Kotu Beach

Families, couples and groups of friends looking for an African adventure without the dreaded jet lag would be wise to consider a holiday in the beautiful Kotu Beach resort in the Gambia, West Africa.

Direct flights from the UK to the Gambia typically take under six hours and as there is no time difference between the two countries, trips here offer a great opportunity to enjoy an exotic beach break without any exhausting long haul flights.

A small and wonderfully welcoming African nation, the Gambia is awash with stunning palm-lined beaches and Kotu Beach is one of the most popular among visitors from the UK and across Europe. Combining the luxury and convenience of a modern beach resort with abundant opportunity for off the beaten track adventure, the sun-baked destination lies less than 15 miles from Yundum International Airport, located in the colourful Gambian capital, Banjul.

Although Koto Beach is an increasingly popular holiday destination, it has so far avoided the overdevelopment that has blighted so many exotic destinations. Planning restrictions mean that towering high rise hotels are conspicuous by their absence and instead the attractive resort of Kotu is characterised by low-rise hotel and apartment complexes, built in the traditional style. Beach bars with straw roofs are the perfect places to enjoy a tangy cocktail or cooling coconut water whilst admiring the beautiful view. The soft white sands of Kotu Beach are perfect for stretching out with a good book and soaking up some of those West African rays.

Kotu Beach is located towards the northern edge of the Gambia's beautiful coastline and is one of several beach resorts stretching south from the mighty River Gambia. Whilst it is perfectly possible to just kick back and relax during a trip to Kotu Beach, adrenaline junkies won't be disappointed either. Opportunities for water-based adventure abound - jet-skiing, deep sea diving and other high octane activities can all be arranged at Kotu Beach resort.

Most hotels are set in their own beautiful tropical gardens and the slow pace of life here makes a break in Kotu Beach the perfect choice for couples looking to escape the world for a honeymoon or romantic getaway. Kotu Beach is also popular with families and many hotels are very well equipped to meet the needs of both young children and teenagers as well as adults - some can even arrange baby sitting services for those who want to slip away for an evening safe in the knowledge that the younger family members are in safe hands. Snorkelling, swimming and fishing are good family friendly activities that can easily be arranged by most hotels in Kotu and the beautiful bird and animal life that abounds in this part of Africa will be sure to impress even the sulkiest of teens.

For many people, the Gambia is synonymous with rich wildlife and visitors to Kotu Beach will be well-placed for seeing many of the natural wonders that this African nation has to offer. The Kotu Creek wetlands run east of the Kotu Beach resort and are awash with hundreds of colourful native bird species. Bird watching safaris are a popular activity with travellers visiting the Gambia, whilst river cruises along the River Gambia provide excellent opportunities to spot hippos, crocodiles and other wetland animals at dramatically close quarters. Inland safaris are also hugely popular and lucky tourists may even be able to spot chimpanzees as well as the many smaller monkeys that leap from branch to branch overhead.

Kotu Beach is a great base for exploring the wider Gambia and hotels here are more than happy to arrange long and short excursions for guests. Local transport mainly takes the form of bone-rattling public buses and bare-bones river boats, so visitors who wish to travel a little more luxuriously would be well-advised to take trips aboard more comfortable tourist boats and buses.

It is perfectly possible to combine off the beaten track adventure with modern luxury during a break here - for example, a couple of days safari adventure can be offset with a sap treatment and a few rounds of golf at the nearby Fajara Golf Course. Kotu Beach resort boasts plenty of relaxed bars and restaurants, serving family-friendly international dishes such as pizza and pasta as well as the wonderfully spicy and flavoursome cuisine that is typical of the Gambia.

Unsurprisingly, the fish here is wonderful - caught daily by local fishermen, it's a great way to support the local economy while treating yourself to some of the freshest seafood you can imagine.

Kotu Beach resort also has a scattering of smaller shops as well as a supermarket, ideal for self-caterers and for anyone planning a picnic. Meanwhile, the local market is a colourful place to pick up local handicrafts.

Yundum International Airport, Banjul, is served by international charter flights from several UK airports. Most visitors choose to avoid Kotu Beach during the rainy season, which runs from July through to October and sees intense humidity as well as heavy downpours. The rest of the year, temperatures hover around the low 30s, with plenty of warm sunshine.

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