Holidays in The Gambia in 2022
The Gambia is one of the smallest states, which is located on the territory of the African continent. The country since the middle of last century has attracted holidaymakers from all over the world. The situation has not changed in the present time, tourists come here to rest, see the sights and experience the exotic African culture. The authorities are developing tourism infrastructure, seeking to make the state an important tourist destination on the world stage. Anyone interested in trying a trip to a not-so-typical place in 2022 should read the article about the wondrous country, The Gambia.
General information about The Gambia
From the history of The Gambia
Africa is the cradle of humanity, and The Gambia is no exception. Archeologists’ findings – tools and jewelry made by ancient people – indicate that the first humans appeared on the territory of present-day Gambia as early as two millennia B.C. The area was mentioned as early as the Phoenician navigator Gannon in the 5th century BC.
Already in our era, the territory of today’s Gambia has not escaped the invasion of the Arabs, who at the turn of the first and second millennium were engaged in the development, or rather, the conquest of new territories – North Africa. But not all of Gambia was under the influence of the followers of Islam – on part of the territory there were strong kingdoms, which united with each other in alliances.
As for the European discoverers, the Portuguese were the first to set foot in the territory. They, and later the British and the French, traded in the territory and controlled the area. Throughout the 19th century, the two powers competed for influence in the territory.
As in many other African countries, fundamental changes in The Gambia began only in the last century. Gradually the number of representatives of the local population in power structures increased and the right to vote was introduced. The Gambia gained full independence in the 1960s. Unfortunately, early years of formation of the new state were crowned with a series of military conflicts, upheavals and coups. There are still periodic disturbances in the country: change of government, cancellation of election results. Nevertheless, the state is on its way to democracy and smooth integration into the world community.
The Gambia is located in western Africa, bordering Senegal. It has access to the Atlantic Ocean. This state is the smallest in continental Africa. The state is divided into several parts by relief: a valley near the river Gambia and the plateau. The river is important in the life of the country: it is important for transportation, fishing and soil irrigation. The capital of the country is the city of Banjul, and the largest city is Serekunda.
The Gambia, being a small country, is rich in a variety of flora and fauna. Some of them belong to the endangered species.
The Gambia on a Map
Climate of The Gambia
In terms of climate, The Gambia can be classified as a tropical country. There is a sharp division in the weather into two seasons: the dry season, which lasts from November to May, and the rainy season, which lasts from June to October. At the same time, the amount of rainfall differs in different parts of the country, with twice as much on the ocean coast than in the center of The Gambia.
In terms of average daily temperature The Gambia is suitable to travel at any time of year, while in winter it reaches about 25 degrees Celsius, in summer it rises to an average of 30. However, sandy winds are not uncommon in the central part of the country during the summer, which dramatically increase the temperature – up to 40-degree heat. Frugal travelers will do well to come to the country in May or October.
By the way, note that during the rainy season, to be exact, from July to September, some national parks, for which Gambia is famous, may be closed. Beach holidays will not be affected.
Safety in The Gambia
The Gambia is a reasonably safe country for foreign tourists. The government supports the influx of travelers, because they bring a large infusion into the budget – in the region of 20%. In general, in the country, it is enough to observe the precautions that are common to stay in any country: do not carry all financial means, do not leave things unattended. But there are some peculiarities that are worth knowing even before planning a trip to The Gambia:
- A typical hitchhiker gesture, as well as a gesture often used by residents of our country to show a great state of affairs – hand in fist with thumb raised – can be regarded as an insult in this country;
- Before traveling to The Gambia, it is worthwhile to get vaccinated against diseases such as meningitis and yellow fever;
- carry medication against malaria;
- be sure to monitor the condition of the skin – to protect it from the sun and insect bites.
