The Smiling Coast of Africa
The Gambia, also known as The Smiling Coast of Africa, has unique features over many other holiday destinations. From Europe it’s only a six hours flight with no jet lag.
The country is a popular, safe and affordable all year round destination attracting tourists with its sunny climate, the sandy beach coastline, the rural African countryside, the majestic river Gambia, the wildlife, stunning nature and their varied culture.
Please note that the information below is subject to change.
Weather & Climate
The country enjoys virtually uninterrupted sunshine and high daytime temperatures with almost no rainfall from November to June.
The Gambia has two distinct seasons; The Dry and Green Season, also known as the Mango Season.
The Dry Season – most popular for tourists – ranges from November to May. During this period, the climate is more comfortable.
The Green Season, also known as the Mango Season, is the time of year when all nature blossoms up and is usually from June to October. Most rains fall during the evening and night, leaving you with enough time to work on your suntan.
February to April is often called the Harmattan season with warm winds during the day and a cool(er) breeze in the evenings.
Average Day Temperatures
Average Night Time Temperatures
Culture & Language
Whilst most Gambians speak English, there are several more tribes, each with their own language and culture which are related to the tribes: Mandinka, Wollof, Fula, Jola and Serahuli. Each of these linguistic groups has peculiar cultures which their language seeks to express in proverbs, myths, riddles and sayings.
The Gambia is a predominantly Muslim country, though it is traditionally very accepting of all religious creeds & beliefs. For the most part, Gambians are inter-related regardless of their religious background. It is also not uncommon to find related Muslims & Christians belonging to the same family.
Food & Drinks
Western, Asian and African Foods are available at most hotels and restaurants. A must try are the traditional local Gambian dishes like: Domoda, Yassa, Benechin, Pepper soup, Nyebbeh, Caldo and Mbahal. Some of the most popular snacks in Gambia are home grown peanuts and cashew nuts.
Gambia has also their own traditional drinks, included Wonjo and the healthy juices extracted from the Baobab and the Morenga Tree.
In terms of alcohol, most bars and restaurants have a international selection of beers, wines and spirits.
Visa & Currency
Most visitors do not need to obtain a visa prior to arrival, and are issued with a Visa-upon- arrival stamp in their passport with a validity of maximum 28 days. Please check with your nearest Gambian Embassy which nationalities need a visa prior to arrival.
Upon arrival and departure at Banjul Airport a security tax of 20 USD is required.
The Gambian Dalasi (GMD) is the local currency and you will find banks and currency exchange offices nearby Kololi Beach Resort.
There are several ATM’s nearby, but withdrawals are restricted to a certain daily amount (varies from bank to bank) and in general a surcharge between 3 and 5% is added to ATM withdrawals and credit (debit) card payments. Not all ATM’s accept debit cards.
Credit cards are only accepted by a limited amount of shops, bars and restaurants and are subject to a surcharge.
Exchange rates fluctuate and are in general advertised by the banks and exchange offices at their entrance.
Taxi & Car Rent
Tourist taxis are all green, are licensed by the Gambia Tourism Board and taxi ranks are found nearby hotels and restaurants. There is taxi rank near the entrance of Kololi Beach Resort. The fixed tariffs are published and usually are for a return trip including a 2 hour waiting time when visiting a restaurant or site.
Yellow and Green Taxis
These taxis can be found along the main roads and can be used for shared or individual (towntrip) hire. These taxis are not allowed to collect passengers from the hotel areas.
The most common and cheapest way of travelling in The Gambia for locals is by collective taxis otherwise called “Bush” taxis. These are mainly 7-passenger vans and minibuses and don’t have a single colour. They have a set and low fare. The bush taxis can make several stops on the way to allow passengers to disembark at their various destinations.
There are several car rental companies in The Gambia, offering a wide range of vehicles from 4×4 to luxury types. Visitors wishing to hire a private vehicle should hold an international driving license or permit. With such licenses you can legally drive in The Gambia for a maximum period of three months. Outside of the possession of an international driving license any tourist wishing to hire a vehicle in The Gambia should make use of the services of a licensed taxi driver.
Driving in Gambia can be a challenge as road ethics vary a lot from the western world. There are not many streetlights, so driving in the dark can be an extra challenge.
Kololi Beach Resort can recommend reliable car rental companies and provide you with a discount code.
Phone & Internet
Currently there are four major players in the Gambia’s telecom market: Gamtel, Africell, Comium and Qcell.
Roaming charges for calls and internet, using your own sim card, are quite high in Gambia. It is better to get a local pre paid sim card from one of the many vendors to make your calls and browse the internet.
Gambia is a third world country and as such the quality of the internet is nothing compared to the western world. Be prepared for interruptions, low bandwidth and longer loading times. At Kololi Beach Resort, a public WiFi is provided free of charge for all residents.
Most restaurants offer free WiFi for their guests.
Health & Medication
Although inoculations are not compulsory for entry from the EU, certain medication, including anti-malarial tablets, yellow fever, hepatitis and typhoid vaccinations will be recommended. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is not required for entry into The Gambia, but it will need to be shown when passing the border between The Gambia and Senegal.
However, visitors are advised to take the necessary precautions such as: Anti- malaria medicine and consult with their doctor for appropriate prescription.
Visitors are also advised to bring along insect repellents, sun screen, unobtainable in certain parts of the country. There are several government hospitals and clinics as well as those operated by private practitioners. Nearby Kololi Beach Resort you will find several private and public hospitals.
Please check with your travel agent or airline for the latest Covid related travel restrictions.
Power cuts are part of day to day life in Gambia. This means that you could be enjoying a refreshing shower and all of a sudden it is dark and the water pressure is gone.
Kololi Beach Resort has a standby generator, so once the national grid cuts, the generator will come on and provide electricity.
Most sockets in Gambia are the UK 3-pin type, so it could be useful to bring an adaptor if you are traveling from main land Europe, Asia, US or other parts from Africa.
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