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Basic questions

england
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Basic questions

Thinking of making a first visit - to Bakutu hotel as one of my family is keen on birding. Having had a look through the forums I am thinking that we would need to take cash rather than credit card and trying to work out how much. We aren't keen on expensive restaurants and would normally just buy bread and meat for lunch but how feasible is that? How much does it cost to hire a guide for a couple of days to go birding away from the hotel? Would we easily find food that doesn't include nuts/ isn't cooked in nut oil?

It seems to be suggested that good items to take as gifts are toiletries as they are expensive. What else is expensive locally and worth taking from the UK? What is a decent tip for cleaning staff/ percentage for restaurants? Sorry to ask basic questions but the only things I've found on search are years old.

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Leeds, United...
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1. Re: Basic questions

Hi buzzard ,gambia is one of the best places for bird watching.but my favourite time is senegambia hotel about 11am each day when the staff feed the vultures thats amazing to watch ,

South Yorkshire...
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2. Re: Basic questions

Welcome to the forum. Gambia is a great choice for bird watchers with around 500 varieties to look for. Can't help on guide prices, sorry!

Most bars / restaurants do a snack menu and cold meats are available from most supermarkets and plenty of bakeries around for fresh bread too. Eating out can be as cheap as chips with a lot of places doing a daily special from around D150 or so (£3) or less if you eat local food in a local restaurant. Not too sure about avoiding nuts in cooking as a) I don't cook and b) ground nuts are one of the main crops of the country.

I am not too sure on taking toiletries unless it is the basics. I am a man so what do I know!!!! Leave your soap, toothpaste and any clothes you no longer need or want. These will be gratefully received.

Tips of around 10% if eating /dining out seems to be the norm and if you bear in mind that staff earn less than D100 a day let this be your guide when tipping hotels staff but it is up to you.

You can live really well on around £20 - £25 a day per head or much less if you eat out of the tourist area. (Kololi)

As you are going bird watching you will need a good anti mossie spray and ensure you take your anti malaria tablets. Buy a can of Bop (available all over) and spray your room before going out in the evening. This will kill almost anything.

Go and enjoy

Chichester, United...
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3. Re: Basic questions

Buzzard, you can easy swerve the restaurants and eat local, you will see local food along the main roads, ladies sitting there with freshly made food for around 25dl a plate, it will likely be rice with domoda top or yassa top, different food on different days, roughly 50p

Breakfast, local beanz on local bread 15-20dl.

There are supermarkets too you can buy most things, fruit stalls on main road

Exeter, United...
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4. Re: Basic questions

buzzard Bakotu hotel imo is excellent in being in good position for everything. Not into birds but you will see quite a lot from viewing platform within hotel and just outside & along over the river bridge you will find guides that are keen on bird-watching jaunts-take in the 'rates' they say and compare with others-sure others will come on and tell you price of such trips.

There is a small supermarket attached to bakotu that keeps essentials for snacks etc and money exchanges to the side & across the road and bars,beach bars/restaurants aplenty around that area.

Cleaners/groundsmen would welcome any toiletries/sandals left to them and tipping is your decision entirely (even if the regulars on here start tut-tutting!)

as said £20>25 pp per day can comfortably be a good decision with trips included and take cash.

would be advisable to pre-order a fridge at hotel if needed or you could wait some days.....GMT ;)

Dagenham
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5. Re: Basic questions

When we went last year we hired a guide on three occasions £50 twice for full days including lunch and £25 for about 4 hours saw loads of birds. Lots in the hotel grounds too. Here is a link to the feeding at Senegambia hotel that we visited for the feeding it was amazing. It's not a great video but gives an idea of what you have to look forward to.

. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php…

Isle of Wight
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6. Re: Basic questions

If you go and watch the vultures being fed at the Senegambia DON'T stand under a tree!!! My missus did and got a hair treatment that stank for days!!!

