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krisek Serekunda - A travel report by Krys
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Serekunda,  Gambia, the - flag Gambia, the -  Western
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krisek's travel reports

Serekunda & nearby beaches for a perfect holiday?

  14 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The Gambia has been a considered a great place for a holiday, often described as Africa for beginners. I went there a few times, although I hardly ever go to places more than once. It has recently (end of 2007) become expensive, though, but remains superb!

Fajara Beach
Fajara Beach
First time I went to The Gambia in 2004, during my debut trip to West Africa. I loved its people instantly. They were unsophisticated and genuine. When they said they loved, they did, from the bottom of their hearts. When they hated something, they really did, too. It was pure hatred. Yet, The Gambia impressed me with its mature attitude towards tourism and tourists. Its beaches were pristine, well maintained and odour-free.

Serekunda is The Gambia's main conurbation. It comprises of many towns and villages, and some would include the beach towns in it. However, the beach towns have their separate admin and feel. From the north, out of the capital Banjul, these are: Bakau, Fajara, Kotu, Kololi. They all have their own beaches, beach resorts, nightlife, and restaurants. However Serekunda, generally more inland, has a few great places for socialising, too.

National Parks (few in this small state) are located along the mighty Gambia River, one of which is Abuko Reserve and the other - James's Island, where allegedly slave trade originated in the region. Both easily accessible from Serekunda and Banjul but one needs own transport.

Favourite spots:
Waiting for waves
Waiting for waves
Kotu Beach was perhaps my favourite spot in The Gambia. The beach was clean, there were many places to sit down and have a drink. A few restaurants and even a (slightly dodgy) nightclub complemented the facilities. Some of them even had showers, which beachgoers were free to use.

My other favourite spot was a football pitch in Bakoteh, near the Christian Nuns Monastery. Everyday, there would be boys between 6 and 14 years old playing football and taking it very seriously! They actually take bets, so they are then determined to win. It is fascinating to see how skillful and passionate about this sport they are. There was a little kiosk with soft drinks, staple food and general household items nearby, so I could sit down by the pitch and enjoy the game.

Kartong Beach would be my third best place. There's nothing there. Just a beach and small fishing village, but it's perfect. And often guys play football there too. It's just before the Casamance border.

What's really great:
Wassu Stone Circles
Wassu Stone Circles
I really liked the people's attitude. Although it is difficult to predict the future, but so far, the state has been peaceful and relatively stable politically, despite a very questionable democracy by the president, who keeps remaining in the office. There are a few ethnic groups in The Gambia, they do not necessary adore one other, but rather thinking about a war, and which ethnic group should be in power, and reap from the thriving tourism industry instead.

The Gambia (and Senegal, too) have a great prehistoric site. Or actually a few of them. They are called Wassu Stones. Well, Wassu is of the villages where they can be found - north bank of the river. Great stones are also found in Kerrabatch. No-one knows why the stones had been placed in concentric circles. And the mankind will probably never find out, for the language of the people who built the sites, died long time ago, and there are no records.

James's Island
James's Island
Banjul has few interesting colonial buildings and an Independence Arch. Other than that, there are no other significant sights in the form of architecture. The former capital, Janjanbureh (Georgetown), has even less. When I went, I expected a few interesting buildings, but I found an almost abandoned and ruined town. However, bird watching is a significant activity in The Gambia, and the area around the former capital is among the best.

I also went to a village, where the President Yayah Jameh comes from, as many locals claimed it was beautiful and developed. It took me four hours to drive there on a very bad road, and I found that it was not developed. There is an interesting hotel there and the chief has his own zoo, but otherwise it is a tourist trap.

Oh, yeah, and there is James's Island, which, the locals claim, was the place where Kunta Kinteh was imprisoned. It is a good day trip from beaches, but can be dear and not worth it. The island's fort is badly ruined.

Sanyang Beach
Sanyang Beach
There are countless accommodation options along the beaches. Five and four star hotels occupy properties directly on the beaches, but there are a few less expensive ones, which overlook the ocean, as well.

