38 independent reviews for Gambia holiday accommodation

Reviews for Gambia holiday accommodation

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review 31 Dec 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Christmas Eve celebrations at Footsteps Lodge were particularly memorable with superb buffet and gospel choir inviting guests to dance with them, making for a vibrant, fun, exciting evening!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

To recognise that Footsteps is an eco lodge in the truest sense and enjoy the relaxed, welcoming atmosphere! To explore the local area and embrace the warmth radiating from Gambian peoples.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, I definitely feel my holiday benefited local people, providing employment and communication, and as this was an ecolodge in the truest sense, therefore reducing environmental impacts. Whilst we brought pencils for children and donated leftover paracetamol, in hindsight I wish I could have done more!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A most relaxing, refreshing break and a perfect destination for some winter sunshine!

review 23 May 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Walking up the path and entering the lodge...the lovely flowers surrounding the gate, the relaxing seated area, the birds singing - it reduced me to tears of happiness.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If its tranquillity you are looking for, away from the heavy 'for tourists' area - this lodge is a must visit, but sshh - don't tell too many people - it really is to good to share.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, I thought the whole visit to the lodge was of benefit to the local people, through employment, hiring of their bikes, buying of local produce, environmental impacts were reduced to minimal, and Dave was so enthusiastic about the area and conserving water and power methods at the lodge.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Absolutely delightful stay - felt thoroughly refreshed on leaving the beautiful oasis of calmness - thoroughly enjoyed the comforts, delicious food and excellent service. So much so, that we shall be staying there again next April.

review 1 Nov 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The fabulous fresh water pool at the Lodge that attracted many amazing birds plus the wonderful dawn chorus of birds every morning.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

You can't easily change money locally, so change as much as you can as early as you can.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent trip - I would certainly go back again - the local beaches are still unblighted by any commercial tourist development, the Lodge staff are keen to help you do whatever your choice is for your holiday and the weather was good.

review 8 Mar 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Travelling in a dug out canoe on the river between The Gambia and Senegal amongst the mangroves and seeing so much bird life.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I have reduced mobility (MS) and this ecolodge is possible as the staff are so helpful.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, my wife made batik with locals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Great.

review 1 Apr 2009

For a relaxed holiday with a short (half hour) walk to a beautiful deserted beach, with a very local village nearby and very welcoming owners, you could not beat it. Very good food, glass of wine or two, early bed and we came back feeling rejuvenated! Donít go for 'action', do go for an authenticate experience of Gambia.

review 11 Jan 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Listening to a local choir sing on Christmas Eve. Being welcomed by the owners who are committed to their project!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The accommodation is clean and well maintained. Food is good and amenities well maintained. Staff are helpful but also relaxed.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The composting toilets were an excellent feature. Local staff were employed and got fair remuneration.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.

review 19 Apr 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This was a very relaxing and laid back environment just right for our family reunion. But laid back didn't mean disorganised. Rooms and public areas were cleaned daily as was the freshwater pool (how the frogs and swallows loved that pool!). Food menu was extensive and varied enough for all 10 of us for seven days - and nobody got even a hint of a tummy upset.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The room lighting is very weak almost ineffective, (noticed in all four rooms we booked). Until the owners provide better quality bulbs you'll need a good torch if you like to read in bed. No sockets in rooms. Wish I had suggested to owners that they switch to Fairtrade coffee. I can just about cope with instant coffee (although everywhere else I have been in Africa ground coffee would be available at breakfast for the prices we paid) but did it have to be Nescafe who have no Fairtrade credentials but have a monopoly across West Africa.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Hard to tell but the staff are employed all year round and were competent and professional - clearly having a sense of ownership and involvement in their place of work which is good. Local people all seem to know Footsteps. The environmental impact? Composting toilets, freshwater pool, some food grown on premises. Local people sell goods in small shop on site and local craftspeople come in for various activities on offer (batik highly recommended).

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was excellent - almost like being houseguests as we all found we were leaving books, playing cards etc laying around on tables and chairs and that staff would just gently make space for cutlery... what a refreshing change. Another example of this was that half our party were leaving in the evening our final day and there was no question of being asked to vacate the rooms and pile bags up somewhere as would be common in many places. We were right there until the moment we left! An excellent holiday for us all.

review 25 Nov 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This is in a beautiful setting away from the hustle and bustle of the package tour holidays - you really know you are in Africa - not just another same old holiday resort. The staff were absolutely wonderful and whatever requests we made they always managed to help with a smile! The whole atmosphere is friendly and relaxing - just what we wanted. This is one of the lodges used by a tour operator which does river trips and I HIGHLY recommend those, for birdwatchers and wildlife lovers (and if you arenít either you might be hooked by the end of your trip!). That trip made our holiday but it was lovely to come back to footsteps afterwards - it felt like coming home! I just wish we had stayed longer - both at the lodge and on the river. If I go again I might book some time at here and some at one of the other lodges that the tour operator uses (just for variety and to be able to more easily explore different locations).

