Welcome to the Smiling Coast of Africa, the country of a great sense of hospitality, religious harmony, many cultures welcoming and treating all as one and the country where people greet each other with “Kaira-Be”; “Peace be with you”.
When you arrive in The Gambia, you will receive a warm welcome. Every visitor is treated nicely and with respect. Gambians are generally very happy to see people from around the world choosing The Gambia as their holiday, business, or volunteering destination.
It is a small country with a very big heart and the friendliest people you could hope to meet anywhere. The hospitable nature of Gambians makes the nickname "Smiling Coast of Africa" more than well-deserved.
"The Smiling Coast of Africa" may have originated from the shape of the country on the map of Africa. Still, the people of The Gambia embody it better and bring it to life through their friendly and hospitable nature.
While some people and media try to show the individual story as the reality of The Gambia or Africa in general, Gambians are here to show that The Gambia is one of the most amazing countries in the world to visit.
It is the kind of holiday destination suitable for every type of vacation, whether it is summer vacation for the entire family, an adventurous trip for students and young people, long winter holidays for retirees, or a romantic getaway for honeymooners or an educational & volunteering group experience.
So, please don't judge all the African countries based on journalists who often focus on reporting about the problems here. The truth is that MANY positive stories never reach the general public. The Gambia is just one of many countries on the African continent, and it is different from many other African countries. EACH HAS ITS OWN STORY.
The Gambia is a small, quiet, affordable, stable, and peaceful land of smiling people, where many travellers feel at home. The wonderful nature, wildlife, rich culture and traditions, interesting but painful history, colourful villages and above all friendly, hospitable people who are always willing to help.
There is ethnic and religious tolerance and no war in the country. Freedom and peace are two values mentioned in the national anthem and are highly valued throughout the nation.
The Gambia was at the heart of one of humanity's darkest chapters – the slave trade. There is a significant historical spot connected to slavery located in Barra - Fort Bullen. It stands as a lasting reminder of the British campaign to eradicate slavery in West Africa built by the British in the early nineteenth century to thwart the efforts of some European slave traders.
In the early 1970s, it was declared a National Monument, and in 2003, along the Six-Gun Battery in Banjul, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is also a small museum to visit there.
If you are interested in history, there are many historical spots and places to visit. Apart from slavery, you will also learn about culture, nature, tribes, instruments, etc.
For visitors to the city of Banjul, the capital of The Gambia, the Arch 22, National Museum, King Fahad Mosque, St. Mary Cathedral, Monument to the Unknown soldier and the Banjul State House are popular sights to see. In Tanji, you will find the Tanji Village museum; in Bakau, there is Kachikally Museum and Crocodile Pool with other historical spots; in Gunjur, you will find a captivating Village museum. Following the footsteps of slavery, Kunta Kinteh is one of the significant memorials of the dark ages. Visiting the museum of slavery in Albreda and stepping on the vanishing island of one of the most known names in the history of slavery will not leave you without emotions. Stone circles can be found in vast numbers in Wassu. The first professional excavations were made in 1964, and in 1995 the stone circles of Senegambia were proclaimed a National monument and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006.
One of the most amazing trails to explore historical, cultural and natural spots is Ninki Nanka. Read more by clicking HERE.
The Gambia is a place where summer never ends. It is an all-year-round destination located within comfortable flying distance from major European destinations and European capitals.
It 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 November until January or February when the rains are over, humidity has dropped, the roads are passable, and the bush is still green and busy with birdlife.
We believe you can travel to The Gambia any time of the year because every time of the year delivers something special. Temperatures in the resort areas beside the Atlantic vary little all year, 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 noon, and then sunny again in the afternoon. However, birds, flowers and fresh vegetation are all abundant at this time; it is high season for mango, the resorts are uncrowded, the sea is at its warmest, and, between the spectacular thunderstorms, the days are bright and clear.
Flights are available throughout the year. You may not get a direct flight from your country, but various flight connections are available. Check airlines coming to The Gambia during the green season by clicking here.
