The Gambia: A Tourist Guide
Officially called Republic of The Gambia, this popular tourist destination lies within western Africa and follows the natural route of the Gambia River. The Gambia is a relatively small country and is approximately 500 km (311 miles) in length, and a mere 50 km (31 miles) in width.
The country is made up of multitude of beaches and upmarket holiday resorts, making the most of the hot weather and increasing tourism. There are many fishing villages and reserves, such as the Abuko Nature Reserve and the Kiang West National Park. Many of the towns also feature regular atmospheric markets, with the most notable in Serekunda (Serrekunda) and Banjul, the capital city.
Apart from the beaches and coastline, there is a boat trip for visitors who choose to explore the River Gambia. The river connects the Fouta Djallon Plateau to the Atlantic Ocean at Banjul, and visitors get to go on various cruise packages.
A good place to visit is the Albert Market on Russell Street, and just a short distance to the west is Serekunda and Bakau, where the Bakau Botanical Gardens with tropical foliage and exotic flowers is located. To the south, tourists will find the Brikama Woodcarving Centre while to the east is Juffure Village. Here visitors will hear stories about slavery and the slave trade. Fort Bullen is located in Banjul and dates from the early part of the 19th century. It was built to defend the onslaught of French slavers at that time. Another historic fortress is Fort James, which stands in ruins on James Island and was built in the middle of the 17th century to house slaves awaiting ships to the Americas. Around 1,000 in total, the ancient Wassu Stone Circles are even older than the forts. These famous stone circles consist of a series of monoliths and are believed to have been erected as long ago as the 8th century, to mark burial sites.
Archaeological collections are housed within the Gambia National Museum at Banjul and the Tanji Village Museum, which also features a number of authentic thatched African huts and explains life within a traditional African village. At Bakau, the Kachikally Museum is known for its huge array of local African handicrafts, as well as its heavily populated crocodile pool. When it comes to art galleries, Banjul, Kartong and Tujereng host a high number artworks. In Banjul, the Mama Africa Art Gallery is popular to pick up some original African art.
The Gambia, apart from its Atlantic coastline, is entirely surrounded by Senegal. Tourists often cross the border to explore the attractions of Senegal, with the capital city of Dakar being within easy reach and amongst the best places to go sightseeing.
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