By Dotun Adewoyin Coker
I have heard so much about how nice The Gambia is, particularly from my good friend who works with Afro Tourism, and I looked forward to my first visit to the tiny West African country. When I learnt I was scheduled to attend a conference in The Gambia later in the year, I was so excited.
Eventually, the D-day arrived. I and a couple of others attending the meeting left Lagos on Sunday, 9th of August 2015. We touched down at Yundum International Airport in Banjul at around 11:15pm and we were received by officials of the Gambian Tourism Board. There were no delays as we moved through immigration, and off we were to Bakau. We checked into the famous Ocean Bay Hotel in Cape Point which was to be our abode for the next couple of days.
The conference kicked off right on schedule at 9:00 am on Monday and lasted until 5:00 pm. We had a one-hour break around noon. Afterwards, I retreated to my room still feeling rather tired from the journey and went to bed early. The next day, the conference started an hour earlier at 8:00 am and lasted until 5:00 pm. Afterwards, I spent some time at the swimming pool before retiring to my room. Yes, I still hadn’t gotten the chance to explore The Gambia.
I woke up early on Wednesday and explored Cape Point Beach in the morning. Really lovely beach and ambience. Back to the Conference Hall at the hotel at 9:00am all the way until 5:00pm. Afterwards, we went down to Kololi and visited the Kairaba Beach Hotel and the Senegambia Beach Hotel, before enjoying dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Thursday saw us engaging in a strategic session to round-off the conference lasting from 9:00am until 5:00pm. Afterwards, we visited the central market in Serrekunda before making a late-night appearance at the Senegambia Strip in Kololi. It was fun as we let our hair down at a night club and partied all night. Yeah!
Our flight was scheduled for late in the evening on Friday, and since the conference was over, we had the day to ourselves. We ‘discovered’ a ‘Nigerian Buka’ (Nigerian local fast-food joint), where we ate Amala/Semovita with Efo-riro and assorted meat (Nigerian delicacies). We went to the market again and bought some souvenirs, before heading to Kololi. Once at the beach, we explored the nearby Bijilo Monkey Park.
My first visit to The Gambia was, to say the least, a very beautiful experience. The Gambia is such a peaceful country, that it got me thinking about relocating there! I’ll definitely visit The Gambia again sometime in the near future. Not just for the many fun it has to offer, but also for its very friendly people.
Now I understand why it’s called the “Smiling Coast!’
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About the Author:
Dotun Adewoyin Coker is an Internal Control Manager with a commercial bank in Lagos, Nigeria.