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“THE Gambia Experience”
Review of Kololi

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Leeds, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
26 helpful votes
“THE Gambia Experience”
Reviewed 18 April 2010

Thoroughly enjoyed our 3 week stay in Kololi in February 2010.
We stayed at the Holiday Beach Hotel which was very central for beach and night life.
We found the people extremely friendly and welcoming. All had big smiles!
Being on the young side of elderly, we just wanted a quiet , relaxing beach holiday. Kololi ticked all the boxes.
We spent a good number of our days at the Voodoo Bar with free sunbeds. We were looked after well by all the staff at Voodoo Bar, but in particular by Bax the head waiter and beach boys Lamin and Moses. Nothing was too much bother.
Our evenings were spent on Senegambia Strip, where there are numerous restaurants of every nationality. You can dine expensively or cheaply.
We did some excursions. The best was 4 in day trip with Arch Tours which consisted of only 4 tourists in a jeep visiting markets,villages, fishing port and lunch at Paradise Beach. It gave a good insight into Gambian way of life.
We also visited Lamin Lodge and the Monkey Park on different days.
Overall an excellent holiday except the only downside were the bumsters. Although not aggressive or threatening, they were very annoying!

15 Thank medew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
29 helpful votes
“Beautiful Gambia”
Reviewed 20 March 2010

We have just returned from our first visit to The Gambia, but based upon our experience we will DEFINITELY RETURN.
What a wonderful place - beautiful, accessible, friendly people, fantastic scenery, wonderful climate ... what else can we say?
We stayed at the Kairaba Hotel, Kololi Beach in Senegambia and had the most marvellous stay imaginable. We opted for the B & B option which turned out to be a good move - the breakfasts were HUGE with an astonishing choice available (ranging from continental style pastries, to full cooked breakfast and everything in between) - we were able to return as many times as we wished until we had "filled up".
For lunch and evening meals there is a large variety of restaurants available on the "Senegambia strip" (the road running East from the Kairaba hotel) that served all types of food including Italian, Chinese, Indian, Gambian and English styles. You should expect to pay between £10 - £20 per head for each meal based upon a main course and a drink each (approx 35-40 Dalasis per £)
There was a large variety of trips available that can be booked through either the tour operator at your hotel, or by using the "official" tourist guides, or by using Arch Tours. We booked 2 full day tours with Arch Tours (cost approx £50 per person per trip), and these were both real hi-lights of our holiday

If you are considering an introduction to Africa, you MUST look at Gambia ... the fact that the official language is English is a major plus for UK travelers
We met many many people who were returning to The Gambia for the 5th, 10th and 15th time (which must say something)
We will definitely be returning in coming years

21 Thank RickN1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
30 helpful votes
“Dangerous and Scary (Females especially, please read this)”
Reviewed 18 January 2010

My complaint is not about the hotel as this was lovely but about Gambia and Kololi and the main safety issues we faced (none of which are advised in the Lonely Planet, holiday brochures and travel guides.

I went with my friend (we are 2 30 year old girls) and wanted a hassle free week in the sun. This started out badly as the Lonely Planet and many sites recommend this as a tourist destination - this it is not.

Obviously Africa isn't the safest but as this is being sold as a holiday destination, you assume it's reasonably safe.

We got a taxi from the airport to our hotel and were held at gun point in the middle of nowehere, twice on the one road, there were gangs looking in the windows, both of us thinking we were going to die. This was possibly the most horrendous experience of my life.

We braved it to leave the resort a few times, luckily we really enjoyed one of the organised day trips and Gambia really is beautiful, it just isn't a tourist resort and even Kololi which is advertised as a beach resort is totally unsafe.

Men constantly hassled us, we covered ourselves up and only wore trousers etc. The local men were around us within seconds, as in around 20 men gathered around us, to say it was intimidating is an understatement.

The beaches look amazing but unfortunately you cannot go onto them as once you step onto the sand they are straight for you, hassling you and wanting to chat to you and sell you stuff. We stayed in the Senegambia and this still happened there even though it is a gorgeous hotel. Even on a day trip to Paradise Beach we couldn't go ito the sea as straight away the Gambians who were sitting near the border of the private beach were straight for you.

I am sure the majority of the Gambian people are genuine and decent but unfortunately in Kololi it was only the men who were around, all of whom wanted to gain financially from the tourists. We also had tons of offers of male prostitution. They were forceful with this offer and again this was a scary situation to be in.