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

No electricity in the rooms so donít expect to bring curling tongs, but you can charge your phone/camera during the day at the bar from the solar power. Take a torch - preferably a wind up one so you donít run out of battery power! The rooms have lighting (from the solar power) but you might find the torch handy to walk to your hut after dinner (although none of them are far - all close to the bar area but without a torch I was a bit worried I might walk into the wrong hut!). By the way - there are mossie screens at the doors and windows, and blinds which you can have at the top of bottom of your window. Be aware (some people obviously werenít!) that you can see in through mossie screens when the hut lights are on at night - so just close the blinds/doors while you are changing or else passers by (or even diners if you are right by the restaurant area) might get an eyeful!! At the beginning of the dry season (ie after the rains have made everything grow like crazy) the track to the beach is hard to find (several people struggled) so if it takes you more than 20-25mins ask someone to show you the way as you have probably gone the long way round! We did not take binoculars - a mistake - even if you donít go on a river trip or to a wildlife reserve, the accommodation has amazing birds easily seen from the garden - I will definitely be putting binoculars on my Christmas list and bring them next time I go! We found food and drink more expensive than we expected but this was mainly due to a very bad exchange rate at the time so not the fault of the lodge. But the menu was extensive and something for everyone. The only thing I would say that in the evenings (when local transport is not available) you are a bit stuck there - not that we wanted to go clubbing but it would have been nice to have some different options for dinner on one or two nights. But we canít complain - we did choose this place because itís not in the tourist areas! From our experience the Gambian food was better than the western food, but they did have a good veggie selection. Do try the soso beans - yum! They have great reviews for food and mostly this is deserved, though we found it seemed a bit variable - never bad but varying between ok and excellent. It was great to know that lots of what we ate was being grown locally or even on site (the lime tree providing for my G&T was just behind my hut!). If you have the money you can pay for the services of their guide, Sorani, for a day (and he is apparently excellent), but we were on a bit of a budget and wanted to explore on our own - we found that the local people are extremely willing to help if we got a bit lost and we really enjoyed walking to the nearest bush taxi garage (bus stop), chatting to people along the way and getting our exercise for the day, and then getting on a bush taxi to go out for the day (a bus that does set route, but only leaves the garage when it is full so you might have to wait a bit - but relax - its Gambia time!). This can mean the difference between 200-500 dalasi private taxi fares (at that time about £6-£15) or 8-15 dalasi on the bush taxi (50p max) and much more interaction with local people (and possibly animals - you may be sharing the bus with the odd chicken or fish - although goats are usually carried on the roof!). The beach near footsteps is STUNNING and you may find yourselves the only people for miles except for the odd fisherman. But for the hardcore sun worshippers, on the days when you want a little more in the way of beach facilities (like a cold coke, or some lunch without going all the way back to the lodge) getting a bush taxi to Gunjur fishing beach and visiting Sankule's place, or to Boboi lodge at Kartong (near the reptile farm) means you can stay all day on the beach (with shade when you need it) without coming back. Boboi lodge does great lunches which they will bring to you on the beach. But make sure you leave by about 5 or you might be waiting a while for a bush taxi.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I am honestly not sure on the impact on local people and I wish I had asked to find out more, but the locals we spoke to seemed to know of, and respect David the owner of the lodge which must be a good thing. I certainly didnít hear anything bad said about the place from anyone, including people at other lodges where we had lunches or used the beach As for environmental impact they had clearly thought this out. Solar (of course), including a solar powered freezer - so ice cream available - yum! Composing toilets (REALLY they donít smell!), and the freshwater pool (I didnít really think of the impact of this til I saw it but it is really great) - filtered naturally through reed beds etc means that you have somewhere to cool down in AND the local wildlife can have a dip too! Birds, frogs and bats are regular visitors - you'd never get this in a chemical or salt pool!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent. Book it (preferably with a river trip) - you will not be disappointed! Unless you want nightlife, curling tongs, noise, bustle, hustlers, shopping. In that case book elsewhere!

review 23 Nov 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The owner David, his manager Mark and the staff at the ecolodge, all combined to make a most memorable experience, which we intend to repeat as soon as we can. We went to do nothing and were allowed to do just that, although a couple of trips proved too tempting to miss. The food is excellent and always fresh and grown or sourced locally.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Leave your stresses at the airport and enjoy. Remember that this is an eco-lodge and very much lives up to its name and as such you will not find anywhere to plug in your hairdryer etc. Having said that, phone and camera battery charging is available on request.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The ecolodge employs 29 local people, which means 29 families benefit as does the local services that they use and buy goods from. Elecricity is generated from the sun, water is heated by the sun, a bore hole provides fresh water, grey water is used in the veg plot and gardens, there are compost toilets. There is not a lot else that can be done.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

For us, Perfect.

review 20 Jan 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

An overnight trip on the river on a dug-out canoe to a lodge in Senegal located on the beach in a paradise location.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do not take traveller's cheques or rely on ATMs in Gambia. Bank processes are slow and unreliable. Take currency. Gambians love £s

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The lodge, and its guest, is making a major contribution to the Gunjur economy, through employment and building personal links with the local community.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent insight into Gambian culture and way of life: extremely relaxing holiday and in agreat climate with no jet-lag. Very accessible.

review 10 Jan 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The best part of the holiday was the weather, the accommodation's local staff, and the totally tranquil setting. The bird watching is great.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

This is a fairly basic holiday - don't bother with hairdryers, electronic gadgets, etc. One major tip - DO NOT under any circumstances ignore your GP's advice with regard to anti-malaria tablets and anti-mozzy sprays etc. No matter what anyone says - take them as prescribed! Make sure you use a mosquito net over the bed at night.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The accommodation employs local people and treats them fairly and well. It definitely benefits the local community and has very minimal impact on the environment. Solar power is used, the pool is fresh water with a reed bed filter, compost toilets - everything is being done to minimize the impact on the environment and full marks to the team for their efforts.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We enjoyed it immensely. It wouldn't be to everyone's taste as ithe accommodation is comfortable but basic. The food is good, the beach nearby is empty (which we like), and there is always someone on hand to advise on trips, etc. The owners could do more to organise fishing from the beach, and could be more punctual. It is Gambia though, and very laid back.

review 18 Jan 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It was very relaxing ineed. Breakfast was late morning, plenty of time to watch the wildlife, read and generally slow down to a very restful pace! The huts are spacious, clean and tidy. The local staff are all very welcoming and excellent.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