Visa to The Gambia for Russians
A visa for The Gambia can be obtained in different ways: through the British Embassy (difficult and long), and fairly standard for many African countries – by flying into the country. If the purpose of your stay in the country is tourism and the period of stay of the traveler in The Gambia is not more than 56 days, you just need to arrive in the state, present your passport, proof of residency and return tickets.
According to travelers, the airport gives the visa free of charge, and if the traveler comes to The Gambia from another African country – via Senegal, the border guards may “selectively” ask to pay a fee of a few tens of euros.
How to get to The Gambia and travel in the country
Because The Gambia is not yet a popular destination for Russian tourists, there are no direct flights to the country from the Russian Federation. As for The Gambia itself, there is an airport near its capital, Banjul, where international flights arrive. Flights are not from all countries of the world, so you may have to be persistent and make a flight with several connections. The total amount of time in the air will be about twenty hours.
Some tourists arrive in the country from Senegal using the river ferry. There are more flights to Senegal from other countries, so it is possible to fly through Dakar.
The Gambia is located on both banks of the river of the same name. There are roads on both banks of the river, and the peculiarity of the waterway is that no bridges have been built over it, so the movement from one bank to the other is possible only by water transport. There are no railroads or domestic air services in the country.
As for public transport, the main means of transport in The Gambia are small yellow shuttle buses, which, however, are not very comfortable. Some time ago, for the convenience of travelers in the country launched green transport – buses and cabs. Such transport is safer and more comfortable, but costs more than usual.
For those who plan to move by car, you should know: the road on the north bank of the river is much better than on the south bank.
And travel by car in the country is quite possible: there are both national and international car rental firms. In this case, if you have the opportunity, you can rent a car with a driver, so you do not have to refer to the map, and you can pay full attention to the beauties of the country. Renting a car without a driver will cost about 2000 rubles per day, and if you need a driver, you will have to pay twice as much.
Gambia’s hotel infrastructure
The main number of hotels in Gambia, especially those that meet certain standards, are of course on the coast, because most of the tourists arrive there. There are many hotels in the capital and Serekunda, the largest city in the country. But in the central part of Gambia there are mostly small private hotels, many of them in the area of national reserves.
There is a peculiarity: Hotels located right on the coast, in general, are more expensive than hotels in cities. And this is understandable, since most people come to The Gambia to warm up on the waters of the Atlantic. Since The Gambia has long opened its doors to tourists from such a developed country like Britain, the service on the coast is at a premium. But the prices are appropriate: on average in the high season to pay around 10000 rubles per day if you take the hotel of the highest quality, and about 6000 if to save money and settle in a hotel easier.
For those tourists who do not yet have experience in independent travel and those who want to “be supervised” by experienced guides, in the resort area there are many excursion offers.
Attractions of The Gambia
Although The Gambia is small in size, there are many fascinating sights – both typically African and national.
The capital of the state is located on an island, at a place where the main river of the country flows into the waters of the Atlantic. In fact, the Gambia River is already one of the landmarks of the state. The river plays a crucial role in the development of The Gambia. It is surrounded by dense forests, gradually changing to grasses and thickets. This area is home to alligators, baboons, hippos, and many other exotic animal species.
Banjul will appeal to lovers of souvenirs and African street color: there are several large markets in the capital and its surroundings. So, the craft market is a huge area with stalls. Most artisans work nearby and then display their wares for sale. Another market has a British name: the Albert Market. It sells everything from food to cult items. So what can be brought as a souvenir from the African market? For example, these are:
- Gambian amulets made of wood, bones, horns;
- traditional masks;
- spices and herbs;
- wicker baskets;
- African drums;
- jewelry, and much more.
The markets are open long enough – from about 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For those who want to immerse themselves in the history of the country and the continent, there are several museums in the capital. For example, there is the Ethnographic Museum, where you can view many findings of archaeologists and learn about the pre-colonial and colonial periods in the history of the country.
