Travel & Design Blog - BY YASMIN METZ-JOHNSON

Sunday, 27 May 2018

ROAD TRIP: BANJUL TO DAKAR


There was no way I could make a trip so close to one of my favourite cities and not visit? In my last post ‘Made in West Africa: Kololi Beach’ I ended the post suggesting I was en route to another destination, which I was, only by a different mode of transport this time! After one week spent in Banjul I got on a coach from Banjul to make my way to The Gambia’s next-door neighbor, Senegal. I first went to Senegal in 2014 for a university placement; I then went back to work there for a year. After a year and a half I’m back for the third time but for my shortest stay yet – one week.
I will put all you need to know about travelling between these two cities via road with Gambia Transport Service Company (GTSC). The whole trip was plain sailing. I slept throughout the majority of the journey, if I am completely honest. Here is my break down of the day. I hope it inspires others to consider visiting neighboring countries via road, especially if you are looking to travel on a budget because as you can imagine the difference in price in comparison to the $400 flight price is huge! This was most definitely a bargain! Enjoy the post.

The breakdown: Travelling via road between two West African cities :
BNJ to DKR

Banjul station: Kanifing Industrial Area GTSC Pick up point
Dakar station: Parcelle, Terminus Demm Dikk
Ticket Price: D850/ £14/$18
Luggage: One suitcase cost an additional D70
Passport: I used ECOWAS
Duration: 7 hours

The Gambia Currency: Gambian Dalasi
Senegal’s Currency: CFA


Morning: I woke up at 6am and got my suitcase ready before leaving Banjuling at 7am. The coach was scheduled to leave at 8am. I arrived at GTSC station in Kanifing Intustrial Area twenty minutes prior to load and pay for my suitcase, which was an addition 70 dalasi. I had pre bought my travel ticket. As we hit the road at 8 as planned the first stop was the Ferry Port, as we needed to cross over the border. This took no longer than 15 minutes.


Midday: By the time it was midday we had arrived at Port le Karang, where all passengers had to descend from the coach to go through the Senegalese security. This involved displaying either your national identity card or your passport. I travelled with my ECOWAS passport; therefore this was my proof of identity whilst travelling from Banjul to Dakar. With your passport you will have to pay a fee of 5000 cfa. I’m not sure why that is the case, perhaps for the ink press stamp in your passport who knows, but I did double check. If you are travelling on another nationality passport, I believe it’s the same policy alongside a valid visa. At the Port le Karang checkpoint, this is also the perfect opportunity for your bathroom and lunch break. There is also the option to change your phone SIM provider as you approach Senegal, with locals selling SIM cards and credit. In my case I used the same SIM I had whilst I was living there.





Afternoon: After leaving the port le Kerang, the journey continued through Tiadiay and Kaolack. I knew we were close as we approached Saly and I began to recognize landmarks like the Serigne Cheikh Saliou Mosque. We arrived at our final destination around 4:30pm at the Demm Dikk bus terminus in Parcelle, Dakar. I was relieved to finally arrive after nearly eight hours on the road; it felt even better to return to somewhere I was familiar too. I’d been away for a while but was fortunate enough not to leave it to long to visit again. After arriving I got a taxi to Ouakam where I would stay for the next 7 days.

Gambia Transport Service Company run this service on a daily basis, find out more here.



Photography: All images taken by Yasmin Metz-Johnson
Locations:, The Gambia and Senegal


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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

MADE IN WEST AFRICA: KOLOLI BEACH





I would be lying if I said this was more than a photo album post showcasing one of The Gambia’s  beaches. In the previous post ‘One week in Banjul, The Gambia 2018’ I mentioned that I would do an additional post for Kololi beach, so here it is! I loved it; Kololi Beach had a great ambiance when I went. It was the right kind of busy, popular but not too congested. I could ride Maria the horse in one peace. Kololi is one of the areas in The Gambia that has radically changed due to tourism since the 1980’s. The beach is close to the popular Senegambia strip. If I were to visit again I would visit the Kololi Village Market, I completely missed that. My jumpsuit I’m wearing inspired the name of this post, as I got a talented tailor to make it during my time in Gambia’s neighboring country Senegal a year or two ago. Kololi beach also has the Kololi Beach Resort where you can reside right beside the shores. I spent my last day in The Gambia here before heading to my favourite city. Can you guess where?



