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All reviews basic hotel clean towels third world country open mind reggae music poolside bar beach staff smiling coast pool side western union beans two weeks the ritz real gambia most evenings hotel grounds cleaned every day
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Reviewed March 4, 2009

just returned home after a pleasurable stay in the gambia.after reading some of the re veiws before i went to the badala park i was starting to doubt wat i was letting myself in for.
on arrival i was greeted by a member of staff who showed me to my room straight away.
room was very basic but clean and after all you only get wat you pay for bed was clean+comfy toilet and shower clean but not to western standards.
clean towels+bedding every day and all staff very friendly(bit over friendly at times)but if you tell them your ok they leave you alone.
i travelled on my own and on first night of going out i found it to be a bit intimidating as all the bumsters are pestering you as soon as you step foot out of hotel.but if your firm and persisistent with them they soon give up.dont let them spoil things for you or youl find yourself missing wat gambia is all about.
plenty of places to go to and some nice local bars and places to eat.give churchills bar a visit for a great sunday roast at 150 dalasi you cant go wrong.also tam tams next to the badala do a mean stake.
dont be scared to venture out and see the sights but be prepaired for a culture shock as some things you may see hits home to how lucky we are to come from a developed nation.
i found taking sterling with me you got a much better rate at the hotel then the travel agents at home for £100 you were getting 3500 dalasi.
talk to some of the staff about trips (papis)was a very trusting member and can arrange most trips at very reasonable price.
like i say badals a place youl love or hate but if you stand up to the bumsters and just venture out i am sure youl realise just wat the gambias all about and youl have a great time and bring back some good memories.
take into account badala park is only a 1star hotel so if your wanting the home comforts this is not for you.its cheap+chearful and after all your not in your room for that long enough to want the extras.

Date of stay: February 2009
  • Trip type: Traveled solo
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4  Thank daveharrison1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 2, 2009

just got back, from badala park hotel, after reading the reviews we went with a open mind, after all it is a 1* hotel in gambia, and we did,nt pay alot to stay for 1 week. when we 1st arrived the airport was not as bad as we thought, not much assle. the hotel room we were given was very basic but avin expecting this we did,nt mind, we did however move to another room in g block cos it is much queiter at night, and this room was better they did,nt mind moving us at all, nothing was any bother. the breakfast was better than we thought it wud be, the staff were all great lovely people. must tell you about ali baba,s not far from hotel just up from tam tams, the food was great! and big portions, we tryed different places but this was our fav! avin tellin 1 of the staff (milky) that it was my b/day while in gambia and i planned to go there to eat, on the night the staff all came to our table with flower,s and a lovely cake and made my day very special. we did some great trips, met a good friend abudulahi from the badala who took us to his home his mum was lovely to us never asked us for anything, although before we came home we gave them most of our clothes, they were very grateful. we ad such a great time and a wonderful experience, we are so sad to have to leave this lovely smiling coast and our home for the week badala my bed by the way was so comfy, just what u need after a full day sightseeing. we will defo be going back to the gambia, we looked round other hotels while we were there, but it will be the badala again for us very soon i hope.

Date of stay: February 2009
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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4  Thank maidmaz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2009