You will find the best prices in the green season as almost all accommodation providers offer discounted prices. Some restaurants offer special nights, BBQ buffets and other attractive and affordable offers for visitors in the off-season.
Some businesses will close for the green season, but numerous accommodation providers, restaurants, local agents, transportation providers, etc., are operating the whole year. You might be surprised at how many places are actually NOT closed.
Many events take place in December, January & February. But different events are happening throughout the year. If you spend time with locals, you will have more chances to experience and attend a naming or wedding ceremony, wrestling competition, fashion shows, carnivals, beauty pageants, cultural nights with kankurangs or zimbas, local annual festivals, etc.
If you are a "no problem" traveller, you will enjoy The Gambia any time of the year!
If you are looking for skyscrapers, giant towers, enormous shopping malls, and busy cities packed full of things to do, then The Gambia might not be a destination for you.
Suppose you are looking for simplicity, nature, village life, connecting with the culture on a deeper level and want a real taste of Africa. In that case, The Gambia is a perfect destination for you.
This doesn't mean you can't enjoy your holiday in a 5-star luxury hotel, eat in fine-dining restaurants, drive around in comfortable cars with a personal driver, or go shopping in air-conditioned modern malls. Still, it means you can have one of the best and most authentic experiences of your lifetime as unspoiled countryside represents the majority of the country.
Adventurous travellers who want to spend the vacation with locals have a guarantee of an intensive experience. It is for those who don't just want to visit a country but want to experience it - and want to experience everything. You will see towns and villages where no travel agency tours go to taste local food and experience local customs; you will save money, experience public transport and much more. Attending local music festivals will make your journey even more magical.
The real beauty of The Gambia lies in its people and their heritage. The Ninki Nanka trail is a responsible tourism product promoting Community-Based Tourism and dispersing the economic benefit to rural areas. It offers you immersive and meaningful interaction with local people. Learn more by clicking HERE.
Baobab River Hiking Trails are another way to enjoy the authentic Gambia. Six hiking trails have been developed through the woodlands along the Gambia river and villages facing inherent natural beauty and culture. The main objectives for developing trails are to include the local population, sustain treatment of nature and resources, cross-border cooperation and exchange, develop and promote nature-oriented and eco-tourism, create employment opportunities and combat poverty. If you are interested to know more, please send an e-mail to email@example.com.
We will introduce numerous eco-lodges, homestays, and guest houses and activities where you can enjoy the authentic way of life in villages in our upcoming online accommodation booking section and trips & activities, which will be available on our website very soon.
Compared to other African countries, The Gambia remains one of the safest.
The crime rate in The Gambia has increased recently, especially in Covid times, but it is generally lower than in other countries in the region. The most common crimes are petty theft and burglary. Although most places are safe, we advise not to walk outside alone at night or early in the morning.
Tourist destinations do not only attract tourists. Pickpockets are most active in places of interest, such as markets, public transportation cars, ferry boats, etc., so keep an eye on your money and documents. Be careful when using your mobile phone while driving with the windows open or in open places, as it may get stolen.
It is a (reasonably) safe country to explore as long as you take sensible precautions to safeguard your possessions. There are several checkpoints everywhere in the country.
Remember that you should be careful, like in your hometown or any other destination. If you would not go to someone's house after knowing them for half an hour, you should also not do it in The Gambia.
We advise you not to take valuables or large sums of money to the beach, markets and when crossing with a ferry or display them in public. Locking documents, valuables, and cash in a safety deposit box in the room where you are staying is also recommended.
Compared to other African countries, The Gambia is affordable, ranked as one of the best value holiday destinations in 2014 and won the 2019 tourism destination of the year award.
Even though prices are constantly rising, as they are all over the world, The Gambia is a destination where you get more for your travel money!
If you decide to eat local food, use local transport, and book basic accommodation, you will save a lot of money and still enjoy your holiday!
