resort town and Senegambia
Strip tourist area began life as a typical coastal fishing
village, set back from the Atlantic Ocean, in the Kombo St. Mary
District, Western Region of The Gambia, West Africa. The village
is 18km from the Banjul capital.
Since the early 1980s Kololi has been radically transformed by
tourism, growing significantly and spreading right down to the
beach, at what are now called the Palma Rima and Senegambia resort
areas. Since the completion of the GamNor or Gambia-Norway Hotel
in 1982 (now known as the Senegambia
Beach Hotel), as well as the establishment of the tourist
craft market in the same year, the town has seen a massive growth
in the accommodation sector,
and other tourism related industries. The original settlement,
Kololi Village, is now home to an increasing number of professionals,
expats, retirees and workers in the hospitality industry.
on your preferences there are numerous types of holiday accommodation
dotted around Kololi. From tourist-class hotels,
to guesthouses, lodges,
Standards and room costs can vary widely, from a simple budget
priced room in a down-at-heel guesthouse, to a luxury
hotel suite with air conditioning and an en-suite bathroom.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO:
of the area's biggest draws is the purpose built, lively
Senegambia Craft Market (a bengdula), which was first built
in 1982, re-built in 1990 and subsequently re-built again on the
junction in 2001, with a capacity of about 64 stalls. It has a
respectable choice of locally made souvenir handicrafts, including
carved wooden masks and djembe drums, basketware, paintings of
landscapes, people, wildlife, tie
and dye, jewellery, beaded necklaces, leather handbags, sandals,
shoes, colourful batik wraps, and food such as cakes, hot sauce
and dark honey, fresh from local women's co-operatives. The stallholders
are bound by an agreed code of conduct, which prohibits hassling
visitors for their custom. Those who breach the code are liable
to suspension for a fixed term.
the other side of the Bertil Harding Highway from the tourist
strip, is a calmer, more peaceful residential district of sandy
roads and family homes. There is a relatively new paved road from
the Senegambia Junction connecting to Kololi Road and onwards
to the old village and Manjai Kunda. This route has already begun
to rapidly develop with restaurants,
bars and other tourist amenities. Around this area is a smattering
of basic facility guesthouses, and several venues to learn dance,
music and painting. There is the 'Village Gallery' Bar &
Restaurant which is a privately run art gallery which exhibits
and sells paintings, sculptures, and photographs for West African
and Gambian artists. It also organises
art workshops / lectures for individuals and institutions, arranges
art and cultural trips through local tour operators, uses their
contacts to arrange for cultural and musical performances and
above all encourages its partners to work in a way that preserves
the social and cultural heritage of The Gambia. Special lectures
are also organised as it is intended to be also used as a focal
point for aspiring and established local handicraft professionals.
(Tel no: 4463646 or 9917343)
The Beach Area
late 2003 the Kololi resort beaches
were replenished (nourished), by a Dutch company called Delft
Hydraulics, with about 1 million cubic meters of sand over 1.5km
of its length, with a width of 120 meters. This was done to reverse
previous coastal erosion that had
seriously compromised the resort area's ability to continue to
attract large numbers of foreign tourists.
sunbathing put on some good sunscreen with a high SPF as there
are usually few clouds in the sky during the winter season and
the mid-day sun can be unrelenting. The day-time temperatures
are simply too much for sunbathers to lie out in the open sand
for extended periods of time. This is where the beach bar's huts
provide much needed respite with their thatched, woven palm roofs
beach bars are a vivid
and quintessential part of the Atlantic Ocean's scenery and provides
a more relaxing, scenic alternative to their inland counterparts.
They often play reggae on their portable
sound systems, and the occasional visit by dance troupes or local
singers to liven up things a little in the evenings. These are
convenient places to chat with some of the locals. Food here is
usually cheaper, typically comprised of shrimps or fish, oven
baked in silver foil such as red snapper, ladyfish and barracuda,
with a small choice of drinks. Fresh fruit pressers' stalls also
dot the coastline and are inspected and regulated by the Tourism
Board to ensure they conform to minimum set hygiene standards.
