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“September at Ngala”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Ngala Lodge

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Ngala Lodge
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Fajara
Certificate of Excellence
Essex
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“September at Ngala”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 22, 2007

We have just returned home having enjoyed our stay at the Ngala Lodge with The Gambia Experience.
So what can I say about it that hasn't already been said? Well, yes it is a very peaceful and relaxed place to stay and the food in the restaurant is very good indeed. But initially we were very disappointed with our room allocation (Suite 7 Gnd Flr of the original lodge). It was very small and dark, decorated in a very quirky way and had no door to the shower/toilet area, just a curtain. There were also no drawers or shelves to put clothes and the wardrobe and dressing table looked very dated and shabby. We were told later that suite 7 was to be refurbished. A bit shocked too that you had to pay for the tea/coffee and bottled water in the suites.
After requesting a room change, things started to look up. Suite 8, also on the Gnd Flr, was totally different, much much bigger with a separate lounge, a very large bedroom area with a door leading to a walk-in closet, a shower area with 2 showers, a rather quirky sink (with no plug) and a walled off area with toilet and bidet. There was also a small terrace with chairs, a little private garden and a gate straight onto the pool area. There was only one A/C unit in the bedroom so we requested a fan to use in the lounge. We found this suite to be very adequate but don't expect five star accomodation in the Lodge, as in other hotels.
For real five star accommodation at Ngala you should book an Atlantic suite or a suite in the Manor. We managed to gain a look into both and were impressed by what we saw. The Manor also has its own lawned sunbathing area with a large hot tub. The Atlantic suites all have their own jaccuzzis.
The restaurant is actually separately owned from the hotel and is pretty expensive, compared to eating out locally. But for an intimate night out you will find nice surroundings, a peaceful ambience and the staff very friendly.
The lawned sunbathing area overlooking the Atlantic has nice views out to sea and at most times a cooling breeze, but don't get complacent, you will still get sunburnt if not careful.
There are some steepish steps down to the beach, which is very secluded, but there are no loungers or parasols. At low tide, you can walk along the beach in either direction but be careful not to get stuck at high tide.
As for the weather, we were pleasantly surprised after reading it was the most wet and humid time of year. Having booked last minute we expected thunderstorms and rain everyday, but these appeared at night, so by the next morning everthing was wet but actually cooler. The humidity then begins to increase over the next few days until the next storm, we had plenty of days to sunbathe in between. We had 2 days out of ten when it rained during the day. The humidity can be intense at this time of year, so drink plenty of water, especially on any excursions.
Talking of which we went on two, the 4WD and Treasure Island. They were both very informative and eye opening but quite similar. Our personal recommendation is the Treasure Island (Jinnack)
You will see, from the 4WD truck, ferry and pirogue (boat), a lot more of the typical people, wildlife, mangroves etc of The Gambia and a small part of Senegal,
Overall, we enjoyed our stay very much and would recommend it for a peaceful and relaxed place to escape the heat, bumsters and hard bartering which is, after all, what The Gambia is all about.

  • Stayed September 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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Helpful?
9 Thank p3t3g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
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Oxford
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 22, 2007

Nagala Lodge is simply a wonderful place to stay. A small slice of heven on earth. The best bits and the comments too:

Swimming - The choice to swim in the sea or the hotel pool, The pool is not that big but in september its low season therefore, me and my partner were often the only people by the pool at any one time. Priceless. By the last day the pool was closed due to a technical fault (we think the filters were blocked) but the sea was just as close and almost as cool, the staff were doing everthing to sort it out.

The grounds of the hotel - pleantly of wildlife. I am not a bird watcher, but you cant help but be dazzled with huge variety. A few resident lizzards too. There are loungers by the pool and then more that over look the cliff to the sea. The grounds are very secure 24/7 guards and we had a safe in our room for valuables too. We felt very protected.

Decor - Peter, the owner, has decorated the lodge so that each suite is unique... we had a rain drop shower and a balcony overlooking the pool. He is also an artist so there are some beautify sculptures in the grounds too. ( just a note that we had a few power cuts, however, the hotels generator was very fast to kick in.. its easy to foget that Gambia is still a developing country and that electricity and water can have a few hickups.. however, this did not spoil the holiday at all, infact it added to it!)

The Staff - we were bowled over by how wonderfully helpful the staff are. We were running a tad late for an outing and my crossant had not arrived ( Gambian time is almost twice as laid back as the UK and we had not yet adjusted) and he ran after us appologising. Genuine apology. I on the other hand was also quite happy with what I had consumed from the huge breakfast buffet anyway!

The Nagala Restaurant - well we booked because wegot a really good deal (on the cheapish) and sort of forgot that we were staying in the equivalent 5* accomodation.. the food for breakfast and dinner was superb. A great selection and some very good sea food. Really the prices were not much different from eating out in the UK. Lunch was more average so we tended to eat out.

