THE GAMBIAID CARD
Area: 11,295 km2
Language: English and local languages: Wolof, Mandínka, Fula, Jola, Serer, Aku
Currency: Dalasi (GMD)
Population: about 2,000,000
Density: 121 km2
International Dialling Code: +220
National anthem: For The Gambia, Our Homeland
The President: Adama Barrow (since January 2017)
Official name: Republic of The Gambia
Independence: since 18.2.1965
The Gambia is bordering on the Atlantic Ocean in the west and on Senegal from all other sides. It is 320 kilometres long and 20 to 30 kilometres wide. The Gambia River flows for 322 km through The Gambia on its way to the Atlantic. With its glorious low-key beaches, bustling towns that combine colonial architecture and traditional activities and wealth of wildlife, The Gambia is the most approachable of all West African countries.
In 1651, it became an English colony, although all the rest of West Africa belonged to France. The English defined Gambia borders by sailing inland of the Gambia in the eponymous river and determining the borders with Senegal with a range of artillery shells. Today this small country looks like a finger stuck into the inland of Senegal.
The capital, Banjul, is situated at the Gambia River’s mouth, flowing to the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the smallest capitals in the world. Banjul was given its name in 1973. As it lies on a peninsula, the first town named by the English was called the Island of St. Mary. Later, it was renamed Bathurst after the Registrar Office of the British colony, Henry Bathurst. Banjul is mainly a commercial and business centre.
The Gambia is known for the most favourable climate in West Africa. The weather is tropical, with dry and rainy seasons. Coastal areas are dry from mid-October to mid-June, while the rainy season lasts from June to October. Inland, the cold period is shorter, and from May to June, the daytime temperatures are very high. Most days are sunny, even during the rainy season. Many tour operators invite visitors only during months from October until March when its so-called dry season, humidity has dropped, the dirt roads are passable, and the bush is still green and busy with birdlife. We believe you can travel to West Africa at any time of the year. Every time of a year is something special. Temperatures in the resort areas near the Atlantic Ocean vary all year slightly, while humidity levels fluctuate. Rainy days are few in the rainy season. It is usually raining at night. Sometimes it can be sunny in the morning, heavily raining at noontime and again sunny in the afternoon. During rain, the risk for malaria is higher, and some roads are waterlogged. However, birds, flowers and fresh vegetation are abundant at this time, mangoes are in season, the resorts are uncrowded, the sea is at its warmest, and between the spectacular thunderstorms, the days are bright and clear.The average temperature is 30 C. Sunshine hours from December to July are from 9 to 10 hours.
The Gambia is located only six hours from major destinations in Europe, making it a popular and financially accessible place for tourists. From November until March, there are more flight options in the high season, but the prices are higher, especially during Christmas & New Year time, Easter and school holidays.
Some of the airlines:
- Brussels Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
- Royal Air Maroc Airlines
- Vueling Airlines
- Iberia Airlines
- TUI UK
- TUI Belgium
- TUI Netherlands
- Gambia Experience
There are no railway lines in The Gambia. The country has one international airport, Banjul Airport. There are no internal flights except by private arrangements. The most common way to get around is by road or by the river. There are some options to choose from, but it all depends on what you are interested to see or which side of the country you want to go to. The main roads are generally well maintained with streetlights.
They are usually marked with a sign “tourist taxi” and painted green with white diamonds on the sides and bonnet. These taxis have a licence given by the Institute for Tourism in The Gambia – The Gambia Tourism Board and are only intended for transporting tourists. They must pass inspection every year and should be fully insured. Usually, they are located in front of hotels and resorts using the queue principle and have fixed prices to all destinations to and outside The Gambia. Sometimes there is little room for negotiation.
Yellow and green four-door taxis
These vehicles are yellow and green and can usually accept up to four people at a time. They drive a standard route the whole day at a fixed price (just a few dalasis) and offer shared taxi services, which means that you can get on and off anytime and share a taxi with other passengers. Do not forget that they have a standard route from point A to point B only on the main road.
If you want a car for your own trip, you can charter a taxi and negotiate for a reasonable price for your “town trip” out of the standard route. If you have a serious and reliable taxi driver, you can arrange the time to pick you up and take you back to the place of accommodation or anywhere you wish.
The bush taxi is the classic form of West African public transport, providing an essential public service in urban and rural areas. Locals mostly use large vehicles, known as bush taxis. They are usually seven passengers-vehicles, delivery vans, and buses. These vehicles are not marked with a specific colour and are used for long and short distances. Prices are fixed; however, we recommend finding out about the cost before entering the vehicle. These taxis stop on the way so that passengers can enter and exit.
Main roads are paved and in order, while the byroads may be in poor condition. Particularly during the rainy season, it is hard to drive on byroads.
If you plan to drive in The Gambia, bring your international driving license issued in the English language. However, be aware that going to The Gambia is a more hectic experience than driving in Europe.
HEALTH INSURANCE AND MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
We do not recommend travelling to Africa without health insurance. Almost all insurance companies offer international health insurances. The cheapest way is to get an annual insurance policy, which can be used in all countries you visit during the year.
Contact the insurance company for health insurance policies that include medical assistance abroad. Do not forget to mention that you are heading to The Gambia. We also recommend that you get accident insurance in case you get hurt during your stay.
VACCINATION AND TREATMENT
Although yellow fever vaccination is no longer obligatory for The Gambia, we recommend that you consult your doctor before travelling.
You will get advice and recommendation vaccinations and prescribe anti-malarial medicines (available in the Gambia). In some cases, they require special procedures for immunization of children and pregnant women. We recommend that you bring drugs to treat dehydration, less severe diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, insect bites and cuts, along with mosquito repellents and sunscreen with a high SPF.
Sexually transmitted diseases (including AIDS) are a serious worldwide health problem. We recommend being cautious during your stay in The Gambia. The latest tips can also be found with the World Health Organisation.