Banjul Port, formally known as Bathurst in the days of the British Colonial Empire, was founded as a trading outpost in 1816 on what is now called the Island of St. Mary. Located at the mouth of the River Gambia as it spills out into the Atlantic Ocean, Banjul is a small port of call for most cruise ships. It is the capital of Gambia, which is one of Africa's smallest independent nations. It is a thriving commercial port where people trade in various crafts and jewelry, and has little in the way of tourist attractions. However, being the gateway to Gambia's rich treasure trove of tourist destinations, from long sandy beaches to African Safaris, the city sees its fair share of tourists coming to Africa on West African cruise ships from Europe and the Mediterranean.
If shopping is your interest, then look no further than Banjul itself. Its small size belies the fact that it is one of Africa's more affluent cruise ports. Items that you will bargain for will cost you half the price in Banjul compared to any place else on the West African continent. The Albert Market on Russell Street is considerably easier to shop at, compared with most African Markets. It is every bit as vibrant and apart from a variety of spices, fish and vegetables, travelers are able to bargain for musical instruments, woodcarvings, traditional African masks and African dress fabrics or handcrafted jewelry that are on display throughout the market.
Things to See
Beyond Banjul lies a classic African adventure holiday for tourists who visit Gambia. Beach goers will not likely stick close to the Banjul cruise terminal, but rather flock to Cape Point, Kotu and Kololi beaches, which are just 15 to 25 minutes by road. Visitors will be able to relax on the sandy beaches of West Africa and sip on freshly mixed fruit cocktails or swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Further south along the coast are more beaches, namely Gunjur, Sanyang and Kartong, where the crowds are thinner and the experiences better. Alternatively, tourists who wish to explore a bit of the African continent have the option to take a canoe cruise along the River Gambia, visit the Kiang National Park or the River Gambia National Park, also called Baboon Island, or visit the Abuko Nature Reserve and experience a Gambian Camel Safari. The variety of foliage and wildlife on display is a unique experience that travelers to this country will remember for a long time.
Restaurant and Bars
The larger hotels offer a variety of Western cuisines along with traditional Gambian dishes, which consist mainly of a mix of fish and peanuts. Try the Domoda, a meat and pureed nut stew served with either rice or a fresh barracuda. Also worth visiting are two of Gambia's best restaurants, the Ngala Lodge and the Coconut Residence, which are located not far from Banjul.