With its laid-back vibe, sub-tropical wildlife and appealing climate, the Gambia has long been a magnet for backpackers looking for a taste of the West African coast.
In recent years, the ex-British colony has opened up as a package tour destination thanks to those idyllic beaches, safari opportunities, and low-cost facilities.
Holidays to Gambia are some of the most accessible on the continent with just a six-hour flight time and a long, hot summer from November to June.
The modest land which surrounds the mighty River Gambia packs in enough interest to satisfy even the most adventurous of travelers, but you don't need to go it alone to see the best of it.
There's a huge variety of excursion options available in holiday packages now; taking in the 300 species of exotic birds at the Abuko Nature Reserve, the inhabitants of the Kachikaly Crocodile Pool or exploring the country's cultural heritage amid the stone circles on Janjangbureh Island.
You may be used to camping and basic lodges as a seasoned backpacker, but if you pick quiet fishing villages like Kartong in the south, package accommodation is affordable even on a budget and the secluded beaches won't disappoint if you want to escape the crowds.
The popular resorts of Kololi and Kotu are busier, but they're also a hot-bed for bargain deals in the winter, often including local activities from jet-skiing to whale-watching.
If it’s a slice of Gambian life you're after, you'll find it in the jostling harbors of capital Banjul or at Bakau.
General prices are cheap compared to Europe and even if you've treated yourself to a hotel you can sample the fresh seafood and colorful wares at the markets for very little here.
The resort restaurants are also of a high standard for what you pay and when you go all-inclusive, there's no worrying about your daily food budget.
It's worth seeing what you can get for your money in a country this rich in culture and affordable in cost.
You can always combine a few days of solo adventuring with a hotel stay if you plan in advance and many packages are flexible in terms of optional trips and extras.
With its enduring friendly atmosphere and beautiful coastal attractions, the success of the package deal here ensures that this is one African county that won't remain overlooked for long.
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Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Sunday 3rd of March 2013
I have not heard of Gambia as a holiday spot but its one of those countries that is relatively safe to travel to. Sounds like a great place to go on holiday.