Debbie from our reservations team, took her family on a long-awaited holiday and shares their experiences about the food, the wildlife encounters and her teenagers' first adventures in Africa!
Having had our family holiday booked back in 2019, it was an exciting moment when we finally got to go on our dream holiday; after all we had waited for almost three years!
We flew with Titan Airways from Gatwick and had the upgrade to Star Class, it made such a difference with the amount of space, the food quality, free drinks and fantastic service, this really was a treat for us all.
We chose to stay at African Princess Beach Hotel as I knew my two girls would love the swim up pools and I wasn't wrong - it was hard to drag them away! Being in South Kotu, we were close enough to get to the Senegambia Strip for evenings, but we also had a good selection of restaurants on our doorstep. We spent many of our lunches at Solomon’s Beach Bar as its such good value for money, right on the beach and was one of the only places that still had JulBrew beer, which pleased my husband!
My two daughters are 14 and 16 years old and I was slightly concerned what they might expect of their first African adventure, but they absolutely loved it! I did tell them that the locals are super friendly but to experience it first hand was so lovely as they are all so welcoming and always have a big smile!
We made the most of our time and were out and about every day, we visited the Bijilo Forest Park and saw the green and red Monkeys, Kachikally Crocodile Pool with over 100 crocodiles, Coco Ocean Spa for a bit of pampering, Calypso bar for lunch (one of the best meals I’ve ever had!), the Senegambia Hotel to watch the vultures being fed and a highlight of ours was the Wake Up With The Bird's excursion. It’s an early start but well worth it, we went in a dugout canoe (pirogue) and the girls had front row seats so were very happy. My eldest daughter had printed off pictures and names of over 40 different birds that she wanted to spot and I am pleased to say we ticked most of the boxes plus a few that didn't make her list. The guides were so knowledgeable and slowed down to point out different birds that we otherwise would have missed.
Calypso Beach Bar
One of the biggest highlights was our trip over to Senegal to stay at Fathala Wildlife Reserve, wow what an experience! To get there you take a boat over the River Gambia, we were met by our guide Wally who came with us on the journey, he was fantastic at helping us with our bags and making sure we got a seat. The crossing is about 40 minutes or 25minutes if you're lucky to catch the fast boat.
After a crossing The Gambia and Senegal border we only had another 20 minutes or so until we reached Fathala Wildlife Reserve, driving up to the lodges we even got a glimpse of some antelope, monkeys, and some beautiful birds. On arrival we were met and arranged our trips for the next day, we chose walking with the lions (a must for the girls) and the safari game drive in the evening. After some refreshments we were shown to our lodges, wow they really were something special!
Our experience here is something that we will never forget, the amount of different animals we saw was amazing! The location, wildlife, food and overall stay was a huge highlight for us all.
We all had such an amazing time and so many new experiences!