The Gambia is the smallest country on the mainland of Africa. It is located in the West African region. It borders the Atlantic Ocean in the west and Senegal from all other sides but still retains its own clear identity.
On 11,295sq km (4,361sq miles), it has many attractions at a short distance; therefore, you can discover it all without spending a lot of time and money. This is also one of the reasons it is becoming one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. It does not fail to compete with others. On the contrary, it has more attractions in one place than many other African countries.
When talking about capital cities, one would typically imagine a big, busy metropolis with plenty of high buildings, heavy traffic and a majestic main square. But in our case, Banjul is the total opposite of this image. This small yet unique capital is perfect for a half-day trip to feel the city's pulse.
The City of Banjul was founded in 1816. As an important strategic point of the country, it played a crucial role in history. The city lies on a peninsula, surrounded by river Gambia at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. Its position makes it impossible for urban sprawl. It leaves Banjul solely as the administrative and economic centre of the country.
There are many places to discover, especially in the rural Gambia.
When travelling to explore the interior of The Gambia, you will find yourself deep in classic West African landscapes scattered with traditional villages and crisscrossed by red-earth roads, rich in eco-tourism opportunities, wilderness, wildlife, and birdwatching. In addition, you will experience West African music and rural culture as there are always vibrant village festivals and ceremonies full of traditional drumming and energetic dancing.
Tribal traditions are in many ways more intact here than anywhere else in the country, and villagers are generally proud to share and explain elements of their culture, such as music and dance, with interested visitors.
The beauty of travelling beyond the big, discovered, famous places - is that you stay in small towns or villages, eat local food, and your sightseeing spots are forests, rivers, and villages. This concept offers an intense, memorable experience for minimal cost.
The language barrier can be difficult when you're staying with only locals, but it is also fun – it means you are in a foreign place where you will quickly learn a new language.
We invite you to explore The Gambia. You will love it.
The official language in The Gambia is English which favours numerous visitors.
However, 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 don't speak English.
We highly recommend that you learn some basic phrases in the Wolof language (greetings, how to say thank you, etc.). It is customary to greet people before starting a conversation.
The most common greeting is a phrase in the Muslim religion, "As Salamu Aleikum", meaning "peace be with you". Gambians attach great importance to traditional greetings. Avoid direct questions and take some time to greet and question: "How are you?", "How is your day?", "How is the family?". Gambians are incredibly courteous, so don't be afraid to accept their hospitality.
The Gambia proves to be a first-class destination for any birdwatcher.
It is situated close to the northern limit of the tropical rain front. The Gambia is in the middle of the narrow transitional zone between semi-desert and tropical rainforests. Consequently, the country's bird list includes species from both of these areas, with the species to be seen varying with the onset of the rainy and dry seasons. Add to the African endemic species the many European migrants that either pass through The Gambia or spend the winter there, and one can see why the bird list is so extensive.
Because of the proximity of the rainforest to the south and the desert to the north, there is always the chance of spotting something unusual that has overshot on migration or a food-finding tour. Therefore, Gambia's birdlife is astonishingly diverse, and the 560 -plus bird species have relatively few predators.
Characteristics sights are pied crows, urbanite magpie-like birds that are common throughout the Sahelian region; electric blue Abyssinian rollers perched conspicuously on telephone wires and bare branches; the marvellous, lurching flight of hornbills swooping across the road in forest areas; and unmistakable gaggles of noisy, glamorous long-tailed glossy starlings just about everywhere.
The Gambia s also a regular haunt of Palearctic migrants – migratory species from Europe and Asia that overwinter in the tropics.
The growing popularity of recreational fishing since the early 1990s has made The Gambia one of the most sought-after fishing holiday destinations in the world, offering a wide variety of fish species and fishing activities in different places.
