Planning a trip
Do I need a passport and/or visa to travel to The Gambia?
In October 2019, The Gambia Tourism Board informed the public that in line with the new visa-free policy adopted by the Ministry of Tourism, The Gambia is now a visa-free zone for all chartered and scheduled flights. The new visa-free policy applies to citizens from the following countries: all Commonwealth countries, European Union countries, African countries, and Baltic states. All other countries shall apply for a visa to visit The Gambia.
Where can I find accommodation deals online?
You can search for it on different international booking platforms. Still, it is always good to check with the actual provider for the vacancy and additional details (which cannot be provided by the automatic bookings) before booking. There are limited options to pay for your booking online, but it depends on the providers themselves. Many local providers are deeply involved in community-based tourism and other activities. They can give you many different ideas on what to do and see in the country during your stay. For the Gambia, a personal approach is always better.
Do I Need Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is highly recommended as medical services in The Gambia can be very expensive. Only for a bed at the private hospital, you will easily pay GMD2000 per night. Also, medical assistance in The Gambia is usually limited, so it is good to have travel medical insurance for the world for the whole period of your stay. Check out the offers with your local Insurance companies. Make sure to get familiar with terms and conditions, response times and limitations of insurance period.
Which vaccinations do I need to visit The Gambia?
If you come from a country with a high risk for yellow fever virus exposure, you will need to present a yellow fever certificate. No other vaccination is compulsory. We recommend you visit a travel clinic and get additional advice on recommended vaccination. Most travel clinics would also recommend taking anti-malarial tablets as a precaution.
Do I need to provide a yellow fever certificate upon entering The Gambia?
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is not required to enter The Gambia if you are arriving from the countries with no risk of yellow fever, but if you are entering from countries with high potential for yellow fever virus exposure (e.g. Senegal), you will have to provide the proof of vaccination at the border or airport (yellow fever certificate).
What are the rules for entering The Gambia regarding COVID restrictions?
What are the airport charges I am supposed to pay?
At the arrival and departure from the country, you have to pay the security fee of 20 dollars or equivalent in Gambian dalasi or euro.
What Should I Pack?
It would be best if you packed light, breathable clothes, swimming suits, sandals, flip-flops, beach towels, hat or cap to protect from the hot sun, sunglasses, sun cream, mosquito repellents and other personal things you always take when travelling abroad.
What are some of the common items I should bring with me?
You can get almost everything you want in The Gambia, but prices might be higher for some imported goods. A few of the things you should not forget to pack is mosquito repellent and sun cream. There are limited options when it comes to buying cosmetics, sanitary products (especially feminine hygiene products), cigarettes and tobacco, certain types of coffee and some other specific high-quality products.
What medicines should I pack?
You should not forget any prescribed medication. In your travel pharmacy is also good to keep painkillers, medicine to treat dehydration, stomach and digestion problems and insect bites.
Which gifts should I bring to my friends in The Gambia?
Your friends in The Gambia will be happy to receive any gift. Still, you can concentrate on the things that are less accessible in The Gambia, such as books, hygienic pads, first-aid packages, high-quality electronic devices (cell phones, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, etc.).
About The Gambia
What is the best time to travel to The Gambia?
Although most of the visitors come to the Gambia in the dry season, with its peak in November, December and January, there are certain bonuses if you decide to visit The Gambia during each period of the year. Rainy season can be inviting for all the reasons listed HERE. And there is enough sunshine throughout the whole year. But if you cannot handle the heat well, the best time to come is in the dry season.
Which is the official language of The Gambia?
The official language is English, and there are many local languages spoken (Most spoken: Wolof, Mandinka, Fula, Jola, Serahule, Serer, Manjago, Creole (or Aku)). Most of the people can speak at least two local languages. Older generations, especially in rural areas, mostly do not speak English
Is it safe to travel to The Gambia?
The Gambia is considered a safe country, which is very welcoming to visitors. The name Smiling Coast of Africa was not created by accident. According to the 2021 Global Peace Index, the country ranking is 64 out of 163 countries, where the score is 1.9/5 (the lower the score, the more peaceful the country). Although many would say the crime rate has increased since the end of the Jammeh regime and the beginning of the covid period, visitors are rarely the victims of a crime. But being cautious like everywhere else in the world is recommended. We recommend avoiding walking dark streets alone at night and being extra careful with your personal belongings when in crowded public places.
Are there many hasslers in The Gambia?
In tourist areas, especially outside hotels, restaurants, bars, on the beach or close to nightclubs at night, you will most possibly meet some bumsters who want to sell you excursions, guided tours, souvenirs, or even romantic relationships. Although some might be very persistent, they would usually give up if you politely but firmly refuse to do business with them.
What is the weather like in The Gambia?
Because of its subtropical climate, the weather is warm (hot) all year round in The Gambia. The Gambia only has two seasons, wet and dry seasons. The wet season lasts from June to October. The temperatures are the lowest during the nights of November, December, January and February. There are more than 10 hours of sunlight throughout the whole year.
Is there a lot of insects and mosquitos in The Gambia?
There is quite a lot of mosquitos, but they are most active in the evening hours. It is good to keep your mosquito repellents with you and protect yourself with long, lightweight clothes. Insects are present everywhere, especially in tropical climates, but there will be less chance to see any in higher budget accommodation places.
What are the beaches like?
