Since the children left home, Jeremy and I have always had our holiday abroad in the winter to get some much-needed winter sun. We did the usual Canaries and a trip to the Caribbean. But we were really after a more local experience and not too long a flight.
After looking everywhere, we decided that The Gambia had both and looked quite fun, this was the local experience we had been looking for!
We then researched somewhere good to stay, and when we saw Footsteps, we knew that was it! We loved the ethos of green living, sustainability, and supporting the local people with properly paid jobs.
Arriving there from the plane was like a little oasis. Warm, lovely surroundings, individual huts built in a local style to keep them cool, and delicious food! The welcome was warm and friendly, from both David and the lovely local staff, who always go the extra mile.
The first evening we joined other guests at the dipping pool and watched as various beautiful birds came down for a drink. Such colours and we got to learn their names (the birds, oh and the people).
We walked most days down to the sea for a swim, as I am a sea swim addict. It was warm, but not too hot, and fun. Meeting locals on the way was an added bonus. Locally squeezed fresh juice was available in quite a few spots en route.
We had a few guided bird walks or drives with Sarani, or Lamin Bojang, who know so much about the local wildlife, and the local life.
Off the beaten track.
We must have enjoyed it as we so far have been there 3 times, or is it 4? The last visit we made, we took a trip upriver with Linda, David’s other ( better 😉?) half. This was a real local experience. It was quite a lot of driving, but we got to see a lot of The Gambia most people don’t see. We did a boat trip and saw Chimpanzee, Hippos, and crocodile, and local village life. It was quite a revelation to be somewhere where we were the only white faces.
Gambia’s cotton trail a very local experience.
We also went right up to the edge of The Gambia, where it borders Senegal, to a very rural off-grid village, where they are trying to survive on a poor cotton harvest. We heard the story of the help they need to get organic cotton off the ground and have now been lucky enough to receive some of the first pieces of the cotton cloth made from their cotton😊
The Gambia is not a rich country, but the people we saw and met were friendly and welcoming, in and out of Footsteps.
We were also introduced to a women’s cooperative who turn plastic waste into items to sell and saw some weavers weaving cloth.
As I write about The Gambia, I can almost imagine myself back there, under the orange trees, or swimming in the little dipping pool, about to order a beer before we all eat together around a large communal table. I think I’ll have butterfish with a local sauce.
Written by Jill Spanton.