The Gambia is a country with a unique history and culture. In the village museum, one can imagine life as it was before European colonization. Wandering among the circles of mysterious megalith stones, one can speculate about their significance for those who lived millennia ago. National parks or a river bird sanctuary are worth a visit to see African wildlife in its pristine beauty.
Who and why should come to the Gambia
Fans of historical and archaeological excursions will be interested in visiting the Tanji village museum, which shows the huts of African tribes and their household items. The Banjul National Museum contains exhibits that reflect the periods of history and culture of the country. And James Island with the preserved remains of the fortress and prisons for slaves will tell about the era of colonization and the tragedy of the slave trade.
Those wishing to see the untouched African nature should visit the national parks of the Gambia. Here are protected areas of savannas and mangrove forests, as well as rare species of animals. On the islands of the Gambia River Park, chimpanzees seized from illegal traders are adapting to life in the wild. The Tanji River Bird Reserve offers the opportunity to see up to 300 species of birds, including rare native species.
Gambian markets provide an opportunity to get in touch with local culture and purchase original products of local craftsmen — fabrics, dishes and jewelry. Here you can also taste the local cuisine, which is distinguished by an abundance of spices.
National Museum of the Gambia
Founded in 1985, the museum is located in the center of Banjul, the capital of the country. Here are collected exhibits and artifacts that reflect the difficult history of the Gambia. The museum occupies 3 floors. In the basement there is a department dedicated to folk music. Here are collected musical instruments of various tribes. On the first floor there are expositions depicting the epochs of cultural and political history.
Here are archaeological finds, maps, photographs, diaries and documents. The objects on display on the second floor tell about important historical stages and events in the Gambia and West Africa, the colonial era and the struggle for independence.
Tanji Village Museum
It is currently the only private museum in the country. It carefully and scrupulously restored the life of the Gambians in the form in which it was before colonization by the British. In the open air there are huts built of clay and straw. In the huts themselves, household items that were used by the inhabitants before the arrival of the colonialists, musical instruments, handicraft tools and national clothes are exhibited.
Here you can see with your own eyes how fabric is made at home. Visitors are offered to buy souvenirs and taste local cuisine in a small restaurant located nearby.
Kachikali Museum and Crocodile Pool
Less than 20 km from Banjul, in the city of Bakau, the Kachikali Museum is located, preserved from the time when the country’s population adhered to paganism. For tourists, it is not so much the cultural institution itself that is attractive, but the pool with crocodiles attached to it. Previously, animals were used to perform fertility rituals.
Now there are about 80 individuals here. The length of adult crocodiles is about 4.5 m. The albino, devoid of color, and the hospitable male Charlie are especially interesting. Animals can be approached and touched, but under the control of the museum owners.
Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Banjul
Located on the main street of the capital, this temple was built at the beginning of the 20th century, from 1913 to 1916. The cathedral belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. Its design is quite simple and consists of the main building, as well as the tower adjacent to it.
Initially, it was a parish church, but after the foundation of the Catholic diocese in Banjul, it was given the status of a cathedral. In 1992, the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady was visited by Pope John Paul II.
Abuko National Park
The nature protection zone is located just south of the town of the same name. The vegetation of Abuko belongs to the savanna type. In the natural environment, you can see redwood, oil palm and iroko here. The reserve has a rich fauna: patas monkeys, vervet monkeys and red colobuses, porcupines, mongooses, antelopes, numerous varieties of squirrels and martens, as well as otters.
In wet areas close to the river, you can see monitor lizard, several species of crocodiles, cobras and pythons, as well as green mamba. Complementing the picture are many species of birds and butterflies.
Niumi National Park
The reserve is located on the northern bank of the Gambia River. It was created to conserve the mangroves of Africa. Vegetation extends along the coast and protects the shores from erosion. The park surprises with a variety of birds: gulls, terns and warblers stop here during flights.
Mangroves are inhabited by herons of various species. Of the wild animals, you can find leopards, oribi antelopes, monkeys and hyenas here, and in the Masarinko stream — manatee. Turtles, crocodiles and native species of snakes live near the shore.
Gambia River National Park
Curious in terms of location, the reserve occupies 5 islands on the river you already know. Their common name is the Paviany Islands. On patches of land you can find several different types of ecosystems — from tropical jungles to savannahs and mangrove swamps. Baboons have become a haven for the endangered species of African hippopotamus, as well as for a large number of various monkeys — baboons, green monkeys, red colobuses.
The reserve is implementing a project to return chimpanzees to their natural habitat — primates seized from illegal traders are adapting among their relatives in the wild. In addition to monkeys, here you can see anteaters, warthogs, servals, manatees, badgers, antelopes, various lizards and snakes.
Tanji River Bird Reserve
The unique conservation park includes sections of the Kariniti and Tanji rivers. About 300 species of birds, including migratory ones, live on its relatively small territory of 136 hectares.
Black-necked, gray and little herons, gerbils, waders, mockingbirds, white-tailed anglers, plovers, terns and several species of gulls can be found in the immediate vicinity. During periods of seasonal gathering in flocks, visitors simultaneously observe up to 20 thousand waterfowl.
Albert Market in Banjul
Considered the largest market on the West Coast. In fact, this is a complex of three markets with different profiles. On the first one you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. In another part they sell household goods and even some equipment. The most interesting for foreigners is that part of the Albert Market, where they sell products of folk craftsmen and souvenirs.
In addition to carvings, outlandish masks and ancient coins, here you can buy natural African batik fabric, clothes with national motifs, jewelry, dishes, local spices, and try national cuisine in small shops.
Craft market in Bakau
A small market, consisting of about 50 stalls, attracts not so much with its scale as with its authenticity. Here, wood-carved products can be made right in the presence of buyers.
Elsewhere, the owner of the tent on the machine creates a canvas that will immediately go on sale. Here they buy leather and fabric products, pottery, national-style jewelry, paintings, masks and drums.
Stone rings in Senegambia
A large number of circles of vertically oriented stones are located between the mouths of the Salum and Gambia rivers, but it is most convenient to inspect them in the village of Vassu, not far from Georgetown. These structures are called the «African Stonehenge», although they hardly had any astronomical purpose.
Stones have a different shape: with a rounded even cut, with a cup-shaped recess at the top, etc. The oldest of them date back to the 3rd century BC. e. The main theory for the creation of such megaliths is the designation of burial mounds with the burial places of kings and leaders of local tribes.
This island is located on the Gambia River and is now officially renamed Kunta Kinte. Here is an old fortress with a dark history. In different eras, it belonged to the Portuguese, Germans and British, and periodic seizures were associated with the fact that James was an important point for the transportation of slaves.
The built citadel partly served as a prison for keeping captured slaves. Now the fortress is destroyed, but the remains of prison cells and several ancient cannons have been preserved inside.