Karaiba Hotel (Senegambia, Kololi) - five star resort, very expensive
Senegambia Hotel (as above) - five star resort, very expensive
BB Hotel (Kotu) - four star hotel with bungalows, good value
Fajara Golf Garden (Fajara) - a small hotel with a pool (USD 50)
Leybato Beach (Fajara) - a small beach hotel, great place (USD 40)

Bakoteh Kids
Bakoteh Kids
The night scene in The Gambia is perhaps the best in the region. The number of places to go out and party is huge. Here are some of my favourite spots:

Senegambia - Wow!; Totties; Paparazzi; Green Mamba; Atlantic Bar

Serekunda - The Monument; Jokor

Fajara - 777

Bakau - Black Forest; Lama Lama

There are many more, and some are best on certain days. Usually when there is a ladies night that night. Then the places get packed.

Unfortunately, virtually all places are frequented by working girls. I had bodyguards, friends I made at the beach bars and juice booths, and one of them was followed to the men's room asked if she could speak to me! She even offered him money!!

New places open all the time. I even heard that there is now a trendy club in Banjul, a place which is normally dead at night.

Fishing in Sanyang
Fishing in Sanyang
The best hangout is perhaps Fajara's Leybato Beach. It has hammocks, deck chairs for the beach, benches and tables under reed umbrellas, a great bar and decent restaurant. I could spend the entire day there. It is located at the northern end of the Fajara Beach, so few hustlers venture there, including beach boys looking for female tourist to have sex with them (so they can take them to Europe later on :), nagging massage selling women (it is not massage their offer!), and fruit salad ladies (ripping you off).

Other spots would be the Monument, where many local come for a drink and conversations.

Sanyang Forest
Sanyang Forest
Laybato Beach - good food, reasonably long menu (USD 8 - 10)

Sultan's Sweets (24h) - on Pipeline Rd, near traffic lights, great pizzas and long menu, local and international dishes (USD 3 - 6)

In Senegambia, where most tourists end up going out, there are also a number of decent places to eat. Like Ali Baba, African Queen, and others. Most serve good food, but they are often overpriced. There is also a reasonably good Chinese restaurant, which serves Thai buffet on Thursday nights.

In Bakau, near Cape Point, there are few other places to eat. Most are open air bars, which provide live music or organise an artistic programme with local performers, usually dancers.

Other recommendations:
Serekunda travelogue picture
Certain travel literature warns visitors to The Gambia about hustlers patrolling the beaches harassing the tourists. To be completely honest, there is a degree of that going on. However, not to the proportions described in the guidebooks. These days, the tourist police is very vigilant (to the extreme sometimes) and prevents known and suspected hustlers from entering the beaches. Genuine beach traders, those who work at the bars, restaurants, and juice pressing booths, have to have passes issued by local authorities. If someone bothers you, and you do not want to make any new friends, just tell them that. They will normally just leave you alone. It is a good idea though, to acquire a 'bodyguard' from the pool of many beach boys, who will wholeheartedly protect you from any unwanted callers.

Published on Sunday February 10th, 2008

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Fri, Mar 14 2008 - 01:38 PM rating by alfonsovasco

another nice report of you

Sat, Mar 08 2008 - 05:33 AM rating by magsalex

This was my first 'more exotic' destination and first to Africa (spent several days being very sick!) A great report on this small country.

Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 10:48 AM rating by rangutan

Big report on a small country. After reading this I would love to go there, west and central Africa are strange to me so this makes interesting reading. Louis has provided us with excellent photos but this is our first report of the Gambia. Thanks!

Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 07:57 AM rating by jorgesanchez

I am sure than one of these reports will get the Report of the Month premium. They have exotism, adventure, daring, knowledge... and very good pictures.

Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 07:17 AM rating by mistybleu

Another wonderful report, packed full of valuable information. I hope you get Report of the Month with one of your contributions.

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