The Village Complex
known as the Horseshoe Shopping Complex this is as close
as you can get to a European style shopping mall. It is a unique,
modern building on two floors, and the shaped like half a doughnut,
located on the Bertil Harding Highway, opposite the Atlas Petrol
Station. Is has a supermarket, clothes stores, a fountain, cafes
selling cakes, drinks and ice cream, varied restaurants, some
offices, a nice central garden, a rooftop terrace accessed by
two spiral staircases, car parking space, and a children's playground,
to keep the kids occupied while you shop or dine. The
Village Complex is a landmark you can easily spend all afternoon
at, and there are no shortages of taxis to take you back to your
hotel or guest house.
This method of getting around, and exploring the locality and
beyond, is growing in popularity. You can hire a quad
bikes from near the junction at 'Freedom Hire' near the Binis
Bar and the Britannia Pub. Sometimes all-terrain vehicles (ATVs)
are available directly on the beachfront.
African Powersports offers guided quad biking safaris
as well as buggies along dirt roads to Tujering. They can pick
you up and drop you off by car at any of the hotels in the main
resorts such as Kololi or Kotu and take you to the start of the
safari which is at Brusubi and goes to Tujering beach for lunch.
From there it's back to Brusubi and a drop-off at your accommodation.
Tilly's Tours, on the Senegambia
Strip, also offers quad bike safaris (Tel no: 9800215 or 7707356).
Note: before getting on one of these do make sure that quad biking
is covered by your travel
and in particular the Senegambia vicinity, has a profusion of
scattered throughout, especially along the main tourist thoroughfare
and nearby roads, serving a broad range of international cuisine.
There are various
types of restaurants serving
European food on their menus. Near the corner from the craft
market is Gaya Art Cafe & Restaurant,
a unique diner which displays and sells art and craft artifacts
from around the world. They also serve top quality, international
cuisine and drinks in a shaded, relaxed small garden setting at
the front. If you want to try some authentic Gambian food then
you are best advised to go deeper into the district, in some of
the private local restaurants or along the easterly road from
Palma Rima, heading away from the beach.
The village also has a diverse mix of restaurants, bars and clubs,
tempting to people wishing for a change from the mass-tourism
feel of Kololi's mainstream diners and nightspots, as well as
independent travellers. As you travel further south towards Kerr
Serign the options of restaurants are more limited, but growing
each year along the coast and in the nearby residential neighbourhoods.
you like your nightclubs
small and cosy or large and spectacular there is something for
you. Near the Senegambia
Strip is the Aquarius,
plush, compact, within easy walking distance of Sarges Hotel,
and playing pop and hip hop mixes till late. There is also the
Club Paparazzi which is right on
the strip, again small, nice bar and a tiny, central dance floor.
The 'Wow' is also nearby; a bit
rough and frequented mostly by locals, but has reasonably priced
drinks and seating area outside. If you want something resembling
a large, dedicated nightclub then you can't do better that the
massive Duplex Nightclub.
It is a huge complex with several bars, a large, purpose built
dance floor, numerous automated disco lights, a high ceiling and
a thumping, pumping sound system.
Bijilo Forest Park
known as Monkey Park; the nature trail can be reached by
walking south from Sarges Hotel, near the tourist strip, for about
500m and you will see the wire fence and trees of Bijilo
Forest Park in front of you. To get in however, you turn right
and walk down for about 100 metres and the entrance is to your
left, clearly marked by a ticket office. Monkey Park covers an
area of about 0.5 sq. km of beach side woodland reserve. The reserve
is dominated by proud rhun palms which once flourished along the
coastline of The Gambia. The vegetation also includes tall deciduous
trees, shrubs, and savanna grassland. The forest floor has plants
such as vines, lilies, wild orchids, cotton trees. Once inside
there is a very good chance of spotting vervet monkey, red colobus,
a few squirrels and a plethora of birds.
beach hotel area is not the best birdwatching
territory, but there are still opportunities to see over 70 species
for the amateur and professional who wants to stay near or in
their hotel. There is the Bijilo Forest
Park which is within easy walking distance from the tourist
strip. The closed forest and coastal scrub is home to over 130
species such as the Palm-nut Vulture, White-throated Bee-eater,
Peregrine Falcon, Little Bee-eater, Stone Partridge and the Ahanta
Francolin. Some of the larger hotels
themselves are good bird spotting grounds due to their plentiful
vegetation of palms, trees, bushes and shrubs. They actually have
a policy of encouraging avian visitors through specially created
Among the species of birds visiting the Senegambia and Kairaba
hotels you might see poking in out out of the hibiscus variable
sunbirds, with their small, delicately curved beaks and colourful
plumage. You might also see cattle egrets, red cheeked cordon-bleu,
Abyssinian roller, brown and red-billed firefinch, Caspian terns,
yellow-crowned gonolek (shrike), Senegalese coucals, starlings,
chestnut-crowned sparrow weaver and many more of our feathered
you like to do a bit of horseback riding on Kololi's strand, then
ask at your reception desk. They should know a few operators nearby.
