AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators
Mandina Lodges

Mandina Lodges

Mandina Lodges Overview

Hidden in the African bush on a mangrove-lined tributary of the River Gambia; a stay at Mandina Lodges is more peaceful and unique than you could ever imagine.  

Journalist's Opinion

"Mandina Lodges is a birdwatcher's paradise - pre-breakfast walks with your personal guide, kingfishers and bee-eaters overhead while you relax in the pool, plus peaceful evening river cruises. Perfect!"

- Stephen Moss, Journalist


What we love

  • The Mandina guides, whose extensive knowledge of the forest and its wildlife will keep you captivated and informed throughout your stay. Please note that it's normal practice to tip your guide.
  • The magical and serene atmosphere that's unforgettable.


Good to know

  • All lodges, except the Mangrove Lodge, have open-air showers, while the Floating Lodges have specially designed, non-flushing toilets – neither of these features detract from the high standard of accommodation.


A stunning yet accessible riverside retreat

There is nothing quite like Mandina Lodges. Located in the heart of Makasutu Forest, yet only 40 minutes from coastal resorts, guests here are able to disconnect from everyday life and connect with the surrounding nature, which includes monkeys, baboons and reptiles, as well as an array of birdlife. Mandina Lodges were featured in the book '1001 Escapes To Make Before You Die', and for many, an escape here is one they’ll wish to repeat endlessly during their lifetime, a viewpoint that Chris Packham endorses fully.

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Unique accommodation

Comprising of nine beautifully designed lodges built both on and off the river, the setting of this accommodation encapsulates an unrelenting sense of tranquillity, relaxation and escape. Accessed by wooden walkways and bridges, the Stilted Lodge and Floating lodges are of mahogany construction with high beamed ceilings while the spacious Jungle lodges are impressive in both size and design. The Mangrove Lodge is a charming, smaller lodge, with an internal shower room and private terrace. Each lodge has a private but roofless bathroom, along with flushing toilet in Jungle and Mangrove lodges and composting toilet in Floating/Stilted lodges - inspired by Swedish log cabins. 

The impressive Stilted Lodge is on two floors with separate bedroom, outside deck and lounge area on the lower level plus upstairs day room; fans are employed in all lodges instead of  air-conditioning and solar power is used as much as possible.

Exploring this magical setting

Beyond the inviting free-form pool, with its canopied day beds, each guest is assigned one of Mandina’s expert guides, allowing you to explore the forest on foot or the mangroves by canoe, learning about the flora and fauna of the area as you go. Options to venture further afield are also possible, such as a visit to the Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust centre, or to witness the street art project 'Wide Open Walls'.

Dinner is served al fresco in one of the thatched dining areas, and sometimes the fire is lit with the dancing flames creating a magical mood.

Twin-centre holidays

Situated just 40 minutes from the coastal resorts on a tributary of the River Gambia, a stay at Mandina offers an easy opportunity to witness an unspoilt area of West Africa. Although many choose to spend a week or longer here, it can also be combined with a stay at one of our beachfront properties for a longer holiday.

We offer a number of twin-centre and tailormade holiday options; why not combine Mandina with a relaxing stay beside the sea, or perhaps with a journey into neighbouring Senegal? you cFind out more here.

The history of Mandina and Makasutu

The 1000-acre Makasutu Cultural Forest was the result of 20 years’ hard work by two Englishmen, James English and Lawrence Williams. Ideas for a simple tourism project gave way initially to a reforestation and conservation plan which ultimately resulted in the luxury lodge and cultural centre that you see today.

James English sadly passed away in 2011, however Lawrence Williams continues to have a big presence at Mandina (along with his much-loved pet dogs and cats!).

Mandina Lodges accept children 10 years and over - as the property is by the river, parents must supervise children at all times. Please note that there is little in the way of entertainment for children, and no Wi-Fi, however the wildlife holds appeal for all age groups.


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Reviews of this holiday

Mandina Lodges by lata, 17 Dec 2018
Traveller rating:

Beautiful away from it all break, with all the wildlife The Gambia has to offer. read more

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Mandina Lodges by lata, 17 Dec 2018
Traveller rating:

Beautiful away from it all break, with all the wildlife The Gambia has to offer. read more