The smallest nation on the African mainland, countries don’t come much more compact - and traversable - than Gambia.
Less than 50 km across at its widest point, this tiny sliver of land streaking Senegal’s midriff is oft bypassed, or swiftly passed through, in favour of exploring its more well-known neighbour. Yet a spell in The Gambia itself will be richly rewarded. Home to magnificent birdlife, pristine beach getaways, and lush tropical woodlands, iddy-biddy Gambia just goes to show that size ain’t everything.
Our Gambia trips
Gambia travel highlights
Kiang West National Park
Drift through the Kiang West National Park by pirogue
Spend the night in an Eco Lodge overlooking the Gambia River
Gambia holiday information
At a glance
Best time to visit Gambia
Geography and environment
Top 5 Gambian Drinks
Health and Safety
Gambia travel FAQs
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: Yes - In advance
Canada: Yes - In advance
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: Yes - In advance
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - In advance
UK: No - Not required
USA: Yes - In advance
Some nationalities require a visa to visit The Gambia. If you require a visa it must be obtained in advance from an embassy overseas. Citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and some other countries do not need a visa for a stay of less than 90 days. Citizens of the USA, Canada, South Africa and some other countries do need a visa and should apply to their nearest Gambian embassy and ensure that the visa is obtained before arrival.
In established restaurants, bars, hotels and taxis a 10% service charge is usually added to the bill - though feel free to tip more than this for exceptional service. At restaurants where a service charge isn’t included, 10% is the acceptable gratuity. Although tipping at other places isn't mandatory it will be much appreciated given the low wages that Gambian service workers are typically paid. Setting aside a small amount for porters, guides and drivers is also a good idea.
Internet cafes with fairly slow connections can be easily found in Banjul and the resort towns on the Atlantic Coast. Towns further inland will usually have at least one internet cafe with unreliable connectivity.
Mobile phone coverage is good in The Gambia’s large cities and towns, but less so in rural areas. The major local telephone companies are Gamcell and Africell. Ensure you have global roaming activated before leaving home if you plan to use your mobile phone.
Fairly clean western-style toilets can generally be found in Banjul and the towns on the Atlantic Coast. In towns and villages further inland, squat/pit toilets are the norm. Carry your own supply of soap and toilet paper as this is rarely provided.
Sandwich = 50 GMD
Litre of bottled water = 30 GMD
Bottle of Jul Brew = 20 GMD
Shwarma = 50 GMD
Tap water isn't safe to drink in The Gambia. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, bring water purification tablets or ask your leader where filtered water can be found.
Credit cards are generally only accepted at top-end hotels, if arranged at the beginning of your stay, and at some high-end restaurants. American Express and Visa are the most likely to be accepted, though use sparingly as there is a genuine risk of fraud.
ATMs can be found at banks and urban centres in Banjul and around the Atlantic Coast, though they aren’t always reliable. Due to credit card and bank fraud, caution is advised when using these and some ATMs may only allow withdrawals of fairly small amounts. Be sure to have other payment methods on hand when venturing out of the big cities. Visa is the most accepted card.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
- 1 Jan New Year's Day
- 18 Feb Independence Day
- 14 Apr Good Friday
- 17 Apr Easter Monday
- 1 May May Day
- 25 May African Liberation Day
- 25 May President Yahya Jammeh's Birthday
- 21 Jun Lialat-ul-Qadar
- 25 Jun Korité / End of Ramadan
- 22 Jul Revolution Day
- 15 Aug Assumption Day
- 1 Sep Tabaski / Feast of Sacrifice
- 30 Sep Yamul Ashura
- 30 Nov The Prophet's Birthday
- 25 Dec Christmas Day
Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in Gambia go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/gambia/public-holidays
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Gambia
- Be considerate of The Gambia’s customs, traditions, religions and culture.
- Only use your right hand when dealing with locals. The left is used for ‘unhygienic tasks’.
- It's considered very rude in Gambian culture to smell food in front of others before eating it.
- Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered and shoes removed when entering places of worship.
- For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water or use water purification tablets.
- Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
- Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
- Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive and supports the local community.
- When bargaining, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
- Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
- Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
- When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.