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The strategic location of Banjul, on the Kombo Saint Mary Island, makes it an ideal spot to organise a day trip without the hustle and bustle of city traffic. If you’re heading out by taxi, minivan or safari truck, here are some of the best day trips from The Gambia’s capital.
Locals have different names to refer to this full day trip. It’s an exciting one worth exploring, as it exposes visitors to charming fishing settlements and offers the ability to experience what life is like in more rural areas. Visitors can also spot monkeys and some amazing bird species. South Gambia is located just a one-hour drive away from the city of Banjul. It is easily accessible by car, travelling through villages from Sukuta all the way down to Yuna. Beach outings like this allow visitors to witness the amazing coastal sites, namely Gunjur, Kartong and Sanyang. South Gambia is increasingly becoming a must-visit destination thanks to its natural features and historical cultural artefacts: the Senneh-Mentering sacred sites located on the cliffs overlooking the beach at Brufut, the old mosque at Gunjur that was used by prominent religious figures for prayers, and a reptile farm in Kartong. You can spend hours on the beach picnicking and enjoying a stunning African sunset.
Ginak, or Jinack, Island is a natural habitat for birds and a superb site for bird-watching enthusiasts. It is located on the north-western edge of the River Gambia estuary, and is separated from the mainland delta of the Nuimi National Park by the Niji Bolon creek. The isle, often referred to as ‘Paradise Island’ or ‘Treasure Island’, is a slightly curved and tapering strip of low-lying land about 10 kilometres long, with an interior of dry woodland and grassland, and vegetation such as Tamarisk scrub, baobab trees and acacia. It is fringed with mangrove creeks, tidal sand flats, saltwater marsh, low coastal dunes and a coastal lagoon at Buniadu Point in the northern section. In the winter season, dolphins often visit its shoreline. Trips to the island can sometimes be arranged with tour operators, however it’s also possible to hire a boat at Denton Bridge for a spontaneous day trip.
Tunbung Art Village is a community art project started by Etu Ndow, a renowned Gambian artist. With years of teaching experience in Gambian schools, he was featured on national television and exhibited his work internationally. Since his passing, his nephew has taken up the mantle and continues the half-day workshops (for a minimum of two people) in screen printing, painting and crafts using natural materials. The ‘studio’ is outside in the shady grounds of the family’s land in the unspoilt woodland area that separates Tujereng from the ocean. Several decorated huts have been built in the compound using natural stone, recycled artefacts and reclaimed brick from destroyed Portuguese colonial buildings. A permanent exhibition of Ndow’s work can also be visited.
Tendaba Camp, an eco-tourism camp established in the ’70s, is situated in the heart of the countryside close to the country’s prime birding locations in the Lower River Region. Situated 160 kilometres from the capital of Banjul, Tendaba Camp is open all year round and includes riverboat bird safaris. The camp is a favourite for tourists and a must-visit place for anyone wanting to see the countryside and explore the River Gambia. The camp is accessible by road or tour boat.
Foni Berefet camp is located in Berefet Village on the River Gambia, and is surrounded by beautiful forest and abundant baobab trees. This camp offers a unique cultural experience where visitors can learn about The Gambia’s different ethnic groups, go sightseeing in the forest and join excursions on the River Gambia for bird-watching and fishing. The eco-tourism camp has carved a niche for itself in the country’s growing hospitality industry thanks to its perfect location for day trips.
Tanji Bird Reserve is located on the Tanji river estuary and surrounds the Bijilo Islands. Established in 1993, the reserve is situated a short drive from the Tourist Development Area, making it a perfect day trip for nature enthusiasts. The reserve is an important bird nesting site for 250 species of birds, including several European migrants. The bird reserve is one of the first stops offshore and offers both a safe haven as well as good feeding opportunities. Visitors may also see the Western Red Colobus and patas monkeys, as well as bush buck, porcupines and the rare Mediterranean monk seal. On moonless nights from May to July, green sea turtles frequent the island to dig nests for their eggs. To get the most out of your trip, hire an experienced bird guide or go on an organised tour.