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Kombo Beach Hotel
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Reviewed November 21, 2009

We travelled to The Gambia with Gambia Experience, this is our fourth visit to this country and our second with this company. The flight was 6 hours but there is no jet lag and the time zone is GMT, although this is also translated as Gambian Maybe Time!.
This is a developing country but unlike others we have been to it is a safe and happy place to be. The main industry is tourism and because of this the visitor is made to feel welcome. Our £ is needed and even a small tip to someone who is helpful can mean food on the table that day.
Kombo Beach Hotel backs onto the Atlantic Ocean. Warm sea and a long fine sandy beach, part of which is supervised by hotel staff. The hotel provides sun beds and mattresses and does not make a charge. The pool is also a sunbed zone, as are the quiet gardens around the hotel. There is a programme of other activities such as cooking and volleyball for the more active guests and traditional music and dance each evening.
There were four different places to eat in the hotel and many more situated outside the hotel. We had half board and a good buffet breakfast and a wide variety of freshly prepared food each evening, again buffet style, was our choice. If you read the Gambia Experience's web page its description of the hotel is very accurate. It is described as lively and I found this to mean, things to do if you wanted but at no time did we find any activity intrusive or unacceptable. The hotel grounds are large enough to find many quiet and relaxing spaces both in and out of the sunshine.
The rooms were clean and comfortable, rather too Western for my taste with a bath/tv/telephone provided. The rooms were air conditioned and had a fridge both proved to be a essential as the weather was hot and sunny. During our stay the outside of the accomodation was being repainted and in general the hotel is in good decorative order and is well maintained. Any request we made ie a broken chair arm/loose door handle/ was attended to although GMT meant we waited hours rather than minutes for things to be fixed.
There were plenty of organised places to visit, bird watching, a lazy river cruise, James Island where the slaves were held before being exported. However it is so easy, and much cheaper, to book a local guide and let them show you the sites. The guides are situated outside the hotel and are a government initiative! It is also quite usual for hotel staff/guides etc to invite to back to their compound (Shared home). When this first happened to us we thought it was a con and we waited to be fleeced, far from it, for us it was a memorable experience and we were honoured that we were taken to see the real Gambia.
Once again we had a wonderful and relaxing holiday which we would recommend to anyone who is happy with the heat and could be content with GMT.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank 49sunshine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2009

We have just returned from the Kombo Beach Hotel. Where else can you go in November where you can guarantee wall to wall sunshine, less than a 6 hour flight, no time difference (so no jet lag) and a Friday flight so you have the whole weekend to recover?


I would agree with previous reports - the rooms are tired and do need an upgrade. Our room (on the 1st floor) overlooked the pool and stunning gardens. The air con worked, as did the fridge, and though the TV only had 3 channels, 2 of them were great film channels.

The hotel is right on the beach. There are plenty of sun beds and mattresses, and the staff are more than happy to serve you drinks and snacks on the beach!

We chose a half board basis. This entitles you to eat in the buffet restaurant every evening - however if you don't want to do that you can eat in the Brasserie for which a 300 delassi allowance (cost of a main course) is provided. We had no complaints with the buffet, but the food in the Brasserie was excellent – so well worth a couple of visits. The breakfast consisted of a huge choice. Not only cold (continental style) but also a live cooking station where you could get waffles, eggs anyway you wanted cooked in front of you - also baked beans, tomatoes sausages and bacon. Every evening the food was themed, ranging from seafood, barbecue, Italian, African etc - the live cooking station usually provided some type of stir fry too

There was also a full daytime entertainments programme, cooking, boules, water aerobics, water polo, volley ball etc. The night time entertainment was always a different type of African dancing. It only lasted for an hour or so – however we found that enough as the sun does knock you out so people do tend to retire early.

There was a happy hour between 6 and 7 - cocktails are 2 for the price of 1.

You are in a Muslim country so drink can be expensive - a small beer can be 50-70 delassi around £1.20 to £1.40 - but do what we did take some mini cans of wine to keep in your fridge.

I would also point out that some people did suffer from the Banjul belly - we used our antibacterial lotion at every opportunity - especially after handling money and were careful not to eat the salads or have any ice in our drinks.

The bumsters/beach boys are not allowed to come up and hassle you anymore. A law has recently been brought in, so whilst you are sunbathing on the beach they will stand at the waters edge waving their products at you from a distance but are not allowed to approach you unless you beckon them over. You do have the hotel security guards keeping an eye on things too.

Regarding tipping we took £1 coins with us as when we changed our currency we were given 100 delassi notes which are worth around £2.60 each. Bear in mind the average wage is only £20 a month! However, once you have the smaller notes tipping is not a problem.

The hotel is excellently situated with a craft market 50 metres away. There is also an Official Tourist Guide Office more or less next door and they will provide the car, guide and take you where you want which works out a lot cheaper than booking trips through your travel company.

All the staff we encountered could not do enough for you.

