Mandina Lodges

Unique   Unique Collection

The Gambia  |  Makasutu

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Lowest price package
Fri 01 Dec 2017

£999(from/pp) SAVE £368pp

Book This  7 nights | based on 2 sharing
Sat 25 Nov 2017
Next departure

£1265(from/pp) SAVE £365pp

Book This  7 nights | based on 2 sharing
 

Hidden away in the African bush on a mangrove-lined tributary of the River Gambia; a stay at Mandina Lodges is a more peaceful, tranquil and unique an experience than you could ever imagine, showcasing some of The Gambia’s most stunning and alluring natural splendour.


Expert Opinion

"Mandina is a patch of heaven on earth – tranquil, lush, peaceful and full of fabulous wildlife. The stunning lodges are just perfect – this place is simply awesome."

- Chris Packham, BBC Presenter

 

What we love

  • The Mandina guides, whose extensive knowledge of the forest and its wildlife will keep you captivated and informed throughout your stay. Please note that it is normal practice to tip your guide.
  • The magical and serene atmosphere that is both enchanting and unforgettable.

 

Good to know

  • All lodges, except the Mangrove Lodge, have open-air showers, while the Floating Lodges have specially designed, non-flushing toilets – neither of these features detract from the overall high standard of accommodation.

 

A stunning yet accessible riverside retreat

There is simply nothing quite like Mandina. Located in the heart of Makasutu Forest, yet only 40 minutes from coastal resorts, guests here are able to disconnect from everyday life and instead connect with the surrounding nature, which includes monkeys, baboons and reptiles, as well as a vast array of birdlife. Such are the unique and memorable qualities of Mandina, the lodges were featured in the book '1001 Escapes To Make Before You Die', and for many, an escape to Mandina is one they’ll wish to repeat endlessly during their lifetime, a viewpoint that Chris Packham endorses fully.

 

Unique accommodation

Comprising of nine beautifully designed lodges built both on and off the river, the setting of this accommodation encapsulates an unrelenting sense of tranquillity, relaxation and escape. The accommodation is a feature in itself, magnificent and yet in keeping with the environment. Built to a high standard, largely from local materials, each lodge has a private but roofless bathroom, along with flushing toilet in Jungle and Mangrove lodges and composting toilet in Floating/Stilted lodges (these are inspired by Swedish log cabins and are of a very acceptable standard). 

The impressive Stilted Lodge is on two floors with separate bedroom, outside deck and lounge area on the lower level plus upstairs day room; fans are employed in all lodges instead of electricity sapping air-conditioning and solar power is used as much as possible to reinforce Mandina’s eco philosophy.

 

Exploring this magical setting

Beyond the breathtaking accommodation and inviting free-form pool, with its canopied day beds offering shade from the African sun, you’ll also experience personal and friendly service. Each guest is assigned one of Mandina’s expert guides, allowing you to explore the forest on foot or the mangroves by canoe, learning about the flora and fauna of the area as you go. Options to venture further afield are also possible, such as a visit to the recently opened Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust centre, or to witness the street art project 'Wide Open Walls'. The project was developed by Lawrence Williams, co-founder of Mandina, and has gone from strength to strength, with international artists dedicating time each year to help to create an area of cultural interest to visitors, helping to support the villages of the Ballabu Conservation Area for future generations.

In the evening, enjoy a refreshing drink in the bar area overlooking the mangroves, whilst meeting new friends and sharing stories of your experiences that day. Dinner is served al fresco in one of the thatched dining areas, and sometimes the fire is lit with the dancing flames creating a magical mood.

 

Twin-centre holidays

Situated just 40 minutes from the coastal resorts on a tributary of the River Gambia, a stay at Mandina offers an easy opportunity to witness an unspoilt area of West Africa and the unique experiences that this provides. Although may choose to spend a week or longer enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, it can also be combined with a stay at one of our beachfront properties for a longer holiday.

We offer a number of twin-centre and tailormade holiday options which allow holiday-makers to experience both the beauty of Mandina and one or more of West Africa's other most rewarding destinations. Whether it is combined with a relaxing stay beside the sea, or perhaps with a journey into neighbouring Senegal, you can find a number of superb twin-centre and tailormade options to suit you. Find out more here.