The exchange rate - our tour gide was great for tips e.g althought the hotel was alble to change travellers checks the banks wil give you better rates! The rate also seems to fluctuate about twice a day. In a week we went from 50D to the £ to 32 so change while the going it good.

Would we go back? We cant wait to! The only difference we might make is going later in the year. A week of high humidity and 31 degrees is why we got the cheap deal. However the trade off is that there will be many more toursits.....

  • Liked — The size of the suites
  • Disliked — The humidity was just a bit too much
  • Stayed September 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank FranciscoFriday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockport
Level Contributor
33 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 17, 2007

We decided to go to the Gambia for our Honeymoon. It may seem a stange destination to go, but how how many people say they go to the Gambia for Honeymoon. All I can say was that we were not dissapointed.
As we walked off the plane, the heat hit us instantly, it was around 90 degrees. If you are not a seasoned traveller the airport can be quite intimidating. Everything seemed very hetic & people fighting for your bags to take them to the coach as they know they will get a tip.(Tip £1 for everything its fab) Outside people are asking you for money but you just have to be firm & polite.
HOTEL
Travelling to the Hotel, my husband & I just looked at each other & both had the same expression on out face....Oh my god what have we done? The 20/30 minute transfer is very sparse & Barren. However once inside the gates of Ngala Lodge, all of the anciety dissapears.
We booked the Penthouse suit, which comprised of 3 stories. Livingroom, Upstairs to the Bedroom & bathroom, follwed by a spiral staircase outside to the terrace balcony, overlooking the resport & sea. It was so lovely. Within 2 hours of us arriving we saw wild green Parrots, Lizzards &
The resport is so quite & relaxing. We went out of season at the end of June. The weather was fantastic & only had 2 storms, both of which were throughout the night.
No children under 16 are allowed, which for us was fantastic.
The room was very clean but basis & even the cleaners are friendly! We looked into some other rooms while we were there & they also very clean. If you want 5* luxuary them you may be slightly dissapointed.
While we were there they were building the luxuary apartments, which are supposed to be excellent.
STAFF
The staff are without doubt some of the nicest people we have met on our travels. They were all very geniune & friendly & nothing was too much trouble for them. They have a genuine interest in how you are, what you have been upto that day & if everything is to your satisfaction. All they want to do is please you & make your stay as comfortable as possible.
If you want to be left alone, then fine, however if you want any help or drinks, they are not far away to help you.

FOOD
Only one word................WOW!
The Chef Peter & his wife Jojo surpast our expectations. They were so friendly & the food was out of this world. We had a table waiting for us every night & all the staff knew who we were by our second night. Our first meal in the restaurant was a starter of Lobster thermedor. At around £5 it was stunning. Where in the UK can you get Lobster for £5? Every night we had starter main & desert as we could not resist any of it. All of this was washed down with the local beer - Julbrew.
Some of the nights there was some entertainment, mainly a couple of locals singing & playing guitar. Again, this was not obtrusive or loud n any way, they were in the background & it was lovely to eat you meal while listening to them.
OUT & ABOUT
Because the holtel was so intemet & quiet we did not venture out too much. We went to Senegambia Hotel to get some souvieners. We are so glad we did as looking at other Hotels we knew we had made the right decision. Some of the Hotels were like "butlins in Africa" not our scene.
Excersion into the Makasutu Forest is a must, with a trip on a Canoe. Our guide Dudu was very entertaining.
We also had a lazy day boat cruise into the Mangroves, with fishing & swimming. A good day.
We did organise a fishing trip, however this was a bit disastourous. I would do your research on this before booking. We booked with a UK company but was still very dissapointed & told the guide to take us straight back to the hotel. This was the only bad experience we had.
I could say a lot more, but in conclusion, if you was a relaxing chilled out Holiday with great food then book Ngala Lodge.
Our honeymoon absolutely fantastic & at the end of the 10 days we did not want to leave.

  • Liked — Relaxing Atmosphere
  • Disliked — Mosquito bites
  • Stayed June 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank spot23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
uk
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 12, 2007

This hotel lived upto its description. The rooms were beautifully decorated and spacious. The staff were excellent. It has a reputation for providing the best restaurant and it certainly lived upto this. The food was excellent and they cater fantastically for vegetarians. If you are not a fussy veggie just tell 'Peter' the owner that you will leave the menu upto him - not once in a week did they serve the same thing twice.

  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank jasper17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 7, 2007

This beautiful hotel is a perfect getaway; it’s also the perfect place to get away from the chaos of The Gambia. While outside there is a developing African nation and a chaotic fledgling tourist industry, inside its terracotta coloured walls is an oasis of calm.

The suites are spacious and quirkily decorated with African art, apart from one honeymoon suite that is a shrine to the Rolling Stones, the Dutch owner Peter’s favourite band. They come with a mini bar, mosquito nets and some suites have a private outdoor Jacuzzi. If you want a sea view be sure to request it as not all are within sight of the Atlantic.

