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Extraordinary wildlife and winter sun...

The Gambia is known as the ‘Smiling Coast of Africa’ because of its irrepressibly friendly inhabitants. It’s the smallest nation on the African continent - smaller than Yorkshire - and completely surrounded by Senegal. There may only be 80km of coastline, but the uncrowded beaches are stunning paradises with golden sands, swaying palm trees, and rustic fishing villages. The Gambia is an excellent winter destination, just a six-hour flight from the UK and on ‘UK time’ so there’s no chance of jet lag. English is also the official language. Popular and affordable, you can enjoy the perfect combination of a luxurious beach holiday in a five-star resort with exciting excursions, such as a boat trip to stay overnight in a forest ecolodge on a chimpanzee island reserve.

Its diverse ecosystems have resulted in an incredible collection of wildlife – manatees, hippos, butterflies and over 600 species of birds. The Abuko Nature Reserve is the most popular attraction in this small but perfectly formed tropical nirvana, and home to chameleons (if you can see them!), monkeys, lizards, bushbacks and crocodiles. It is also the closest tropical forest to Europe. More intrepid adventurers will head for the Kachikally Crocodile Pool, where they can get up close and personal with up to 100 Nile crocodiles – feeding time is an experience not to be missed! For a gentler excursion, visit Bijilo Forest Park, a birdwatcher’s paradise where you can also see several varieties of monkey, including green monkeys, Campbell’s mona monkey and the rare western red colobus.

The Gambia is a destination like no other, with thatched cabanas, breathtaking sunsets, beautifully warm waters, scenic lagoons, simple yet mouth-watering cuisine, brightly coloured birds, lush gardens, lively street markets and glorious beaches. Ride horses through the Atlantic surf, take a 4 wheel-drive adventure onto the grassy plains either side of the meandering Gambia River, but most of all enjoy the warm welcome from some of the friendliest people in Africa.

Currency: Gambian Dalasi
Visa: Not required for British passport holders