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Gambia

GAMBIA TRAVEL GUIDE

Welcome to The Gambia, a small West African country that is often referred to as the "Smiling Coast of Africa" due to the warmth and friendliness of its people. The Gambia is a popular destination for tourists seeking sun, sea, and sand, as well as a unique cultural experience.

The country is known for its stunning beaches along the Atlantic coast, with popular spots such as Kololi Beach and Sanyang Beach. The Gambia also has a rich history and culture, with traditional music, dance, and art that reflect its diverse ethnic groups.

 

Visitors can explore the bustling capital city of Banjul, which is located on an island at the mouth of the Gambia River. The city is home to historic sites such as the Arch 22, National Museum, and the bustling Albert Market. Visitors can also take a boat trip up the Gambia River to experience the country's wildlife, including monkeys, hippos, and crocodiles.

 

The Gambia is also a popular destination for birdwatching, with over 500 species of birds found in the country. The Abuko Nature Reserve is a great spot to see a variety of bird species, as well as monkeys and other wildlife.

 

With its warm weather, friendly people, and unique cultural experiences, The Gambia is a great destination for tourists looking to explore a different side of Africa.

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  • Capital: Banjul
  • Currency: Dalasi (GMD)
  • Area: 11,300km²
  • Population: 2,28 million (2018)
  • Language: English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars
  • Religion:Muslim 90%, Christian 9%, indigenous beliefs 1%
  • Electricity: 230V/50Hz (UK plug)
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BEST TIME TO VISIT GAMBIA

The best time to visit The Gambia is during the dry season, which runs from November to mid-May. This is when you can expect plenty of sunshine and minimal rainfall, making it the ideal time for outdoor activities such as beach-going, wildlife viewing, and birdwatching.

 

The temperature during this period ranges between 24°C and 28°C (75°F and 82°F) and the humidity is relatively low, making it a comfortable time to visit. Additionally, many cultural events and festivals, such as the Roots Homecoming Festival, take place during this time, providing visitors with a chance to experience the country's rich cultural heritage.

 

If you're planning to visit during the wet season, which runs from June to October, you should expect higher humidity, rainfall, and a higher chance of encountering mosquitos. While some travelers prefer to visit during this time because of the lush, green scenery and fewer crowds, it's important to note that some roads and attractions may be closed due to flooding.

 

SAFETY IN THE GAMBIA

The Gambia is generally a safe destination for travelers, but as with any foreign country, it's important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when visiting The Gambia:

  • Avoid walking alone at night, especially in isolated areas.
  • Keep your valuables in a safe place and don't carry large sums of cash.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid leaving your belongings unattended in public places.
  • Only use licensed taxis and negotiate the fare before getting in.
  • Avoid political demonstrations and large gatherings, as they can sometimes turn violent.

It's also a good idea to check the latest travel advisories from your country's foreign office before traveling to The Gambia. Additionally, it's recommended to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses, as well as trip cancellations and interruptions.

Overall, if you take the necessary precautions and remain aware of your surroundings, The Gambia can be a safe and enjoyable destination for travelers.

Best Time To Go

GAMBIA WEATHER SYNOPSIS

The Gambia experiences a Sahelian climate, characterized by a long, dry season (November to May) and a short, wet season (June to October). Average temperatures in Gambia range from 18°C to 30°C during the dry season and 23°C to 33°C during the wet season. In La Niña years, temperatures tend to be cooler than average throughout the year. The long-term mean annual rainfall of 860 mm is largely determined by July, August and September rainfall, where mean monthly rainfall varies between 150 mm (in the northern extremes) and 300 mm (in the southern extremes).