In summary I would recommend this holiday to anyone seeking winter sun and value for money.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Doris048
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2009

Just got back from Kombo beach and had an amazing time.
WEATHER - perfect, had a couple of days when it was a litlle cloudy but that was quite a relief as it was very hot, not sure what the temperature was but must have been high 30's.
BEACH - Lovely beach although dry sand was lovely and golden but the damp/wet sand was quite black, the water was so warm you did not have to hesitate when jumping in, do be careful though as waves quite high, we did walk along the beach quite a lot, if you turn left as you leave the hotel on the beach side you could walk to Senagambia in about 35 to 40 mins, if you turned right you could walk for about 25 mins and go into the 2 markets.
Senagambia itself we hated, the beach was no where near as nice and you did get a little hassle from the locals.
In Kuto itself you got very little hassle, don't get me wrong the bumsters are there but they take no for an answer very quickly.
HOTEL - Very nice but in need of updating, definately not 3.5 or 4 star, rooms very clean, staff lovely and food very good, we only stayed B & B but the breakfast was plentiful, Eggs cooked as you like (scrambles,boiled,poached,fried or omelett) all cooked while you wait, aslo bacon or sausages each as well, you also had the continenatl choice, lovely fresh break, toast, cereal and the most amazing fresh fruit and juice.
The entertainment was also very good, not quite what you would get in Europe but also the same good.
FOOD - We ate out in the local beach restaurants or Restaurants just outside the hotel, Boss lady opposite the hotel was very good but very limited choice.
Do be careful with steak though, i tried 2 and both were very tough.
Do try the fish particularly the barracuder which was lovely, meals were costing us on average £12 for the two of us for a main course and 2 or 3 beers each, but it can cost quite a bit more especially in the hotels.
Drinking !!!! around 75p for a bottle of beer, in the hotel next door about £1.10 for a pint, local brandy quite good from the supermarket at around £4 but be careful as they do a cheaper one which was awful.
TRIPS OUT - Try to find a local a guide, much cheaper than doing tours with tour company, we done the usual, monkey park, Lamin lodge and bird watching for very little money, always get an agreed price 1st though, we done a day out to Monkey park, Lamin lodge and boat trip to mango grooves and with a nice loacl walk and bird watch for about £20 for the 2 of us, i think we paid slightly more than we should have but we were happy with the deal.
OVERALL - Lovely palce for a last minute winter break, where else can you go in the winter in just 6 hours and have brilliant sunshine, try to hold on for a bit before booking as we booked about 8 weeks prior to holiday and others in hotel has booked in the last 10 days and paid about £125 each less than us.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank acoops
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2009

After reading previous reviews, we made sure we had some english change with us to tip the porters at the airport. Unbelievable heat as we stepped off the plane - just how I like it! We were given a complimentary bottle of water and refreshing face wipe as we borded the bus to take us to the hotel. There were only two drop-offs, so it didn't take long for us to get to the hotel. We collected our keys and the porters brought our luggage to our rooms. Again - we tipped with pound coins. Our first evening was spent cooling off round the pool watching the entertainment and sipping the cocktails.

We discovered (luckily early on) that it is much, much cheaper to exchange money outside the hotel as they charge quite a bit of commision. You get about 800 dalasi for £20 in the hotel, but we found a guy called Abraham around the corner to the hotel who gave us 900 dalasi for £20.

The hotel was very clean and well kept. Slightly dated, but nothing you could complain about. The air conditioning in our room was not working. We started off in the third block, but after the maintenance guy couldn't fix it, we were moved to the first block, at the pool side. They even offered to send a porter to help us move our stuff.

The staff at the hotel were very friendly and helpful. Especially Youseff who runs the sporting entertainment!! 3 o'clock water polo became a firm favourite of ours, and a very good way to cool off and meet others at the hotel.

The beach was paradise. The bumpsters do annoy, but the best tactic we found was to be polite but firm. Say you have a "friend" where you get our fruit from. They are only trying to make a living at the end of the day.

We only went on one "Gambia Experience" up into Makasutu Jungle. We met the local baboons, had some traditional Gambian food and entertainment, all in the cleariing of the jungle. Very highly recommended! We chose not to book more excursions with them, as you can get a far better deal going with the locals. We realy wanted to visit the monkeys in nearby Kololi. A local green taxi driver named Papa took us. He also took us somewhere local to buy some bags of peanuts (essential if you want any interaction with the monkeys) and he not only walked us through the jungle on the monkey trail, but he carried my partners rucksack with the nuts it to free up our hands for monkey feeding! He also took photo's of us with monkeys on our shoulders, holding onto our hands etc!! Very clean animals, and exceptionally gentle!

Another trip we would also recommend is visiting the Crocodile park. Our taxi dropped us off and we walked a short distance through the village of Bakau with our guide. We were greeted by the local children who wanted nothing more than to hold our hands and have their photographs taken! The croc pool itself was very good. You will need to take a guide with you as the crocs are free to walk around. We were able to touch a particularly lazy croc. Others would up and walk off at no notice, but we were perfectly safe.

In the evening we tended to eat out of the hotel. You can get a green taxi to take you to Senegambia (about a 5 minute car journey) and wait for you to eat, drink and dance before he brings you home. The taxi drivers we had were very pleasant and we would invite them into the resaurant / bar with us for a drink. Ali Baba restaurant is very good value, with a huge array of choice and live music. You can sit inside, but the entrance round the side opens to the outdoor eating area which is much cooler, more spacious and they have live music there every night. Hope you enjoy your holiday as much as we did!

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Kirky17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 8, 2009

Unbelievable heat when we got off the plane, loads of hassle at the airport but just let the porters take our bags to the coach and gave them a pound. The hotel was very clean, the gardens are beautiful, the food is very nice, the pool really warm, and the staff very friendly, the beach is out of this world and the sea is warmer than the pool. Met a really nice guy who became our taxi driver for the week his name is O J, When you walk out of the hotel just ask the guy outside for him, you do not need a tourist guide with him as he will take you, and if you wish walk round with you highly reccommended..

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank stewie27Crawley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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