resort and village in Gambia is in the Kombo Saint Mary District,
in the West Coast Region, and forms one half of the main centre
of Gambia's coastal tourist industry, with the other being in
Kololi. The village is 17km from the
Banjul capital. The Badala Highway
leads from the Bertil Harding Highway and crosses the creek (aka
River Sando or Sandu) at the bridge and proceeds to Kotu Strand.
Partly enclosing the beach based tourist enclave is the Kotu
Stream, rice fields and the Fajara
Golf Course behind. The focal point of the area is the
BB Craft Market (Bengdula), an oval, half enclosure, lined
with souvenir shops, bars, restaurants and other amenities. Just
outside the market entrance are bureau de change, minimarkets,
taxis and other hospitality services.
the Kotu holiday resort, the accommodation
choices are all medium or large tourist-class hotels,
mostly supported or owned by some of the big tour operators, either
on, or very near to respectable length of beach. They are mostly
low-rise and blend in well with the scenery. The Palm
Beach and Sunset Beach
hotels are nestled close to the stream and face the Atlantic Ocean,
while the Kombo Beach Hotel
and the Bungalow Beach
Hotel are a little to the north east and are also on the strand.
The Bakotu Hotel lies on
the opposite side of the craft market and has no beachfront.
coconut palm fringed Kotu beach area has a reasonably good width
to the waters edge and the sand is of good quality however, the
sea water is sandy. Around the Palm Beach Hotel are some small
lagoons with far less turbulent water. This section of the Atlantic
Ocean ranges from flat calm to choppy with the occasional small
waves lapping at the shore. It's shallow enough to allow you to
get out to a reasonable distance from the shore (about 25 metres),
but then the shelf drops steeply, so do be alert. Often there
are waves breaking up to 300m off-shore. You sometimes see numerous
chaotic waves building fast, with a flat shore break to surf.
There are lifeguards based on the beach with their own high lookout
post. Be aware of the warning flags they put out to warn about
current swimming conditions.
your flight comes over the Kotu Point area en-route to
Yundum's Banjul International
Airport you'll see the Gambia's coastline
with good number of hotel
swimming pools scattered among the palm trees, rice paddy
fields and sandy roads. You won't however see any residential
houses, except inland, behind the coastal road to your left. On
this coastal strip called the TDA, the
tourist infrastructure takes precedence. During the five months
of the low-season, when many of the hotels, restaurants and bars
are closed, the locality is quiet and sleepy, only gearing into
life towards the end of the monsoon in late September / early
October, when the restaurateurs, bar owners and hoteliers
get on with their yearly repairs and repainting program. As soon
as the first peak-season visitors arrive in mid-October, does
it metamorphosize into a bustling, gregarious package-holiday
resort once again.
The dirt path that meanders from the Badala Highway, past the
connecting road to the Palm Beach Hotel, and on into Kololi resort,
is a pleasurable 1.5 mile stroll. The Kotu Stream area
is particularly beautiful during the rice-growing season (Aug-Nov),
when the fields are an emerald green. By the end of the dry season,
the creek is almost dry, but at any time of year there are many
birds species and tall, mature palm trees to admire, and sometimes
you might see vervet monkeys and monitor lizards. You'll often
see plastic bottles clustered round the tops of the palms, and
palm wine tappers shinning up to collect the fermenting sap. This
area is also used by cattle herders so don't be surprised if you
see cows making their way along the shoreline, as well as the
roads and fields.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO:
• Craft Market
known as the
BB Hotel Tourist Craft Market Bendula, it was established
on the shore in 1975 to regulate the activities of Gambian women
selling baskets to holidaymakers. It is an open-air, oval shaped
courtyard with a central roundabout which is surrounded by approximately
42 souvenir shops, restaurants,
and fruit sellers. It is also used as the main entrance to the
strand by hotel guests, and lies between the Kombo Beach and Bungalow
Beach hotels. Here you can find tourist souvenirs such as wooden
masks, batik and tie
dye clothing, African jewellery, oil and sand paintings, handmade
leather shoes, bags, beachwear, kaftans, djembe drums and more.
There are also bureau de change,
mini-markets etc. From the entrance and to your left there are
several bars and restaurants.
