Rustic – maybe. Personal service – of course. All mod cons – possibly not. But without a doubt, a certain something that raises it above the norm.
Barefoot luxury comes in many guises, and while you should not expect every modern convenience known to man, you can expect very comfortable and striking accommodation, great food and the kind of friendly service that comes without any undue fussing or pretension.
It's hard to imagine more perfect examples of barefoot luxury than The Gambia’s Mandina Lodges or Fathala Wildlife Reserve in neighbouring Senegal; a stay at either (or both) of these unique properties also offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in West Africa’s flora and fauna without having to rough it one little bit.
Set beside a winding tributary of the River Gambia in the heart of the Makasutu Forest, five floating lodges and one impressive stilted lodge look out across the water in the most serene of settings. A little further along you’ll also find the pretty Mangrove Lodge, while set back from the water, the magnificent Jungle Lodges, each with a myriad of stained glass windows, will take your breath away.
Whichever lodge you decide upon, you will find yourself surrounded by nature, with a soundtrack of birdsong and the occasional monkey call.
Relax by the stunning free-form pool or on your private terrace. Watch the gently flowing river with the occasional passing fisherman or oyster lady. Explore the forest on foot or the mangroves by canoe with your personal guide. Dine under the stars and enjoy the excellent, freshly prepared cuisine. Being so remote, don’t expect a huge choice of dishes, but do expect quality.
No Wi-Fi. No energy sapping air-conditioning. Plenty of tranquility. Excellent friendly service. Open-air showers. Opulent four poster beds. And an ever-changing view of the waterways, mangroves and forests that surround you.
Find out more by visiting our website, Mandina Lodges.
Fathala Wildlife Reserve
If you love holidays under canvas but glamping is more your style than camping, then you’ll appreciate Fathala Wildlife Reserve across the border in the Sine Saloum South region of Senegal.
Each of the open-plan, air-conditioned safari tents boast mosquito nets draped over four-poster beds, wooden floors, a private deck, en-suite bathroom facilities including an open-air double shower and wonderful views of the reserve. You are really not ‘roughing It’ here.
Offering table d’hôte menus with a range of local and international dishes, the first-rate Mahogany Restaurant and Lounge has views across the rhino-frequented waterhole which can also be viewed from the reserve’s plunge pool, while a myriad of bird species can be seen in the surrounding giant mahogany trees.
You’ll have to travel out in a jeep, however, to make the most of the 6,000-hectare reserve and spot the resident wildlife, including giraffes, buffalo, warthogs, zebras, vervet and colobus monkeys, as well as the giant derby eland, a rare and beautiful antelope which is bred on the reserve.
A wide range of excursions can be organised on arrival, available from Fathala’s visitor centre, offering you the opportunity to explore the area on foot or by boat with a knowledgeable guide, or visit a local village or market to get a real feel for life in Senegal. If you’d rather spend your time recharging, simply relax by the plunge pool and absorb the sights and sounds of nature.
With the opening of the new beauty centre at Fathala, you can now also take time out for a spot of pampering; a welcome addition to a wonderful barefoot luxury experience.
Find out more by visiting our website, Fathala Wildlife Reserve.
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