 

The history of Mandina and Makasutu

The 1000-acre Makasutu Cultural Forest was the result of 20 years’ hard work by two Englishmen who, after several years of searching, decided this beautiful spot provided the perfect location to realise their vision. Ideas for a simple tourism project gave way initially to a reforestation and conservation plan which ultimately resulted in the luxury lodge and cultural centre that you see today.

James English sadly passed away in 2011, however Lawrence Williams continues to have a big presence at Mandina (along with his much-loved pet dogs and cats!) and Linda joined him in 2012 to bring a woman’s touch to running the lodges which continue to improve and inspire year after year.

Mandina Lodges accept children 10 years and over - as the property is by the river, parents must supervise children at all times. Please note that there is little in the way of entertainment for children, and no Wi-Fi, however the wildlife holds appeal for all age groups.

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Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence

 

What's included in your booking

  • Return flights, 20kg luggage allowance, in-flight meals
  • Gambia guide with exclusive discounts
  • Airport transfers
  • Service of dedicated in-resort reps

Hotel Facilities

  • Large pool and sun terraces with canopied relaxation areas
  • Bar and al fresco dining areas
  • Fire pit
  • Canoes 
  • Forest guides
  • Range of optional excursions (payable locally)
  • No credit card facilities
  • 9 lodges

No children under 10 years.

Lodge Facilities

  • Four-poster bed
  • Fan
  • Safety deposit box
  • Mosquito nets
  • UK 3-pin sockets
  • Tea/coffee delivered to your lodge each morning
  • No energy-sapping air-conditioning or fridge/minibar. Solar power is used where possible

Activities

  • Free guided forest walks and river trips by traditional West African pirogue
  • Fishing from the jetty (basic rods for hire or bring your own)
  • Walk to Base Camp with its impressive viewing tower and Makasutu craft centre
  • Optional Sunset Cruise / river fishing excursions (payable locally)
  • Visits to 'Wide Open Walls' street art project (payable locally)
  • Other private excursions can be arranged on request, such as Brikama market (payable locally)
  • Please note that the standard excursion programme is not possible from Mandina

Cuisine Information

Set in a peaceful location under the shelter of an impressive straw and canvas lodge, Mandina's restaurant serves a variety of fresh, tasty Gambian dishes and local fish in a well-presented manner.

‚ÄčLocation

  • Beach: N/A
  • Restaurants: On-site
  • Transfers: 40 minutes

Rooms at Mandina Lodges

Mangrove Lodge

From £999pp

Sleeps up to 2 

 Minimum child age: 10  

  More Information

Stilted Lodge

From £1,189pp

Sleeps up to 4 (3 adults)

 Minimum child age: 10  

  More Information

Jungle Lodge

From £1,206pp

Sleeps up to 3 

 Minimum child age: 10  

  More Information

Floating Lodge

From £1,333pp

Sleeps up to 2 

 Minimum child age: 10  

  More Information

Hotel & Local Restaurants

Opening dates are subject to change and beyond our control.

Hotel

The restaurant at night

Mandina's Restaurant

International Cuisine

OPEN END OCT - MID JUN

More information

 

Mandina Questions and Answers

Q. Are mosquitoes a problem?
A. Not once the rainy season is over, and by December there are hardly any; in fact often fewer than at beachside hotels which use sprinklers to water the gardens leaving pools of fresh water. This is because the river here is tidal salt water, not fresh water swamp, as is often associated with mangroves. It is always advisable, though, to wear insect repellent, especially at dusk.

Q. Are the baboons vicious?
A. Not at all, although in large numbers on the move they can look intimidating. Just don't keep food in your lodge or leave anything outside, especially in the open air bathrooms. They don't come out when it's dark, so are nothing to worry about. We have men here whose sole job it is to try to keep them away from the lodges during the daylight hours. Our pet dogs provide an effective warning system.

Q. Can we swim in the river?
A. We advise against it: strong tidal currents, stingrays and the odd crocodile could be encountered.

Q. Can we go fishing?
A. The river is a wonderful fishing ground and guests have done very well from floating lodges 3 and 4, but if you are serious about the sport, please bring your own rods etc.
If you just want to 'have a go', Max, our boatman, will rig a hand line up for you, but we do make a small charge for the line, hooks and weights etc. as so many get lost. For bait people usually buy a few prawns from the kitchen, although some have success using just bread.

