If you’re planning a trip to the Gambia, this might be the most helpful bit of advice you will read before you go. I have never been to any other African country besides Zambia and now I can’t wait to explore more African countries. Gambia was one of the West African Countries I heard loads of good reviews about and with a direct flight from Manchester Airport, It was about time I explored. Firstly, you don’t need a visa if you have a British Passport and going there for less than 28 days. This certainly was a plus. Before booking the hotel and flight, I spent a few weeks digging in and getting down to the nitty-gritty so that I could share my Gambia travel guide and all my experiences with you.
SHOP THE POST
While I discovered a lot of articles online that gave me the typical tourist guide on The Gambia, I wanted to share a few lesser known tips in addition to the more obvious ones.
GET YOUR VACCINATIONS IN CHECK
Most of us, Africans (in particular) are not really fussed when it comes to getting these vaccinations done. However, I would recommend getting your vaccines before travelling to the Gambia. The compulsory one is the Yellow Fever Vaccine and I would recommend getting anti malaria tablets too because it is a high-risk area for malaria. If you are wanting to be extra careful also opt for insect repellent before having your entire skin feasted on by hungry insects.
I would put much emphasis on getting travelinsurance before travelling to anywhere. You just never know what might happen.For example, in my case, I ended up with Diarrhoea and Vomiting two days beforewe were due to travel back. Bearing in mind that I was extra careful with whatI ate whilst on holiday, it was just unfortunate that maybe something didn’tsettle well in my tummy. I had to get a doctor in at midnight which cost 100Euros. Much as it was a huge amount to spend, I am glad this can be claimedback. So, make sure you have your travel insurance. Its better to safe than sorry.
PACKING FOR THE GAMBIA
When it comes to packing, bring your bikinis and summer outfits because its super-hot. Don’t forget to pack sunglasses!
GAMBIAN CURRENCY EXCHANGE
The Gambian currency is called the Dalasi. You can exchange to the local currency using various currenciessuch as Dollars, Pound Sterling, Swedish Kroner etc. One other thing you needto be mindful of is that there is a lot of haggling in Gambia. Therefore, youcan use this to your advantage to get a good deal. I took my pounds andexchanged it when I arrived in the Gambia. You can also change money in hotels,but the exchange rate often isn’t that good.
GETTING AROUND IN THE GAMBIA
Probably the best piece of advice I would give you is to use the green taxis which are designated for tourists. However, if you are feeling a lot more adventurous getting onto the local taxis which are also known as bush taxis, would be a great experience. Bush taxis are more like carpools were different people get on and off the taxi. The only thing I found alarming was the poor driving skills that most drivers have in the Gambia. There is no highway code or road etiquettes.
The taxis are mostlyyellow. They congregate alongside busy roads and in front of the Hotels. Itmakes it easy to select which one you want for the day. Practice your negotiatingskills here; they try and up-sell you.
FOOD SCENE IN THE GAMBIA
If you are staying onthe Senegambia Strip there is a wide range of restaurants to choose from. By the beach there are Men and women who sellfruit and natural fruit juices. The fruit is perfectly OK to eat – some of themost delicious watermelons I’ve ever had! However, I wasn’t sure about havingthe juice because I was a bit conscious about contamination. In fact, I did getfood poisoning even though I only ate food from restaurants.
One of the friendliest and most kind cultures I’ve ever encountered and super helpful! There areplenty of English-speaking people, therefore, it should be easy to communicate with people.
After visiting Banjul, I was in shock at how dilapidated and rundown everything is. Buildings are falling apart in front of you and there are so many unused broken-down cars just languishing in the streets.
If done right, it’s got potential to be a beautiful city.
I didn’t expect the air quality to be so bad. At times it was a little hard to breathe. I think because the old cars omit so many fumes and there aren’t regulations on things like there are elsewhere in the world.
Other than that, the beaches are surreal. I certainly enjoyed regular walks by the beach.