Gambia

SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN GAMBIA

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Travel Safety

HEALTH RISKS IN GAMBIA

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Gambia

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

GAMBIA TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to The Gambia can vary widely depending on factors such as your travel style, the time of year you visit, and the activities you choose to do. Here are some estimated costs to give you an idea of what to expect:

  • Flights: The cost of flights to The Gambia varies depending on where you're traveling from and the time of year. Generally, flights from Europe to The Gambia start at around €300-€500 ($350-$590) round trip, while flights from the United States start at around $800-$1000 round trip.
  • Accommodation: The Gambia has a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury resorts. Budget options can cost as little as €15-€30 ($18-$35) per night, while mid-range hotels can cost around €50-€80 ($60-$95) per night. Luxury resorts can cost upwards of €150 ($180) per night.
  • Food and Drink: Local food in The Gambia is relatively inexpensive, with street food and local restaurants offering meals for as little as €2-€5 ($2.40-$6). Western-style restaurants and bars are more expensive, with meals and drinks costing around €10-€15 ($12-$18) per person.
  • Activities: The cost of activities in The Gambia can vary widely, depending on what you choose to do. For example, a boat tour up the Gambia River can cost around €20-€30 ($24-$35) per person, while entrance fees to national parks and museums can cost around €5-€10 ($6-$12) per person.

Overall, you can expect to spend around €50-€80 ($60-$95) per day per person on a budget trip to The Gambia, while mid-range and luxury trips can cost upwards of €100-€150 ($120-$180) per day per person.

Cost & Spending

GAMBIA TRAVEL TIPS

Here are some travel tips for visiting The Gambia:

  • Dress conservatively: The Gambia is a predominantly Muslim country, so it's important to dress conservatively, especially when visiting mosques or other religious sites. This means covering your arms and legs, and avoiding revealing clothing.
  • Use insect repellent: The Gambia is a tropical country with a high risk of mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria and dengue fever. Make sure to use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved clothing, and sleep under mosquito nets to reduce your risk of mosquito bites.
  • Negotiate prices: Bargaining is a common practice in The Gambia, especially when shopping at markets or taking taxis. Always negotiate prices before getting in a taxi or buying something at a market to avoid being overcharged.
  • Be mindful of cultural differences: The Gambia has a unique culture and customs that may differ from your own. It's important to be respectful of these cultural differences, such as removing your shoes before entering someone's home or asking for permission before taking someone's photo.
  • Stay hydrated: The Gambia can be hot and humid, especially during the dry season. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid spending too much time in the sun during the hottest part of the day.
  • Research local laws: Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs to avoid unintentionally breaking any laws. For example, homosexuality is illegal in The Gambia, and public displays of affection are frowned upon.
  • Take caution with street food: While street food can be delicious, it's important to be cautious when eating food from street vendors. Stick to cooked foods that are served hot, and avoid anything that looks like it's been sitting out for a while.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip to The Gambia.

Travel Tips

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF GAMBIA

The Gambia is a relatively small country, but it has a lot to offer visitors. Here are the main regions worth visiting and the highlights of each region:

  • Banjul: Banjul is the capital city of The Gambia and a great place to start your trip. Visit the National Museum, which showcases the country's history and culture, and the bustling Albert Market. Also, take a boat trip up the River Gambia, where you can spot wildlife and visit traditional villages.
  • Serekunda: Serekunda is the largest city in The Gambia and is home to a vibrant market and a lively music scene. Visit the Abuko Nature Reserve to see monkeys, crocodiles, and various bird species, or take a trip to the Bijilo Forest Park to see monkeys and enjoy a walk on the beach.
  • Brikama: Brikama is known for its traditional crafts, such as woodcarving and weaving. Visit the Brikama Market, which is one of the largest markets in The Gambia, and the Brikama Woodcarving Centre to see local artisans at work.
  • Janjanbureh: Janjanbureh, also known as Georgetown, is a historic town on the River Gambia. Visit the old colonial buildings and the slave museum, which tells the story of the country's role in the transatlantic slave trade. You can also take a boat trip to the Baboon Islands to see chimpanzees and other wildlife.
  • Foni: The Foni region is located in the west of The Gambia and is known for its beautiful beaches and birdwatching opportunities. Visit the Tanji Fishing Village to see traditional fishing methods in action and the Bijol Islands to see the African Spoonbill, which is a rare bird species.
  • Kunta Kinteh Island: Kunta Kinteh Island, formerly known as James Island, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was a major trading post during the transatlantic slave trade. Visit the ruins of the fort and the museum to learn about the island's history and its significance to the slave trade.

