(Abraham, Yanks, Yahya and Sait)
The main Gambian tourist area is on the coastal strip. If beaches, bars and restaurants are your thing then it’s great, but it’s not for me. The alternative is to stay at the Mandina Lodges in the Makasutu Forest. A West Africa paradise.
I was lucky enough to be allocated one of the four floating lodges which are right in the heart of the mangrove forest. An experience I shall never forget.
This place felt so far away from it all in every sense. The lodges are situated on a tributary of the main River Gambia. Very secluded yes with views over the river and into the forest. Somewhere to experience just the country but the real people and of course, the amazing wildlife.
There are nine lodges in total. You can choose to be on or off the river itself. Stilted walkways join up all the buildings and lodges in this paradise. Mahogany wood is used and these spacious lodges are a dream to unwind in. The open air bathrooms are a dream, yet very private too.
There is also a huge outdoor pool to relax by and to enjoy a cool off.
During my time here I soon found it was a nature lovers dream. Being in the mangrove forest you get to see everything. be it from the lodge area or on excursions. Monkeys, baboons and birds of rich variety.
In the evening the background noise is the voice of nature calling. The birds and all the other animals serenading your dinner and drinks.
You are able to go out with a private guide to learn all about them as well. Go on a nature and wildlife walk like no other with a private guide. You can even explore the wildlife by canoe.
The Mandina Lodges prides itself on benefitting the local people and community. Built using local materials and only employing local staff. I cannot stress enough how friendly the greeting is and how wonderful you are treated as a guest.
During my stay at the lodges I took the time to head out and meet a lot of local people and places in the area. A great thing to do on travels to learn some culture and how the community is working to create a better future for their children.
The local market at Brikama was a joy to explore. A vibrant place full of such naturally warm and happy people. The colour and vibe was incredible. More on that soon.
At the end of each day I could come back to the luxurious lodge and relax, unwind and take in the nature. Surroundings I could have enjoyed for a lot longer.
Whilst the accommodation, food and bar were all top class it was the staff that made Mandina special for me. Thank you to you all for making my stay so special – hope you liked the photos.