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Gambia Travel Guide

Population: 1.593.300
Languages: English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other i
Currency: dalasi
Currency code: GMD
Local Times:
 Gambia - Banjul

Country Dialling Code: +220
Voltage: 220V 50Hz
Electrical plugs:
3 large flat prongs

With a magnificent coast, luxurious beach resorts and bustling fishing villages, Africa’s smallest country - The Gambia, is one of Africa's most popular tourist destinations. Aside from the incredible coast, the country offers stunning nature reserves, such as Kiang West National Park and River Gambia National Park (also known as Baboon Island).

The Gambia’s vibrant culture is also a draw card for tourists. Traditional wrestling matches regularly take place, the heaving markets of Banjul and Serekunda & the Atlantic Coast have you soaking up the atmosphere and sharpening your negotiation skills, and the striking performances of kora-strumming griots can be experienced during weddings, baptisms or public concerts.

The capital of The Gambia, Banjul, is the commercial centre of the country and is little more than a hub for tourists on their journey to the variety of hotels spread along the 25 miles (40km) of beautiful powdery white coastline. Its the sun, sea and sand that are the main attractions for most holidaymakers to The Gambia, predominantly from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Nightlife is tame and will not appeal to keen "clubbers". Bird-watching, with a huge number of species to spot, is a major attraction. Fishing is now an up-and-coming interest, and every Nov there is a major fishing competition.

Hotel standards have improved greatly over the years and a few reach international levels. Some smaller, more intimate properties. Most accommodation is located on or near the beach to benefit from the Atlantic breeze. Guesthouses are appearing along the tourist tracks; some limited accommodation is available for adventurers up country.

The beaches in the Gambia stretch all the way from Fajara southwards into Cassamance (S Senegal), the beaches are splendid, soft, fine sand with a few rocky outcrops and palm trees. Even around the hotels, the beach is generally uncrowded and unpolluted, although it is not unusual to see stray cattle. All beaches are public, but hotels claim stretches of sand, providing security guards and loungers. High, frequent Atlantic breakers coupled with strong undercurrents demand caution. Most beaches have a flag system indicating safe times and areas for bathing. In the river estuary from Cape St Mary to Banjul the beaches are fine sand, which, depending on the tide, is either a pale golden colour or streaked with dark grey. The coastline is also suffering from erosion and this is more evident outside some hotels where sandbags are in place.

Activities are centred mainly around water sports, with instruction offered at some hotels. Sea and river fishing. Horse riding on the beach. Squash, tennis and an 18-hole golf course at Fajara Hotel. Banjul has a fascinating museum charting the history of West Africa.

Nightlife is mainly restricted to hotels or bars and restaurants nearby. A few beach bars open late. The atmosphere is informal and dressing up is not required, although shorts and vest tops are not allowed in most hotel restaurants for dinner. Most hotels offer "African Nights" featuring local music and dance. A casino in Kololi.