Kololi resort town & 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 &
spreading right down to the beach, at what are now called
Rima & 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 massive growth.
on your preferences there are numerous types of holiday
accommodation dotted around Kololi. From tourist-class
to guest houses, lodges, B&Bs & self-catering
accommodation. Standards & 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 & an en-suite
Tourist Attractions & Things
One 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
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
& 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)
In late 2003 the Kololi resort beaches
were replenished (nourished) with about 1 million cubic
meters of sand over 1.5km of its length. 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 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 long. This is where the beach
bars provide respite.
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 regulated by the Tourism
Board to ensure they conform to minimum set hygiene
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.
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
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.
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 insurance policy.
and in particular the Senegambia vicinity, has a profusion
of different restaurants
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 Indian, Italian, Thai,
Chinese, Lebanese and 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
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
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
beach hotel area is not the best bird watching 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
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 friends.
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
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
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 then try 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,
right 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.
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
change, the Standard Chartered Bank, a few mini-markets,
a net cafe, souvenir shops, car
hire, green tourist taxis
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
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)]