In its lush tropical garden of citrus, mango, banana and flowering shrubs, this unusual house provides a perfect getaway in the African bush. It offers closeness to nature, especially the rich bird life, but also the amenities of a friendly Eco-lodge (Footsteps) a 2 minute walk away. These include an excellent bar and restaurant, fresh water plunge-pool, and friendly, welcoming staff to help with activities and trips. (NOTE: THE LODGE IS CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT FROM MAY - OCT 15 BUT SELF-CATERING IS STILL POSSIBLE AT OUR HOUSE AND A COOK COULD ALSO BE ARRANGED. CONTACT US IF YOU'RE INTERESTED).
The house is off the beaten track and a world away from 'package holiday land'. Sandy paths lead to the local village in one direction, the sea and its beautiful deserted beaches in the other. Both are about a mile away - a half hour walk, or 10 minutes on the bikes provided. With its high thatched roof and shuttered windows, the house is relatively cool and airy. A shady verandah runs along the its front and beyond this lies a thatched seating area (bantaba) with sunloungers and hammocks.
All services in the house and lodge are ecological. Gunjur is 1 hour from Banjul airport and approx. 40 minutes from the main tourist areas. Local transport is by walking, cycling, donkey or bush taxi, but driver and car can easily be hired. With the the ocean surf as a distant background, the ambiance is peaceful and relaxing. With its 2 double bedrooms and simple self-catering, the house makes a perfect base for unwinding, and for walking, bird-watching, beach-fishing, and exploring the surrounding area.
Rental includes daily cleaning, linen and towels but please bring your own beach towels.
Nightly and weekend rates pro rata.
We arrange airport transfers at time of booking unless requested otherwise. The cost is £40 return per party of 4 or less, payable at Footsteps EcoLodge. One way cost is half the return. Extra person £5 each way.
Rental Payment: by cheque or bank transfer. £100 deposit, remainder 8 weeks before departure.
Gunjur is typical of a larger Gambian village. It sprawls over quite a large area, with mosque, church, several schools, health clinic and colourful market. There are small shops and workshops, a modest supermarket, street hawkers and and local type restaurants. The streets are dusty, potholed, and muddy in the rainy season; the people are colourful, friendly and often curious. It is well worth taking a tour around the village, perhaps with a guide - go to a local school if you can.
You'll find limited resources, but impressive dedication; large family groups that really look after each other ; and more children with big appealing eyes than you've ever seen in your life. There are huge mango trees; old men with wrinkled faces; women with babies on their backs; cows, donkey-carts and bicycles - but barely a car in sight.
Gunjur fishing village is right on the beach and bustling in a different way - brightly painted pirogues, fisherman selling their catch or mending their nets, and an open air fish-smoking operation that leaves you smelling like a kipper.
Kartong, going south towards Senegal, is more compact than Gunjur and almost pretty in an African kind of way. But don't miss the Reptile Farm just before the village. Run by a Frenchman, it houses a representative collection of Gambian snakes and other reptiles, and is not only educative but thoroughly engaging. It is hands on (but only if you want it to be) and you may find yourself doing the unthinkable before you leave - such as holding a large python in your hands and letting it wrap itself around your neck.
Other trips include Sunday performances of African dance and drumming at the Rainbow Bar in Sanyang; visits to one of the Nature Reserves where monkeys abound; or calling in to the sacred crocodile pool where you may get to stroking a crocodile.
Footsteps itself can arrange many activities - batik-making, African drumming, bird watching, fishing from the beach (including hire of gear). The staff will make suggestions to suit your interests. There is free badmington and table tennis. If you are interested in the natural world, go on the early morning bush-walk with Lamin. He'll not only show you birds and animals but will teach you about the medicinal and practical uses of the trees and shrubs that you see.
There is a beautician on site to help you relax with beauty treatments and massage.
Longer excursions can be arranged. The easiest way of travelling is to hire a car and driver (about ÂŁ20 a day). The drivers know their way about and generally smooth the way in a culture which is different from our own. Brikama,, 30 minutes by car, is a busy but colourful African town with an interesting market and craft market. It is noisy, dusty, vibrant and not to be missed.
The tourist strip (Senegambia) is worth a visit, if only to see what you have escaped! But it also abounds with craft shops and restaurants and will satisfy such cravings should they arise.