In a jubilant and excited mood catapulted with admiration, the over 60 bikers from Belgium who participated in the just concluded Bike for Africa 2016 co-hosted by Senegal and The Gambia will not forget the Destination Gambia’s uniqueness, friendliness and overall hospitality so soon.
The Gambia played host to a group of over 60 bikers with their supporting team from Belgium joined by hundreds of people across the destination to enjoy the third edition of the Bike for Africa at the Jombong Bantang Cultural Camp Ecco, Berefet village. Bike for Africa is a Brussels Airlines organized and sponsored biking event through their foundation for Africa which is the company’s Social Responsibility Program established in 2010. The concept of the foundation or its dream is to bring people together in a biking trip to have fun together and doing something good for the children of Africa. The Gambia as a co-host country with Senegal gained exposure especially among the bikers who are first timers to the continent of Africa. Also, the event further helped to expose the country ‘s available tourism products, culture and heritages both tangible and intangible to the visitors; as both local and international media had a full coverage of the event. It was a great event worth participating in, since it again brings Gambia into spotlight on the map for everyone to see as one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Africa.
In the 450 kilometers or thereabout, bikers have the chance to bike across the steppes and grasslands to see the beautiful topography of the destination and as well waved to the lined up crowd along the biking route to catch a glimpse of the bikers with admiration. Coming from Toubacouta and crossing to The Gambia, the bikers circled through Bunyandu, Mbata, Juffureh/Albreda and down to Jombong Bantang Cultural Camp Ecco, Berefet village at the campsite. The bikers thoroughly enjoyed the event which they all described as ‘a unique adventure full of experience.’ Bikers were not limited to a sect as male, female, young and old participated and have fun. This event which the Gambia Tourism Board insinuates of turning to an annual activity is a new product that will add more excitement to the already existing tourism products. It will leave a long lasting experience and impression on the bikers and other people. This is because it is just like a convergence of happy people in unity since the participated bikers consist of Brussels Airlines staffs; Belgians sponsored companies and general managers of some Belgian companies.
What Bikers Say About the Destination
Peter Stewbaut: “Gambia is a very beautiful country as soon as we biked to The Gambia we saw how green the country is and how friendly the people are. It is a really special place to be. As employees of Brussels Airlines, basically we want to bring a positive message to the Belgium population towards the population here in The Gambia and we want to help local communities to support projects here in The Gambia. Above all, we want to be among the people and best way to be among the people is to feel the same thing they feel, walk the same road and as well feel the same dust on our skins as they feel it which is among the reasons we ride on bicycle and as well lodge at the campsite. And while we ride we have the opportunity of few minutes to stop and chat with people. Within the few days of cycling in Destination Gambia, we have seen how friendly the people are, how they cherish the white life which we have, we cycled through natural reserve that was really amazing and a unique experience.”
Benedicte Venmast: “Gambians are so nice , friendly and I am so happy to be here with you. Riding bike across two countries is not easy, the sun is very hot but your people (Gambians) are so beautiful and so friendly. Hopefully in the future we hope to help children going to school to have good education which is most important.”
Isabelle De Maere: “This is my very first time of coming to Africa and I am very happy to come here because I have heard a lot of nice stories about the country. Now I have met and saw some nicer things than the stories I heard before coming to the country. I was not expecting the people to be friendly as they are but surprisingly, I saw everybody waving, shouting to greet and even helping and supporting us inside the sun as we cycle on. Really, it is a social warm welcome and while we spread the news in Europe that ‘Ebola is not Africa’ we will definitely come back especially to get to know your culture because here is a beautiful environment.”
Whim: “It is a very exciting adventure seeing other people welcoming us even if you are getting tired; the children are screaming and very happy to see us. It is really nice to do this (biking). It is a real adventure that we have prepared for and is very special and good to be here because it is different culture, different weather and I know that everybody is enjoying been here. It is really amazing here.”
Walter Windey: “This is my first time in The Gambia and as soon as we cross the border today from Senegal to Gambia we saw the nature and how beautiful it is. It is different from Senegal and we are amazed about the nature, it is very nice. What is unique about the Gambia is the friendliness of the people. Everybody is so open towards us, they want to help us so it is a very nice experience. What I like most about the country is the nature, because it is beautiful that I can always recommend everyone to visit, The Gambia is beautiful. The people are generous and happy to see us as they all wanted to help. Above all, it is a great adventure because it is nice to do this with my colleagues and it even helps to know each other better.”