Sea and river fishing is good all year round, particularly line-fishing from the beaches along Gambia's southern seaboard. Deep sea fishing up to 30km offshore is the best from the middle of May to October. Sport fishing is excellent during the summer from June to December but good all other months. Boat anglers who prefer to avoid rough waters, and saltwater bolongs, are perpetually tranquil and appealing. Wild waterways make an ideal habitat for a range of tropical fish and an ideal marine environment for the light tackle angler.
With more than 70 different fish species in many inshore reef sandbars, rocky outcrops, deep channels and as well as the Gambia river, these features provide an ideal marine environment for creek fishing.
If you are an adventurous angler, we invite you to the smiling coast of Africa, where you will get the best fishing adventure. Coming alone, with a group of anglers or with your family, The Gambia offers activities that fit any travel style.
The Gambia can give a magnificent view of chimpanzees in their natural environment. Did you know that there are only a few countries in the world where you can see chimpanzees live in relative freedom—without bars or cages—on three lush, forested islands, and how fantastic it is that The Gambia is one of them?! Really magical and magnificent!
Chimpanzees Rehabilitation Project was initially established by the late Stella Marsden, nee Brewer. She returned to The Gambia and worked with her father, the late Eddie Brewer, in the newly founded Abuko Nature Reserve in 1968. In January 1974, she founded the project as a solution for the group of confiscated orphan chimps in her care. (Stella Brewer, The Forest Dwellers; www.chimprehab.com).
In 1979, an island sanctuary was established in the River Gambia National Park.
Today it is home to more than 140 chimpanzees who live in four groups on islands spanning 1,500 acres — providing refuge for four chimpanzee social groups along with Guinea baboons, green monkeys, red colobus monkeys, hippos, more than 240 species of birds and a variety of other wildlife, and birds.
Janis Carter, a primatologist who came to The Gambia in 1977, runs and maintains the open-air sanctuary while also working to protect the region's habitat, provide local environmental education and foster community development (https://friendsofanimals.org/chimpanzee-refugee-project/).
If you want to visit Chimpanzees Rehabilitation Project, kindly send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Africa has been one of the fastest-growing tourism regions of the last decade! Yet, despite this rapid growth of visitors, Africa is still last on the list of popular destinations for general tourists. It is still common to hear travellers say that they are nervous about visiting this vast and mysterious continent.
We believe The Gambia is the best choice for Africa's first-comers as it gives you a nice introduction to the continent. Many visitors say that it is a special country and therefore the country has many returnees. Some people have come here yearly for the past 20 or 30 years.
80km of coastline, The Gambia boasts magnificent golden beaches backed by swaying palms and sprinkled with scenic lagoons.
However, the seas have undercurrents and high waves, so although paddling in the shallows is okay, better to keep swimming in the hotel pool. There is a flag system where the red flag means that sea conditions are unsuitable for swimming.
If you like buzzing beaches, head to Senegambia, Kololi or Paradise Beach, where you can ride horses, play the drums with the locals and even get involved in dance lessons. If you're more into peace and seclusion, then Fajara, Brufut or Sanyang are ideal for relaxing on a sunbed while sipping a cocktail. Most of the time, just a simple walk down the beach of the Atlantic Ocean can bring unexpected and pleasant experiences. The long, sandy beach is a place for many people who enjoy walking, jogging and exercising at the beach.
As wrestling is a popular sport here, you might see a group of men training for the wrestling competition. Many fruit and juice sellers also offer delicious, fresh, tropical fruit juices! We suggest you try it when visiting The Gambia.
Many birds can be spotted while walking along the beach, but also expect to see some dead fish, jellyfish, cattle bones, shells, and other natural sea decorations on the sand.
During the time of the green season, you will feel like you have the beach all for yourself.
Locals love to exercise or play football on the beach. Sundays are reserved for family picnics and fun on the beach.
The Gambia, according to World Agroforestry Organisation, is among the least polluting nations, contributing to just 0.05 % of the world's emissions. The climate action tracker indicates that The Gambia's policies and actions towards climate change are one of the rare that are compatible with the Paris agreement.
