The hotel and staff are as good as most of these reviews say, and the whole concept of the hotel as small clusters of buildings surrounded by tropical vegetation works very well. Yes, we saw the monkeys too - and a mongoose which actually came down to take some bread we'd put on our garden wall. A couple of monitor lizards visit regularly, and the staff are keen to make sure you see them. In reception, in fact, they keep a list of wildlife onsite. For naturalists generally, it's a good place to be.
Our room was basic but comfortable. We did not have, nor did we need a fan: the windows were louvred, with a flyscreen outside, and the sea breezes were enough to keep the nights cool enough for sleep. You'd need a fan if nights were warm.
Our room was at the edge of the complex, and several species of bird came to the trees around us. There was a "nature walk" constructed by the hotel which led to apartments with a roof-top observation deck. This overlooked the mangroves and the mudflats when the tide was out in the creek. From here you could see a variety of waders as well as the ubiquitous kites and vulures. A short walk from this path takes you to the golf course, where again there is a host of birds.
Even better, the hotel is a three minute walk from Kotu Stream where the official bird guides are based, and where you can watch pied kingfishers hover before diving into the creek. A short walk into the adjacent paddy fields is all that's needed to see - in our experience - 48 different species including a hamerkop, broad-billed and blue-bellied rollers, yellow-crowned gonolek, Senegal parrot, little bee-eater . . . .
This being our first visit, we used the services of a guide, Modou Saidy, who has been trained and accepted as a member of the Gambian Bird Guide Association. His knowledge and skills were priceless (without him we wouldn't have seen the two sleeping long-tailed nightjars and the Verraux's eagle owl in Brufut Wood). He was totally reliable and made all the arrangements for travel to various locations (not usually in the guidebooks, and often to locations where the small entrance fee went to the local village).
We took some reading books and pencils without any clear knowledge of how we'd choose a school to give them to. Modou sorted that too, by taking his to his old school, a building with 1400 children, no electricity and two standpipes. We know know that exercise books, erasers and pencil sharpeners would have been welcome.
Using guides like Modou is certainly one way of getting to see and at least partially understand Gambia away from the tourist areas, but it's a saddening and humbling experience at times, though one lifted enormously by the generosity and friendliness of the people. They are amazing.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Renowned and well established, Bakotu is a small, friendly hotel ideally located in Kotu between the beach and the golf course. Facilities include a small swimming pool, sun and shade terraces, reception, laundry, shop, restaurants and bars. Individually decorated rooms, with comfy beds and either terrace or balcony are grouped around mature gardens. The monkeys, squirrels and birds are great attractions. Ideal for those looking for something a little different with good value for money. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bakotu Hotel Kotu
- Bakotu Hotel Gambia/Kotu