As tourism in Gambia is still a growing industry, efforts have already been made to ensure that the country doesn’t suffer the adverse effects of mass tourism, especially as it’s such a small country, so there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy ecotourism in Gambia.
Responsible travel in Gambia
As Gambia is a third-world country, it’s important to focus on responsible travel in order to help the local population. Ecotourism in Gambia is easy as many of the beachfront hotels, land and accommodations that have been set aside by the government for tourist development build with the environment in mind and also use local artisans, local staff and buy locally grown produce.
Helping the vulnerable
Many organisations exist who have made ecotourism in Gambia a priority, as a developing country it is thought that many of the young unemployed are vulnerable to exploitation and as such, some projects focus on providing work for them. Likewise, women are also at risk and training farms have been set up in order to teach locals how to farm and supply produce to tourist outlets such as hotels – 90% of the people trained on the farms are women.
Ecotourism camps in Gambia
Specialist camps can be found in Gambia which have been specifically targeted to ensure that lifestyle, culture and values of the locals can be maintained. At Tumani Tenda, a Jolla Village with over 300 inhabitants, visitors can stay in the specially-created accommodation and participate fully in village life. Ecotourists can thoroughly immerse themselves in daily village life and visit ongoing projects such as educational and women’s facilities, as well as the 140 hectare farm where villagers produce a range of fruit and vegetables. It’s also possible to buy crafts from local artisans to take home as souvenirs.
Juffure village (sometimes spelt Juffureh) is one of the more famous destinations for ecotourism in Gambia. The village was featured in the 1976 book Roots by African-American Alex Haley, who was a descendant of the Kunte Kinte tribe. Whilst the village has always been popular, in the past this has led to locals hassling tourists to buy their crafts, however, this has been alleviated by a project which introduced a ticketing scheme. This has put ?22k into the local economy and helped to train guides and provide a children’s centre and equipment, an excursion to the village is therefore a must for those with an interest in ecotourism in Gambia.
Ecotourism in Gambia
There are a wide range of activities to be enjoyed whilst visiting Gambia, not only does the country have a rich cultural history, magnificent wildlife and areas of outstanding beauty, the introduction of ecotourism in Gambia has meant that many locals are benefitting. As well as river tours, beaches, wildlife excursions and birdwatching, responsible visitors can give back to communities in a variety of ways. Brikami Craft Market is always worth a visit to purchase beautiful wooden carvings direct from the artisan and a variety of advice is available to ensure that responsible tourism is promoted.
Photo credit: David Botella