Over-concentration of tourism infrastructure and activities along the coast can lead to inevitable pollution. Still, The Gambia is yet to experience such as it is less crowded and has a very long coastal line identified and reserved for Tourism development, including some rural areas.
The Gambia has also introduced Agroforestry, improved social management policies, waste management and reducing power loss during transmission, solar energies, and safe and clean drinking water supply initiatives even in some rural communities.
The Gambia, through assistance from Germany and UK climate change knowledge network, has developed plans to cut emissions in The Gambia to 25 to 30 percent by 2030 from 2000 levels.
Kora is a traditional Mandinka musical instrument used by the griots of Manding. Symbolically speaking, the kora has the power to facilitate communication between cultures.
The kora has 21 strings and is unique to West Africa, allowing performers to display their virtuosity and creativity. Initially, the kora was exclusively played only by the griots, a caste of professional musicians who are like a repository of oral tradition. These hereditary genealogists help anchor the identity of everyone in the community.
The origins of the kora can be traced back to the former Mali Empire. Among various West African folklores, one tale insinuated that the first instrument belonged to a female djinn around the Gambia region during the reign of Soundjata Keita (Mali emperor, 13th century). Amazed by the harmonious sounds of the exquisite instrument, a warlord named Tiramaghan dispossessed it from the female genie. The instrument later ended in the hands of the first Jali or griot: Djelimaly Oulé Diabaté, a friend of the aforementioned warlord. Thus, Djelimaly Oulé Diabaté started the prestige lineage of Kora players.
Music and dance colour every corner of daily life in The Gambia. Live performances often continue late into the night and are an unmissable introduction to Gambian social life at its most exuberant. But traditional music is far more than just entertainment; it's the most valued and celebrated of the arts, used to spread news, tell stories, cement relationships and express religious beliefs. As such, it has a crucial role in cultural rituals. A great way to immerse yourself in The Gambia's musical traditions and get under the skin of local culture is to sign up for a series of lessons with a professional musician or dancer. Several kora, djembé, sabar and balafon players are happy to offer interested visitors an introduction to the basics of their instrument; the musicians who play at the resort hotels can sometimes make helpful introductions or offer themselves as a tutor. A lesson could be a simple instrumental session on the beach or a more intense session of detailed technical instruction.
The Gambia is only six hours away from major European destinations and capitals, making it a popular and financially accessible place for visitors, volunteers and tourists.
You can find good flight deals from many European countries all year round. Even during the time of the COVID-19 epidemic, regular flights were available. Direct flights are available from countries such as Germany, Belgium, Spain and the UK.
The number of travel agents offering holidays in The Gambia grows every year. It is now easier to travel to Africa than ever before.
Society in The Gambia comprises several discrete ethnic groups found not only here but across a whole swathe of Western Africa. Many Gambians have family ties in neighbouring French-speaking Senegal, Mali and beyond.
During your stay, you are very likely to hear, before you see, a Gambian ceremonial occasion taking place. Events such as weddings, naming ceremonies, initiation ceremonies and other special Muslim and Christian festivals are celebrated by lavish feasting, drumming, music, and dancing. A village will also celebrate the arrival of a special guest with the dancing of a group of women dancers. If you are invited to a celebration, do not miss it out.
The baobab tree in The Gambia is mainly found in the forests and is considered a wild fruit. Every part of the baobab is useful in The Gambia. The leaves are used as remedies. Baobab leaves, bark, and fruit are used to cure many ailments like fever, malaria, tuberculosis, and toothaches and stimulate the immune system. The fruit is used for making juice or desserts. Baobab juice, baobab cream, baobab ice, and more. The fruit is also used to relieve stomach aches and diarrhoea. The trunk is used as wood for cooking and making ropes and clothing.
Moringa, the miracle plant, is growing in The Gambia. Research in Niger during the 1980s revealed many of moringa's health benefits, and today the plant is considered a superfood. This is because of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that the leaves contain. Eating moringa can help you have a healthy lifestyle.