You are pretty reliable on the lodge staff to get around. The beach is approx 1.25 miles away and a nice steady walk, however there are no other eating or drinking establishments within walking distance. The lodge have vehicles and drivers that they hire out, and you do need to use them to get to locally places of interest. The food is good but again sometimes you want to go and eat somewhere different. We found a good beach restaurant up the road about 5 miles away. No shops nearby so again take snacks etc with you if you need them.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely, the local staff who work at the lodge seem very happy. They employ locals to drive guests to nearby places of interest. The self composting toilets were excellent. There is only limited 'hot water' available, but this teaches you to be economic with this resource. Pool is small but ideal for a quick plunge and cool down.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very good for a relaxing break. Would recommend it.

review 27 Dec 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

the friendly staff and relaxed feeling of been away from all the hustle and bustle

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

go and get involved with the local people. Take loose fitting clothes and ladies,there are no mains plugs so forget the curling tongs.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes to both, we used local guides and transport as well as the local tailor who knocked up a skirt and top in less than a day

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We have had some great holidays but this is the best probably due to the simplicity of it. Stop thinking about going just book it you will be amazed

review 9 Feb 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

All of it - we are already planning to go back. We spent two very relaxing weeks at this lodge and although we went on trips and visits including a brief excursion to Senegal there is still more we could have done. The staff were great, the food brilliant, the surroundings/wildife and even the other guests all went into making it the best holiday we have ever had.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

We enjoyed using the bush taxi and meeting the local people rather than going everywhere by taxi. This is not a plastic country so make sure that you have plenty of cash as you are quite a long way from a bank to change TCs. You can get money out of the ATM but you cannot rely on them having money when you need it!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Could not fault the extent to which local people benefited - they employ 27 people from the village all year round and the tip box is shared amongst all the employees including those that you may not see. Compost toilets, solar power and grey water recycling all ensure that there is minimal environmental impact.

review 9 Jan 2007

We had a great week at this eco-lodge. The lodge itself is beautiful and simple. The local food they provide is excellent. It's a great place to unwind. What made the holdiay for us was the welcome we received not only of from all of the staff at the lodge from the receptionist to the security guard but also from the local people in the surrounding village. We have two boys 10 and 12 years and after the first day they had made friends with all the local boys and had a fantastic time playing football on a completely unspoiled beach and we were soon invited to their church, school and homes. I have already told lots of friends that they should visit! The owners of the lodge clearly think about the most appropriate way to support the local community. The lodge certainly adds to the economy in the local village. Rated 5 star

review 2 Jan 2007

This was a very special holiday. The Lodge setting is perfect, 10 individual huts in a tropical garden. The huts were spacious and airy, the beds were very comfortable and the mosquito netting was all in good repair. The huts and the whole resort were spotlessly clean and well maintained. The en-suite composting loo was a revelation - completely odourless! The food was excellent and freshly prepared - you need to order about 45 minutes before you eat - but we did not find this a problem. The staff were always friendly and helpful and the English owners make you feel more like house guests. The Lodges eco credentials are faultless, and the owners deserve much admiration for what they have done and are still trying to achieve. The Lodge organised a troupe of local dancers and a choir from a local Christian Centre in Gunjur, both accompanied by tribal drummers. The drumming is infectious and the energy of the dancers irresistible, we all joined in without hesitation! The choir sang gospel and tribal songs with such passion, one of the tunes is still going round in my head. By the end of their performance everyone was joining in. The walk through the bush to the beach takes about 25 minutes along a sandy track, watch out for the parrots and monkeys on the way. The beach is an endless stretch of fine golden sand with 2 small palm leaf shelters. We had the beach to ourselves on both occasions, although other guests had been approached by local children with oranges to sell. The surf is great fun to play in although there is an undertow which you need to be aware of. The pool at the Lodge is quite cool, but very refreshing for hot tired feet after a dusty walk back from the beach - also it is right next to the bar! Getting around is easy, a taxi and driver for the day costs about £30. The roads around Gunjur are almost deserted and most taxis drive at a sedate 40 mph which is relaxing and allows you to take in the sights as you pass. We went to Lamin Lodge and took a boat excursion on the Gambia river which I would recommend - the monkeys at Lamin are bandits, but my children were very amused by their antics! Brikama is also worth a trip, it is a good example of modern Africa. The local market is fascinating but extremely crowded, the craft market has endless stalls of wonderful wood carvings. You can mix with the local people in the heat and the dust and really feel part of a world where mobile phone simm cards are sold alongside live goats, bags of rice, engine oil in plastic bags and nail polish! Gunjur beach and the fishing village is very close and worth a visit. The beach here is very attractive, we found lots of interesting shells, and the Gunjur beach motel has a convenient beach bar. You can watch the fishermen set their nets and land their fish, see the vultures scavenging for the discarded fish and take a walk round the huts were they smoke the fish. The smell is quite strong, but it is definitely worth a see, and the smoked fish is very tasty. My younger daughter, aged 8, wanted to make a friend so the Lodge arranged for her to meet the younger sister of one of their staff. The 2 girls played together for most of the day and then we walked back to her compound to meet her family. They proudly showed us around their home, 29 people from grandmother to toddler living in a 4 room hut with 3 double beds and 2 benches, a small outside hut with an open fire for cooking and their prized pig enclosure. They made us so welcome and the smaller children crowned round us whilst my daughter played tag and happily ran around after the piglets and chickens with her new friends. Their warmth and smiles despite such hostile surroundings was very moving and an experience we will not forget. We only stayed 6 nights, but it felt like much longer. My children, aged 8 and 15 rate it as one of their best holidays ever! As a family we have travelled all over the world, but we all agree we had to tear ourselves away from this lodge in a way that hadn't happened before.

