This tiny West African nation’s unassuming nature and reputation for safe and comfortable travel have quietly led to a steady increase in visitation since its independence in 1965. Just as the River Gambia is the gateway to the country’s interior, The Gambia itself is the perfect gateway to African travel. Most residents inhabit rural villages, while traditional dress, language and celebrations from the numerous indigenous tribes remain integral aspects of daily life. A taste of African big mammal fauna comes in the form of hippos, baboons and colobus monkeys; Nile rocodiles, monitor lizards and chameleons are stand-out reptiles; and birdlife is rich with colourful hornbills, rollers, bee-eaters, kingfishers and sunbirds. With many eco-lodges and easy access to the lush sub-tropical forests, wetlands and wooded savannah, wildlife viewing is both productive and relaxing. The Gambia’s beach-filled Atlantic coast sees many repeat visitors, especially from residents of northern latitudes.