We'll say it up front – Gambia isn't your average holiday destination. With gold sand beaches, an incredible wealth of wildlife, energetic craft markets and some of the friendliest locals you're bound to meet on your travels, this little African country is in a holiday genre of its own.
Gambia is a slim country along the western coast of mainland Africa, hugged almost completely by Senegal, minus its narrow coastline. It's the smallest country in all of Africa, named after the river snaking through the land.
Gambia first entered the sights of tourists after a group of Scandinavian holidaymakers catapulted it onto the scene in the sixties, but the country itself did the rest. Holidays to Gambia combine swathes of beaches with exotic wildlife, and locals so welcoming that the country has earned itself the nickname 'the smiling coast of Africa'.
Where to stay in Gambia
English, Mandinka,Wolof and Fula
Approx 1.5 million
GMT - 0
Along the Atlantic
It goes without saying that the beaches in Gambia are the country's main attraction. With only 80 kilometres of coastline to call its own, Gambia beach holidays offer less beach space than other coastal countries, but what they do have is supremely relaxing and laid-back.
Kololi's beach is one of the most popular in Gambia, stacked with thatched umbrellas and backed by cafes and beach bars. Cape Point follows suit, heavy on the gold sand and relaxation. For holidays that focus on a quiet time, the beach at Bijilo offers even more tranquil afternoons, as one of the least built-up resorts on the coast.
Traditional cuisine in Gambia is heavily influenced by the country's resources, the biggest one being the river. There's a healthy amount of seafood available, along with spiced meat served with fresh vegetables and a glass of fruit juice on the side. Grains are also popular here, and you'll find local rice accompanying many flavoursome dishes.
But being a holiday destination, Gambia has built up a tolerance for international cuisine and exhibits a wealth of food from all over the world. If you're in search of familiar comforts on cheap Gambia holidays, you're in luck. There are restaurants here specialising in everything from Italian to Indian, Chinese and full English breakfasts.