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Gambia Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT.

Electricity

230 volts, 50Hz. UK-style, square three-pin plugs are standard.

Language

The official language of Gambia is English, and Gambians are educated in English. There are several tribal languages, but overall the use of English prevails.

Travel Health

No innoculations are compulsory for entry to Gambia, except for a yellow fever certificate required by those arriving from yellow fever infected areas. However, it is recommended that travellers take health advice at least three weeks before departing for the country. Malaria is prevalent throughout the year, but the greatest risk is between June and November; travellers should obtain up to date medical advice on the appropriate prophylactics, as some (e.g. chloroquine) are not adequate for Gambia. It is possible that your doctor may also advise that you are vaccinated for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria, and meningococcus (for the Gambian dry season). Visitors are advised to carry preparations for dehydration, stomach upsets, insect bites and cuts, as well as mosquito repellent and sun block, as these are not readily available in Gambia. Water borne diseases such as Schistosomiasis do occur and travellers should not swim or raft in contaminated fresh water. Travellers should drink only bottled water, ensure meat and vegetables are well cooked and avoid unpeeled fruit and vegetables. Emergency medical facilities are of a low standard so travel insurance with provision for emergency repatriation is recommended.

Tipping

A 10 percent service charge is usually added to hotel and restaurant bills, and further tipping is discretionary. Generally all services rendered require a small 'cadeau' (gift or tip).

Safety Information

Crime involving tourists is rare in the Gambia and safety is not a major concern. It is wise, however, not to carry valuables or large sums of money or display them in public. The most popular beaches are manned by tourist police or hotel security officers. Take precautions on more isolated beaches, in unlit areas and in spots away from the 'tourist track'. Driving in Gambia can be hazardous and many taxis are not roadworthy. Security checkpoints are common on all major roads within the country. Road travel from Gambia to southern Senegal should be avoided due to fighting between rebel factions in the area and incidents with bandits. Women should be on the lookout for male scammers who try and develop romantic relationships with them as this is a common ploy to get money in Gambia. Apart from scams and road safety issues crime tends to be petty and mainly consists of bag-snatching and pick-pocketing.

Local Customs

The Gambia is a Muslim country and therefore it is disrespectful to dress immodestly away from the beach, swimming pools or tourist centres. Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture. Homosexuality is illegal. It is prohibited to photograph military institutions.

Business

Business is conducted formally in The Gambia and a formal dress code is to be observed. Punctuality is expected. Business cards are catching on and advisable to bring along. Greetings are important and a formal handshake is the norm for men and women; it is important to acknowledge every member at a meeting. A personal approach to business is favoured and Gambians like to get to know the person with whom they are conducting business. Business hours are generally 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Communications

The international access code for The Gambia is +220. The outgoing international code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). No area codes are required. There are GSM mobile telephone networks, but not all countries have roaming agreements; US mobile phones will not work. Coverage is limited to Banjul and a few other areas. Internet cafes are available in Banjul and the major tourist resorts.

Duty Free

Visitors arriving in the Gambia are permitted to bring the following goods into the country without paying duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; one litre of spirits and one litre of wine or beer; 284ml of perfume; and a still camera and film for personal use.

Become our Gambia Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Gambia travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Gambia or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.

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