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Gambia Cruises

The Gambia, in West Africa, has an army of loyal fans who return year after year for the pristine beaches and invigorating waters of the Atlantic. Although it’s Africa’s smallest country, it still has a big history, gaining independence just over 20 years ago.

With a year-round subtropical climate, The Gambia is home to an enormous variety of wildlife too, and the country is a haven for over 560 species of birds. The country’s focal point is the Gambia River, which runs deep into the continent and has played a pivotal role in the development of this tiny African nation’s diverse culture and history.

Top 5 interesting facts

  • The Gambia is slightly smaller than Yorkshire
  • The biggest exports are peanuts and fish
  • Domoda, a peanut stew, is The Gambia’s national dish.
  • The Gambia’s national football team is nicknamed ‘The Scorpions’
  • The Gambia River is 700 miles long
 

Highlights

Banjul

The island city of Banjul is home to 31,000 people. To experience the city’s bazaar style shopping and the exotic food on offer, head from the port into the town. The port is The Gambia’s main import/export artery and is extremely busy, so walking is not advised. Drivers will drop those on day trips off at the Royal Albert Market (Russell Street). From here all the main sights are within easy reach, although you might prefer to enlist a guide to help you negotiate the hectic streets. 

Market

The Royal Albert Market is one of Banjul’s biggest tourist attractions – a sprawling market selling everything you can think of. However, unlike many African markets, it’s remarkably well laid out, making for a pleasant day’s browsing. At the market you’ll also find street food vendors and African crafts, handmade souvenirs and antiques. The rule of thumb when shopping is to haggle – get a third off the asking price and you’ve done well.

 

History

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Banjul’s diverse population has left the city with a rich heritage most visibly seen in its architecture, with several sites of special interest.

A stroll around the city centre will tell you the story of Banjul. You’ll see traditional kirinting houses, some of the oldest structures in Banjul. Constructed of bamboo by African settlers in the 19th century, they were quick and cheap to build and have stood the test of time. Colonial merchant houses, with ornate wrought-iron columns and tottering balconies, are a constant reminder of the wealth generated by the dark days of the slave trade.      

The minarets of the King Fahad Masjid dominate the skyline, but the mosque is one of Banjul’s newer additions. It can accommodate 6,000 worshippers at once and the fusion of old and new Islamic styles makes it well worth seeing.  

No trip to Banjul is complete without a visit to Arch 22. Towering over its surroundings, the monument commemorates The Gambia’s bid for freedom in 1994 when the country gained independence in a bloodless coup. The arch also houses a small museum displaying a variety of Gambian artefacts, including weapons, textiles and art.

 

Ports in the country

 

Cruises visiting Gambia

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