If you are looking for something different from the routine-like experience of a typical five-star hotel, then Makasutu’s Mandina Lodges is for you
Mandina five star eco lodges- located just half an hour away from Banjul International airport, has been designed to suit the taste of adventurers looking for a first class eco retreat. Carefully tucked away in the Makasutu forest, the lodges are set right on the Mandina bolong, a tributary of the River Gambia. This provides the perfect setting for those who want to get away from it all and enjoy nature up close.
Makasutu was founded in 1992 by two British men James English (an engineer) and Lawrence Williams (an architect) after years of searching the Gambia and other places in the world for a piece of land suitable to create a tourism project. After seven years of development which involved reforesting the area, a cultural reserve was opened. The peaceful environment made visitors yearn to stay there so in the year 2000, the construction of the Mandina Lodges began.
Makasutu has won many environmental tourism awards since opening. Sadly, James passed away in 2011. However, Lawrence Williams was presented with the National Order of The Gambia by the President in April 2012- an award for meritorious and outstanding services of a person, institution or group to The Gambia. The Mandina lodges is currently a nominee for the 2016 British Travel awards and are featured in the book ‘1001 Escapes To Make Before You Die’ which is a guide for those in search of the world’s most unusual and beautiful places.
From the amazing birdlife, monkeys, monitor lizards and troupes of baboons to the thrill of exploring the forest and mangroves on foot or by canoe, the Mandina lodges offer an unforgettable experience. The lodges were constructed from local materials and built with the environment in mind giving them a nice blend into the environment without being too domineering. Even though it’s along the river, mosquitoes are not a problem as the water is salty.
There are two styles of lodges at Mandina. You have the spacious Jungle Lodges which are set back from the river and the solar powered River Lodges which are either floating or on stilts. Each suite has a private but roofless bathroom and composting toilet with the exception of the Jungle Lodges which are flushing.
Due to the accommodation’s environmentally sensitive location, air-conditioners are absent altogether and fans are employed instead. The Stilted Lodge is on two floors with separate bedroom, outside deck and lounge area on the lower level plus upstairs day room, whilst the Jungle Lodges each have their own private roof terrace looking out towards the mangroves and jungle.
Lodgers get to have the unique experience of canoeing with the help of local tour guides, fishing, bird watching, sunbathing and swimming in an ingeniously shaped sizeable swimming pool. Set in a peaceful location under the shelter of an impressive straw and canvas lodge, Mandina’s restaurant serves a variety of fresh, tasty, Gambian dishes and local fish in a well-presented manner. The food quality is of an excellent standard and the Chef certainly doesn’t mind particular food requests. Dinner is served al fresco in one of the wooden or tented dining areas or in your lodge and the menu also includes a selection of vegetarian options.
The Madina lodges have high reviews from customers on Trip Advisor, each speaking highly of the services rendered by the friendly staff and the joy of experiencing the real Africa in a comfortable and striking surrounding.