Ok, firstly let me explain that I WILL DEFINATELY return to The Gambia. 2ndly I would only return to The Badala as THEE Last resort!!!... I was visiting as part of a large party of volunteers for an English run charity C.O.G.S (Children of Gambia Services - please do check out our website..), so we were all there with a purpose to furthering development on a fantastic school that we have built and maintaining... So, it was not a holiday as such.. Thank Goodness, or I should have thrown a hissy fit, trust me!!! To Summerise:
Room: half heartedly painted, around furniture (not even fixed to walls!) in custard yellow.
Furniture: what there was of it, painted in high gloss chocolate brown, drawers falling out, and wardrobe so filthy and old I refused to unpack
Door handles: the door to the outside 'balcony' 6 x 2 overlooking a junk yard/garden and meeting point for staff 'chillin man' finally came off in our hand having been attached onto a piece of wood onto the door!
To the bathroom, attached by the same method, but was so bent it would fit the latch, so wouldnt close anyway.
Bathroom: taps dripping ALL DAY & NIGHT!!! maintenance man fixed it!!! by turning them off soooo tightly we couldnt turn them on!
1 day of hot water from the shower, The shower did not fit the attachment so had to be held, whilst dodging the broken floor tiles and larger than life ants.. which easily access your rooms by the 12 inch gap under front and rear doors!
Toilet!!! Lets not go there... I spent the majority of my time in the dark abyiss of the bathroom (Dark, because no light bulb lasted longer than 10 minutes so we gave up asking)....let me say this is the most god damn awful bathroom/toilet Ive ever had the mispleasure to be in..
Rooms were cleaned(?) randomely, and we had 1 change of bedding, after I stripped it on day 6, having slept in it 24/7 with a fever... Apparently the cleaning lady professed it was 'ok' as I was 'her friend'... We shared 1 bath towel between 2 which was changed 3 times!!!
The Pool Area: Sunbeds arranged in lines arround 2 sides of pool, with table and chairs immediately behind, so no room for privacy or swinging ones cat!!
The floor/ground area's around the pool were littered with rubbish and stains from food/drink/cigarettes! The water was a lighter shade of wee wee yellow, and the tiling and browned grouting looked about ready to give up on life... Do not enter.
Staff, mostly friendly, some too inquisitive, and do not leave it at hello... NOT relaxing at all.
FOOD>>>>>>>>>>>>> AWFUL..... OVER PRICED.... HALF MEASURES..... Cheese n Onion toastie arriving 2 hours later, which was squashed baguette with raw onion.. NO CHEESE!!...
BBQ events.........DONT DO IT!!!!!!!!!! HEALTH WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
16 out of 32 HAD SEVERE FOOD POISONING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
With us being bed ridden, vomitting, diarhoea, fever, and dillusional... Needle size of sXmas cracker injected into buttocks and we had to pay for that privilege!!! I lost 4 days of my overall trip... Drs bill to pay..... 700 dilasi wasted on booked trips I couldnt go on.... and endless man hours that shouldve been spent on our nursery!!!!!!!
and Im still not well yet having been home 1 week!!!!!
The New Management.... well see it for yourself in a few years if you have too! Our charity group is now looking for alternative accomodation for our stays (which are selffunded)...So any recommendations to good value, clean, no health hazards pool & bar.
Hope this has highlighted to would be visitors of The Gambia ....'DO NOT GO toBADALA' or atleast be warned of what to expect....
People of The Gambia.... we love your smiles...

Date of stay: February 2009
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Thank maria b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2009

My decision to visit The Gambia was greatly influenced by the fact that my parents go there every year, and love it. They stay at a compound with a friend of theirs who is married to a Gambian guy. I could have stayed there, but thinking it would be a bit too "native" i decided to book into a hotel, so at least I would have a pool, shower and a bar!

Having read mixed reviews, I was unsure about what to expect. When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised. Reception was clean, I was walked to my room (in G Block), where i found it cool, with two beds (very comfy), and a bathroom that could have done with a little TLC but everything worked. For the price I had paid for two weeks, £325 including flights, I wasnt going to complain! My balcony overlooked a bit of garden then a path then the staff quarters. The good thing about G Block is that it is quiet in the evening.

I unpacked and headed to the pool. I knew my parents were coming over to say hi, so I got myself acquainted. Whilst sitting there Vivian asked me if I wanted my nails done. Seeing as I was on holiday and normally work with animals I thought I would treat myself. Please, ladies (and gents if you like) do not let this lady near your fingers and toes! I have nearly lost one of my fingernails (attractive!) and my two baby toenails are no more! She was not cheap either.

The hotel has cheap rooms, but the food is expensive and not very nice. The portions are tiny. I think over £3 for a cheese salad on a sandwich plate, not even a dinner plate, is too much.

As I was staying there alone, I seemed to attract a lot of attention from the guys around the pool. My name was quickly changed to "Kumba". I felt very safe at the Badala. After about a week though, I just wanted to relax, read my book and chill out. This is something the staff do not understand.