Manchester, United...
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7. Re: Basic questions

Athletico is right, you will find delicious local food being sold everywhere, in villages beneath a tree, at the roadside, it's healthy and costs as little as 25 dalasi.

You will be in birdwatching heaven in the Gambia, do not take expensive organised trips, instead chose a local guide who is knowledgeable, they are registered and know their stuff, and you will be helping the local economy. There is a man called Aziz who is regularly recommended on this forum, I believe he is to be found in the Kotu area.

With regard to gifts. I have noticed there is a lot of dental disease, due to lack of dental hygiene, so do pack as many toothbrushes and packs of toothpase as you can. Pound shops sell a pack for £1. all will be greatfull received.

Many Gambians cannot afford spectacles, and are prohibited from reading books, even the texts on their phone. Have a browze through your local charity shops for spectacles, you will also find some basic non prescription ones sold in Poundland, they enlarge the image and can make a huge difference in a partially sighted person's life.

Do not listen to the sob stories of the guys who will hound you, usually with clipboards pretending to be collecting for some school or charity. You will only be funding their lazy lifestyle, booze or wacky backy habit, so tell them to clear off or better still walk on and ignore them.

Pens pencils copy books or children's story books are all greatfully received, much more so than second hand clothing which they can buy cheaply on the streets or in the markets, they are well catered for in terms of clothing. If you see real poverty, and they are not approaching or hustling you, but you realise they are struggling, then a bag of rice or bag of charcoal will make a huge difference to a genuinely poor family's life.

Have a wonderful holiday.

Mid Wales
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8. Re: Basic questions

The fruit in The Gambia tastes far better than supermarket produce in the UK and is cheap as chips, bread is available in the minimarkets or the local bakery but if you have a nut allergy be very careful as groundnuts are a main crop in TG. I would expect most local cooking uses nutoil. Birdwatching in TG is brilliant, even non twitchers will be interested. The local, very knowledgeable, bird guides are based at Kotu bridge about 200 metres from Bakotu hotel and you can see a myriad of birds locally. I think around 250 dalasis (£5) for a 2-3 hour trek around the Kotu stream area bird hotspots would be acceptable as there are a lot of guides chasing the work. If you want to go up river then you have to pay for a car and driver and it gets a bit pricey, but the colours and varieties are astounding. We watch pied kingfishers ,cormorants, herons, vultures and black kites while we eat breakfast on Sunset Beach terrace.

As mentioned before, the best gifts need to be cheap to buy and relatively light, ie poundshop specs, toothbrushes (2 for 18p at Morrisons), pens and pencils etc.,chalk for schools. We give about 10% tips in restaurants and if you leave a fiver for your maid plus any toiletries you won't get any complaints. Enjoy your holiday, the Gambians are lovely people, deal with the bumsters firmly but politely, don't be taken in by anyone approaching you saying they work at your hotel and need money for baby food etc. Just let The Gambia enchant you. It might just get under your skin and this trip may be the first of many. We are off in November for visit number 18 and there are many people who are more frequent than us.

Regards, Ralph

england
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9. Re: Basic questions

Thank you for all the replies. The only reason we haven't visited yet is the food issue. Domada is a groundnut (peanut) stew and therefore out of the question, Yassa probably a bit spicy for us. Groundnut oil would be OK if refined but I suspect it wouldn't be.

Mention of phones reminds me that we have some old brick type phones that could do with a good home. We also may have some old reading specs and would happily buy others/ toothbrushes and paste. Would not take sweets for children.

South Yorkshire...
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10. Re: Basic questions

Hi Buzzard, Yassa and Benechin tend not to be too spicy, well I don't think so. You can get almost any type of food you want there but local is far cheaper.

If you are going to take phones put them in your pockets when going through customs in TG otherwise they may try and charge you duty. You need to find a suitable home for them as they do love their phones and you may find that a lot of people have a better one than you. Reading glasses would be very welcome.

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