Photography: All images taken by Yasmin Metz-Johnson
Location:Kololi Beach, The Gambia


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Sunday, 20 May 2018

ONE WEEK IN BANJUL, THE GAMBIA 2018

The Craft Market, Banjul - The Gambia 2018 ©
I recently went to the Gambia to visit my Grandma and family who live there. This was my first trip to the Gambia is six years; I had previously stopped there in the past in transit from Sierra Leone to the UK. My family would also visit now and then back in the day when I was a child but I guess this was my first official visit on my own.

Ticket: I found a ticket with Thomas Cook via Skyscanner for £110 (yes, you read correctly) and I was sold! That is how the whole trip came about really – I found an incredibly cheap deal. I wanted to surprise my grandma and the flight ticket was more than reasonable however this was a one-way ticket.
Accommodation: As I have mentioned I was primarily going to visit family, therefore I stayed with my Aunty and Uncle in Banjuling.

A week anywhere always goes by soo fast, before your know it - its already Sunday! Here are a few highlight from the 7 days in the country bordered by Senegal also known as ‘the smiling coast of Africa’. I didn’t do much the very first day after my six hour flight from Gatwick. I arrived at Banjul International Airport at 1pm and spent most of the day catching up with family whilst quenching my thirst with ‘the real Vimto’ as I soaked up the sunshine. The Gambia is situated on either side of the Gambia River in West Africa. With over 10 ethnic groups 34% of the nation are from the Mandinka tribe. My family that live in The Gambia are the few Aku people of The Gambia.

Gambia need to knows:

Capital city: Banjul
Languages: Mandinka, English, Wolof, Fula, Jura, Serer
Currency: Dalasi
Independence: 18th February 1965
Former colony: United Kingdom


Here are a few of the places worth visiting in Banjul.

'The Real Vimto' if you know then you know!
Serekunda Market ©
Serekunda Market
Serekunda is one of The Gambia’s largest cities therefore it should not have been a surprise to me that the market place would be so busy! I went to this market with my Aunty to buy the finer things in life – fresh food! My tip would be the same tip I have for all African market, get ready to negotiate pricings!

Lamin Lodge
Located by the Abuko Nature Reserve in Lamin village is Lamin Lodge, a treehouse style above water restaurant accessed by a long bridge. The back of Lamin lodge looks other Abuku Nature Reserve and offer boat rides there and back to the lodge.

Craft Market
Here at the Craft market you can find woven bags and all your favourite accessories/ home d├ęcor. It was rather small in comparison to the last African Craft Market I had visited which was Accra’s Art Centre in Ghana and The Big Market in Freetown, Sierra Leone. I was surprised at how significantly smaller Banjul’s Craft Market was, perhaps there were divisions and I was only in one area.

Lamin Lodge ©
Behind Lamin Lodge ©
Makasutu Cultural Forest ©
Yasmin and The Gambia River ©
Makasutu Cultural Forest 2018 ©
Makusutu Cutlural  Forest
This forest surrounding The Gambia river is a 1000 acre tropical reserve with multiple eco systems. Initially I was overwhelmed with how large the reserve was, I thought the walk to the river would never end! That being said, it is very scenic alongside the plants and the overgrown tree branches that formed arched passageways. Makusutu means ‘sacred forest’ in Mankinda, the language spoken by many Gambians. The highlight for me was The boat ride is worth the visit! You can also reside there for a couple of days on Madina Lodges floating river lodges which look like an experience! The entrance fee for Makusutu Cultural Forest is 850 dalasi.

Kololi Beach
I went to Kololi beach on my last day, the beach is beautiful with plenty of surrounding restaurants and bars and optional horse rides along the coastline. I will share some more snaps I got of Kololi the in another post.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in The Gambia, it’s the perfect stop for good weather, amazing benachin, culture and in my case a great opportunity to spend time with family. If I was there any longer I would have love to have fit in more activities and historical landmark visits, but I’ll guess I’ll leave that for next time!

Have you been to The Gambia before? If so please share your recommendations below.



Photography: All images taken by Yasmin Metz-Johnson
Location:Various locations in The Gambia


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