The highlight of the Ngala is the luscious grounds with tropical plants and trees which attract a menagerie of birds – some which enjoy making their fascinating calls at six in the morning. At the end of the garden there’s a short drop down to a deserted beach. The restaurant too is a huge plus, it has a European influenced menu (at European influenced prices) and live African music in the evening.

Before booking it’s worth doing some extensive research on The Gambia. The tourist industry here is extremely basic and there’s little to do in the evenings. It’s also a desperately poor country with people constantly, and I mean constantly, trying to get you to part with a bit of cash, be it for a tip, a guided tour of a shed or just plain begging. It can be tiring which makes the peace of the Ngala all the more valuable.

To avoid being hassled ask at the hotel for advice on someone to guide you around. The local taxi man Habib doubles up as an excellent tour guide, you’re actually better off with him than one of the expensive organised tours and he’s also pretty good at fending off a monkey attack in the local nature reserve.

  • Liked — The relaxing atmosphere in the grounds
  • Disliked — That it was in The Gambia and not somewhere with a bit more going on
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
8 Thank JoeyLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saffron Walden, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
20 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 19, 2007

Having stayed in a number of 5 star hotels in under developed countries I am forced to say the Ngala is really a good 4 star standard. What it lacks in polish however, it makes up for in friendliness and service. If you are looking for some peace and quiet, where you do not feel you 'have' to go and see the 'sights', then this is likely to be ideal for you.
There is only ever a handlful of people milling around the grounds, all doing pretty much what you will be doing, either sunlounging, going for a dip in the pool, a walk on the beach or to get a drink from the bar.
We stayed in one of the Manor Suites, but the standard rooms seem to be just as nice, so would recommend you stick with those and save on the extra cost. We did get, however, our own part of of the hotel with sunloungers set out for you each day, and the attentiveness of a wonderful member of staff, Dembo, who was always on hand to turn your bed around or get you a cold beer, without ever being intrusive.
It was hard to sort through the wheat from the chaff with the locals though, which ones were genuinely asking you to join them for a meal with their family or those who were just out to get money out of you. Unfortunately, there is so much of that, that you become wary of everyone.
Some say the Gambian people are really friendly, however others may feel they are bit too friendly. Never any real malice, but perhaps a bit unnerving at times.
It was laways lovely to get back to the Ngala and be welcomed by ALL the staff.
I would definitely recommend this hotel if you want perfect weather and fancy visiting the Gambia, but not if you like lying on a beach.

  • Liked — Size
  • Disliked — Bed
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Wifelet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Caerdydd
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 31, 2007

We stayed in Ngala Lodge for a week before Christmas for a bit of relaxation before the madness of Christmas. Relaxation is exactly what we had. We were made to feel welcome and relaxed as soon as we arrived at the hotel. The room was fantastic - albeit a bit weird with very od lighting fixtures, but a great view and plenty of room to spread your things around! The best thing about the hotel, is the staff. Every single one has a smile for you whatever time of day or night. The restaurant staff in particular are lovely, they are clearly pleased to see you every night and are keen to get to know you - but they are not intrusive and they are professional enough to know their limits. the food itself is stunning.

We went on one excursion - The birds at breakfast. We are not 'twitchers' but this was lovely. It was great to get out of the hotel complex for a few hours and see some beautiful sights of some wildlife and to see the sun rising over The Gambia river - lovely. Even if you do not like birds, this is a lovely trip to go on - and you are back at the hotel by the afternoon.

The beach is not great, as it has all but eroded, but a lovely beach to have a short walk and to collect shells. The gardens are beautiful and there is no such thing as a fight every morning for a sun bed... the guys on the lawns will get you a bed with a towel as soon as you get there.... they are all so helpful.

Gambia is a lovely place, and we hope to return and see more of the country itself. The people are friendly, and will want to talk to you out of curiosity more than anything. The ride in the coach from the airport to the hotel is different - children run along the road with the bus smiling and waving at you as you drive by - a lovely welcome to a lovely country. We will be back.

  • Liked — service
  • Disliked — occasional power cuts
  • Stayed December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
14 Thank Eifionydd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ngala Lodge

Property: Ngala Lodge
Address: 64 Atlantic Boulevard | P.O. Box 4091, Fajara, Gambia
Location: Gambia > Banjul Division > Fajara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Fajara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Ngala Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 24
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Established in 1995, Ngala Lodge - an intimate, child free, boutique hotel of just 18 unique, magnificent suites, set in tropical gardens, overlooking the Atlantic is the perfect place for a romantic break. Recently voted the 4th most romantic hotel in Africa by TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards, with arguably the best restaurant in the Gambia, our guests find it hard to leave.Ngala Lodge - where romance isn't just for Valentines Day! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ngala Hotel Fajara
Ngala Lodge Gambia/Fajara

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