review 13 Feb 2007

I can emphatically say we had a fantastic time at this accommodation. The place itself is a jewel of tranquillity and the we were made very welcome by all of the staff. The owners have a way of relaxing everybody around them by their inclusive attitude towards the guests. We found the food varied and of an excellent standard with an emphasis on traditional dishes. We liked the way the lodge use locals in all aspects of the place from taxis, guides to evening entertainment. As far as defining Responsible Travel they fit the bill completely. One of the best memories I have is of sitting outside our eco hut between 4.30 and 5.30; a peaceful magic hour, when as the sun sinks, Gambia's beautiful birds come to drink in the garden. A tonic for the soul. I would advise other travellers to bring along as little for themselves and more for the locals and to stay as long as they can. Even though our one week seemed longer to us two weeks would have been better. I feel we benefited people by being there and at no time did I feel unwelcome by anyone. The effects of tourism on a community like the one we were in could so easily be damaging but I really think the ethos and balance of this lodge is right.

review 4 Feb 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This is a well designed and efficiently run lodge. The buildings look like those of a traditional African village but are well appointed internally. It is all very sympathetically developed and the owners have set a very good example for others to follow. The size of the lodge with 10 huts is just about right and the new more basic adjacent accommodation complements the original development very well. We will remember with affection the very friendly staff who improved our knowledge of The Gambia and the way of life of its people. We will remember good quality meals served on the balcony and on the patio where a wide variety of beautifully coloured birds flew past. On our first full day we hired the services of Sarani, the guide, and he gave us a great insight into the bush and into Gunjur village. We like to get close to local people when we are in different countries and to learn how they do things but on times we feel that this can be a bit intrusive and consequently hold back from it. However, with Sarani we felt as if we were his guest and we saw and experienced those things we desperately wanted to see and were welcomed by the people in his village. A cool drink in his uncle's cafe was a relief from the sun and an hour passed all too quickly engaged in conversation with people from the village. We went to The Gambia to experience the country and to meet its people and Sarani facilitated that very well. He accompanied us on other excursions and he proved to be an excellent companion. It is very easy to walk in the bush from the lodge and there are many paths to follow. Many of them link up but it takes a few excursions to realise that. Walking on those bush paths was a good opportunity to see birds but more interesting to meet the people of the villages. Everybody greeted us and if they spoke English we had enjoyable conversations and were invited to see their vegatable gardens or to watch them milking their cows in a manner long since past in the UK. We would recommend that visitors to this lodge learn the Mandinka for at least the more common greetings and questions that are used by people when they first meet you. If we had done this sooner, I think we would have got more out of our chance meetings with the people who stopped to talk to us during our walks in the bush. The two pet dogs, Doris and Annie are indeed memorable. They appear as if they own the sun loungers but the moment we went for a walk they accompanied us. On our first walk to the beach they were there and they guarded our things when we went in the sea: not that there was anybody there to take anything.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Try the full range of Gambian dishes on the menue: they are all very good and freshly cooked. Unless you have been to The Gambia before and know what to do take Sarani with you early on during your stay and you will learn a lot about the way of life and how to get about especially how bush taxis work. Take walks through the bush in the early morning or late afternoon and meet the people. Spend some time in the lodge itself and Len may well show you around and you will see what he and his team have achieved. It is likely that you will see as wide a variety of birds in he grounds of the lodge as you will on a walk: more if Annie and Doris accompany you on the walks! Talk to the staff and to the owners and you will find that it enhances the holiday. Don't be put off by composting toilets because they are odourless and well suited to the ethos of the lodge. Try to be there for one of the barbecue nights with dancing: excellent food and authentic traditional dancing performed mainly by the staff.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. The current staff were involved from the outset and helped build the place. Hence they have an interest in seeing it succeed. 27 people are employed and hence 27 families have a significant part of their income from the Lodge. In addition the local people have been shown what can be achieved with local materials and how a tourist lodge can blend in sympathetically with the surroundings. All human activity has an impact on the environment but this lodge has had a positive impact. The gardens of the lodge are all local plants and they provide much for the kitchen. The plants certainly attract the birds and the lizards as well as a chameleon. A tea made from the leaves of the guava tree is good to counteract the side effects of Malarone. The lodge is an impressive result of years of labour and initiative and it is how tourism should be conducted in such sensitive locations: small and unobtrusive and as such allows visitors to experience the environment. Unfortunately other developments nearby have not been done in such a sympathetic manner.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It is difficult to find fault with this accommodation and it certainly provided us with a most enjoyable holiday. We have no grandchildren to relate this to yet but we would certainly recommend it to friends. The result is to be applauded.

review 5 Jan 2007

We had a really amazing holiday - it was our first time in Africa. Gambia boats

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The most memorable part was visiting village houses on New Year's Eve, which coincided with the Muslim festival of Tabasci (not sure of the spelling). We were treated to various dishes containing ram - which had been sacrificed that morning - and to sweet green tea in glasses. The children all paraded around in their best clothes hoping for some coins. Almost as memorable was going to Banjul on bush taxis and visiting the seething market there. Our daughter took half a dozen drum lessons and enjoyed playing round open fires at night with other drummers. beach in the Gambia

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The most essential item we took was a powerful torch. Taking several torches would have been better. Our son only had an electric razor, which was useless but fortunately another guest at the Lodge had a spare disposable razor. Everything that is needed has to be taken and cash is really vital. We took a third of our cash in dalasis and the rest in sterling which worked out well as the Lodge accepted sterling. For once we actually took more money than we needed as living is pretty cheap compared with Europe.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, to both questions.

