For those looking to dodge the plummeting temperatures in the UK as winter draws near, a West African country offers the ideal getaway.
The Gambia has risen through the ranks of tourist destinations for its incredible weather, beautiful views and as a way of becoming accustomed to African culture.
However, it is still seeking to shake off a rather unfortunate association with older British women heading to the country in search of readily available toy boys.
The Gambia experiences almost uninterrupted sunshine and practically zero rainfall.
From November to June, holidaymakers can experience average maximum temperatures in the low-30s, making it one of the best times to go visit.
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There is also a variety of accommodation options to choose from.
These range from 5-star holidays retreat with four-figure costs for a week of luxury, to far cheaper deals.
Tourists can even grab themselves a lodge floating on the River Gambia or a stylish eco-retreat.
The official language of The Gambia is also English, making communication easier.
It’s also known as a “soft introduction to Africa”, according to travel agents The Gambia Experience.
Their website reads: “In many countries in Africa, the multi-sensory, vibrant atmosphere which accompanies day-to-day life can prove slightly overwhelming, or certainly not rejuvenating.
“In The Gambia however, you’ll encounter a more relaxed, laid-back pace of life.
“Culture shocks are commonplace when visiting developing countries, but the friendly locals will put you at ease as soon as you see their big smiles.”
The Gambia gained independence in 1965 and is known around the world as ‘The Smiling Coast’ thanks in part to its welcoming population but also thanks to its position on the map, which looks like a smiling mouth.
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But for some time the country was known for sex tourism.
Sex tourism took off in the 1990s with budget package tours to the former British colony, and The Gambia since built a reputation as a place where young black men are willing to sleep with older white British women who are happy to pick up the tab.
A lack of jobs and low wages in The Gambia, which has a population of 2.5million, means the financial perks from developing a relationship with a tourist are a strong incentive, with the boys pursuing this known as “bumsters”.
But in 2022 The Gambia sought to push back against this reputation, with Abubacarr Camara, director of the Gambia Tourism Board, saying they wanted more “quality tourists”.
And there is plenty for such tourists to enjoy, including over 300 species of tropical bird and two Unesco World Heritage sites.
And it’s lesser-known status as a great tourist spot also means beaches tend not to be as crowded as other popular locations.
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