|Senegal - The Gambia (Amdallai) Border Post.|
The official language in the Gambia is English, with other languages spoken by different tribes. The other languages such as Wolof, Aku’s Creole (Pidgin English) and Mandingo.
The Gambia is a country that understands tourism and has for many years focused on travel and tourism. Most of the travelers from the Gambia come from Europe, specifically the UK as this was a British colony.
The Gambian currency is the Gambian dalasi since 1971 which replaced the Gambian Pound.
You can also pay in Euros or US Dollars in certain establishments but remember that you can’t exchange the money out of Gambia unless at land borders that enter into The Gambia.
The most convenient Bank with a foreign card is EcoBank. This has not changed and remains the same across west and central Africa.
*** Please check the current exchange rate at your time of travel before traveling.
Most hotels in the city will provide you with Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi is uncapped but there is no guarantee that it will always work. I had bought an Orange sim card at the airport. None of the guys spoke English so you may write your request down and they will help you with a smile while teaching you some French or Arabic.
The yellow and green taxis are really cheap as a local mode of transport around Banjul. Unless you hire it and negotiate with the driver to take you somewhere specific which would be out of his route.
For longer distance trips, you would get a sharing mini bus. Most of the places you would have to go to you have to use the ferry to cross. This can be annoying and delay you if you trying to keep a schedule. There are no set times for the ferry, and getting on will usually be a moment of pushing as there are a lot of people trying to get from one point to the next. Give the ferry situation a good 2 hours for the wait as well as for crossing. The crossing alone won’t take more than 20minutes depending on which ferry you will get on that day, there are 2 different ferries.
|Getting off the ferry in Banjul from Barra.|
What to wear
Muslims constitute 90% of the Gambian population, although the country thrives off tourists and tourism it is always important to dress conservatively and respect the cultures and religion of each country. Your shorts and vest will be ok but I would not advise you to wear that to the rural areas. This is not just for the Gambia but for any country you travel to. Also, not the short shorts that almost has your buttcheeks hanging out. But feel free to bring those out for the nightlife.
What to eat
Well, this is the home of the Jollof. Jollof rice is a dish very popular in West Africa. Jollof is a name that comes from the Wollof people of Sene-Gambia (Senegal and Gambia) and it means one pot, everything is cooked together one pot. So that is the number one dish I would recommend but I was also in the Gambia during mango season and those were some of the juiciest, sweetest mangoes I have ever tasted.
What to drink
I am generally on the safe side and opt to drink bottled water at all cost.
The local brew is called Julbrew. There is also STAR beer that you will find in all West African countries and every country claims it as their local brew.
Visa and Travel Documentation
I got my visa in Pretoria before I traveled for the price of USD35. It takes 2 working days for the visa process and the embassy staff is super friendly and very helpful. Also, I was the first person to ever apply for a Gambian tourist visa. They were also shocked why I would want to travel there. But they told me about their Jollof ad I went there with my stomach ready.
You will need a yellow fever certificate. The beauty of this certificate is that you only have to go back to your travel DR after 5years to renew it.
The Gambia enjoys a Subtropical weather. They have 2 seasons like all of West Africa – Dry or Rainy season. It is usually warm throughout the year, but you would have to just double check the weather upon your dates of travel. During the dry season, the temperatures can go up to 43 degrees Celsius. That is from November to May.
Remember your sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and loads of mosquito repellent.
The Gambia is a malaria-prone country.
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