4. Any other comments?

4 stars. I would not hesitate to recommend the holiday and it was certainly the most interesting and different holiday that we have ever been on. The only negative points were lack of light in the evenings and not enough comfortable chairs for reading.

review 2 Jan 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Dancing in a bar in St Louis (Senegal) to the music of drums and kora on Christmas Day at 2 am.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Talk to the people, don't forget a nail brush (to get the dust out of clothes and feet). 3.Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment? Yes - to a certain extent - the plan I stayed had it all right but development generally is far from sustainable, especially in buildings construction - need to convince the local people that composting toilets (for example) are A Good Thing.

review 23 Feb 2007

Overall the experience was very enjoyable. This lodge does in the main do what it says on their web site. It is a blissfully quiet location, the birds, lizards and general ambience of the grounds are very relaxing and enjoyable and the night skies are wonderful. One feels that one is really getting closer to the true Gambia than one would be at a package hotel in the Northern resorts. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful and the food is quite good, though for what it is, expensive. Overall this accommodation is not a low cost destination. The beaches in the area are spectacularly empty. There are some niggles though. Do not imagine the lodge is near the beach - it is not. It is a good 25 to 40 mins walk away which in the heat of the day can be tiresome. Although the web site says a driver will take you to the beach this is not really true. Taxis will not take passengers to the nearest beach as it requires a 4WD. This leaves Gunjur beach (which is lovely) as the nearest beach (about 3 - 4 miles away). Although there is a freshwater pool at the lodge, which when clean is very refreshing, it is only suitable for sitting in rather than swimming! During our stay the pool was frequently dirty and unfit to use. Other small niggles concern lack of adequate water supply in huts (effectively cold showers only as the supply of hot per day is minimal). The lodge will need to watch out for competition in the shape of a new lodge, opening in about a monthís time about 200 yds away. Designed and built by architect Olivia Czartoryska and her husband the lodge has been built with considerable flair, imagination and great style. The grounds are beautiful and the individual lodges are most attractive. Other points:

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Most memorable part of holiday: Canoeing up the river into Senegal for lunch.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Tips. Be prepared to either walk to the local beach or taxi to other ones (if you want to use the beach that is). Do not expect much water or light!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Holiday definitely benefited local people and minimised impact on environment. The lodge employs a lot of charming people from the local village who can go home to their families at night - unlike many of those who have to work in package hotels further north.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Overall Very enjoyable.

Read the operator's response here:

The client is correct, the lodge is not a low cost destination, this is because our ethos is to employ locally, pay fairly and support all our workers through pensions, sick pay and holiday pay. What we have tried to achieve is an environment which benefits all, For £7.00 you can buy a fillet of steak and have it served with an array of vegetables grown in our own garden. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives in the Gambia but as the old expression goes Ďthere is no such thing as a free lunchí some one some where has to pay. Please pass on my sincere apologies if Mr Willmott thought the pool was not up to scratch, our pool is not advertised for swimming but for cooling down and sometimes during periods of very heavy usage can look cloudy, this is due to the pools natural filtration system and its lack of chlorine, the bird and wildlife which visit on a daily basis definitely make this our proudest achievement and we are upgrading its pumping capacity to make the pool even better than before, our 1st duty is always the clients happiness . By the way, no where on our web site does it say the beach is less than 25 minutes from the lodge, it does say a driver can take you and bring you back, we find as long as our guests are able bodied they prefer to walk and enjoy the nature that surrounds them, should our vehicle have a problem or maybe the driver is unwell we rely on our clients good nature to understand that some things are out of our control and here are in the hands of Allah. [it is hot, around 32 degreeís in February]. This year temperatures were considerably higher, this being due to the number of bush fires which ripped through Gambia in February. There is a new lodge about to open and is very nice, it will complement 'Footsteps' when it opens but it is run entirely by generator and has no pool, Richard comments that there was a problem with water in the huts and also power, our huts only offer basic lighting but it ALWAYS works and our water which is pumped using solar power has never been unavailable, a fact we are all very proud of and a claim that other hotels who receive their water and electric from the Government based NAWEC cannot boast. We are constantly trying to upgrade and improve ĎFootstepsí recently adding fans in our rooms and also internet access at the lodge [still solar]. Overall , being awarded a 3* recognition would seem good, however I know my staff will be disappointedÖ.. rest assured we will all continue to try and improve. David White.

review 3 Jan 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Beach and Weather perfect for Winter away from the UK

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take plenty of cash - you will need it! Keep reminding yourself that £2 per day is a good income in the Gambia

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Local people certainly benefited from the cash spent and distributed - a lot of it unearned and overweight tips - we felt that we were treated as walking piggy banks! It must be recorded that this lodgeís staff were wonderful.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A 2.5 star = moderate to good = not a wasted holiday and not sorry we went. However we could not recommend Gambia as a holiday destination to our friends. Probably worth a try shortly after the rainy season.

review 22 Nov 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Arriving at the lodge after a very long journey (from Nigeria) to discover a little corner of paradise! The lodge is simply gorgeous. The rooms are simple but beautiful (and very comfortable), the grounds are green and lush (and full of birds & lizards) and the staff are genuinely friendly and very welcoming. The food is superb too. Other highlights included our fishing trip along the river with Pisces and our day out on beach buggies (both of which the lodge helped us arrange).

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The lodge is a good 40 minutes drive from the main tourist area (Senegambia) where most of the restaurants, bars, banks etc are so you'll need to budget for taxis if you're planning on doing a lot of activities/trips. Of course, the upside of this is you're well away from the bright lights, blaring music, endless hassle etc etc! We spent a good few days just relaxing at the lodge, enjoying the peace and quiet. A couple of practical tips... Bring cash rather than travellers' cheques as having to go all the way to the bank at Senegambia to change TCs is a pain. Binoculars are a must for getting a closer look at the stunning bird life, both at the lodge and at the nature reserves.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely. The fact that the staff were so genuinely friendly and helpful is testament to the fact that they're treated with respect by their employers. In eco terms, the lodge gets 5 stars - composting toilets (that don't smell!), recycling grey water, solar/wind power...

