Christmas in Gambia? Yes please! We like to escape the Scottish winter.
Usually, we head to the Canaries for some guaranteed sunshine over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
But this year we decided to do something different and the Gambia fitted the bill.
Not too long a flight from the UK, with guaranteed sunshine and the prospect of interesting trips out.
So, after some internet research, we plumped for Footsteps Eco-Lodge – it turned out to be one of the best holidays we’ve ever had.
Our new friend Annie
On arrival at the airport, it was just great to be picked up by Footsteps staff and then taken directly to the Lodge. We had booked Sunbird house, which was amazingly spacious inside.
It was so relaxing to be able to sit on the porch and watch all the birds and later on to watch the sunset at the bird hide tower in the gardens. Our daughter Kathleen was especially delighted to make friends with Annie the dog.
Annie also showed us the way to the beach!
Quiet beaches & warm seas
The walk to the beach took us about 30 minutes with interesting vegetation along the way. I especially liked the evening walks, looking out for lizards and birds. One day we even saw a monitor lizard rushing into the undergrowth. It was also fun to chat with the friendly locals who would pop out as soon as they saw us! Having a swim in the evening was so nice, the beach area was quiet and the sea warm and many a time we saw flying fish. There was a little beach hut where we could get drinks and saw stunning sunsets.
So much to do!
We took bird watching trips with Lamin around Footsteps and further afield. I especially liked the boating trip to see the mangroves, it was fascinating to see the roots of these trees and to learn about the ecology of these areas. The Baobab tree fascinated me – it was so huge – we could all stand in the trunk. We also took a trip to the border area with Senegal and were serenaded by a musical group there.
Share stories & laugh
Other days we just relaxed around the lodge, our Christmas in Gambia was spent watching birds flitting in and out of the freshwater eco pool, and walking to nearby lodges for lunch. Most evenings we ate at Footsteps. It was so nice to be able to chat with other guests at the round table and share our stories and laugh. Another couple, invited us to dinner at their roundhouse, and sometimes staff brought our dinner to the porch at Sunbird house – nothing was too much trouble for the Footsteps team. We really felt well looked after.
The best present!
Christmas in Gambia for us was especially lovely and one we will never forget. We enjoyed a concert by the local school children and had a dance after, and another time a kora player came and played for us. My daughter (a keen guitar player) enjoyed the opportunity to have a lesson on this instrument.
I think we have to return, there is still so much to see and do and writing this I’m missing the good friends I met while there.
Written By Karen Hegyi.