Banjul, Gambia: How to get there, where to stay, and what to do

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Formerly known as Bathurst, beautiful Banjul is the capital city of The Gambia, sitting at the point where the Gambia River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The colourful island boasts a wealth of local produce, from vibrant textiles to handmade jewellery, as well as archaic colonial buildings such as the National Museum, and the mighty, 36 metre-high Arch 22 gateway, commemorating the 1994 military coup.

Stare into the dark history of the slave trade and its abolition, stretching from pre-colonial and pre-slavery times to independence, on Kunta Kinteh Island. Explore caves and prisons where slaves were held before being shipped off to the American colonies and see some of the cannons still standing in their military attack position.

Locals and tourists alike head to Albert Market to shop. The emporium-like bazaar is split into three distinct markets – wholesale and retail, fresh produce and tourist stalls. Do not be put off by the bustling crowds, but get ready to hunt for bargains.

Set in a old Portuguese building, St Joseph’s Adult Education and Skills Centre has been providing training to disadvantaged women for more than 20 years. Visitors can take a free tour of the classes and will even have the chance to buy items made by some of the women in the souvenir shop.

Situated 10 miles from the capital, Kachikally Museum and Crocodile Pool in Bakau Newtown really is as exciting as the name suggests. As one of three sacred crocodile pools on the island, the site is known for its healing properties and spiritual atmosphere. In addition to the pool there is a museum, nature trail and refreshments bar, plenty to fill a day. Entry costs around 100 GMD.

Abuko Nature Reserve is another example of the lush greenery of Banjul’s landscape. This rare reserve deserves a visit, especially for its diverse ecosystem and array of animals, including bush babies, three types of monkey, snakes and exotic birds. Prices are 35 GMD for adults and 15 GMD for children.

Gambia National Museum showcases both historical and cultural artefacts from the country, so any first-time visitor can get a sense of the region, from the earliest period up to the present day. Prices start from 50 GMD.

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