Markets, school visits, crocodiles and beautiful beaches, the 6 Tours in 1 Excursion is a fabulous introduction to Gambian life and culture.
As we bumped along the dusty road, a cool breeze softened the African sun beating down on us. Out of the many Gambia Excursions on offer, I’d never been on this particular one and although I had been to some of the places we’d be visiting before, others were completely new to me. I was looking forward to visiting Lamin Lodge which I had heard many good things about, as well as visiting the beaches of Sanyang and Tanji – two old favourites for me.
After stopping at a few other hotels to pick up more people, we headed towards our first stop, Kachikally Crocodile Pond.
Kachikally Crocodile Pond & Museum
I had been here many years ago when the museum was quite small, so it was great to see that it had been expanded. There are some very interesting exhibits from Gambia’s history and traditions, but the main attraction was without doubt the crocodile pond itself.
It is said that if you bathe in the water here (and make a donation) that your wish will be granted, in particular for ladies wishing to conceive. Don’t worry though, you don’t get in the pool with the crocs, just use the water from the pool. A taxi driver once told me that he had taken an English couple here who had been trying to start a family for a very long-time. They thought they might as well give it a go. A little while later the taxi driver received a letter from England saying that they were expecting their first child.
While we do not recommend stroking the crocodiles, that is exactly what most people do when they visit the pond. The guide there explained that the crocs are very well fed on fish but never chicken or meat, so they don’t associate humans with food. Be sure though to only approach crocodiles as instructed by the guide.
On arriving in Serrekunda, the largest town in The Gambia, we were lead through the vibrant stalls of this bustling market. It is fascinating but I did feel it was rather rushed. In general people in markets don’t want their photographs taken but I did stop and ask if I could take a picture of this colourful produce and gave the seller a small tip.
We headed on through the busy streets, slowly at first as it was quite busy which gave us a great opportunity to people watch. Before we knew it, we were in more rural surroundings and then our next stop, Lamin Lodge.
I had heard a lot of good recommendations about this bar-come-restaurant, and it didn’t disappoint. Looking as if it was made from sun bleached driftwood, it oozes character and charm. We had time to relax and enjoy coffee and donuts which went down a treat (and are included in the price of the excursion).
Rainbow Restaurant at Sanyang
By now I was ready for some lunch, and I enjoyed the buffet that was on offer here which included Chicken Yassa, a couple of different rice dishes and salad, as well fried fish and chips, plus tapalapa, a local bread which I love. While fairly simple food, it was good, with a reasonable choice and there was plenty of it. Lunch is included in the excursion price, but drinks are extra. If you have any particular dietary requirements, please discuss this with one of our representatives before booking.
Swimming at Paradise Beach
After lunch there was plenty of time for a stroll along the beach towards the colourful fishing boats a little further along the golden sands.
Also known as Paradise Beach, Sanyang is also a lovely spot for a swim. Be sure to check which flag is flying though, as sometimes the sea can be quite rough with strong currents.
A perfect way to meet locals and experience The Gambia. During your school visit you will have the chance to interact with locals and understand how a Gambian school runs, and how passionate teachers are to create an atmosphere where local children can learn in a safe and supportive environment.
If you have never been to one of The Gambia’s fishing villages when the boats are coming in, this is a must. The beach is heaving with people as the colourful pirogues bring in the day’s catch. Yes, it’s smelly, noisy and hectic and really rather magnificent.
I recently read about visiting a Gambian fishing beach in a Rough Guide’s book about making the most of your time on earth and they too thought this was an experience not to be missed. They mentioned Sanyang Beach, but I think Tanji is really where it is at.
- Take a sweater as the breeze when you are driving along can be quite chilly, especially first thing.
- Use plenty of suncream as the cooling breeze disguises just how strong the sun is.
- Water is provided but better still to take some of your own as well.
- Always ask before taking a photograph of anyone.
- Toilets can be found at the Kachikally Crocodile Pond, Lamin Lodge and Sanyang (Paradise) Beach.
- Take some Dalasi (the local currency) with you for drinks over lunch and tips (if you wish) for the wrestlers, your driver and guide, plus of course for any souvenirs you might like to buy in the craft market. Having a range of notes is handy.
This full day excursion runs all year round and twice weekly from October to April every Sunday and Wednesday.
You will receive complimentary morning coffee, bottled water, buffet lunch (excluding drinks) and entrance to the crocodile pond and museum, as well as the wrestling at Sanyang.
I think this tour is the perfect pick from the range of excursions on offer if you are a first-time visitor to The Gambia. It’s a fabulous way to spend the day even if, like me, you have visited many times before. I would say it is also well suited to families. It gives you an insight into Gambian life and apart from the rushed visit to Serrekunda Market, I found it paced just right - a very interesting and entertaining day, getting you back to your hotel in plenty of time to freshen up and relax a while, before going out in the evening.
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