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Bijilo (Beach & Village, Gambia)

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Forest Park Beach Area
Introduction:
The Bijilo resort and Bijilo village are in the West Coast Region of the Kombo North St. Mary District (Ksmd), of The Gambia, in West Africa, and are 23km southwest of the capital of Banjul. The old village and its new residential areas are about 2 km south of Kololi and the Senegambia Strip area, and are mostly to the right of the Bertil Harding Highway, while the resort includes the village and much of the area to the left of the road, facing the Atlantic Ocean. This section of the coast is more peaceful than its seafront counterparts to the north, and there are far fewer  bumsters.

Accommodation:
This section of the coastal strip and the inland neighbourhood of Kerr Serign are relatively late comers as holiday resorts. The accommodation choices are tranquil and sparsely spaced. However, it is an important growth area, and available seaside plots are being taken up quickly, and construction of new places to stay continues apace. The hoteliers here are mostly aiming at the top-spending end of the tourism sector. Among the places to stay are the tourist-class Lemon Creek, Golden Beach Hotel and Bijilo Beach Hotel, the luxury Coco Ocean Resort & Spa, the deluxe self-catering Sea Front Residence and other hotels.

Beach Area:
Back in the 1970s the beach area was a quiet backwater of the Gambia's Kombos. It was characterised by a covering of dense, closed woodland, dominated by rhun palms with some coconut trees, and its shore were virtually deserted. Today, much of the woodland south of Bijilo Forest Park has been thinned to make way for tourist related industries and private homes. The area's beaches are still relatively quiet, save for the sections facing the hotels. Between the gaps of the various accommodations are a few bars and restaurants. The sands are golden, wide and clean, and make an excellent place for sunbathing and, when the sea is calmer, for swimming. It is also common to see vervet monkeys in the general area, sometimes they visit bars to titbits of food. Sometimes you can see Serer fishermen landing their catches on shore from their pirogues. The area along the main Kombo Coastal Road, parallel to the Atlantic strip, is well lit and foot access to the ocean side is quite good.

"When the sun sets, Bijilo is at its best. The palm trees are wrapped in a red glow and the green bushes stand out so vividly that they dazzle the eyes. A herd of cows is driven slowly along the beach by a small boy; their dun colour and soft lowings add to the beauty of the peaceful scene..."
[Lady Southorn writing in 'West African Review', March 1938, p. 15]
General Area:
The sleepy village of Bijilo has undergone gentrification, as the old farming families have largely sold up and moved out. Modern residential homes and highway office blocks, shops and lodges are rapidly replacing the fields and old structures of the village. Well spaced sandy streets separate bungalows and villas with pools.

Tourist Attractions & Things To Do:
 Restaurants
There are a few decent restaurants here such as the following:

 Bamboo Beach Bar (International cuisine),

 Jaama Bar (Local seafood),

 Kasumai (International cuisine),

 La Pirogue,

 Sunbird Bar & Restaurant.

 Quad Biking
This way of exploring the beaches and and further afield is increasingly popular. You can often rent a quad bike from the beachfront itself. Also ask at the reception as they may know about a few firms engaged in quadbiking hire. Check that your holiday insurance policy covers this mode of transport. There is a safari tour operator that specializes in quad biking on a set rout called
West African Powersports.

 Horseback Riding
Horses for hire can be found along most of the beachfronts in Gambia and is a different way of exploring sections of the coast quickly, and getting some refreshing sea air into your lungs. Sometimes they are kept by the hotels themselves. Again, just ask at the reception desk for information.

 Sunbathing & Swimming
Bijilo is one of the few beachfronts along this section of the 10.5km strip where you can sunbath in peace and quiet. Keep an eye out for swimming conditions according to the lifeguard's flags. The sand is soft, clean and wide enough so you can keep out of the way of 'beach traffic' such as horse riders and cows!

Health & Safety:
In and around the built up areas is quite safe and the main road is usually lit at night. If you want to veer off into the village at night then, for your own safety, do not go unaccompanied, and carry a small torchlight with you as the side streets are not lit, except by lights from family compounds and shops.

Travel Information:
There are no obvious spots to pick up a taxi on this part of the Bertil Harding Highway, but they are constantly plying the road for business so you won't have to wait too long. You can travel out-and-about from your accommodation by hiring one of the green taxis parked near the entrance of the major hotels here.

You can get to Bijilo from Banjul Airport by car hire if you choose.

[Geographical coordinates 13 27' N, 16 38' W  / Kombo North St. Mary District (Ksmd)]
 
 
See also nearby Brufut     Kololi
 
     
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