Avocado, popularly known as a pear in The Gambia, is a flowering plant believed to have originated from Southern Mexico. It is not only a delicious fruit, but its health benefits are also part of the reasons people eat it. Because of how nutritious avocado is, it is a popular part of many diets. It is rich in vitamins and fibres. In The Gambia, even the leaves, stems and roots are used for health purposes. Some use the leaves as a tea to heal stomach aches, body aches and heart diseases. The roots and stems can be used to take care of other ailments like fever, etc.
Many other superfoods and superfruits are available in The Gambia, such as tamarind, hibiscus, fonio, okra, etc. Most of them are available at local markets.
The phenomenon of stone circle building is widespread throughout almost every continent. While the most famous being Stonehenge in England, it is a matter of recognising the site's significance and building a good campaign around it.
The stone circles of Senegambia have been investigated only recently. The first professional excavations were made in 1964, and in 1995 the stone circles of Senegambia were proclaimed a National monument and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006. Stone circles of Wassu and Kerr Batch in The Gambia fall under the National Center for Arts and Culture custody. It is NCAC's responsibility to preserve, guard and present the Stone circles to the local and international public as a cultural heritage site of great importance.
Read more by clicking HERE.
22. THE ONLY PLACE TO FIND A DRAGON MONSTER
By the oral legend, Ninki Nanka is a mythical dragon said to reside in the creeks of the River Gambia. It is said that whoever saw this mythical creature got seriously ill and died after some days. The only thing that can kill it is its own reflection in the mirror, so to protect oneself while exploring the deep river creeks of the River Gambia, one should always carry a mirror. People say Ninki Nanka has the head of the giraffe; others mention a crocodile. The body should be one of a dragon, and some say hippo.
The main focus of the Ninki Nanka trail is exploring upper river regions, using The River Gambia as one of the paths for travel. Usually, the provinces are not the first choice when it comes to experiencing The Gambia, which is why Ninki Nanka Trail is so important. It allows a visitor to value the hidden jewels of the remote villages and to get closer to the traditions and heritage of Gambian tribes. It also combines river cruises that enable visitors to embrace Gambian nature and animal world beauty fully.
Want to know more? Click HERE.
The Gambia has been listed on the New York Times Travel list of TOP places to go in 2019 (highlights Baboon island) and 2022 (highlights Kunta Kinteh Island). In 2022 The Gambia was listed as one of 52 places for a changed world - the list highlights places around the globe where travellers can be part of the solution.
The Gambia has fascinating flora and wildlife, vibrant ecosystems, varied landscapes and many different animal species. From savannahs to mangroves, beaches to cities, and bushes to villages. Gambian nature reserves are significant for the Gambians and also for visitors.
This hidden, little treasure of West Africa, The Gambia, favours ecotourism, reconciling the environment, wildlife and local community. Therefore, many eco-lodges offer activities with a low impact on the environment like walking, cycling, river cruising and bird watching. Food served in the restaurants is as local and seasonal as possible, and you can expect simple yet charming accommodations that emphasise the enjoyment of Gambia's stunningly diverse beauty.
Many ecotourism projects have been developed in past years, and we believe that in the near future, The Gambia will become one of the best ecotourism destinations in the world.
As a strategy for sustainable destination development, The Gambia has definitely chosen a responsible tourism policy, which has been prepared by the responsible tourism partnership, produced and agreed upon through a multi-stakeholder process. The government's policy promotes tourism and its contribution to economic growth. Their objective is to increase the contribution of tourism to our economy and raise the living standards of Gambians. The government continues efforts to broaden the tourism market, improve quality standards, and ensure rational use of the Tourism Development Area.
Although we have listed many reasons why you should choose The Gambia over other African countries, and there are many more, we cannot ignore the fact that many people can't really explain why they love The Gambia so much. Something indescribable about The Gambia never seizes to draw you back. Therefore, many people, when coming to The Gambia for the first time, feel like they came home, or they feel like they have been here before.