Unknown Lands: Gambia

Unknown Lands: Gambia

And if we take a trip to these little-known, if not unknown, lands, which are these regions or even countries that we almost never hear about, that welcome only a few visitors, at least French ones, and about which we wonder what we can see or do there.

Today, we will head to West Africa with Gambia.

Where is Gambia?

Little known to the general public, and completely landlocked to its Senegalese neighbour, Gambia is West Africa's smallest country with an area of ​​barely 10,689 square kilometers for just over two million people.
A former British colony, the destination is not very touristy even if there are beautiful beaches, relatively interesting natural sites, as well as some historical testimony dating back to the slave trade at the origin of the establishment of European trading centers in the 15th century.H century and then the colony.

What to see in Gambia?

The capital is Banjul

Banjul, the capital of The Gambia, is located at the mouth of the Gambia River. In addition to a few museums, ancient buildings and small surrounding nature reserves such as those in Abuko, Bijilo or Salaje, the main interest here remains the beautiful beaches on the outskirts of the city, especially on the Seracunda side.

What to see in the city and culture

Albreda-Aljuvoria
Albreda, this former French trading post on the north bank of the Gambia River, is a UNESCO site associated with James Island, and as right next door, Govore and the remains of some forts also bear witness to the colonial era and the slave trade. Today, Albreda-Aljuvoría hosts a museum dedicated to slavery.

Bacau
This coastal town near Banjul is famous for its Cape Point beach, botanical garden and (sacred) crocodile pond.
Nearby, Fajara remains one of the country's main seaside resorts and attracts many people.

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Megalithic circles in Senegambia
This site shared by Senegal and Gambia has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is made up of thousands of small features located on a 100 km wide strip that runs along the Gambia River for 350 km.

James Island
This small island at the mouth of the Gambia River, now renamed Kunta Kinteh, was in its time an important slave trading centre, as some ruins still bear witness to. It is listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site with the nearby commercial centers of Albreda and Juffureh.

Tangy
This former fishing village is home to the Tangi Village Museum of Arts and Crafts, as well as the Tangi Bird Sanctuary, famous for its ornithology. There are beautiful beaches in the south such as Sanyang Beach.

To see the side of nature

Kiang West National Park
It is one of the country's main parks, located on the southern bank of the Gambia River. It is especially appreciated for ornithology.

Nyomi National Park
Along the northern coast, between the river and Senegal, this area of ​​mangroves, where you can go on a boat trip, is home to many birds, but also hyenas, leopards and a few crocodiles.

Abuko Nature Reserve
The Abuko site is one of these small protected natural areas around Banjul, as is the small Bigalow Forest that borders the ocean not far from there. This reserve is very popular and allows you to see monkeys, snakes, crocodiles and birds.

Gambia process

Formalities

As part of a tourist trip, for the French, it is necessary to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the planned exit date. In addition, there is a free visa if you stay there for less than 15 days, which can be obtained before travel or upon arrival.

Health and security

Sanitary conditions have clearly improved in recent years in The Gambia (as they have in neighboring Senegal). Although the yellow fever vaccine is theoretically recommended, it is no longer mandatory for entry into the country.
In fact, the biggest risk in the country is still malaria, to which there are some risks of chikungunya and dengue fever, which are also transmitted by mosquitoes. In spite of everything, of all the possible problems, “turista” (diarrhea) is the one that particularly threatens the traveler the most.

Other than that, and without it being the highest, deviance is widespread in the country, especially in tourist places where pickpockets are common. In fact, it is important to remain vigilant and always keep a close eye on your affairs.

Currency and budget

The local currency is the Dalasi divided into 100 butots.
You can easily transfer your money at banks, large hotels, exchange offices and ATMs located in the country, especially in tourist areas.

Heading there

Since Gambia is a landlocked country in Senegal, some travelers reach the country by land either via the north and Dakar, or the south and Casamance.
Otherwise, Gambia has only one airport, Banjul International Airport, which in total is limited to about twenty services in Africa (including Dakar) and Europe, including directly from Brussels or Amsterdam.

Gambia

In the region

The Gambia has a relatively small road network that runs along the (navigable) Gambia River. This is not necessarily always a good thing, meaning that travel can take time even if the distances are never enormous.
To get around, you can choose to rent a car, or opt for the numerous “taxis”, which are collective vehicles (car or minibus) widely used by a large part of the population, locally.

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Accommodation

It makes perfect sense that it is in the capital and in the few coastal areas on the coast close to it that you will find the best choice of hotels. Furthermore, if you are only planning to visit the western part of the country, you can also choose to stay in this part of the territory and then travel from there.

local time

Like its Senegalese neighbour, Gambia uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) all year round. Which means there are two hours less than in France in the summer, and one hour less in the winter.

It makes him understand

Because Gambia is completely surrounded by French-speaking Senegal, the practice of French is widespread. So it will always be easy to find someone who speaks the language.

The thing to know

Bring an electrical adapter for your appliances and French plugs. In fact, here we are on 230V (50Hz) with “English” sockets (officially Type G).

Climate with a dry season and a rainy season

The Gambia is located in a tropical region, and has two seasons with a dry season and a rainy season (“winter”), as well as two intermediate months, June and October.

From November to May, we are in the dry season. Hence there is almost no rain at all, offshore winds dampen the heat on the coast, and on the other hand, the temperature inland can reach 40 degrees Celsius.
The rainy season runs from July to September with occasional heavy rains and vegetation becoming lush.

The best time to visit Gambia is between November and February, when the weather is dry but temperatures are still cool enough.

> Information: www.visitthegambia.gm

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