The Gambia, one of the Africa’s smallest mainland countries is blessed with glorious low-key beaches, bustling towns that combine colonial architecture and traditional activities together with abundant wealth of wildlife. Surrounded by Senegal except for a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the country is situated around the Gambia River, which flows through the country’s centre and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
People & Culture
The Gambia is blessed with a variety of beautiful ethnic groups, each preserving its own language and traditions. The Mandinka ethnicity is the largest, followed by the Fula, Wolof, Jola, Serahule and the Serers as well as the Bianunkas.
There are approximately 3,500 non-African residents including Europeans and families of Lebanese origin (roughly 0.23% of the total population). Most of the European minority are Britons, many of whom left after independence.
There are always vibrant festivals, events full of traditional drumming, energetic dancing as well as customary wrestling matches among the people in traditional villages
Inland, the cool season is shorter, and daytime temperatures are very high between March and June. Sunny periods occur on most days, even during the rainy season.Most charter flights run from November to May, coinciding with the time of year when the temperature is most pleasant and humidity is low.
Christmas and Easter are the two busiest travel periods, whilst the shoulder seasons represent the best times to arrive if you wish to escape the crowds.
US and South African citizens must obtain a Gambian visa before entering the Gambia. Visa can be obtained at the Gambian High Commission in Dakar. There are single entry visas and multi-entry visas for three month period for visitors and tourists alike.
New Zealanders, Australians, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Taiwanese, British, Finnish, Dutch, and some Europeans may not require visas for stays up to 90 days. Canadians can acquire a 30 day visitor’s visa upon arrival. Always check with the High Commission or Embassy before making travel arrangements.
Flying to Gambia
The Gambia is served by Banjul International Airport and there are regular flights from Nigeria by Arik Air. Also, there are daily flights from Dakar provided by Air Senegal and Slok Air. Most of the airlines that serve the airport are from neighboring African countries, but a few European airlines and charter companies fly into the airport as well.
Airlines serving Banjul International Airport include Afrinat International Airlines, Arik Air, Elysian Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Mauritania Airways, Nigerian Eagle Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, SN Brussels Airlines, Spanair, TACV-Cabo Verde Airlines etc. Current charter operators include Monarch Airlines, First Choice Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines, Transavia, and Arkefly.
Flight from London to Banjul is usually 6 hours.
Travel by rail
Gambia does not operate international train connection. All train journeys are within the country.
Driving to Gambia
All road borders are shared with Senegal and connections between the two are reasonably efficient. Private taxis can be hired between Dakar (Senegal) and Barra, from which there is a regular ferry service to Banjul. There is a second crossing point at Farafenni, en route from Dakar to Janjangbureh or westwards to Barra.
Getting to Gambia by boat
The Gambia is not very accessible by boat. Although there are freighters sailing to Banjul and it is possible to take a cabin on board one of these, it is not done regularly or cheaply.
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