Stone and pottery, masks and costumes will appeal to lovers of African exoticism. Not far from the museum is a place that breathes with antiquity: the stone circles of Wassu and Kerr Butch. These giant structures date back to the 3rd century AD. Now The Gambia is mostly an Islamic country, but the ancient people had their beliefs reflected in the traditions of such buildings.
In the center of the capital is the National Museum of The Gambia. This museum is completely dedicated to the history of the country and will allow you to understand it and its people. There are stored not only physical exhibits, but also an archive of several thousand records of ancient legends, songs, chronicles of the Gambian people.
Near Banjul, you can see a small fortress that was built back in the 17th century. This is James Island. As a rule, visitors to the capital of The Gambia are offered tours, which include a visit to the island and trips to the surrounding villages.
In the largest city of Serekunda there are many interesting places which attract tourists.
So, in Serekunda there is a batik factory, which for many years is the world’s largest supplier of products made in this technique. Tourists are given the opportunity to visit this factory, so everyone can learn more about the process of working with silk, cotton, synthetic and wool. Also in this factory you can buy your favorite product, and then give it to family as a souvenir.
Not far from the city is a large national park Abuko. This park is very popular among tourists, protected area since the beginning of the last century. In the expanse of the national park you can see palm trees, mahogany, several species of monkeys, antelope, porcupines, mongoose, many reptiles, birds, and beautiful butterflies. The walk along the special trail will last at least half a day. If you want to see as many animals as possible, it is better to visit this park separately, not as part of a tour group, because the noise of the crowd can scare away the animals.
Gambia’s National Parks
There are nature conservation areas in different parts of the country. In central Gambia, you can visit Baobolong and Kiang West National Parks. The reserves are located on different banks of the river, you can book an excursion by small boat and observe nature while floating downstream.
Birdwatching enthusiasts will love Tanji and Bijilo Parks. These areas are close to the Atlantic Ocean. “Thanks” to the neighborhood of tourists, there are not many animals here, but bird lovers will find more than three hundred species of feathered birds.
It should be noted that the cost of visiting the national parks (if we do not talk about guided tours or transfers) is very democratic.
Other attractions in The Gambia
National parks and museums are not the whole of The Gambia. In addition to the major cities and iconic sites, there are other opportunities to diversify your vacation.
At a distance of 16 kilometers from the town of Bakau is the Kachikalu Museum and crocodile pool, which in ancient times was used as a place for rituals. The founders of the pool and museum are the Boyang family, known in the country as large landowners.
All the rituals performed by these people were done so that the land would produce many crops. Alligators are still raised in the basin to this day. Reptile lovers will appreciate this pool because it is home to a rare species of crocodile – an albino, as well as the most hospitable crocodile on the planet – Charlie. The owners of the pool advise visitors to be careful when approaching the crocodiles.
Popular among tourists vacationing in The Gambia are also excursions not to a specific location, but simply a boat ride on the river, which can include both wildlife watching and fishing.
For those who want to enjoy a “wild” vacation, a place called Gunjur will do. This “resort” is just a small village with mostly local fishermen. The beaches near the village are not crowded with many tourists. You can safely swim, sunbathe and walk in the local rainforest.
Art lovers can go to the village of Gambian artists – Tunbung. There is a good art gallery, where you can see and buy the works of local artists.
As for the most popular and iconic resorts, these are:
These places have long been favored by travelers from different countries, so there is a developed and hotel infrastructure, there are many places to eat. The beaches are covered with fine, pleasant sand. Lovers of active recreation will like such developed resorts – tourists can go surfing, ride a catamaran or water skis. There are also sports centers that offer to rent balls for beach games, bicycles. And the most luxurious hotels have their own pools, gyms, and even golf courses or tennis courts.
Some tourists do not want to be limited to the small Gambia and also visit the neighboring country – Senegal, to travel to which Russian tourists do not require a visa.
