Away from the main resort areas, nestled on a cliff top set high above a secluded beach and with stunning views across the Atlantic, you will discover the secret that is Ngala Lodge.
Away from the main resort areas, nestled on a cliff top set high above a secluded beach and with stunning views across the Atlantic, you will discover the secret that is Ngala Lodge. We believe that this romantic, adult-only, boutique hotel has its own quiet magic which, once discovered, is hard to forget - we are not alone as Trip Advisor have awarded it a Certificate of Excellence. This slice of paradise is the culmination of 20 years’ hard work by its Dutch owner, Peter Engels, who describes it as his "dream come true". It all started way back in the early 1990’s when Peter was searching for a new direction in life. Following a memorable holiday in The Gambia, he became involved in raising funds for a small hospital project which provided Peter with new friends and a reason to spend time in The Gambia, which he was starting to think of as a possible new home. So Peter loved the destination for its wonderful people, unspoilt beaches and beautiful weather and wildlife; the downside was a lack of quality accommodation in the country at that time for visitors such as himself. Peter then came into contact with The Gambia Experience through our MD Chris Rowles, who encouraged him with his plan to develop the best boutique hotel in The Gambia.
The dream started small with the purchase of a beautifully located piece of land complete with colonial mansion (see below) in Fajara, and Ngala Lodge initially opened in 1995 as a small, quality B&B with 2 suites.
As time went by and tourists bought into Peter’s vision, he was able to grow the project further, and the final icing on the cake was the completion of the stunning, sea-facing Macondo suites (pictured below) late in 2014, giving a total of 24 suites, along with a striking new infinity pool, in order to celebrate Ngala’s 20th year.
Ngala is, however, more than just a boutique hotel – it also has a superb restaurant which is successful in its own right. This has been run for several years by British chef Jonathan Groves, who was also attracted by The Gambia’s many charms and decided to set up his business there.
It underwent an extension (see above) during 2014 in order to enable more people to enjoy this idyllic spot. However, the secret is in the ambiance which is skilfully created through low key, live entertainment which has a tendency to form bonds between diners, creating memories which last well beyond the end of the evening. And we mustn’t forget trumpet-player extraordinaire, Vincent, whose jazz evenings are renowned.
It wouldn’t be right not to mention the Gambian staff who welcome guests to Ngala – over the years Peter has built up a capable team who are incredibly loyal to him, as he is to them. As Peter says: "We are a kind of family who take care of our guests as well as each other."
Peter has developed his project in such a way that Ngala is really well suited as a year-round escape – its tropical gardens and pools are as inviting in summer as in winter, the food is as good and the welcome is as warm. For nature lovers and photographers the ‘green season’ offers a different experience, whilst for those seeking peace and relaxation, there is no better place. So as Ngala enjoys its 20th year, we are proud to be part of the history of Ngala Lodge – and we wish them all luck for the next 20 years!
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