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The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.

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The Gambia

Our verdict:

You might think of The Gambia as a cheap winter sun destination on the west coast of Africa. And you’d be at least half right. In fact it’s so much more than that, with superb beaches, charming hotels, friendly people and stunning wildlife – and only six hours flying time from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham. The best time to visit is November to June.

Recommended tour operator: The Gambia Experience

The Gambia Experience says

The Gambia may be a small country on Africa’s west coast, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with verve and vibrancy – it positively sings with life and colour. It has miles of beautiful and uncrowded sandy coastline, with many beaches backed by plush coconut palms.

  • Easy flights
  • Fascinating destination
  • Great value

Only six hours from the UK (and conveniently in the same time zone), we offer non-stop flights from Gatwick (3 times per week), Manchester and Birmingham.

Over the last 30 years, we have built up an excellent range of accommodation and we continue to witness vast improvements in both the range and standard of hotels.

For foodies, you’ll find a superb array of fine restaurants in the hotels and resort areas, offering a variety of both national and international cuisine.

One of our favourite characteristics about The Gambia has to be the people, definitely amongst the friendliest we’ve found anywhere in the world. It’s no wonder the country is referred to as ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa’.

You can choose to stay in original traditional style hotels such as African Village, or perhaps you would prefer the lively and popular Kombo Beach Hotel with its beautiful beach and poolside activities?

Treat yourselves to a stay at African Princess Hotel on south Kotu beach; it opened in late 2018 and is fabulously designed with swim-up guest rooms – the first of its kind in The Gambia. Try one of our Luxury Collection hotels like the charming White Horse Residence or luxurious Coco Ocean & Spa Hotel.

The award-winning Mandina Lodges, located along a tributary of the River Gambia, is a more quirky option and, for a great all-inclusive option, the Sunbeach Hotel at Cape Point is located on a fantastic sandy beach with great facilities for families as well as couples.

We are delighted to be the only UK tour operator to offer the award-winning Ngala Lodge, renowned for its superb cuisine and beautiful clifftop location.

The Gambia begs to be explored. Take a boat trip on the mangrove-clad tributaries of the River Gambia, get out in the community and visit a local school, or even consider an extra few nights in Senegal. We now offer three different regions in Senegal – Sine Saloum South, Casamance and Saly & La Somone – where incredible wildlife opportunities, beach holidays and new cultural experiences await.

The Gambia is also a popular destination for birdwatching, home to over 540 species. Chris Packham is a huge fan and we offer several tours with Malick Suso, Chris’ right-hand man when in The Gambia. Find out more about birding in The Gambia.

To find out more about the destination, have a look at our our online guide and the latest special offers.

See the latest Foreign Office advice on travel, and the best time to visit The Gambia.

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