After my first experience in Kenya, though I liked it and hated it, I said I will not go to Africa by myself again. So this time I tried to convince friends to join me. We started planning the trip to the Gambia for December 2016, and it was more eventful than expected. So here’s my trip as an ignorant tourist in the Gambia.

Minor setbacks

What I found out later was that there were presidential elections during the time I was there. But I didn’t bother to read about it in advance. I don’t worry much, in general, sometimes I think I should, or people around me make me think so.

One of my friends cancelled last minute, so it was only me and another friend and we stayed at a beautiful local house, close to the Senegambia area. The house had candles at almost every corner and table and I thought it looked nice. But then, the electricity was dropping quite often, so I was “oh, that’s why”.

Holiday mood

I really enjoyed the Monkey park, there are lots of monkeys and very friendly. One jumping on my shoulder while another was checking my bag.

the gambia monkey park

Monkeys trying to get the food from me. Photo by Ka Wa

I liked the beach as well, it was the first time seeing black sand, which I like as much as the white sand. When there are clouds, the thin layer of water over the black sand becomes like a mirror, reflecting the sky. Looks amazing. I’m not good with photos, so couldn’t capture one to reflect this beauty. But I always say it’s best to see it live.

I also went on a day trip to visit all the touristy stuff, the crocodile pool, batik factory, a market, fish village, a nice beach. It was a good day and enjoyed most of the stops we had. Gambian people don’t like their photo taken without permission.

the gambia batik factory

Scarves with African motifs

Disconnected

All good so far, this was the day before the elections. I noticed my internet was gone around midday (I had a local sim card) but thought it was because of the road, bad signal etc. Got home in the evening, still no internet, ok, next day will go to Senegambia strip to a wifi place.

During the elections day, most of the places were closed, only restaurants in the tourist area were open. The internet was cut for all the country, the ATMs were not working for foreign cards, foreign sim cards and international calls not connecting, the border with Senegal closed. Just “great”. Now, it was not such a big deal on my side, all I did that day was to stay on the beach and play in the waves. But I was caught by surprise and I couldn’t let my parents and friends know not to worry, and this thought was concerning me a lot.



Confused

I thought everything will get back to normal when the elections close (at 6 pm). Not really. Locals were saying that by Monday everything will go back to normal. It was Thursday. And that was not a reason to relax, as it was meant, but to panic. We didn’t have enough cash for so many days, and we also wanted to do a safari trip before we left.

After a night of bad sleep, the internet and everything went back to normal. I don’t remember any time being so happy seeing my text message going through. So now it was relaxing time again, at a local bar. While we were catching up on news and trying to figure out if the election results were good news or bad news, Gambian people were passing by, on top of the cars, announcing loudly that the Gambia has a new president. Everybody was happy and congratulate each other on the streets, it was lovely to see.

All good again

In the evening they came out to celebrate it on the streets, with good music, it was such a nice atmosphere and I enjoyed watching them being so happy. At first, I thought that being there on the elections time was a bad decision, but being there after the elections, was a great decision! I felt very lucky to experience it.

the gambia flag

Night street party. Photo by Ka Wa

It was quite at the end of my trip, but I also went to the Fathala park for a day trip safari. As I had read before on the internet, it cannot compare to safari in East or South Africa, but if it’s your first time doing it, you get a taste of what is about.

The lonely white rhino at the park. He killed his partner 2 years ago and had no company since then. They are planning to bring 2 female for him this year.

fathala reserve

Ryno at the safari

Did you like this story? One year after this event, I thought about it again.

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