Although Gambian beaches are sandy, most of the beaches are not what you would imagine seeing. There are still many beaches with unspoilt nature, where you will find nothing else than just a few random people either training, playing football or just passing by. In tourist areas, you will be able to find local bars, natural juice stands, fruit sellers, horseback riders and music artists usually offering their services to the visitors of the beach. If you want to enjoy the sunbeds, cocktails, cold drinks and music, you should visit one of the many bars, restaurants and hotels with their private beach, mainly concentrated at Kololi, Kotu, Brufut Heights and Cape point. They usually provide sunbeds in exchange for using their services or for a small fee.
Does The Gambia have good internet?
Although there are many providers, amongst which Qcell and Africell are the most known, the supply of the internet in the country comes from the only ACE cable from Senegal. The antenna coverage is better in rural and tourist areas, but it also depends on your provider. To obtain a Gambian SIM card, you need to present your passport. SIM card is usually free as you will only pay for the prepaid package or amount of credit you wish to purchase. Most accommodation places have Wi-Fi, but there are high chances of weak connections and frequent disturbances, which can sometimes last even more than one day, depending on the provider.
When in The Gambia
Where can I change my money?
We recommend you change the money in any local exchange bureaus as you will get better rates than at the airport or some hotels or in your country before travel. Some countries do not hold Gambian currency, so it is best to do all your exchange in The Gambia. There are many exchange bureaus, especially in the tourist areas.
Which currencies can I change in The Gambia?
You can change dollars, English pounds, euros, Swiss frank, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish krona and CFA franc in almost every exchange bureau.
How can I pay in The Gambia?
The most commonly used and accepted everywhere is cash. So, bringing money to the Gambia is the wisest choice if you want to avoid any stress with paying. We recommend you do not rely on credit and debit cards as payments are accepted only in some hotels and restaurants. We advise confirming with your accommodation place before coming if they accept payments with credit cards. ATM’s are accessible, but they are not always working. But there is a possibility to withdraw cash from VISA or Mastercard.
Are the prices in The Gambia fixed?
In restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, bars and most of the shops, prices are fixed. But if you go on a local market, craft market or if you want to hire a private taxi, you have to negotiate for a price.
What forms of transportation can I use in The Gambia?
In tourist areas, you can use green (tourist) taxis, which are the most expensive. You will pay less if you hire a yellow taxi or tuk-tuk (town trip/private) or even less if you decide on a shared trip. You can also join local public transport with vans for a very economical price. There is an option to rent a car or motorbike, but you need an international driving license. If you decide to go on the road by yourself, take extra precautions since there is a lack of traffic and direction signs, traffic rules are not always being followed, traffic jams are often on main roads, and off the main roads, the drives can be very bumpy.
To cross the river, you can choose the ferry from certain points like Banjul-Barra, Janjanbureh-Lamin Koto, Bamba Tenda-Yelitenda, or you can join a smaller fishing boat for a bit higher price yet faster travel. You can enjoy the river by booking different boat trips (Denton Bridge, Abcass Creek, Bintang Bolong, Kuntaur, Janjanbureh) or explore it with kayaks (Tanji, Janjanbureh).
Can I drink tap water?
It is not recommended to drink tap water. Bottled water can be bought at any supermarket or local shop.
Can I use my camera freely?
You should not take photos of any governmental institutions and uniformed personnel, especially the military. We strongly recommend you to ask for permission if you want to take a picture of people, although they might reject you or ask for payment in return.
Can I smoke in The Gambia?
Smoking is not allowed in public and closed places so try to limit your smoking to restaurants and bars with outdoor terraces.
Where can I buy anti-malarial tablets?
They are usually accessible in better-stored pharmacies like Stop-Step Pharmacy, Innovarx Pharmacy, and smaller local pharmacies since malaria is very common in The Gambia.
What are the best places to visit?
The famous spots in The Gambia are Kachikally crocodile pool, Kunta Kinteh Island, Stone Circles in Wassu, Reptile farm in Kartong, the capital city of Banjul with the Arch 22 and Gambia National Museum. Still, there are so many more opportunities if you want to explore the country further. There is a great potential for community-based activities, sports activities, nature activities and more.
What is the best local food I should try?
Gambian cuisine is based on grains (mostly rice) and spicy sauces. The most famous and beloved dishes are domoda and benechin. But you can try a broader range of dishes, especially in local restaurants and on the streets, if you want to explore the Gambia’s taste further.
Where can I eat out?
There is a wide selection of restaurants with delicious world cuisine. Especially in tourist areas like Senegambia, you will find many choices on one street. But there are also some hidden jewels outside the tourist zone. If you want to try local food, you can visit local restaurants, but we advise you to get some recommendations before visiting the selected place. Check out our guide of open restaurants to know more.
Which animals can I see in The Gambia?
The Gambia is a heaven on earth for bird lovers. There are more than 500 species that you can spot in The Gambia, some of them even from your balcony or terrace of accommodation place. You will also be able to spot monkeys (especially green velvet monkeys) and, of course, lizards. With a bit more effort, you can see crocodiles that reside nearby the river (or you can visit the Kachikally crocodile pool), baboons (there are many in Makasuto sacred forest) and even hippos in The River Gambia National Park. If you decide on a boat trip to baboon island, you will probably be lucky to see chimpanzees from the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project. For most adventurous travellers, you can go for animal spotting in the Kiang National Park and try your luck in spotting individuals of most of Gambia’s remaining mammal species, such as clawless otter, bushbuck, caracal, leopard, serval, spotted hyena, warthogs and more.