is in the Kombo Saint Mary District, in the West Coast Region of The
Gambia, and is the nearest holiday resort to the capital of
which is 12km to the east. Bakau town includes the
promontory, and its northernmost coastline marks the point where the
Atlantic Ocean meets the Gambia River. It is part desirable suburb,
part shanty town and part coastal resort. The
coastline is fringed with palm trees however, the beach area is
composed of rocky, laterite cliff edges and at high tide the sand can disappear altogether.
This is not the case with
which descends onto a wide beach area.
travellers there are a number of basic
hotels and guesthouses, and the town is a
suitable if you are eager to lodge in the general
area but not be to far away from the resort's beaches. Coming from
the south the first
hotel you will come across is the
African Village Hotel
which lies on the edge of a laterite cliff with a slither of beach
at low tide. The
Afram Hotel is a small lodge at the edge of the town but on
the main road called. The
Guest House is located in the heart of the
gritty urban area. If you are looking for something more deluxe then
you need to go further north to
which has a much better beach in a more genteel location.
oral history says that the old village was established by the
Bojang family over 500 years ago when crocodiles came and settled in
what is now known as Katchikally. Today, along with the Sanchaba
section, the Old Town is one of the oldest settlements in The Gambia.
Among the first settlers to arrive were fishermen and their
families. During the
colonial era the locality was a desirable area for the British, and
formed part of British Kombo which was basically the capital Banjul,
Saint Mary's Island, and the outlying coastal areas to the west.
holidaymakers, the Old Town's central points are the sections
Road junction, where it meets the Sait
Matty Road. There is a post office, a few banks, a row of small bars
and restaurants in front of the African Village Hotel, shops, a minimarket, Bakau Market and the tourist
Craft Market (bengdula), where the Atlantic Boulevard meets the Cape Point
Road. If you move a few metres inland you are in urban Gambia. A
little to the south of the djembe drum producers and batik stands is the village marketplace.
The overcrowded residential area just inland is a tightly packed
mish-mash of family compounds, sandy lanes, small shops, mechanic's
workshops and so on. Over the years fishing families are being
replaced by tourist sector workers. The residential
neighbourhood, with its breeze block bungalows, rusting corrugated
iron fences and smelly drainage ditches might not be everyone's cup
of tea; however, there is virtually no traffic here so it's easier
to travel around on foot than comparable areas in
Some of the densely populated backstreets have local diners, serving
local food, which tend to be harder to find compared to the other resort
The residential area of New Town is rich in
mature trees that bloom into a riot of colour in the rainy season. Its main
high street is the Garba Jahumpa Road (aka New Town Rd.)
which connects the Sait Matty Road to the east, with the Kairaba Avenue's
Fajara section to the west, locally known as the Sabena Junction (the place where Sabena Airline used to be based).
The road is lined with small
offices, clothing shops, minimarkets, tailors' workshops and
private homes. It is very poorly lit
at night and does not have much of a pavement to talk about. Not far
from the centre point of this road is the Independence
Gambia's national stadium. Built by the Chinese as a gift, it is a grand open-air venue surrounded by
brush and a purpose built ring-road. The stadium is used for some major
music concerts, July 22nd celebrations as well as
ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO:
Located on the southern section of the Old Town
Crocodile Pool. Local legend says it is a sacred pool which was
later inhabited by
crocodiles over 520 years ago. Its fresh waters are also said to be a
treatment for infertility, bestow good fortune and occasionally certain rituals are held
here, sometimes accompanies by drumming music. You can also visit a
small ethnographic museum, a souvenir shop, a refreshment bar, all
set in over 2.4 hectares of mini-forest which has a nature trail and
is home to many tropical bird species, mammals, reptiles and
• Bird Watching
While you can find many bird species in Bakau's green areas, beaches
and cliffs such as hooded vultures, Senegal coucal, Verreaux's eagle
owl and the yellow-crowned gonolek. The best place for
birdwatching is in the vicinity of Cape Creek in
Point. This area is largely
made up of mangroves, mudflats, and sections of lightly wooded areas which
are rich in various birds species.
