The Gambian formula: great Atlantic resorts plus magnificent national parks, home to about 1,000 exotic animal species, multiplied by British colonial culture. The colorful capital of Banjul, excursions to Senegal and eco-rest in lodges – all about the Gambia: tours, prices, photos.
The smallest state in Africa, Gambia stretches in a narrow ribbon along the fertile delta of the river of the same name deep into the western part of the continent. British imperial past and close proximity to French-speaking Senegal, which surrounds the Gambia from all sides, except for the outlet to the Atlantic, has determined the direction of local tourism: here you can relax on the beaches of high-class ocean resorts, and then go to explore the rich flora and fauna of the jungle, accompanied by English-speaking guides. There are only seven national parks in the Gambia, and this is rather an advantage, not a disadvantage: they are compact, convenient for day trips from resorts and can delight a nature lover with a variety of fauna – 117 species of animals and as many as 560 species of birds! Other attractions in The Gambia include colorful African markets, museums of slavery and evidence of primitive human history. And here you should definitely try rice with chicken in a dozen options, watch the national wrestling tournament and hear.
According to Baglib, the capital is Banjul. Major cities are Serekunda, Bakau, Brikama.
The Gambia has a sub-equatorial climate, with moderate humidity and little temperature variation throughout the year. The country has two pronounced seasons – dry (from November to May) with constantly blowing winds from the Sahara and windless wet (from June to October). In winter, the temperature ranges from +21 to +27 °C, in summer – within +27… +32 °C.
The best time to visit the country is from November to February. In March – May and October, you can benefit from the transition period between the two seasons and save a lot on vacation. During the peak of the wet season from late June to September, most national parks are closed, but resort life continues on the coast, which is nice – without international tourist crowds.
See also the weather forecast for the main resorts and cities of the Gambia.
The beaches of the Gambia
The Atlantic resorts of the Gambia are a series of small towns with hotels for every taste, starting just north of Serekunda: Kololi, Kotu, Bakau and Fajara. Their beaches stretch for 10 km and flow into one another. “Covering” – fine sand, run in a stormy ocean and brought by the Saharan winds. As a rule, hotels have their own access to the beach and offer a standard “resort” set of services. Numerous sports centers invite tourists to water activities, including excellent surfing on a long ocean wave.
When enjoying the waters of the Atlantic, it is worth remembering the strong currents and in no case try to “overcome” the ocean waves.
7 things to do in the Gambia
- Immerse yourself in an extravaganza of bright colors and exotic sounds at the colorful Albert Market.
- Touch the Nile crocodile in the Kachikali Crocodile Park.
- Go to a player’s concert on a 21-string national kore harp.
- Learn to taste a dozen varieties of peanuts.
- Wander through the mangroves of Niumi National Park.
- Quench your thirst with baobab juice.
- Relax on the beaches of Serekunda or try to ride the rebellious wave of the Atlantic on the surf.
Shopping and stores
The main souvenirs of the Gambia are textiles, wood carvings, African drums and ritual masks. Cotton clothes and fabric cuts are of good quality and dyed in bright colors. Particular attention should be paid to printed textiles, the pattern on which is applied using melted wax – the so-called Holland Wax. Wooden masks depict the spirits of numerous peoples of the Gambia – Mandinka, Fulbe, Wolof and others. Their price depends on the complexity of execution and can reach several hundred dollars. Straw weaving and clay products with a characteristic African flavor are also popular – rough, naive and very sweet.
We would definitely recommend painting lovers to visit the village of artists Tunbung in the town of Tugereng. In the extensive gallery you can see and purchase the creations of local artists.
Music lovers and just lovers of unusual things can bring a national musical instrument from the Gambia – a 21-string harp bark, made from half a dried pumpkin and bull skin. They exist both in a full-fledged “concert” version, and in the form of tourist souvenirs.
Cuisine and restaurants in the Gambia
The cuisine of the Gambia is very diverse: it has absorbed not only the original African traditions, but also many European trends – English, French, Portuguese. The basis of the local cuisine is rice, which is served in a mass of different variations: with onions, tomato sauce, spices, vegetables, fish, meat, chicken… “Yasa” is chicken boiled with onions, black pepper and lemon. It is also worth trying meat stew with domoda rice seasoned with peanut butter sauce. Well, coastal resorts can boast of excellent fish restaurants.
The main agricultural crop of the Gambia is peanuts, so this nut is served here as a universal accessory for any dish or snack.
A popular drink is green and very sweet tea, which is poured with the maximum possible foam. The only local beer, Jalbru, is a good lager that can be ordered by the bottle or on tap. From the exotic, it is worth trying palm wine, baobab juice and “wonjo” – a chilled decoction of sorrel flowers. In the resort towns you can find almost any alcohol of foreign production.
Visa to Gambia
Following the far-sighted policy of attracting “Russo tourists”, the Gambia completely abandoned the bureaucratic delays in relation to our brother: Russian citizens do not need a visa to visit the country. The period of visa-free stay in the country is defined extremely accurately: exactly 56 days, which certainly feels British conservatism, because the Gambia is a former colony of Great Britain. At the same time, the purpose of visiting the country should be tourism, transit or visiting relatives. And no attempts at employment – in the Gambia there are enough of their unemployed. However, there are practically no people who want to stay in the Gambia forever (and even more so, work). Well, unless someone falls in love with the incredible jungle – the garden of the gods, the land of rustles and Noah’s Ark all rolled into one.
Upon arrival at Banjul Airport, you must present to the passport control officer a foreign passport with a validity period of at least the intended stay in the Gambia. The officer will affix an entry stamp; there is no entry fee.
Theoretically, at passport control they may ask about the availability of a return ticket or ask for confirmation of the availability of sufficient funds for the entire duration of the trip. In practice, such details are extremely rarely interested. No one will ask tourists for medical insurance, but only a madman will go to Africa without it.
Travelers crossing the land border with the Gambia from Senegal have reported that a visa must be obtained at the border, which costs 3,000 GMD.