It got to a point where I was doing everything except relaxing. They have security at the gate of the hotel, to keep the bumsters out, but as soon as your out on the road, your bait! Most of these guys will take a firm no for an answer, but some of the younger ones are getting, for want of a better word, a little aggressive.

On day 9 I decided enough was enough. I was starting to dread leaving my room. I didnt want to speak to people, I just wanted to read my book in peace, and this is something that is impossible to do at this hotel. I spoke to a couple of other solo travellers, one of whom has been travelling to Gambia for 20 years, and was told that the hassling has got worse. I was lucky, I had my parents compound to fall back on, so off I went. Now that was relaxing! No hassle, just sunshine and watching the world go by. The hotel has a Western manager, who is apparently making improvements. I met him, nice guy, there is hope for Badala!

I was hoping to go back to Gambia at the end of this year, a friend and I are planning a holiday somewhere warm for the winter. After this experience, I am not sure whether it is the place for us. The Gambia is a beautiful country, but for some it may still be a little bit too third world.

Date of stay: February 2009
  • Trip type: Traveled solo
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    • Cleanliness
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Thank MolB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 6, 2009

We booked a holiday with Thomas Cook at Badala Park for the period 16-30 January 2009.

Though the plane was clean and the cabin staff attentive the seating was very cramped and those over 5 6 needed to sit with their legs sideways. If animals were being transported on a 6-hour journey in such cramped conditions I am sure animal welfare groups would protest. Thomas Cook are also obsessional about luggage, 5kgs hand and 15kgs hold luggage unless you have paid for 20kgs.If you are over allowance you pay excess as many were having to do on departure. Beware.

On arrival at Banjul there were the usual porters waiting to grab your luggage off the carousel. Having read previous reports on here I was prepared with a firm no thankyou. After collecting your luggage it is then put through a scanner to ensure you are bringing no more than 2 mobile phones, a computer and one video camera into the country. On leaving the terminal you are surrounded by swarms of porters offering to carry your luggage even though it had wheels. It is certainly a good living for 15 seconds work; one-pound coins were in abundance. The average wage for a gainfully employed Gambian is £25-30 a month, keep this thought uppermost in your mind when tipping for the rest of your holiday.

We took half our money in sterling, the other in traveller’s cheques. Whilst the latter are safe they are subjected to a double whammy. Commission when purchasing them and a 3-4 dalasi/pound less than sterling. Badala Park was offering 33 to the pound whtn we were there and 30 for traveller’s cheques. The seasoned visitors were going to the banks for a much higher exchange rate. Interestingly, Palm Beach the sister hotel always were offering 1 dalasi more than Badala Park.

Badala Park Hotel

Again, having read previous reviews we were prepared for the very worst. Within 24 hours we had changed rooms 3 times. The first 2 rooms had bathroom doors that didn’t close; the third was similar with a wardrobe that was falling apart and curtains hanging off the pole. If that wasn’t enough we had an invasion of ants in the bathroom. My partner at this point was almost "losing it" and after a discussion with the manager things were corrected quickly. We were also offered a complimentary meal.
In fairness, the room was kept clean and the sheets changed every 2 days. Dont expect clean towels before 3 pm, as they have to be washed by hand and dried in the sun before being returned.

The room safe is essential at a cost of £14 a week. The room buildings are guarded day and night but we had little things go missing from our room. Nothing in its entirety but a full jar of face cream was suddenly two thirds emptied, biscuits removed from packets and odd ciggies taken from open packs. When reported, the cleaner was challenged and of course denied it. Best keep valuables and expensive cosmetics in the safe.

The hotel is set in a beautiful well-maintained garden the setting bearing little resemblance to the actual accommodation.
Previous reports about poolside bumsters are seemingly a thing of the past. The hotel has introduced front gate security to ensure these bumsters do not gain entry. Yes, elderly guests were inviting Gambian friends of the opposite sex into the hotel that was both an amusing and sad sight that you soon became accustomed to. If you are a single male there will be no shortage of interesting proposals by the ladies, enough said.

Breakfasts were interesting. Rice pudding aka porridge, stewed tomatoes and eggs both fried and boiled to the point of destruction. Processed cheese and luncheon meat were also available as was a limited amount of fresh fruit. The fruit juices were in fact squash. In fairness we never went hungry.

