These full and frank independent reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through Responsible Travel. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.
Richard Willmott review 23 Feb 2007Overall 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.
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.