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Top 10 reasons to visit The Gambia, the Smiling Coast of Africa

By Jesshilton on 8th June, 2023

If you’re looking for winter-sun but want to avoid a long-haul flight, and you fancy a change from Morocco or the Canaries, then The Gambia could be the perfect destination! Endless sandy beaches backed by swaying palm trees, serene rivers teeming with birdlife, a sub-tropical climate and warm-hearted people – The Gambia is an exciting holiday destination which has surprisingly managed to fly under the tourist-radar. Here are our top ten reasons why we think you should take a Gambia holiday.


Top 10 reasons why you should take a holiday in The Gambia

1. Beautiful, uncrowded beaches

With long unspoilt stretches of sweeping sands, the coastline of The Gambia is one of its main attractions. You’ll barely see another soul, and even by the main tourist resorts in the height of the season, the golden sands are never overcrowded.

A vast golden sand beach with a row of sun loungers (with bright red cushions) and thatched parasols under a line of palm trees


2. Unique hotels

We’ve hand-picked a select collection of the finest hotels, seven in The Gambia and one in neighbouring Senegal, each one unique and, we think, rather special. From the elegance of Coco Ocean Resort & Spa to the barefoot luxury of Mandina Lodges (pictured below), each hotel or lodge offers something different. Combine two or more hotels for a unique tailor-made Gambia holiday.

Floating wooden lodges on a tributory of the River Gambia | Barefoot luxury on a Gambia holiday


3. Warm-hearted, friendly locals

With a nickname of the ‘Smiling Coast of Africa’, you won’t find a warmer welcome than in The Gambia! And, while there are several local tribal languages, being a former British colony, the national language is English making it easy to travel around.


4. Year-round sunshine

With its sub-tropical climate and no rain virtually guaranteed from November to mid-June, The Gambia is a fabulous winter-sun destination. And, even in the rainy or green season, the rain tends to fall in short sharp showers and mainly at night having little impact on people’s holidays. Read more about when to visit The Gambia.

Tired pool surrunded by palm trees with a glimpse fo the sea in the distance under a clear blue sky. A typical scene on a Gambia holiday


5. Over 540 species of birds

The Gambia is a bird lover’s paradise, with rivers, swamp, grasslands and forests rich in exotic birdlife. We are excited to be offering excursions with the highly experienced guide, Malick Suso, as recommended by the television presenter and naturalist, Chris Packham.


6. No jet lag

The Gambia is just around a 6-hour flight away from London and in the same time zone, so there’s no need to worry about jet lag.


7. A colourful culture

From dancing to the polyphonic rhythms of the West African djembe drums to haggling in the market over brightly coloured batiks, or a cooking lesson in a courtyard garden preparing a traditional West African meal, there are many ways to soak up the local culture.

Dancers in colourfull outfits dancing to tthe rhythms of djembe drums, a common sound on a holiday in The Gambia


8. Cheeky monkeys!

The Gambia is home to several species of monkeys including the baboons of Makasutu Forest. The cheeky green vervet monkeys are a common sight too, in woodlands and even some hotel gardens. Read more about Gambian wildlife.


A baboon munnching on the oysters found growing ni the mangrove roots at low tide


9. Winter flights from Manchester, Birmingham and Gatwick

Direct flights operate from Gatwick throughout the year and from Manchester and Birmingham from November to mid-April. Read more about flights to The Gambia and available upgrades.


10. Take a twin-centre holiday and discover Senegal

It’s easy to explore more of West Africa by combining a holiday in The Gambia with a stay at Fathala Wildlife Reserve, just across the border in neighbouring Senegal.


Discover great itineraries in West Africa


Where to stay in The Gambia & Senegal

Mandina Lodges: Riverside barefoot luxury in The Gambia

Reconnect with nature from a riverside lodge on a tributary of the River Gambia as it flows through Makasutu Forest, home to a plethora of exotic birds and a 200-strong troop of baboons. Find out more

Stunning wooden lodge on stilts overlooking a tributory of the River Gambia. A warm golden light illuminates the lodge and surrounding mangroves at sunrise. The perfect start to your Gambia holiday.


Ngala Lodge: Clifftop boutique hotel in The Gambia

This quirky boutique hotel, Ngala Lodge, boasts one of the best restaurants in The Gambia, incredible food, complete with stunning clifftop views! Find out more

View of a swimming pool set in a tropical garden overlooking the sea | Gambia holidays | Ngala Lodge


Fathala Wildlife Reserve: Glamping in Senegal

Discover the wildlife of West Africa including zebra, giraffes, rhino, warthogs and antelopes, including the rare Western Giant Eland, staying in luxury air-conditioned en-suite safari tents. Find out more

Four poster bed in a luxury safari tent in Senegal

See all our hotels and lodges in West Africa


Is The Gambia right for you?

At Fleewinter, we’re smitten with The Gambia. However, it might not be the perfect holiday destination for everyone. In this friendly, laid-back country, locals will proudly tell you that GMT stands for ‘Gambian Maybe Time’. Service tends to take a slower pace than we are used to, as does the WiFi. However, if you’re happy to go with the flow, love meeting new people, enjoy a vibrant and colourful culture, want to see some incredible wildlife and have a bit of a digital detox, then we’re sure that you will love The Gambia as much as we do!


A word from Kathryn, our Gambia Specialist…

“I fell in love with The Gambia, its culture and its people, a great many years ago and have returned regularly ever since. The hotels are so lovely that you’ll find them hard to leave but do go out and get to know the country and its people. Keen photographers must visit the fishing village of Tanji. The traditional fishing boats, known as pirogues, are a colourful sight and the beach is a chaotic cacophony of sights and sounds as people haggle over the fish while the gulls squawk overhead.

The craft markets are wonderful places to practice your haggling skills, but if you want to see a traditional Gambian market, head to Banjul and the Royal Albert Market. For a relaxing day, take a boat cruise along the River Gambia and its tributaries. Birdwatch as you drift along and swim from the boat before lunch onboard. For more ideas, check out my blog,”

Kathryn Burrington, Fleewinter Gambia Specialist


Email Kathryn at or call +44 (0)20 7112 0019 and let us design your idyllic tailor-made holiday to The Gambia.


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