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Gambia Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT.

Electricity

220 to 240 volts, 50Hz. UK-style, rectangular three-pin plugs are standard.

Language

The official language of The Gambia is English, and Gambians are educated in English. There are several indigenous languages, but English is the lingua franca.

Travel Health

No inoculations are compulsory for entry to The Gambia, except for a yellow fever certificate if travellers are 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 malaria medication, as some may not be adequate for The 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 dry season). Visitors are also advised to carry preparations for dehydration, stomach upsets, insect bites and cuts, as well as mosquito repellent and sun block, as these are not always readily available in The Gambia.

Waterborne 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

Though crimes involving tourists are rare in The Gambia and safety is not a major concern, robberies involving travellers are on the rise, particularly the stealing of passports and valuables from hotel rooms. It is wise not to carry valuables or large sums of money, or to display them in public, and valuables left in hotels should be kept in safes whenever possible.

Driving in The Gambia can be hazardous and many taxis are not roadworthy. Road travel from The Gambia to southern Senegal should be avoided due to fighting between rebel factions in the area and incidents with bandits.

Travellers should be wary of young men known locally as 'bumsters', who approach male and female tourists, particularly on beaches, and offer to help or act as local guides. Visitors should be polite but firm in refusing unwanted help or attempts at conversation.

Local Customs

The Gambia is a Muslim country, meaning it is considered 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. Homosexuality is illegal and strong action is taken against travellers found to be in possession of drugs. It is prohibited to photograph military institutions.

Business

Business is conducted formally in The Gambia and a formal dress code should 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's important to acknowledge every member at a meeting, regardless of status or gender. 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. Most Gambians access the internet through their phone data and visitors should purchase local SIM cards for their phones to do the same.

Duty Free

Visitors arriving in The Gambia are permitted to bring 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco, a bottle of liquor or wine, a bottle of a bottle of eau de toilette or perfume, and personal effects into the country without paying duty.

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.