Things to do in Kololi & Senegambia

the Gambia
Kololi Itinerary

Gambia's sex-tourism capital

Duration: At least two weeks

Stay: Busy Bee Apartments or Queen Zee Garden Apartments

Kololi is only a 20-minute ride from Banjul’s airport, and as most flights arrive at night, many visitors opt for the convenience of the mid-sized town. As a result, you won’t only find a good selection of accommodations but tons of restaurants, bars, and clubs. Kololi also has a solid ex-pat community, and you will likely meet other travelers, even during the off-season. Even though it’s conveniently located and offers lots of comfort for visitors, we highly recommend backpackers NOT to start their trip in Kololi unless they plan to spend a longer time and volunteer. Even after a few days, we could realize how the constant attempts of bumpsters would impact us and change our behavior. We became very weary and closed up, basically mistrusting almost everyone after only some days in town. It became tough to shake off our weariness even as we continued traveling. So, if you are planning on traveling to the Gambia, do yourself and the locals a favor and start your journey elsewhere to keep your mind and heart open towards the undoubtedly very friendly and genuine Gambians.

Heads up, our journey through the Gambia turned out to be quite nerve-wracking at times. But, looking back, we might have been more open and less aggravated if we hadn’t started our trip in Kololi. Why? Because there you’ll see tourism at its worst. A long tradition of sex tourism, all-inclusive tourism, and volunteerism have shaped the locals’ perceptions and expectations of foreigners. Due to the irresponsible tourism practices of mostly older women seeking companionship, “bumpsters,” young local men, have to build a career around it. As soon as you head outside the door, they will approach you trying to engage you in a conversation. Sadly, those conversations are never honest, and you’ll quickly realize that there are ulterior motives.

Volunteer in the Gambia

Kololi is undoubtedly the party and all-inclusive hub, but it’s also home to a solid Dutch ex-pat community. We were lucky to stumble into Busy Bee’s Apartment and met Claudette, one of the most impressive females we have met around the world. Through her, we were not only able to look a bit deeper and understand Gambian culture somewhat better, but we also realized that getting involved, working, and staying longer may be the only way to come to love Kololi. We were, and we maintain to be, very critical towards volunteer projects but found that, especially in the Gambia, many exciting social businesses are springing up. Busy Bee apartments are not the typical place to stay for short-term visitors, so we could meet volunteers from across the world and listen to their stories and experiences.

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Granada, Nicaragua: market

Enjoy the beach life

The miles-long, fine sandy beach, with its offer of beach bars, restaurants, and fruit bars, entices visitors to spend a fun day by the beach. Although we were traveling The Gambia in shoulder season and were surprised by how uncrowded the beaches were, the beach was bursting with life only some weeks later. During the week, locals are not allowed to enter the beach area, a sad and weak effort to keep bumpsters at bay. We know this practice is not unusual, but it made us feel inadequate and somewhat guilty. Especially if you sit down at some of the beach bars and find yourself surrounded by white, old ladies with young Gambians. The sight of this spectacle never failed to make us either mad, sad or left us without words.
If you are not staying directly by the beach, you’ll find two main “entrances” to the beach. One entrance is by Poco Loco, a lot busier, and one by Solomon’s bar. We found that Fridays are the most relaxed days by the beach.

Party the night away in Senegambia

Senegambia is the most notorious place to party in all of Gambia. A strip lined with restaurants and bars blasting African tunes makes up the entertainment center. It’s nothing fancy and mostly very casual. Be aware that, of course, there is a lot of prostitution, too.

Kololi 4

Practical travel tips for Kololi and Senegambia

When is the best time to visit the Gambia?


The best time to travel to The Gambia is during the dry season, which runs from November to June. This is when the weather is most pleasant, and there is less risk of contracting malaria.

How to get to Kololi?


If you arrive at night, take a taxi. It shouldn’t cost more than $14. If you plan on traveling to the coastal area, you can take one of the frequent minibusses. You can reach bigger international buses from “Westfield,” about 20-30 mins from Kololi.
Our recommendation – Whatsapp Nesta: +220 7238475 – he was our driver and was probably THE nicest and most honest person we met in The Gambia.

Is there sex tourism in the Gambia?


Yes! We were shocked and often left speechless. While we travel the world, we have never become a witness or have been so heavily impacted by it. It almost seems like the long tradition of sex visitors has shaped the perception of what a white female tourist came for. It’s sad and frustrating for anyone who comes to the Gambia to get to know the country and its people.

Is Kololi safe for travelers?


We have always felt very safe and didn't experience any issues.

Can I drink tap water in the Gambia?


Bring your water filter or self-cleaning bottle! The Gambia's tap water is not safe to drink. The water does not go through the same purification process as in the EU, and diarrhea can occur in people who have not yet built up immunity to bacteria or other impurities in the water.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?


Trash: Plastic pollution is incredible! Bring collapsable food containers, cutlery, and your water purifier!

Sex tourism: Sex tourism is a force in the Gambia and is incredibly challenging to witness.

Sunscreen: Protect The Gambia's waters and wear reef-safe sunscreen.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List the Gambia

When packing for a trip to The Gambia, remember that the weather is hot and humid year-round. However, the Gambia is also a predominantly Muslim country, so it’s essential to dress accordingly when away from beaches.

You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries.


Traveling the Gambia?

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Marrakesh | Live dream of 1001 nights

Marrakesh | Live dream of 1001 nights

Marrakesh mesmerized me from the second we left the cab. Surrounded by “guides” eager to lead us to our Riad. Never would we have found our Riad ourselves, even though the taxi left us only about 300 m from the entrance. The unimposing door was hiding the beautifully decorated and colorful Riad. We were confronted with the incredible detail of Moroccan style. We stood there with our mouths open. Deeply impressed and taken aback by so many impressions, so much beauty.

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