Don’t travel anywhere without getting the low down! Gambia is a West African country almost completely surrounded by Senegal except for its coastline.
Gambia is the smallest country in the African mainland.
Always do your due diligence
Travelling can be one of the most rewarding activities that you ever do, especially to unique locations and off the beaten path. Take the road less traveled and stay out of the 4 star hotels and gated resorts that are really just an extension of North America.
Keep in mind though that it is extremely important that you do all of the research that you possibly can when visiting destinations outside of your home country.
Here are a few items that should be reviewed prior to planning travel outside of the homeland:
- Take your government’s travel advisories into consideration.
- Know if there is a local consulate for your government, and know where it is. This way if you are in danger, or lose your personal documents you’ll know where you should be going.
- Review the entry requirements for the country that you would like to visit. Most require visas to visit.
- Take care in reviewing the recommended vaccines for visiting an area. Make sure you are up to date on your vaccines and have some travel health insurance as well.
These are just a few things that you should be looking into before travelling, among many more.
For the purpose of this article, we will look at some of the things that are said about Gambia!
Exercise a high degree of caution
This is the current advisory from the Canadian government due to petty theft in the country. So keep your valuables at home, as in Canada. Don’t bring what you don’t absolutely need.
Take extra care in protecting your personal effects safe while in crowded public areas, beaches, and within your accommodations.
Petty theft involves stuff like pick-pocketing and purse snatching. Pick-pockets in foreign countries tend to be extremely skilled at their work. They can get anything from off your person without you or anyone else around you being aware.
They are looking for cash, passports, jewelry, credit cards, and other personal identification items and financial tools.
Keep your documents close to you at all times, avoid putting them in pockets that can be easily accessed.
Most of the time the governments err on the side of caution and the travel advisories can be a little exaggerated. But you should maintain an elevated degree of situational awareness whenever travelling in places that are new to you.
The government of Canada tells us that we require a Visa to visit the country for work, business, and tourist related travel to Gambia. You may also require a vaccine record for Yellow Fever depending on what nation you are coming from when entering Gambia.
Take a look at your intentions within the country. Are you going to be working? Are you just doing the tourist thing? Be sure you will have the appropriate Visas before embarking.
Every different country can have their own set of laws, standards, and regulations. We wont cover all of them here but for example in Gambia it is prohibited to photograph airports, military installations, or embassies.
Little rules like this can pop up and some countries are not forgiving for laws broken even by unsuspecting tourists.
Make sure you get a good understanding of some of the local laws, and above all just don’t go looking for trouble!
Naturally there is always ways that the locals take advantage of visiting tourists and they have one common goal: to separate you from your money.
Sometimes it can be difficult to find financial institutions that carry the currency of the place you are visiting for exchange. If possible, wait until you get to the Gambia before exchanging your money, and avoid doing it at the airport.
Taxis is another one. They have certain tourist taxis that are sure to take you for a ride so to speak. Avoid the green colored tourist cabs outside of airports and hotels. They will charge you a premium price even for short rides.
Cheaper transport can be had from the bush taxis, often yellow in color.
Market places are prime locations for tourist cash separation methods. The markets are beautiful and packed full of colorful crafts and clothing. But they operate much like vendors in places such as Mexico. The price is what is being asked, be prepared to negotiate down to what you are willing to pay for an item.
They will barter, and if they seem strong headed, just carry on to the next vendor, and they may then make you an attractive offer for the item you were interested in.
Be wary of “bumsters” which are young unemployed men who again attempt to separate tourists from their cash. They might offer to be tour guides, or offer you “free gifts” both of which will only end in a request for compensation, and probably more than you are willing to pay.
It is important not to be rude to the locals even if they are trying to fleece you. Simply decline their advances and move on, but don’t become threatening or rude. Just a basic moral of treating other people with respect and they will likely leave you alone.
Keep some tips with you. Obviously you don’t want to be traveling with loads of cash on you. But the locals in Gambia will go out of their way to help out travelers and if you do end up accepting some assistance, services, or whatever the case may be it is encouraged to provide a small tip.
The Gambia is a inter-tropical zone, so they will have a rainy season that is pretty substantial.
Their rainy season runs from roughly July to September, and can include tornados and heavy downpours. So if you get a sweet deal on some travel during this time, better bring a poncho!
Good luck with your travels!