By visiting these regions and experiencing their unique highlights, you can get a well-rounded picture of The Gambia and its history, culture, and natural beauty.

Highlights
What To See & Do
Travel Map

Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting The Gambia:

  • Visit the Abuko Nature Reserve: The Abuko Nature Reserve is one of the most popular tourist attractions in The Gambia. It's home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, crocodiles, and numerous bird species.
  • Explore the River Gambia: The River Gambia is the lifeblood of The Gambia, and taking a boat trip up the river is a great way to see the country's natural beauty and traditional villages.
  • Visit Kachikally Crocodile Pool: Kachikally Crocodile Pool is a sacred site where crocodiles are believed to have healing powers. Visitors can watch the crocodiles up close and even touch them if they're brave enough.
  • Experience traditional music and dance: The Gambia has a rich musical tradition, and there are numerous opportunities to experience live music and dance performances.
  • Visit James Island: James Island, also known as Kunta Kinteh Island, was a major trading post during the transatlantic slave trade. Visitors can explore the ruins of the fort and learn about the island's dark history.
  • Explore local markets: The Gambia is known for its bustling markets, and there are numerous markets to explore, such as the Albert Market in Banjul and the Brikama Market.
  • Relax on the beach: The Gambia has miles of beautiful beaches, such as Kololi Beach and Cape Point Beach, which are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing.
  • Try local cuisine: The Gambia has a unique cuisine that's a blend of African and European influences. Try local dishes such as domoda, yassa, and benachin to experience the country's culinary delights.

By experiencing these activities and attractions, you can get a well-rounded picture of The Gambia and its history, culture, and natural beauty.

Gambia
What To Eat

WHAT TO EAT IN GAMBIA

WHAT TO EAT IN GAMBIA

When visiting The Gambia, you'll have the opportunity to try a variety of delicious and unique dishes. Here are some of the must-try dishes when visiting The Gambia:

  • Domoda: Domoda is a popular Gambian dish made with peanut sauce, vegetables, and meat (usually beef or chicken). It's often served with rice and is a hearty and flavorful meal.
  • Yassa: Yassa is a dish made with marinated chicken or fish, onions, and lemon juice. It's often served with rice and is a tangy and flavorful dish.
  • Benachin: Benachin, also known as Jollof rice, is a rice dish made with tomato sauce, vegetables, and meat or fish. It's a staple dish in many West African countries, and each country has its own variation.
  • Superkanja: Superkanja is a soup made with okra, fish or meat, and a variety of vegetables. It's a nutritious and flavorful dish that's popular in The Gambia.
  • Plasas: Plasas is a stew made with cassava leaves, meat or fish, and vegetables. It's a popular dish in many West African countries and is known for its rich and complex flavors.
  • Grilled fish: The Gambia is known for its fresh seafood, and grilled fish is a popular dish. It's often served with a spicy pepper sauce and is a simple but delicious meal.
  • Bissap: Bissap is a refreshing drink made from hibiscus flowers. It's often sweetened with sugar and can be served hot or cold.

By trying these dishes, you can experience the unique and delicious flavors of The Gambia's cuisine.

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Gambia

WHERE TO STAY IN GAMBIA

For a first-time visit to Gambia, choosing the right area or region to stay in can significantly impact your experience of the country's vibrant culture, rich history, and stunning natural landscapes. Here are some recommendations along with top-rated accommodation options in different price ranges:


Where to stay in Banjul:

As the capital city, Banjul offers a blend of colonial architecture, bustling markets, and access to Gambia's riverfront. Explore Arch 22, the National Museum, and Albert Market for a taste of local life.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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