4. Any other comments?

I'd visited the Gambia before (on a standard package trip) and although I had a good time, it was nothing compared to my stay at this lodge. I can't recommend it highly enough!

review 22 Sep 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Too many wonderful memories! The owners and staff at the lodge made us so welcome . The lodge is simply beautiful, and is built on the soundest ecological principles I have seen anywhere. The huts themselves are also beautiful. The garden is full of the sound of weaver birds by day and tree frogs by night! You couldn't ask for better background noise! You can see dozens of birds and lizards even if you just lounge in the garden. We even saw several eagles and a baby monitor lizard from or in the garden. The nearby beach is practically deserted and absolutely beautiful. The lodge is close enough to all the tourist sights without being in tourist hell (more like heaven in fact!). You can easily walk to the nearest taxi rank, or call for a taxi to collect you, and it is affordable to go to any of sights such as the nature reserves, or towns such as Banjul or Brikama. The taxi driver will even stay with you and show you around. The food and standard of service is fantastic. The home grown fruit is the best I have ever tasted.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I would recommend this accommodation to anyone. Take insect repellent, walking shoes if you want to leave the compound for a walk or go to any of the nature reserves, and wear sensible light clothing. You will probably want to cover up if you go for walks at all, and also in the evenings to ward off bugs.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Very much so. The toilets are composting toilets and the lodge recycles everything and produces zero waste. They grow their own fruit and vegetables. The owners treat their local staff very well. They train them up, pay higher than average wages and sick and holiday pay.

4. Any other comments?

I will certainly be using your website again! In fact it will be the first place I look in future. Before I found it I always assumed that type of holiday would be prohibitively expensive, so it is wonderful to see the variety of options and prices on offer for a responsible holiday.

review 3 Mar 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Very hard to say, as it was all good, and every day offered some new experience.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Read a guidebook and identify a few things you want to see/do in the area. The owners will be able to arrange any trips/guides that you might need.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

100%, all of the staff were from the local village, and all were extremely friendly and helpful, and seemed to appreciate what the place was offering them. All power was solar/wind generated, the pool was naturally filtered, and there were excellent composting toilets, so pretty much zero environmental impact.

4. Any other comments?

Great food, great hosts, activities if you want them, and peace and relaxation if you don't. Perfect combination. ***** definitely one of the most relaxing and certainly the most environmentally responsible holiday we've ever had.

review 6 Jan 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Too many moments come to mind such as the New Years Eve party the lodge held for the guests, wow what a night! The staff played the drums whilst others danced and sang, the music was hypnotic and addictive, what am I talking about the whole of this accommodation is hypnotic and addictive!!! At the stroke of midnight everyone wished everyone a Happy New Year, there was the hugs, kisses and greetings given by such happy and warm people, those people being the staff AND owners of this accommodation. My husband and I both agreed we couldn't have wished for nicer people to see in the New Year with than those at the lodge. Another memory I would have to say will hold a place in my heart was when Sarani the guide took us to the local school to give out pens, pencils and books to the children. It was very humbling when the very grateful Deputy Head teacher asked some of the classes to sing for us. We then proceeded to the local village, to Sarani's house and met his wife and children. We then proceeded to give out more pens etc and lolly pops for the children. I found it heart wrenching to see the poverty that exists and how little those people have, yet they are so happy and so grateful for what little they have. Some of the children had never seen a sweet before and had no idea what to do with the lolly pop once we had given it to them. The children were extremely excited with my camcorder and when I played it back to them so they could see themselves on the screen they were ecstatic. At no time at all when we were at that village did I feel frightened, hassled or intimidated by the people there, they all showed genuine friendliness and excitement for us being there and showing an interest in their lives.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't stay in the lodge all the time, get out and see Gambia. Take a guide with you the first time you go out just so you know what it's like, then venture out. We took a taxi to the village one day to the fishing port. As soon as we got out of the taxi we were greeted by one of the locals. I have to admit I truly thought "here we go, here's our first bumster," but no 'Captain Aladin' just wanted to show us his village and the local way of life. Be warned the airport on arrival IS daunting, and I was having serious doubts when we had to fight our way into the truck for transfer to the lodge. Both my husband and I were both dreading what we had let ourselves into, but just a firm NO to the bumsters outside will send them on there way. One tip I must share with you is when at the airport do take advantage of the guys who offer to carry your bags outside for you. I had read about this on another site whilst researching about Gambia, for a small fee of £2 they will whip you through customs and outside before you know it, leaving the other tourists in a very long queue waiting to have their bags checked etc. Please, please, please take pencils and pens for the local children, without these simple things their lives are affected and their education non-existent. Think of it this way, when you are packing your bag, do you really need a fresh top and jeans for each day, no of course not, that space in your suitcase could equip countless children with pencils etc for school. If you don't take them and then meet these lovely people you will feel so guilty because they are truly, truly amazing hard working people.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The staff who are employed at the lodge are all locals from the village of Gunjur so employment is generated for the locals through the ecolodge. Also at busier periods more of the locals are employed. As for the environment the lodge owners are geniuses! Dave and Len, two guys from England, have created an eco-friendly paradise. None of the environment is abused from this lodge; everything is recycled or serves a purpose. I think it's amazing.

4. Any other comments?

I know I have already mentioned this but the owners Dave & Mandy, Len & Marie as well as their loyal and hard working staff are truly nice people. It's like one big happy family and you are welcomed into it. Nothing is too much bother, anything you want to do (if possible) they will try to do it or arrange it for you. My husband wanted a real Gambian outfit for the New Years Eve party. At 2 o clock he mentioned this to Dave who immediately phoned for a taxi. 10 minutes later we were being whisked to the village with a member of staff who took us to pick some material, and then escorted to a tailor's house, designs were agreed measurements taken and then away we went. At 5 o clock my husband's "party outfit" was being picked up by one of the staff, as quick as that! One special touch for me was our room boy Omar, what a sweet 'gentle giant'. He is a married man with children, working hard to support his family and so very friendly and thoughtful. He placed fresh flowers in our room daily, and each morning greeted us with a smile that touched me deeply, and warmed me for the day. At the end of your stay at the lodge please leave your unwanted soap, shampoo etc for the staff there, to us its nothing to replace, to the staff it's a sheer luxury. Without doubt it has got to be five stars. This applies to everything, the staff, food (unbelievably fantastic), cleanliness, scenery, tranquillity, serenity, wildlife, locals, music etc I could go on for ever about this place, it is a magical beautiful place full of people who match its surroundings, and as Arnie would say "Arl be back!"