You can also contact Lama
Bony who arranges horse riding along the northern Kombo beachfront.
Women's Skills Centre:
The training project was the idea of two German visitors who founded
it in 1997, and its aims are to help young women from the Kololi
village gain skills in sewing and design, batik and tie
dye, embroidery and other handicrafts, as well as teaching
them to write and speak some basic English.
PALMA RIMA AREA:
Palma Rima resort is comprised of a relatively small group
of hotels (dominated by the
Bakadaji Hotel, Palma
Rima Hotel and its crossroads), lodges, restaurants and small
clubs located between 150m southeast of the Bertil Harding Highway
(aka Kombo Coastal Road) and the Atlantic Ocean's beach, about
1km southwest of bridge at Kotu Stream.
On one side of the junction are fruit and vegetable, and fish
sellers' stalls. Though obviously touristic in appearance,
it's relatively modest in contrast to the main tourist hotspot,
1.5km further to the southwest. If you are looking for a good
quality self-catering accommodation near the beach with a pool
Luigi's Holiday Apartments (which also has a great Italian
restaurant). If you're looking for a night spot / bar and diner
then try Shiraz Restaurant.
Further towards the beachfront is the popular
Solomon's Beach Bar & Restaurant,
on the sand and facing the ocean, serving good food and drinks.
For more budget priced places you need to go further inland, but
try and stay within 200m or so from the main coastal road.
The Senegambia Strip - Kololi's central beach resort, named
after the country's biggest hotel, is the hub of The Gambia's
tourist activity, with a bustling, mostly fairly tacky strip of
bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, and a variety of tourist-class
hotels. This is strictly
not a residential location; the area is designated in the Tourism
Development Area (TDA) and is meant only for visitors. At times
it is one of the most bumster-riddled
locations on the coast; until the local paramilitary police clamp
down do their numbers suddenly melt away. Development in the adjacent
area, particularly on the main highway, is proceeding at a frenetic
pace, and the results are not always pleasing. You will often
come across tacky plaster sculptures of people and animals placed
outside diners and bars and bizarre mouldings fixed on building
faηades. Along the strip
are restaurants, bars and clubs galore as well as several bureaus
de change, the Standard Chartered
Bank, a few mini-markets, a net cafe, souvenir shops, car
hire, green tourist taxis etc.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
After endless decades of darkness along the coastal highway, street
lighting was installed in 2006, which starts at the main traffic
lights in Fajara and goes all the
way south to the airport,
as well as Brufut, and other locations,
thereby increasing safety
for tourists who venture out on foot at night. The sides of the
roads have had extra gravel added to provide more of a 'walkway',
reducing your chances of getting hit by a vehicle. Watch your
back though as bikes also use it, as well as taxis pulling over
for passengers. It's best to walk towards the traffic.
you are going out at night do carry your money
in a money belt, and carry a small torchlight. Crime,
such as muggings, are pretty low, but it pays to be vigilant.
Avoid unfamiliar places at night and try to walk with a companion.
Try and get a sim card from one of the mobile phone operators
and keep some useful numbers handy, like the hotel reception,
a taxi driver known to you, a friend and so on. It does
no harm to tell someone where you are going, day or night. Finally,
note that the nearest
fire station is in Kotu.
get to Kololi village from Gambia's Banjul
Airport you taxi hire
or car hire and drive north, until
the Brusubi Roundabout, then continue straight north along the
Kombo Coastal Road, and past
Bijilo, for a further 4 km. The
cost of taxi rides is posted just outside the entrance to the
airport, usually on your right side at the exit. It should cost
you about £15 though this depends on prevailing exchange rates
(the prices board is usually in Dalasi).
To travel out-and-about there are green tourist taxis
outside the major hotels, but they do cost more than the yellow
taxis which can be found on the highway outside of the Senegambia
Strip, about 150m from the junction on your left.
[Geographical coordinates 13° 25' 38'N, 16°
40' 58'W. / Kombo North Saint Mary District (Ksmd)]