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As countries go, Gambia is pretty small – the smallest country in mainland Africa in fact. However, as a holiday destination it has big ideas and packs a real punch when it comes to providing exciting, authentically African holidays.
At just 500km long and 50km wide, Gambia cuts into Africa, pointing like a finger from the coast to Senegal. The sliver of Gambian coast is popular for its soft, pale sands and stunning resorts, but the rest of the country boasts plenty to hold a holidaymaker's interest.
Banjul, the country's capital, sits at the mouth of the Gambian river, a 1120km stretch of water that cuts Gambia down the middle. The Arch 22 monument welcomes you to the city, offering views which stretch out for miles. A trip here should also take in Banjul market. Forget the tourist markets of beach resorts – this is the real deal. You can mingle with the locals in the maze of stalls, picking up authentic souvenirs as you go.
From Banjul, you have the perfect entry point to the River Gambia National Park, where you can take a boat ride to see chimps, baboons and hippos in the wild. The Kiang West National Park, Abuko Nature Reserve Park, Bijilo Forest Park and Pirang Forest Park are also ideal excursions for nature lovers, where lush forests team with wildlife.
Of course, if holidays for you are all about the beaches, it's rich pickings on the Gambian coastline. Kololi Beach is one of the most popular resorts, where you'll find a lively nightscene and bustling beaches. For those who'd prefer something a little quieter, Cape Point boasts a glorious sandy stretch, whereas Kotu Beach is something of a happy medium. If you opt for the latter, an excursion into the Kotu wetlands is a must.
Whether you stick to the beaches or want to adventure a little further inland, food is a big part of any Gambian experience. Sweet and spicy flavours make a heady combination here, with rich curries and stews forming the basis of traditional meals.
Gambia is undoubtedly a world away from most package holiday territory, but those who do venture to this African gem will be rewarded richly with glorious beaches, vibrant resorts, lush greenery and the chance to get close to wildlife. Book your cheap flights to Gambia with Thomascook Airlines and see for yourself what awaits.