review 6 Jan 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The whole experience was memorable. Our arrival at Banjul airport was an experience like none other! The ecolodge accommodation was excellent and the staff, all from the local village, were very friendly. A 20 minute walk through the bush led us to the beach where we were the only people. And, although we did not need guards, we enjoyed the fact that two of the lodge dogs chose to accompany us on our beach trips! The New Year's Eve celebrations were memorable because of the fantastic music and dancing provided by the staff. We will always remember the lads at the beach bar who lit a fire on the beach for us and, not only entertained us, but patiently introduced one of our party to the skills of African drumming. Our most overwhelming memory, however, is the experience of a totally different culture. And the sun shining every day!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Hire the local guide (not costly). He will show you a side that the tourist on his own will not see. Be prepared to go with the flow. Transport will break down and food takes an age to arrive but appreciate the opportunities to experience something different, to chat to the locals. It will all happen eventually.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The Lodge employs a lot of local people. We made use of local transport, ate out or enjoyed cold drinks in locally owned bars etc. and learned to bargain with the local craftsmen and women. The ecolodge certainly seems committed to protecting the environment. Electricity provided via solar panels + the excellent composting toilets. Far better than some flush (not working !) toilets we encountered. The grounds were planted with a variety of trees, attracting large numbers of birds and providing most of the fruit at breakfast time.

4. Any other comments?

Remember you are visiting a third world country. Gambia is well off compared to many African countries but the local lifestyle is a subsistence one. However modest your means you are wealthy compared to them. Be discrete with your expensive toys. Everyone wants to talk to you and you will be surrounded by children. It costs money for them to go to school; they have to provide their own paper, pencils, uniforms! So go armed with some stationery and sweets for the children. Gambians seem to have a sweet tooth!

review 11 Nov 2006

A new and exciting experience for us. Lovely sunshine from 7am to 7pm was just what we expected and enjoyed. The accommodation was clean and fun to live in a little round hut for the week. The local people are lovely and also hospitable. I felt the eco lodge and its ethos was doing all it can to give employment to the village and also using methods that were not taking from the environment i.e. water from washing fed the banana trees and solar electricity. We felt involved with the locals and their life visiting markets and schools which we would not have done if we had been in a hotel package.

review 14 Apr 2006

Living in an ecolodge was inspiring. We have had luxury holidays and have hated the dependency culture they engender. The sustainable technology was inspiring. To many, composting toilets would be a complete turnoff, (especially when you have to eat the vegetables it produces!!!), but we LOVE that sort of thing. As for Africa, you either love it or you hate it. We loved it and can't wait to get back to the scruffy craziness of it all.

review 24 Mar 2006

This was certainly one of the best & most relaxing holidays we have had. The area where this eco-lodge is situated is very untouched by tourism and you get the feel of the real Gambia. The beaches were magnificent, empty apart from the occasional fisherman although full of wonderful shells, crabs & birdlife & in the fishing areas a bustle of colourful boats, racks of drying fish & people. The people were extremely friendly & we were not bothered by the "bumsters" which we were warned were a big problem in the main tourist areas. The birdlife was fabulous & it was possible to see numerous colourful species in the vicinity of the lodge (and identify many from the bird guidebook supplied by the lodge). Another highlight was travelling on the local transport & seeing the local villages & towns, plus a wonderful riverboat trip. The staff the lodge were wonderful & we were well looked after & given any guidance & help we needed for trips out etc. The evenings are quiet so take a good book or if you take children some games to play. We were full of admiration for the setup with its solar electricity & compost toilets. There was certainly no adverse impact on the environment & a good link is established with the local people by way of employment, selling local made souvenirs & buying locally produced food. I would like to see some of the technology e.g. compost toilets & solar water heating, spread to the local population so they could benefit from this. Visitors are encouraged to visit local schools & its great to take in pencils, exercise books & other useful equipment for them. If your idea of a holiday is a large hotel, lively evening entertainment & crowds of people, don't go! If you want to wind down, to wander on deserted beaches, see the wildlife, experience the hustle & bustle of a genuine African market, cram into a minibus with the locals, be given oranges, ground nuts, cashew nuts, tomatoes & be welcomed just because you are a visitor, this is the holiday for you. We will definitely be returning.

review 20 Jan 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Total chill; being in the middle of a forest, far from traditional tourism development, with lovely staff determined to look after you. Beautifully built and arranged lodge.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take cash (GBP or dalasi; miles from a working ATM). Don't plan to rush around the Gambia; hanging around the ecolodge is great, and there are good local walks and a deserted beach 25 minutes walk away. I'm no twitcher, but watching the bird life is fantastic. I spent a week there: will do two next time.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Spot on; sound eco principles not compromised (you won't get a hot shower til the sun comes up!); staff on very good working conditions; encouragement to spend locally. Give your conscience a holiday, too!

