Badala Park Hotel

The Badala Park Hotel is in Kotu Creek, Gambia. The hotel is less than 30 minutes from the airport and has a beautiful sandy beach just a short stroll from its entrance.

Getting there

Banjul International airport is the main airport for flights into Gambia. It is about 20km southwest of the city centre and 15km southeast of the Atlantic coast resorts including Kotu. It takes about half an hour to get to Kotu from the airport. Schedule and charter flights from Western Europe and other African states, arrive at Banjul Airport daily with connections to other parts of the world being less frequent. An airport tax of $7 is payable upon leaving Gambia and can usually be settled in any hard currency.

Travelling around

Roads in The Gambia are pretty rudimentary, although they are improving. You'll find there are good tarmac roads between the airport and your hotel but if you're getting around on your own be aware that tarmac roads, good traffic and direction signs are not that common! You will find taxis outside most hotels. They should display a price board, but it is best to agree a price before you get in. There are yellow 'town taxis' and green taxis for the tourist. The green taxis will go up country for you but are about three times the price of 'town taxis'. There are no trains and public transport is limited to a few public buses and Bush Taxis, which cover most of the main routes but don't run to a regular schedule. However, they are cheap, despite being overcrowded and will give you a good bit of local colour! Car hire is expensive and generally not recommended.

Things to see and do in the area

There are lots of outdoor activities, whether you want to laze on the beach or be more active. The beaches are sandy and palm-fringed and you'll find fruit sellers along their length. They are strictly regulated and are under strict instructions not to hassle tourists! Look out for traditional wrestling bouts, where you'll see colourful costumes and ceremony and some no-holds barred competition. The Kachikaly Crocodile Pool in Bakau is the place to go for a traditional fertility prayer or you can get up close to a croc for a great holiday photo!

Swimming and fishing are popular activities and bird lovers will find that the Gambia offers a fantastic birdwatching experience. Many resident and migratory birds are attracted to the area, especially around the mangroves, Rhun palms and creeks. Some of the species you may spot include Long-tailed Cormorant, Double-spurred Francolins and the Whimbrel.

Golf players are not forgotten, although be prepared for the brown greens at the Fajara Golf Club There are also tennis and squash courts if you fancy a game. Most of the hotels in the Strand rent out bicycles, so that you can explore the area at a slow pace. Take a trip to the palm trees near Kotu Stream and find out how the locals make a strong local drink from the palm trees. Try it at your own risk!

If you fancy a spot of shopping, you'll find the Kotu Bendula Craft Market at the entrance to Kotu Strand beach, where you will be able to browse among all kinds of trinkets and souvenirs African drums, tie-dye dresses, locally made jewellery, kaftans and so on. There are also organised trips, including excursions to markets, craft workshops and city and village tours. Bush and Beach Safaris are also very popular. If you'd rather go under your own steam, consider hiring a guide and organising a day trip to suit yourself and your interests.

Nightlife

There are plenty of bars and eateries and a favourite pastime is people watching. The street scene really comes alive at night, with street performers by the dozen. Don't be surprised if you are asked to join in! If you want to experience real Gambian cuisines, check out Boss Lady, a restaurant offering cut-price Gambian food and drink. Look out for buffet night when you can sample a wide range of Gambian dishes and then enjoy the free entertainment!

For an exotic, romantic dinner, you will find the Captain's Table hidden away behind the greenery near Kotu Taxis. Your dinner will probably be accompanied by traditional live background music, followed by performances such as fire eating. Look out for bands and dance troupes performing at local restaurants and hotels. Pop into the Espresso Bar and Cafe whatever the time of day to people watch at Hunter's Corner. There's also plenty of after-dinner entertainment.

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