Travel guide to Gambia

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» Gambia
Gambia owns plenty of sights and attractions, but the country's greatest gem must be the people. Whether you sail the River Gambia or bask in the sun on a beach, you will meet open Gambians bidding a warm welcome to their beautiful country.

Facts

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Local name
The Gambia
Capital
Banjul (50.000)
Size
11.300 square kilometres
Principal Languages
The official language is English. However, a great deal of local languages are spoken, such as: Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Jola og Serahule.
Principal Religion
90 per cent of the population is Muslim
Inhabitants
1.300.000
Government
Republic
Geography
Gambia borders Senegal all the way around except for the 50 kilometres of Atlantic coastline. The country consists primarily of low tableland interrupted by hills and the Gambia River. In areas around the river you find rainforest and bamboo, as well as areas of savannah with different varieties of trees.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

The best time to travel in Gambia is from November to March. At this time of year the weather is relatively cool and dry. The rainy season is from June to October; it is no problem to visit the country during this season, but some roads may have been washed away by the rain.

Literature

Lonely Planet The Gambia & Senegal Lonely Planet West Africa Lonely Planet Africa on a shoestring

Local conditions

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Currency

Gambian Dalasi (D)

Net cafes

There are a few internet cafés in the cities. They can be hard to find and it is a good idea to ask at the local tourist information.

Tipping

Some hotels charge 10 per cent extra for service, otherwise you normally add a 10 per cent tip yourself at both hotels and for taxi drivers.

Timezone

There is no time difference between England and Gambia.

Weight and Measures

In Gambia they use the following weights and measures: Distance: The metric system

Photography

You should avoid taking pictures inside churches and mosques. Furthermore you should get permission before you photograph other people.

Drinking water

All water used for icecubes, drinking and brushing your teeth should be boiled before use.

Electricity

In Gambia they use the following power source: 220 volt AC, 50 Hz.

Behaviour

There are no specific rules of conduct; people in Gambia are normally kind and very hospitable. With regard to dress code you should not wear mini skirts or shorts.

Business Hours

Stores are open from 9 am to 12 noon and from 2 pm to 5 pm (Monday-Thursday), and 9 am to 1 pm (Fridays and Saturdays). Offices are open from 8 am to 4 pm (Monday-Thursday) and from 8 am to 12.30 pm (Fridays). Banks are open from 8 am to 1 pm (Monday-Thursday) and from 8 am to 11 pm (Fridays).

Food and drink

It is possible to get Western food at most tourist hotels and restaurants. But you could also try the colourful Gambian cuisine, which usually means excellent food. In Gambia they often serve a lot of vegetables, rice and beans with different kinds of flesh. This flesh is usually seasoned with spices. Local fruits such as mango, bananas, grapefruit and oranges are a speciality and can be bought easily on the markets. With regard to beverages you can get good wine and reasonable beer. The local fruit juice is excellent.

Disabled travellers

Gambia is not suitable for disabled persons to travel in; almost no places are designed to receive disabled persons. Therefore, if you want to travel in Gambia the journey should be thoroughly planned with contact to all the places you want to visit.

Holidays

New Years Day, 1 January Independence Day, 18 February Workers Day. 1 May Virgin Mary's Day, 15 August Christmas Day , 25 December

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

Camping is not widely known in Gambia. If you do come across it, it is on chartered tours.

Hotels

With time quite a few good and comfortable hotels have turned up in Gambia. They are primarily situated in Banjul and along the coast. During the tourist season (November-May) the hotels are quickly fully booked for which reason it will be wise to book beforehand.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

There are very few B&B's and guest houses in Gambia - see hostels.

Hostels

There are no hostels in the cities. There are a few hostels along the River Gambia where you can stay overnight. The hostels often seem as small hotels or guest houses.

Local transport

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Planes

There are no domestic flights in Gambia; a few national parks offer sightseeing flights to show the park from above.

Bus

There are public bus connections to most towns in the country; the buses are often crammed.

Trains

There are no railways in Gambia.

Taxi

There are many taxis in the cities and along the coast. It is easy to hail them in the streets.

Car rental

Car rental companies are situated in the cities and along the coast.

Boat or Ferry

There are many options for travelling on the River Gambia. A ferry departs from Barra Point to Banjul every second hour; once a week a ferry departs from Banjul to Basse. Otherwise there are several private charters who organise tours on the river.

Find your travel arrangement to Gambia here

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