4. Any other comments?

The whole ethos of the place is fab. It felt more like going to stay with old friends rather than a commercial holiday. Excellent food & bar.

review 31 Mar 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Arriving was pretty memorable and exciting - driving into the bush and finally arriving at a little oasis that is the lodge. Having David, one of the owners, waiting out the front to greet us with a friendly smile made us feel right at home and genuinely welcome. There are too many memorable bits of the holiday to mention - from the Zimba at the local school, to walking through the bush with Sarani (guide), to the staff showing us how drumming should be done at a fantastic last night goodbye party.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Most importantly, be prepared to not want to come back to the UK. We were genuinely sorry to be leaving at the end of two weeks. Stay away from the main tourist areas and big tour companies - get out on your own with one of the extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff from the lodge. This was such an easy, hassle free way to see a lot more of the real Gambia. Travel by bush taxi (like a local bus) is a must - it's really cheap, and much more fun than sitting in a private taxi. Chill out and make the most of the laid back atmosphere.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely - the lodge is a great example of the ethos of truly sustainable living. Completely environmentally friendly - solar and wind generated electricity, organic permaculture gardening, composting toilets, solar water heating, grey water recycling... whilst still having everything you need... brilliant. They are truly committed to helping the local community - by solely employing local people, providing training and education for them, and organising projects to help the local village. They are also managing to spread the message of responsible development to the wider community.

review 2 Dec 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing a new country for the first time.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Talk to the local people.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes.

review 25 Oct 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The wonderful Gambian people who were always friendly, would shake you by the hand and were very grateful for the smallest of things. The local food was really, really good, especially the fish!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do not expect there to be lots to do - it is a very basic and poor country, but the people are wonderful, open and giving. Get out amongst them, travel, use bush taxis, do things with locals e.g. fishing on the beach. Don't go on organised tours but ask a local to take you and show you around.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes we felt our holiday benefited local people and was very environmentally friendly. The ecolodge run by Mandy is VERY eco friendly from the loos to the grey water showers, fresh water pool etc. Mandy/the ecolodge only employs locals from the Gunjil village and we felt almost part of the community as we visited the local primary school and gave them exercise books, pencils, dictionaries etc. Mandy runs a superb business which is very eco-friendly and is fully utilising and developing local people and skills.

4. Any other comments?

Finally, the holiday was great and we travelled with a 10 year old who really enjoyed playing with the local kids on the beach, going fishing, meeting Charlie the croc and we all made good friends with the locals. It was great for us, but I feel an acquired taste for many westerners or British people who may not be quite ready to go so basic, or trust the local food, people etc., but we are old hands from Kenya, India and China and had a great time. We are up for more eco-friendly holidays - really looking forward to these!

review 2 Apr 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The holiday was packed with memorable moments, many of them exciting. The journey from the airport to the lodge was stunning. The heat was strong, but dry and comfortable in the open topped Land Rover as we trundled peacefully along the new tarmac roads, sharing the lanes with cattle, sheep, goats, monkeys, bicycles and donkeys. Passing by the diverse range of housing from the million dollar villas to the rustic palm-topped mud-houses we travelled for an hour hardly saying a word, just trying desperately to take it all in. Other memories that will remain with us include the fantastic beaches, the friendly welcoming people, the excited children, the omnipresent vultures flying overhead, the amazingly colourful birdlife and the women working hard in the fields or carrying huge baskets on their heads.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Try to avoid staying in the tourist beach areas if at all possible. The ecolodge is wonderful, for food and accommodation it cannot be beaten. Try to find accommodation that has its own water supply borehole. Avoid accommodation that relies on flushing toilets because they are disgusting when the water stops running.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes and Yes. The local people appreciate the work that the operator has done in bringing responsible tourists to their village. They employ a large number of local people on good terms and conditions, for the benefit of the local economy and with minimal impact on the environment.

review 11 Mar 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

I can confirm that we had a marvellous holiday to the Gambia. The ecolodge was friendly, accommodating and very environmentally friendly as well as protective of the surrounding communities. We felt they were actively trying to help the local communities by directly employing the locals and also educating them and their families about renewable energies and composting toilets as well as permaculture farming methods. Our most memorable part of the holiday was two fold. Firstly we walked to the local fishing area connected to Gunjur village with a local guide provided by the lodge. This was an amazing experience and insight to the local community and economy of the country. Secondly and more personal was our last evening. The lodge asked some of the employees if they would like to come back after work to show off their drumming , singing and dancing skills. We were the only occupants in the lodge and felt privileged that a large number of them were happy to do this. We all had a fantastic evening and even had a go at drumming and dancing!!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

My tips for visiting The Gambia are - book for 2 weeks minimum rather than one. It is quite far and has a very relaxed pace of life so you really need 2 weeks to unwind and experience the culture. Also avoid the built up touristy areas. This gives a bad reflection of the people as they mostly are some of the nicest, friendliest and happiest people I have ever met. In the very touristy areas you tend to find those who are looking to take your money off you for very little in return. Also take pens and paper for the children and schools as they are very poor with few facilities. My last tip is expect to hang around a lot especially if travelling. Nothing happens quickly in Gambia which can actually be quite refreshing.

review 20 Jan 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Discovering new (to us) birds in the ecolodge nature trail.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take a travel scrabble, books or other entertainment in the evening as (thankfully) there's no telly.

3. Any areas for improvement?

Perhaps there could be a mobile phone that the guests could rent/borrow (and buy top up cards for)so that they can phone home if needs be.

4. Any other comments?

Composting toilets work brilliantly. Food really good. Very quite area. Nice quiet beach.

review 30 Dec 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The people at the accommodation, both family and staff, service superb. Couldn't do enough to ensure you had a happy holiday. Also food was memorable.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Definitely if going to Gambia take cash, banks don't take credit cards and holes in wall give £40 at a time. This nearly spoilt our holiday! Hotels etc need cash only! Stay away from tourist areas go to places like this or other small lodges/hotels where there is no hassling and you can walk for miles and talk to friendly Gambians, there were no bumsters till you got to tourist areas. Try not to fly with Thomas Cook as their seats are so tight you can't breathe let alone stretch your legs..

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes definitely, family employed as many Gambians as possible and are taking very serious view around environmental sustainability, water safety and quality, even building composting loos in local villages! to try and improve health and cut down on malaria.

4. Any other comments?

Just that it is the best holiday we have had in years and we do travel a lot. The family/staff are incredibly welcoming and will pamper you to death if you let them. Breakfast when you wake up at whatever time that is. The most delightful crystal clear fresh water pool with a handy place to sit and watch the birds. I would rate it 3 star plus for accommodation and facilities but 4 stars for food, service and general care.

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