The poolside area was clean and the actual water was skimmed regularly. Sun beds during the day were replaced at night by tables and chairs. There was no dearth of waiters serving drinks and interestingly we learnt a number were working in an unpaid capacity for tips only. Don’t tip after every drink otherwise the expensive drinks will become even dearer. Wait until the end of the evening and then tip modestly. 20 dalasi is more than sufficient.

Like all newbies to Gambia we dined in for the first few nights really knowing nothing different. We soon discovered the hotel offered smaller portions at higher cost and of lower quality than anywhere else we ate. The local beer Julbrew is also 10 dalasi more expensive than anywhere else. Tam tams next door is excellent as is Gambia fried chicken 3 minutes from the hotel. Of special mention is the Blue Bar in Serrekunda and the Kunta Kinteh bar on the beach. The Chinese on site restaurant serves good food at a reasonable price but remember it is Gambian Chinese and not your local takeaway. We were served bad chicken twice and my partner was ill for 3 days. Joseph the chef told us there was a refrigerator problem that would be resolved soon.

On Sundays and Wednesdays the hotel offered barbecues and buffets at 300 dalasi. We did not eat at these events but seeing the quality of the food we were pleased we had not wasted our money. Entertainment was initially interesting but after the second night the constant loud African drumming became unbearable. Forget any hope of conversation after 9 30 pm unless you can lip-read.

We used the tourist taxis (green) for the first few days. The standard fare was 400 D wherever you went with a 2-hour wait thrown in. The bush taxis are an experience not to be missed, especially the minibuses you have to hail as they pass. A quarter of the price and you get the real Gambian experience. We used them for the last 10 days of our holiday with no problems.

Bumsters are constantly referred to in Gambian reviews. Yes, they are a nuisance but a firm no always worked and in fairness there were not that many around. At night the tourist taxi drivers were more of a nuisance as the day bumsters set about their role as restaurant introducers. Apparently they are paid commission for everyone they introduce.
Beware of those that seek to take you to the Barracuda restaurant. The food was not good and took an extraordinary long time to appear. A dish we were served was inedible but we were still charged.
Also beware of those that offer to run errands for you. The night we were taken to the Barracuda I needed some new lighters. The helpful bumster taking us back took off up the road and acquired several for us. !00 dalasi please... 50 each when they in fact cost 15 at the ciggy booths. It was dark and when I peeled 2 50 notes off he told me they were 25 notes. A fast one that did not succeed.

We did three organised tours with Thomas Cook. The roots tour was interesting but most of the day was spent travelling on the Gambia river.6 hours in fact. To those that want to visit James Island, the transfer between the boat and the launch is only for the agile. The lazy days trip was relaxing though one wonders how the tour boat had lasted so long.
The south Gambian tour on an open topped lorry was amazing but beware of bothering to do your hair beforehand. The visit to the school was interesting but was in truth an attempt to extract donations for the upkeep of the school. The PR man that talked to us lost all interest after the donation box had been passed around and we were subjected to gangs of adolescent males competing for sponshorship. All the trips were in my view good value.

Don’t miss the monkey park nor seeing Charlie at the crocodile park, there is no need for guides whether official or bumsters, a taxi will take you there and wait for you.

Without doubt, Gambia is a third world country yet with the exchange rates as they are no longer charge third world prices. To almost every Gambian you speak to there is a story of woe and the need for money. Feel sympathetic at your own risk and cost, We have decided to sponsor a child at the SOS children’s village orphanage where the risk of being duped is minimal.

Would we go back to Gambia? Yes but not to Badala at the present time. There is a European manager in post now who seems to be improving things but in his words, after years of neglect it is going to take a long time.

Finally, the tour rep advised us incorrectly on our return to the airport. 2 litres each of spirits, which we bought only to be stopped by a customs officer at Gatwick.
Perhaps it was the new Rasta hairstyle of my partner that drew attention to us but we were allowed to leave without confiscation.

If I can be of any further help please do not hesitate to email me.

Date of stay: January 2009
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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1  Thank Jdavies51
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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