Q. Can our guide take us fishing in the canoe?
A. No, because constant paddling, especially when a tide is running, is totally exhausting. Also other guests might want to use the canoes. Fishing trips in our motor boat cost £25 an hour from the start of fishing.

Q. Are there lots of creepy crawlies?
A. Well, we are in a forest so obviously there are lots of insects and reptiles there, and monitor lizards and geckos are frequently seen near the lodges. It is, however, rare to see a snake, a giant snail or a land crab outside the rainy season.
None of the insects you are likely to encounter in the grounds will do you harm and the lodges are sprayed every night while guests are having dinner.

Q. Do you have wifi?
A. Sadly not. So far no-one has come up with a reasonable plan or price for installing it. You can, however, get a connection to the internet on your smart phone, although it is intermittent. If it is important that you contact home and you encounter a problem, Lawrence or Linda will try to help you.

Q. Do you accept credit cards?
A. No, we have no landline or wifi to enable this.

Q. Which currency is accepted for payment?
A. We accept Dalasi or any strong currency at the Central Bank rate, which, of course, can be subject to change. If you want to have some local currency for use here, we suggest you change your money at the airport in Banjul. Even if you find someone to provide it in the UK, you will probably get a very bad rate of exchange.

Q. Can I use an electric kettle or a hairdryer?
A. We run on solar and generator, and although we rarely have a time without power, we don't have enough for everyone to plug in an electric kettle. You can borrow a hairdryer if you need one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q. Can I drink the tap water?
A. lot of people do. Our water comes from a borehole and most will use it for cleaning their teeth but tend to drink bottled water just to be on the safe side.

Q. What clothes will I need?
A. It depends on the time of year but it is advisable to bring a sweater or light jacket as the evenings, after a warm day in the sun, can sometimes feel chilly, especially from December to March. During these months we use the fire pit, where guests can sit around, chat and have a drink after dinner. It's advisable to wear sturdy shoes or sandals for walking in the forest, not particularly because of insects but because of thorns on fallen palm leaves. A hat is essential - we have had a few cases of mild sunstroke because people have refused to wear one when the sun is high. Dress is always casual.

Q. What about tipping?
A. Obviously this is optional but much appreciated by the staff. We ask guests to tip their guide individually, and leave a general tip to be divided amongst our 40 staff which is distributed to all those behind the scenes once a month. All tipping is done at the end of your stay except, perhaps, for a one-off service which the guest feels should be rewarded.

Q. How much should I leave?
A. That is left entirely to your own discretion. If you would like any guidance on this, please ask Linda during your stay.

Q. Do we have our own guide?
A. Yes, you will have a designated guide who will arrange all trips, walks etc. after consulting you.

Q. Do I have to pay for canoe trips etc.?
A. No. All our guides, who are superb at helping spot birds and other wildlife, are paid by us but you can show your appreciation by your tip at the end of your stay. There are a few excursions by motor boat (eg the Sunset Cruise) for which you have to pay extra, or, of course, if you want to use a taxi. We have selected safe drivers with decent cabs which we can book on your behalf. Again, all such charges are paid at the end of your stay.

Q. Can we use our guide for a day's excursion outside Makasutu?
A. Yes, by arrangement with the General Manager. It is, of course, expected that you provide food and drinks for him during the trip, plus transport home if you get back to Mandina after dark.

Q. How much is the Sunset Cruise?
A. We charge £75 per couple for the 2.5 - 3 hour trip, accompanied by your guide and our boatman. This includes a bottle of our South African house wine. Details are in each lodge and it can be booked ahead or when you arrive. We have a small boat which takes up to four people and a larger one for up to 12 guests. We can't guarantee sole use of a boat if we are busy but we do our best to accede to all our guests' requests.

Q. Do you cater for vegetarians?
A. Yes. Please make known to our Head Chef any special dietary requirements about which we might not have been informed. We don't have a written menu; it changes every day.

Q. Can you cater for special occasions?
A. Yes, provided arrangements are made in advance. In fact, because we have only nine lodges, we would be more than happy to take groups who could take over the whole complex. Mandina is not suitable, though, for very formal occasions.