Kotu's Atlantic Ocean beachfront end there are a number of fruit
stalls offering freshly squeezed juices and whole fruits such
as oranges, mangoes, papaya, bananas and other local tropical
fruits. There are various fruit stalls
spread out along the beachfront which are regulated by the Gambia
Tourism Board, and the women are forbidden from pestering
tourists for their business, though this doesn't stop them beckoning
tourists for their trade however. These women can be identified
by their green T-shirt uniforms.
can hire bicycles just outside most of the hotels
on the strand. There is also a bicycling
track which follows the northern fence of the Badala Hotel, and
continues for a few hundred metres to the back of the Palma Rima
Hotel in Kololi. It is possible to ride a bike at low tide
all the way to Kololi, just make sure you have good, rugged tyres.
Another possible nearby route is to cross the road and make your
way to the road leading into the Kotu Power Station. Where it
forks left it leads you eventually to Manjai's urban area and
its main road. The area around the stations is relatively quiet
with plenty of trees and scrubland.
here is pretty straight forward but be aware you are exposed to
the full glare of the sun on most days between November to April
- clouds are few and far between at this time of the year. Try
taking little breaks under you parasol every once in a while and
use a good sun cream with high factor.
• Horse Riding
are a number of people operating horseback riding sessions along
the strand. You can also enquire at your reception desk about
any local operators near where you stay.
Horse Riding Stable
Sololo (Tel no: 770 3204)
lively holiday resort image is reflected in its density of touristy
venues to eat and drink. In this vicinity there are also lots
of juice bars, beach bars and fruit
stands. You will find various kinds of restaurants,
starting from strand itself all the way through the craft market
and onto the Badala Highway, up to the Elton junction and beyond.
Among these are:
• Al Baba GFC
• Boss Lady
• Captain's Table
• Garden Kitchen
• Hong-Mei Chinese Restaurant
• Jamaican Spice
• John Raymond's Bar & Restaurant
• Kunta Kinteh's
• Ninke Nanka
• Paradise Beach
Bar & Restaurant
• Paradiso Pizza
• Samba's Kitchen
and many others.
tourist-class hotels are very
near to a number of bird habitats, making this an ideal centre
for birders visiting Gambia. The area is made up of mangroves,
coastal scrub land and rice fields which provides a relatively
easy introduction to West African birding. There is an abundance
of bird species and populations here due to almost no human habitation
here and the spacious areas of natural habitat with lots of water,
bush and trees.
good starting point for birdwatching
professionals is the Fajara Golf Course
where the short grass of the fairways is alluring to the likes
of Senegal wattled plover, black-headed plover, piapiac
and the long-tailed glossy starling. The areas of scrub and trees
can yield up an amazing variety of birds. Some of the more regular
species included red-billed hornbill, yellow-billed shrike, green
wood-hoopoe, grey woodpecker, black-billed wood dove, black-cap
babblers, beautiful sunbirds, double-spurred francolin, bronze
manikin and bearded barbet.
here you can walk across the golf course at Fajara,
and you will come too Kotu Stream, a tidal creek bordered by rice
paddies and mangrove wetlands. Several species of Palearctic
waders are commonly found along the stream, along with Senegal
thick-knee. Plenty of grey-headed gulls roost on the mud at low
tide and various herons and egrets are easily spotted here. Around
the area you can spot giant pied and malachite kingfishers and
red-chested swallows. The Kotu Bridge is well known as a place
to find Gambian trained bird
guides for hire.
Another good area to go visit the sewage ponds, which can
be accessed by a footpath on the other side of the road from the
Badala Park; it is behind the Elton Petrol Station. At the sewage
works the productive pond life here lures many bird species;
you may see waders like wood and marsh sandpiper and spur-winged
plovers, pink-backed pelicans, white-faced whistling ducks
and white-winged black terns. Little swifts are regulars and the
surrounding scrub had starlings and fork-tailed drongo.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
Between the tourist village and about 250 metres before the well
lit section of road, is mostly wilderness and farmland. The road
itself is lit along its entire length making it possible to walk
at night. However, it is advisable to take a cab, if possible,
to and from your hotel after 9pm. If you have to walk then make
sure you are with several other people and always carry a pocket
torch light just in case.
The area around the Strand is fairly safe and there is a Gambian
tourist police post there, as well as at the start of the road
leading in from the Bertil Harding Highway. Not far from the junction
of the highway, towards Manjai, is the
are green tourist taxis parked within
the vicinity of the accommodations on Kotu Strand. Yellow taxis
are only permitted to enter to drop off their passengers but not
allowed to wait, unless they get special permission.
[Geographical coordinates 13° 27' 34"
North, 16° 42' 19" West / Kombo North Saint Mary District