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Badala Park
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All reviewsbasic hotelclean towelschinese restaurantthird world countryopen mindreggae musicsmiling coastpoolside barbeach staffwestern unionrooms are cleaned every daybeanspool sidethe ritzmost eveningsreal gambiatwo weeks
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Reviewed 18 December 2010

well the first day i got there,the bathroom door didnt have an handle on it,then the shower wouldnt work,so i had to get the maintence guy to come sort it out,and it took a week for the door handle to be put on,even then the door didnt shut right,but its all about the gambian experience,lol.and another time the the shower wouldnt turn off,but least i got a shower,which was always cold never warm lol.also the breakfast wasnt good either it was either boiled eggs or so called rice porridge eww,or fried eggs and rice porridge the next day,with melon mainly as the fruit occassionly other fruits too,and there was bread,jam,spam.out of the tow weeks i only went for breakfast a few times as i was not impressed eating the same ole thing every day,like others werent either.other than that the people are friendly and made friends with mohamid the electrian and the entertainment team too,bobby c called me dj,as i was lending him my cds,plus i was lucky i had my own gambian navy bodyguard to show me around and take me to places tourist arent allowed,like the army barracks which i called little beriut as there is building work going on.and was was lovely to see the children and to have gambian dinners there at times,and all was sad when we was going.anyway if you want 5 star you certainly wont get it at badala park,i would rather have friendly people any day than 5 star,this is africa,even the 5 stars arent 5 stars,so what you see is what you get,and dont pay high prices fopr the taxis,i went the public way alot and is very cheap,5 dalasi a time,so if you wanted to go to bakau it would be 5 dalasi to tangerian traffic lights then another public taxi to bakau 5 dalasi,so you travel roughly 5 miles for 10 dalasis,a bargin.any way so if you want a friendly place to stay then this is the place to be.as i said before its all about the gambian experience lol.

  • Stayed: December 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank eddiemurphysbabe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 December 2010

It was our first trip to the gambia. Initial impression was the hotel was very basic and facilities not great. There were a lot of staff hanging around the hotel and initially we were unsure about this and who to trust. After a few days we soon settled in and made some great friends with the staff. Muhammed keija (the electritian) is a lovely guy and also Alex (one of the builders). We didnt go on any trips with the tour operator as the prices were ridicolous. Instead we went on the roots (slave trade trip) with Muhammed. It was a full day tip and he really looked after us. We payed him well but he never asked for anything. Sometimes the hotel staff dont even get paid for their profession and when they do it is very little. we went to a member of staffs house and it was such a shock how they live they are so poor. However the staff are so nice especially muhammed. I was ill and he went to the pharmacy in Senagambia to get me medicine. He really had a kind heart. Even now we are home we are keeping in touch with him.

Gambia is a lovely place. we went to the monkey park, croc park and the roots trip. However we would like to return and go on more trips.The local food is great (Apart from the hotel breakfast). The beach was lovely and the weather was red hot everyday. the hotel is basic but when we saw how the local people live it made us appreciate our lives and was a real eye opener.
Trust Muhammed the electrician we would go on trips with him again and he has become a good friend.we would like to return there

  • Stayed: December 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank risingsun20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 December 2010

I booked this hotel simply because it was the cheapest, so i was surprised when we arrived by the beautiful gardens around the hotel blocks and the abundant wildlife that was visible from the balcony....we stayed in G block which was away from the stage area so no problems with late night noise..We hooked up with NOAH CAMARRA who is one of the hotel maintainence boys and he made our trip very special! Dont miss out on the jungle experience with the hotel staff in the area around the back of the hotel..ther is a lake there with big monitor lizards and many species of birds...Another trustworthy couple of hotel workers are BABUKAH SALEH...and JACKIO..... find em in 'the jungle'..
I have travelled in a lot of third world countries and found the Gambia pretty easy going, it was my partners first experience outside Europe and she cant wait to go back..especially to Badala park

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank joolsrhyl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 December 2010