The Gambian government must crack down on these issues as unfortunately it has put me off of the Gambia and I wouldn't return even with a larger party and certainly would not advise anyone to go.

I have travelled all over Europe and Asia and have to say that my experience in Gambia has to be my worst travelling experience.

Please take note. Go to Asia or another destination, this is not a holiday.

30 Thank _holly1_39
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 4 Contributor
3 reviews
27 helpful votes
“Kololi, Gambia - The Smiling Coast”
Reviewed 12 January 2010

I visited The Gambia in April 2008 and must admit I had mixed feelings when I returned. Looking back now, we did have an amazing holiday, but I will admit it was far from a relaxing experience!... however we did come home with some great memories.

I had read all the reviews and was prepared for overwhelming 'friendliness' of the locals - after all they call it the 'Smiling Coast'. Everyone is friendly, wanting to show you around, take you to their home. Even when you have a bit of a tan you will get approached constantly when you are outside your hotel - predominately by the local 'bumsters', who are unemployed young Gambian men eager to earn some money by showing you around and some can be very very pushy.

However, we did befriend a local and this in many ways made our holiday a lot more interesting and easier. Accompanied with a well chosen friend we were able to travel on the local buses and local taxis and learnt so much about life in Gambia. We also went on a couple of organised excursions through Thomas Cook, which were the Truck Safari (£35) and the afternoon River Cruise through the Mangroves (£28), both good trips - just expensive. We had been to Goa a year earlier and were expecting things to be just as cheap, but prices were roughly what you would pay in the North of England. The exchange rate was quite bad at that time.

Weather was perfect in April. Hot and dry during the day, but not humid. In the evenings temperatures dropped and were really pleasant for sleeping. We found we rarely needed the air con on at night.

A great place to visit is Makasutu Culture Forest. We travelled independently rather than an organised excursion. It is a beautiful place with lots of wildlife, we were in very close proximity to a family of baboons, but felt in good hands with our guide. The entrance fee includes a trip down the Mandina Bolon in a dug-out canoe. If you like wildlife and birds The Gambia is most definately a place to visit. Bilijo Monkey Park in Kololi is free to enter - bear in mind you might get followed all the way down the beach with offers to show you around the Monkey Park - we refused and used one of the Guides based at the entrance, for a small tip/fee. Best time to visit is at dawn to see the birds, in the afternoon we saw groups of monkeys, which were unbelievably tame.
Food and drink in The Gambia was much more western than I expected. But try the local Gambian dishes - the Chicken Yassa is delicious. Good restaurants which I would recommend in Kololi are: Jo Jo's, Paradiso and Ali Babas Garden Restaurant. For nightlife I cannot praise the Chossan Bar enough for live African & Caribbean music and dancing. Can be full of 'oddly matched couples' late on - but has lots of character and atmosphere!

Would I return? Yes, if the price was right. We did not find ourselves having a relaxing time, but we did not go away with the intention of lazing on the beach. We had an interesting, eye-opening experience and a great introduction to African Culture. Gambia is far from one of the poorest countries because of its tourism, but you do not have to wander far from the Resort to see poverty. Only 6 hours on a plane - you must try it.

12 Thank MA-Col
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
11 helpful votes
“Chill out in Kololi”
Reviewed 3 February 2009

Girlie hol with 2 friends in Jan 09- we are all over 50. Wanted quality chill out time while our men were skiing. Had to learn very quickly to freeze out the bumsters - what pains!!! Main saying " Its nice to be nice"! but very tenacious. We did not feel threatened in any way just hassled anytime we went out of the hotel or down to the beach - they watch where you are going all the time. However - we didnt let it spoil our hol or keep us in the hotel - we were known as the ladies who walked!
The week in Gambia was great, local people ( not bumsters) were lovely and helpful - sometimes too helpful but we would definately go back again. Be good if something could be done about the hassle as it will put tourists off plus not all women want young men!! need I say more. Local restaurants sold excellent food for all tastes - try the local fish Choff at Henrys near the Palma Rima Hotel. We stayed there in a bungalow room, loads of room for 3, it was basic but clean and please dont believe all the reviews - if you want 5 star service anywhere you have to pay for it and the Palma Rima is not a 5 star, we would stay there again even though the breakfasts were samey!

5 Thank MeggieB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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