Engulfed by Senegal, it’s easy to forget about little old Gambia, Africa’s smallest mainland country. But for the overland traveler, that most intrepid and well, let’s face it, coolest lot, this West African nation has plenty to keep you busy. Here’s DontFlyGo.com’s best picks on what to see and do from the road.
River Gambia National Park
Made up of 5 islands better known as Baboon Islands, the River Gambia National Park is a pure treat for overlanders looking to savour the wild delights of West Africa. Thanks to its location, on the Central River Division, the park is a hotspot for spotting hippopotamus in their natural environment of mangrove swamps and savannah.
Elsewhere in the River Gambia National Park more wildlife abounds. The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Camp, a rescue centre set up in 1969 to shelter orphaned chimps, is now home to over 50 living on 3 separate islands. Although overlanders won’t be able to trudge on foot to the islands themselves, it is possible to catch the little tykes on a boat cruise or even by staying at the projects accommodation camp on the river bank.
The River Gambia National Park, aside from chimpanzees and hippopotamus, is also home to Nile crocodiles, herons, egret, aardvark, bushbuck and many species of reptile.
Wasu Stone Circles
Flights to Gambia to check out a site of stone circles when you could catch other more infamous ones in Europe might seem a little pointless, but the Wasu Stone Circles, those of Senegambia, are entirely different. Situated in four different places but with the most visited north of the Gambia River, the stone circles are a beast of a monument, some arrangements 100 km wide and dating back to the 3rd century BC. A true overlanders treat, not to mention one they can get up close and personal with.
What better way of discovering Gambia than on the back of a trusty steed and taking glimpses of the country at the pace it chooses? Luckily Gambia
offers a few options in this regard. Firstly, the more obvious choice, horse riding, runs tours out of Kololi, where you can spend an hour or two riding across the beach and feeling the Atlantic breeze. Then there’s camel riding. Not native Gambia, it’s still possible to have a good half day out riding along a beach on one of these humpbacked mammals. With tours running out of Tanji, 20-minutes from Pololi, you could even do both in the same day. If you’re not suffering too badly from saddle sore that is.
The Gambia River
Finally overlanders often like the water as much as they like the earth. The Gambia River offers up some fantastic sights to saviour. From Georgetown travellers can take trips and take in the types of wildlife discussed earlier. In Georgetown itself, travellers can even discover the slave buildings and the like that have been converted into other types of buildings since slavery ended with Britain’s abolishment of it in 1807.