river cruise | © The Gambia Tourism Board

Get out and about on a pirogue

Sailing along the River Gambia on a small pirogue fitted with an outboard motor is one of best things to do, even if you’re not planning on going anywhere in particular. You can easily rent a pirogue and head out on a trip upstream. There is great fishing to be had especially near the mangroves, which are home to a plethora of fish species and other wildlife.

Explore the countryside

Enjoy typical Gambian life while relaxing on the deck of a boat as you sail through amazing tributaries and charming villages situated along the River Gambia. These daily river cruises expose travellers to the interior of the country, where visitors are exposed to a scenic route with occasional sightings of dolphins, as well as bird-watching opportunities. Depending on the time of year, you might even be able to watch a local wrestling competition, or horse and camel riding

Exploring The Gambia by boat | © The Gambia Tourism Board

A bird-watcher’s paradise

The Gambia’s lush vegetation overlooking the River Gambia is perfect for spotting migratory bird species on the riverbanks and wetlands. The country also boasts a variety of ecological nature reserves, most of which are easily accessible by pirogue. From Abuko Nature Reserve and Lamin Lodge to Makasutu Cultural Forest and West Kiang National Park, there is so much to see and do.
Annually, The Gambia hosts the International Bird Watching Festival, an initiative designed to promote rural tourism development, as well as support the protection and conservation of birds and their habitats. Bird species common in the country include the Egyptian plover, the northern carmine, the bee eater African finfoot, owls, and black crown crane, among others. Most of these birds feed in shallow water, but there are some that are found mostly offshore and along coastal areas including pelicans and gull terns. Tendaba Camp is renowned for its vibrant birdlife. Both local and international bird watchers flock to this exclusive spot to catch a glimpse of local exotic birds. Located some 145km upriver from Banjul, the camp provides an eco-friendly environment and a place to escape the hustle and bustle of inner-city life.

Scenery view of lush vegetation along the River Gambia | © Afro Tourism

Visit historic sites

While in The Gambia, it is recommended to spend some time visiting its incredible historical sites. The puzzling Wassu Stone Circles and the island of Janjanbureh are two such attractions often frequented by tourists.

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