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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Gambia

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Gambia Holidays

'The Smiling Coast of Africa' is sure to put a smile on your face too. Stunning nature, spacious beaches and a welcoming culture await those who choose Gambia holidays.

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African sunshine

One of the smallest countries in mainland Africa, Gambia, is surrounded by Senegal to the north, south and east while the holiday region on the west coast leads out to the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The country is shaped by the Gambia River which runs by the capital, Banjul. This river and so many natural areas provide stunning tours where you can stumble across rare and exotic African animals.

The beaches really make Gambia a holiday hotspot though with fantastic hotels built beside areas of smooth white sand. Shopping and dining opportunities provide the chance to experience the local charm which visitors of all ages can enjoy.

Where to stay in Gambia

Quick Tips

  • Islam
  • Dalasi
  • English, Mandinka,Wolof and Fula
  • Approx 1.5 million
  • GMT - 0

Animal experiences

Gambia's nature doesn't restrict you to sunbathing on the gorgeous beaches. Instead, you're also offered trips into African forests, down rivers and through national parks where you can gaze upon colourful and fascinating plant life, as well as an array of beautiful creatures.

Discover an array of exotic birds that live in the trees by the Gambia River and Kotu Creek. Through the Bijilo National Park you will spot a number of species of cheeky monkeys while the Kachikally Crocodile Pool lets the snapping creatures roam free around swamps.

Back by the coast and the beaches are soothing places to rest through the day and into the evening. Kololi Beach is a vibrant favourite while Cape Point is a more laidback coastal space. Beach bars and restaurants provide you with delicious food and drinks as well as a front row seat to the daily sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean.

A fresh start

The tourist industry influence on Gambia makes it unrecognisable from a country with a tainted past. The country also had a significant involvement in WWII and the evidence is documented within the museum area of the Kachikally Crocodile Pool Park.

A 1994 uprising within Gambia still forms today's government and the large monument, Arch 22, stands at the heart of Banjul as a symbolic gateway from that time. The 35-metre structure can be climbed and there are views from the top overlooking the surrounding town and nature.

Cocktails on the beach

Gambia is a peaceful place to relax in the evenings. Larger hotels provide fun and entertainment on the evening by their bars but there are many local restaurants that invite tourists in to enjoy African themed food, drinks and performances.

Banjul provides the largest selection of places to drink and unwind while Kololi features a vibrant street popular with tourists. The Senegambia Strip features African themed bars and nightclubs which can keep you up late into the night. There are also two casinos in the town if you're feeling lucky.

Cultural markets

Around each resort you'll find a fine selection of shopping opportunities where authentic Gambian items make for great souvenirs. The best places to find locally made goods are at the craft markets held in various towns. Kololi and Bakau host their own markets but the capital features one of the best and largest in West Africa.

Banjul's Albert Market is a vibrant and colourful showing with thousands of opportunities to purchase handmade crafts, and exotic fruits and vegetables. Be prepared to barter for the unique souvenir items and to stand firm on a price.

Gambian cuisine

Food options in Gambia should satisfy most cravings with rice and meat dishes offered alongside seafood options too. The meat and rice choices are presented in a variety of ways with peanuts, black beans, onions, tomatoes and chilli being just some of the accompanying flavours to the traditional dish.

The choices of seafood are mostly locally caught with fishermen coming to shore and selling their catches to local restaurants. The oysters from the menu are often collected from the Gambia River meaning it is an authentic local taste.

Getting there

Holidays to Gambia from the UK are accessible via a six and a half hour flight. Banjul International Airport is based slightly inland from the capital itself and you can reach many resorts such as Bijilo and Kololi in around half an hour. The furthest resort to reach is Banjul with the transfer taking around 45 minutes in total.

Transport for tourists come in the form of green taxis. They are often parked outside your hotel and, although they are more expensive, they're considered the safest option to get around here. Yellow taxis are cheaper but are mostly used by savvy locals.