Enock Maina MethusEnock Maina Methus 17 AUGUST 2020 96 views 6 min. read

10 things I wish I knew before going to Gambia

96 views 6 min. read
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Everyone would want to tour Africa and have a fantastic time visiting unique places. Well, if you are looking for a suitable destination to spend your holiday, Gambia if the right place for you! Where is Gambia? Gambia is the smallest continental country in Africa. This is a wonderful place that has brilliant beaches, colourful culture, and wildlife. The Gambia also nicknamed “the smiling coast”, it attracts tourists from Scandinavia, Britain, and the Netherlands annually. This is a small country with so much to offer. From its outstanding beaches, world-class birdwatching, hospitable people or the contagious culture, depressing history, the vibrant environment, and a lot more. Find out where is Gambia and explore these amazing features of this country.

Despite, it being a small country, Gambia is massive on attraction and appeal, proffers most diverse destinations in Africa. Just like other countries, there are several things that you should be aware of before you travel to Gambia. Below are 10 things anyone would wish to be aware of before visiting Gambia.

1. Exchange currency in Gambia

currency in Gambia

The local currency in Gambia is called the Gambia Dalasi. In major places, as well as, cities you can pay using US dollar, Euros, as well as, pounds. For instance, the Gambia capital, Banjul, is one of the best places to make payments using the US dollar, Euros, or pounds. It’s nearly impossible to exchange currency when you leave Gambia unless you are at land borders or entry points to Gambia. It’s important to note that the exchange of money isn’t done at the airport. At Senegambia, one can get better exchange rates compared to the airport. Probably due to the lack of value for foreign currency or regulations in the country, makes it a lucrative business.

2. Be aware of the tourist taxis in Gambia are always a swindle

taxis in Gambia

Most people would want to know is Gambia worth visiting? Yes, this is a wonderful place to visit on vacation or during holidays. However, be keen when it comes to boarding tourist taxis. Once the Gambians are aware that you are a visitor or a foreigner, there tend to assume that you are wealthy and hence demand big. Watch out for the green taxis that usually hang around major tourist haunts and luxurious hotels. These green taxis mostly target to lure foreigners into hopping in. Once to get in, you will have to pay higher costs than the regular payments regardless of whether you are moving for short distances. This should not worry you as it is advisable to use the yellow taxis that are relatively cheaper compared to tourist taxis in Gambia.

3. Be alert or Callous at the market

market in Gambia

There are great markets in Gambia where you can easily purchase anything you want from crafts, clothes, and other souvenirs. In Gambia capital, Banjul is among the suitable locations to explore the Gambian traditions, culture, as well as true colours. When you’re at any market in Gambia, always ensure that you suggest the lowest price possible for any purchase you would want to make. Sellers here always auction their products starting from the highest price. As a buyer, you should always suggest the lowest price possible so that you can reach an agreement in the middle; this is a technique that will help you a lot during your travel to Gambia. Explore where is Gambia today? And become a part of this unique experience at the market.

4. Know which section to go to the airport

airport in Gambia

The most obvious thing that one is required to do once you've checked in for a flight is to manoeuvre through the security to the departure lounge. The best alternative for those who wish to evade the huge crowd, is the Banjul International Airport lounge, in Gambia capital. Here you will find a luxurious restaurant situated at the departure hall, at the top of the stairs—a perfect place to rest watching a TV. The place is quiet, and you can enjoy the eye-catching views over the tarmac, as well as, the table service here is reasonably quick compared to other airports. Find out where is Gambia today and have a great time visiting places with friends and families.

5. Gambia Arch Tours

Zebras in Gambia

For those who are not certain whether Gambia is worth visiting? Well, the Gambia Arch tours are worth visiting. When you travel to Gambia ensure you don’t miss a day tour in this place. Here you will find plenty of options to choose from hippopotamus viewing to retracing the famous Kunta Kinte’s steps on the roots tour. Although it may seem fun basking in the sun, don’t spend all your day on the beach as there is much more to explore. The Gambia Arch is one of the most recommended and reliable tour operators you will find in Gambia. A place worth visiting!

6. What kinds of food to enjoy in Gambia

Gambia food

Jollof if without doubt the most popular food, not only in Gambia but also the entire West Africa region. The term “Jollof” has been derived from Wollof, which is popular among the Senegambia (Gambia and Senegal) residents, meaning one pot. Most types of dishes prepared here are extracted from grown food such as meat, millet, groundnuts, cassava, fish, and vegetables. Some of the dishes that you should try when you travel to Gambia include; domosa, Dibi/afra, as well as the Olele. Additionally, when you visit Gambia when mangoes are available, always remember to enjoy the juiciest, and sweets mangoes you will ever encounter.

7. The weather in Gambia

Gambia weather

Like other countries in western Africa, Gambia has only two seasons, the rainy and dry seasons. Note that, throughout the year, the weather in the Gambia is mostly warm, so ensure that you carry light clothes. You should check out the current weather conditions before you plan your dates for visiting the Gambia. Gambia is one of the countries in the subtropic climate; there is sunshine throughout the year.  The temperature here varies between 29 to 35 degrees. Note that there are two main seasons in Gambia, the dry season commences at the end of October; while the green or rainy season starts towards mid-June. From November to May, the temperature rises to as high as 43 degrees, hence not advisable to visit Gambia within this period since most tourists cannot bear these extreme conditions. For this reason, it advisable to plan your trips at other times of the year.

8. Ensure that you are firm but not rude

Girl in Gambia

It is most likely that during your trip to Gambia, you might be pestered by young people especially men who want to hustle some money from tourists. As a foreigner, you will always be the target, so ensure you do not fall into one of their “traps”. If it is your first time visiting this place, it is recommended that you give these young men approaching you for money a firm “no” but ensure you don’t sound rude to them. Ensure that you do not accept some of the offers or products they sell to you without necessarily being offensive or rude. The good thing is that the vast majority here are quite nice people that would not cause harm to anyone. But, even though they may seem polite, they don’t react kindly to rejection, especially from an abusive person. So it’s mandatory for you to always remain calm when mingling with Gambians. Some of them may even try to offer you bracelets as a gift and later ask for money in return.

9. Stock up on stationery and sweets

sweets in Gambia

The Gambia is a relatively poor country; mostly young children may be out there hustling for money to assist their parents at home. Whether it’s begging on the roadsides, or selling small packs of peanuts, these kids are usually exposed to work at a very tender age. Hence, it’s recommended that when you travel to Gambia, carry some workbooks, pencils, sweets, and pens for these young children you will encounter in the streets of Gambia. Some of these products may seem basic and cheap; however, they mean a lot to these young children.  

10. Enjoy watching Wuri

Wuri

Wuri is one of the famous games played by people in Western Africa. As you pass in the streets of Gambia, you will witness groups of people both young and old, playing wuri in the streets and markets. We can describe wuri as an easy game that is played by two people on a board that has six holes on each side. These six holes on either side have four beads. Every player strives to gather as many beads as possible through accumulating even numbers in each hole. Sounds easy, right? Note that, there are also a few tricks that are involved in the game.

Explore where is Gambia and catch this exciting experience watching Gambians playing this game, as well as, you get a chance to learn. For those who might ask, is Gambia worth visiting? Yes, Gambia is one of the amazing countries in Africa that you can visit and have fun learning new things. The Gambia is, without a doubt, a place that you would want to explore and find out more about.

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Enock is a certified criminologist and a professional travel writer with over five years of experience in travel writing. He believes that providing the audience with correct facts and compelling content is a long term investment not only in their health but also in their physical and emotional well-being.

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