This was the second time we have stayed at this hotel even though the hotel itself is poor.
If you want extra pillows, prompt clean towels etc a small daily tip of 10 dalasis to the room cleaner will go a long way.
You will not enjoy the Gambian experience unless you accept the system as it is and don't expect everything to run like clockwork. Always carry some small notes 5, 10, 25 dalasis for tips, more than this is excessive.
The draw for us to this hotel is the maintenance staff who mainly reside in the jungle behind the hotel. These boys are the stars of the show here without doubt. They are the friendliest bunch of people we have ever met and we will be back to spend time with them again next year. As opposed to the other hotels in the area there are opportunities to really mix with the locals. The hotel rooms are dirty and shabby by European standards but if you travel into the interior (which I would highly reccommend if you are fairly adventurous and can endure some discomfort crammed on a 12 seater bus with holes in the floor and 20 people on board with live goats on the roof) you will feel like you are in a five star hotel in a European resort when you return!
If you are going to stay here and would like someone to show you around there is no better person to ask for than Saikou who works on the maintenance staff. He is an absolute star who asks for nothing and gives you everything (just give him some money and clothes before you go home). He has become a true friend of ours who we text or call daily. We have travelled all over The Gambia with him from Bansang to Basse to Coconut Island (Jinack Island) and the memories and experiences we shared are unforgettable. If he is already paired off with someone else many of the maintenance lads will be more than happy to help you as the management tolerate them guiding the guests in return for paying them low wages. Another top bloke is Omar Sherrif who works at the Kunte Kinteh beach bar.
Don't pay more than 50 dalasis for a taxi (always agree the price before you get in) from the hotel to the Senegambia strip where most of the nightlife happens, although the taxi drivers will try to charge 150 dalasis.
Never accept or carry drugs as there are scammers waiting to tell their police friend as soon as they have handed it to you. They will want at least 5000 dalasis in return for your not being shipped up to the station!
The organised excursions from the hotel are overpriced and disingenuous trips to dissappointing wildlife parks or slavery tours. One tour claims to take you to see descendants of Kunte Kinteh (they are not his descendants but it's a good way of getting some money out of you). In Georgetown (Jangjangbureh) there is a building where you can take a tour to see the actual place where slaves were kept for transpotation to the Americas. In fact this building was built 20 years after slavery was abolished!
If you do travel around the country make sure you have your passport, insurance docs, prescription if you take medication etc as there are many police checkpoints with corrupt police officers looking for anything amiss in order to extort money from you.
Basse is real Africa, dusty and intensely hot with curious locals who don't see white people (toubabs) very often.
Bansang is a hidden Gem with extremely friendly inhabitants. There is a lovely lodge on the banks of the river run by a charming French speaking Senagalese man who will bend over backwards to make you happy. A few hundred metres up river from the lodge there are locals with small canoes who will happily take you on the river for an hour or two looking for hippos, crocs etc for about £15. He offered to take us some miles up river and camp overnight where no-one without a canoe can reach but we didn't have the time so will have a go next time.
Coconut Island is closer to Kotu (about 3 hours) but is magnificent. A word of warning though, cannabis plantations are plentiful here and the government (who never enter the island as the locals are their own government) tolerates its use here. The beach is amazing and deserted (we were the only guests on the island). The ocean is shallow and safe to swim while feeling like a warm bath. Jinack Lodge (right on the beach) is the best place to stay on the island.
You are never in danger in The Gambia but are often in danger of being scammed if you don't have your wits about you. If mental arithmetic is not your strongest point, carry a small calculator and always know how much you are going to pay for something as many people in the tourist areas (but not upcountry) will always try to short change you or increase the price of things.
There is also a fair amount of sex tourism (mainly European women with Gambian men)in the resorts which we find appalling but won't let it put us off visiting The Gambia.
It's up to you what you get from a holiday here. You can stay around the pool and the beach and have a relaxing holiday or you can travel around the country and enjoy a life changing experience. Whatever you decide it's the memories of the people that will stay with you.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank ToiletDoctor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 December 2010

This is my 2nd visit to Badala Park and just as enjoyable as the first time.

To start with, as expected the rooms are very basic and we didn't have a warm shower the whole time we were there, however there is no harm in a cold shower as it is so hot in the Gambia. Please don't expect Senegambia facilities for the price. The rooms are very clean and we were provided with clean towels everyday apart from one occasion when the lovely maid explained that the cloudy day had prevented all the towels from drying. Please bear in mind that all the towels and linen are washed by hand everyday with a hose pipe, soap and elbow grease in the 'jungle' (ask a member of staff to take you here to see the local way).

Most of the staff are lovely, especially the A-team who organise the entertainment such as water polo, and the quiz night african style which is good fun. Remember the staff work very hard for very poor wages so it is important to tip those who look after you. Notably Lamin at breakfast, the older man with a lovely smile and Jay, the friendly bar maid. Also a good friend of ours known as Sheriff who can be seen sweeping the pool area at around 6pm. We have been to visit his family on both of our visits to the Gambia and they made us feel very welcome. If you go on any family visits please return the favour with a gift for the family such as a bag of rice as food is very expensive for Gambians. A visit to a compound is a very humbling experience and makes you realise just how lucky we are in England.

You will notice the SAGE board to the left of the pool during the day which is a charity financing education for children from very poor families. Kebba is the spokesperson for this charity and you can speak with him if you are interested in sponsoring a child. He is a good friend of ours and extremely trustworthy.

As lovely as the Gambians are, you must remember that they are poor and will constantly try to make money some how or other. Therefore keep your wits about you but stay friendly. The Gambia isn't for everybody, so to make the best of your stay you must be prepared for the hassle and to haggle on prices, but keep a patient attitude as there is no point in coming if you are going to get stressed about it or start shouting. The hassle can become tedious at times but never intimidating and it is generally a safe place to wonder around during the day or at night.

As for food, the on site Chinese is worth a try and nearby Barracuda or Kunta Kinteh which can be found on the beach.

Some favourite phrases you will hear during your stay: 'Its nice to be nice', 'The more you smile, the browner you get', 'That is a nice name' and 'Welcome to the smiling coast of Africa'.

The pool is a lovely setting and great for relaxing even if they tend to repeat lots of the same songs. You will especially like it if you are a fan of reggae music!

All in all, The Gambia is a wonderful country with so much more than the beach and pool. Once you scratch beneath the surface you will see that the people are really special and it is this that makes you want to return again and again.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled with family
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5  Thank MC2010Birmingham_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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