A few years ago Liza and I travelled to Gambia and western Casamance (southern Senegal) in Africa, it being the first time any of us visited mainland Africa ever. The experience was perhaps one of the most eye-opening we have ever had, and at the same time enjoyed every single minute of it- well almost.
Gambia is a very small country that for a while appeared to be growing as a new tourist destination among Europeans, however it has not become the hotspot many thought it would be. Still, it is a very safe and small country to visit, relatively cheap, and has great fauna, flora and beaches to enjoy.
On the other hand, Casamance in Senegal has had a turbulent recent past, with sprouts of guerilla warfare still going on near its bordering country but generally safe. Not many travelers come here, and it is because of this that we crossed the border as soon as our plane landed in Banjul, Gambia, and headed stright to Diola territory (the Diola are the second largest ethnic tribe in Senegal.
Soon after the trip I wrote an article with our experience and had it published in Gonomad.com. Our trip was one of a kind and perhaps one of the most special we have ever done in the world, so read about our adventure and get some travel tips in the article Smiling With the Diola in Western Casamance.
Have you visited Senegal or Gambia? What surprised you the most? Did you find the lake as unappaling as we did? Please share this post if you liked it!
I was in Dakar for 3 months working as and intern for VOA. I didn’t get to travel too much out of Dakar, but I did a few times and I always felt safe. Africa is Africa. If you’re scared to go because of the unrest you are probably the kind of person who would be happier visiting a ‘more comfortable’ part of the world first and ease your way into the more troubled waters.
Hi Jade. Well said. Africa may not be for everyone, and those who want to be comfortable at all times will not see the real Africa. Perhaps they should start with South Africa? How did you like Dakar by the way? It can be a cumbersome city…
Most west African countries are not considered very safe due to political situations and violence being common there, were the people hostile or anything ?
Casamance has been politically unstable for over a decade, with a full on civil war with bordering Guinea Bissau for years. Cote D’Ivoire has had its fair share of war time, and so has Sierra Leone.
I really want to go to West Africa at some point soon — seems like such an interesting place.
It is very interesting indeed, and not many travelers there!