River Gambia

River Gambia

Travel to River Gambia – The Lifeline of Gambia

The River Gambia is a major landmark and tourist attraction, and the most dominant feature running through the heart of the country. The river is also the main source of irrigation with potential for activities such as fishing, boating and sailing. Short boat trips along the river make interesting activity. The shores abound in birdlife.

The river is also closely linked with the slave trade; the remains of slave trading posts can be seen along its length and the ‘Roots’ books brought prominence to Albreda near Juffure village from where Kunte Kinte was enslaved.

River Gambia is 1,130 kilometres long, rising in the Fouta Djallon plateau in Northern Guinea, flowing generally northwest through southeast Senegal then west, dissecting the Gambia, to the Atlantic Ocean at Banjul. The river is navigable in its entire length. The river provides access to interior sections of Senegal and Guinea.

The River Gambia is a prominent geographical feature and it is at its widest at Cape St Mary. It narrows to 5 kilometres at Banjul, located on St Mary’s Island and has a deep sheltered harbour. The river ecology is divided into two different zones, estuarine and freshwater, which in turn largely determine the peripheral vegetation pattern.

Salt water sneaks in some 150 kilometres upstream, as far as Kantaur in the dry season (November to June). In the lower estuary, mangroves dominate the riverside, with extensive reed belts in the in-between zone, while where the water is fresh, the banks are lined with gallery forest. Up river, the water wildlife is more interesting where travellers can see crocodiles, dolphins and hippos.

The main feature along the river is the incredible variety of birds and most of the bird trips are boat excursions along the creeks of The Gambia at dawn or dusk. The River Gambia’s Baboon Islands is a complex of five Islands that was gazetted in 1978. All islands are quite flat and possess mainly gallery forest with some open swampy or savannah areas.

Visitors to the River Gambia may cross by ferry from Banjul to Barra and travel by road to Juffureh and Albreda, and then by canoe to James Island in the calm waters of the River Gambia.

Another popular tourist destination is Tendaba, which is 160 kilometres from Banjul. Further upriver, travellers can stop by the fascinating circles of standing stones around Wassu.

  • Enjoy a relaxing river cruise and see river life in close-up.
  • Make a trip up country and explore the old colonial town of Georgetown (Janjangbureh).
  • Discover a multitude of bird, mammal and reptile species.

Gambia River offers its visitors activities like fishing, boating, and sailing, besides shopping and sightseeing in towns in the vicinity.


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