As in many other African countries, the cuisine of The Gambia is a mixture of traditional cuisine and European “infusions”, which were made through the colonization of the country. The main culture here is rice. Rice is served with vegetables, meat, fish, various spices. Of the national dishes we can mention a hearty stew of meat, domoda, which is served with peanut butter. By the way, there are many kinds of peanuts in Gambia: this crop has been long and successfully grown here, and almost everywhere the tourist will be offered a snack of this nut.
Of drinks we can mention the sweet green tea and – more exotic – the juice of baobab. As for alcohol, in the resort towns and major cities you can find the usual world brands, but if you want to try something local – you can drink palm wine.
Who will be interested in going to The Gambia in 2022? Lots of people. They may be fans of all-inclusive holidays – already developed resorts are waiting for them. They may also be independent travellers, lovers of holidays away from the crowds of tourists. The Gambia has not yet become as popular as some other countries in Africa, but it guarantees travelers a close acquaintance with the local color and a quieter holiday.
One of the smallest countries on the black continent. Despite the small size of The Gambia, the number of attractions will surprise even seasoned tourists. Clean beaches, lush tropics and exotic birds, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks on the banks of the River Gambia will be of interest to adults and children.
Kariniti and Tandja River Bird Sanctuary
The nature reserve is located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and local rivers. Along the banks are mangroves on muddy banks. The unique area, protected by the state, becomes home to migratory birds every year. Up to 300 species of African and nomadic birds gather on 136 hectares. Only here can the little heron, white-tailed fish, sandpipers, sandpipers, gray mockingbirds, terns, herons, gulls and many other birds peacefully coexist.
Abuco National Park.
A popular tourist destination for those who have come to The Gambia to see exotic reptiles. In the coastal thickets find a home for huge varanas, pygmy crocodiles, cobras, pythons, and green mambas. Walking around the area can take a couple of hours or an entire day, depending on the desire of the tourist. It is worth avoiding large tour groups. The noise of the crowds will scare away the animals and all you will be left with is to settle for the plants and trees.
Naumi National Park.
Most of the stories about migratory birds are filmed here. On Jinak Island, a protected area, they run a bird-ringing program. Every year new species are added to the ornithological encyclopedia of Africa. If you’ve wondered where migratory birds from Europe fly, here’s the answer – to the banks of the Gambia River, home to several hundred species.
Crocodile Pool and Museum
An original combination of local color from huts, musical instruments, ritual objects and everyday objects. A path leads from the museum through a baobab forest to a huge crocodile pool. Dozens of crocodile species peacefully coexist peacefully inside the large pool of water and mud, the most numerous of which is the Nile crocodile. Sometimes they come out of the pool and allow themselves to be petted and photographed with them.
National Museum of The Gambia
For many years, archaeologists, anthropologists and cultural historians have collected all the most valuable exhibits revealing the development of the state and Africa as a whole. The museum is run by the National Association, which protects historic sites around the world. On the first floor there is an exhibition on the development of culture, on the second floor everything about colonization and the War of Independence of West Africa. The ground floor has a unique collection of homemade musical instruments.
Vassau Ston Sexls.
An interesting ritual site consisting of tall limestone pillars arranged in circles. The stone rings are divided into 4 groups and belong to the burial mounds of the local tribes. Archaeologists have carefully excavated the area and determined from samples that the rings of laterin pillars belong to the III century BC. There are many mystical and mysterious legends associated with the area.
Gambia River National Park
The complex of 5 islands was taken under state protection in 1978. The marshy area was the last safe haven of the Gambian hippopotamus. Since 1980, there is a program to protect the population of chimpanzees, which are returned here from poachers, after treatment. In addition to chimpanzees, the national park is home to warthogs, servals, hyenas, manatees, Nile crocodiles, and more than 20 varieties of monkeys and 270 species of birds.
A wide, clean beach with white sand and quiet waves. To entertain tourists built a lot of bars and restaurants, bungalows and small hotels with a local flavor. There are places to swim, you can go snorkeling, ride horses, go fishing and try the local treats.