Advantages Very relaxing; friendly people; white beaches; sun
Disadvantages Very little to do; the beach-boys can be very off-putting
When you first step off the plane at Yundum airport, the heat seems to engulf you. Everywhere is bustle, noise and confusion. Apart from the heat, the general impression is of smiling faces.
A bus ride through poverty stricken villages takes you to the coastal strip where the hotels are. Again, everyone is smiling and welcoming. The unit of currency is the dalassi and you can exchange your travellers' cheques for these either at the hotels or in the small villages just outside the hotels.
There isn't a great deal to do in The Gambia except lie on the sparkling white beaches or join in the games organised by the hotels.. As for night life, it's mainly confined to the hotels most of which put on a show each evening. Sometimes, it's African tribal dancing, sometimes a quiz or a karaoke.
As it's such a poor country, with the hotels offering the main employment, begging is inevitable. If you venture outside your hotel, you'll immediately be surrounded by Gambians who want to walk along with you and chat about their country. Most want to improve their English - and get a tip at the end. Others want to persuade you to visit an local bar for food or a drink. You need to be very polite, and very firm with them, if you don't want their company.
Beware of the young men who want to offer to take you to some of the of the tourist spots, at a much cheaper price than the tour companies. You could well find yourself in a ramshackle taxi which breaks down before you get home.
The Gambia is a relaxing place to visit, especially for those whose idea of a holiday is to lie around a pool or a beach.
It's not for everyone, though.
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