• Craft Market
tourist shopping the Atlantic Boulevard's
Craft Market is an ideal starting point. Here you
can observe local craftsmen at work by the side of the road, under
the shade of the trees. The bengdula has numbered stalls where you can
find souvenirs such as African jewellery, batiks, wooden masks,
tie-dye women's dresses, sand paintings, beads and more.
• Bakau Botanical
in Cape St. Mary, on the Old Cape Road, is
which was established in 1894. It is often missed by most tourists as
it looks just like someone's large private front garden. It is set
in an enclosed area within a link chain fence and there is a nature trail
meandering around the trees as well as a grass shaded seating area
called a Bantaba. Its plushest greenery can be seen towards the end
of the rains in October. Specially worth noting among the labelled
trees are the cycads,
spiny, young silk cotton trees and
the teak tropical hardwood. Only some of the shrubs and trees are indigenous,
such as the rhun palms, and some
need urgent pruning and care. If you come with a pair of
binoculars you might be able to spot a number of bird species such as
the red-cheeked cordon bleu, bronze
mannikins or the odd bulbuls.
It's a nice place to visit and relax in the afternoons and there is
very little in the way of noise. The garden is open Monday to
Saturday, 9 am till 5 pm, and there is an entrance fee of about
£1.25 per person. Note: Apply mosquito repellent onto exposed areas
of your body.
(Tel no: 7774482 or 4497354)
constantly make their way between make-shift stalls piled with habanero
chili peppers, tomatoes and carrots, there are small hung yellow bags of
cooking oil, chili powder, white rice, mounds of local fruit, used
clothing, shoe stalls and lots shoddy, imported household products.
You will also find bowls of fresh fish, beef and lamb on butcher's
chopping boards and
teeming with all manner of flies. The front of the market which is on the main
road is lined with fruit and vegetable stalls selling tomatoes,
guavas, bananas, oranges, apples and other fruits.
Fish Market & Jetty
the other side of the road from the village marketplace is the beach
fishing port of the local Fish Market
where stalls can be found either near quayside or at the road side 100m from the taxi rank.
At the bottom of a steeply sloped road you can see smokehouses as well as fish,
such as bonga or butterfish, being brought
onto the shore area
from the brightly coloured African pirogues, the filleting process
and ultimately the smoking or chilling and packing of the fish. You can buy
fresh shrimps from next door to the taxi rank.
Points of Interest
There is the Gena Bes Batik & Tie Dye Batik Factory which has
introduced modern designs that attracts higher-paying customers.
'Gena Bes' means 'newly out' in Wolof.
Another place well worth looking at is the
African Heritage Centre which is a combined art gallery and museum
displaying and selling art objects from all over the country.
The local area is also home to the main military camp known as the
Fajara Barracks, which is next door
to the fire service, which in turn
about 50m to the local
police station. Radio Gambia is also located here on the road
heading towards Sting Corner and the capital of
Banjul in an area called Mile
HEALTH & SAFETY:
general area along the coastal strip is the safest
place in The Gambia, given the presence of a large number of
security guards, local watchmen, the military barracks,
and numerous residences occupied by international organisation
workers. Safety and security is very good between the army camp and
Kofi Annan Street in
where the road is also lit.
To get to the heart of Bakau ask one of the drivers of the yellow or
green tourist taxis to take you to the
local taxi rank next to the fish landing harbour, and you can start your
sightseeing trip from there. To get back to your hotel (if you are
staying in Kololi
Kotu) just pick up a cab from in front of the nearby
Trust Bank building which is near the African Village Hotel.
Restaurants What to Pack
[Geographical coordinates Latitude 13 48° N,
Longitude 16 60° W
/ Kombo North Saint Mary District (Ksmd)]