Despite being the smallest country on the African mainland, The Gambia punches well above its weight.
With less than 50 kilometres (31 miles) between its widest points, it’s easy to see how this little West African nation can be so easily overlooked for neighbouring Senegal. But choose The Gambia and you’ll be enthralled by its plethora of wildlife – antelope, baboons, crocodiles and more than 500 species of birdlife – all contained within its tropical woodlands and estuaries. Then there’s the pristine beaches, country villages and vast wetlands ripe for exploring by pirogue. While the East may have Africa’s biggest drawcards, The Gambia proves that big things also come in small packages.
Gambia travel highlights
Kunta Kinteh Island (James Island)
Made famous by Alex Haley’s novel Roots, and later renamed after its protagonist, this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site is immersed in historical intrigue.
The Gambia’s capital city Banjul is a popular island destination. Visit the Albert Market for some local wares and the African Heritage Museum.
Kiang West National Park
One of the largest and most important wildlife reserves in The Gambia, the area boasts baboons, warthogs, antelope and many rare bird species.
Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve
Jump on a pirogue and navigate the creeks of this Gambia River reserve, searching for Pel’s fishing owl, the African finfoot and the brown-necked parrot.
This town on Gambia’s Atlantic Coast is home to the Kachikally Museum and Crocodile Pool, where the 80-odd Nile crocodiles roam free with visitors.
Senegambian Stone Circles (Wassu)
These mysterious stone circles across Gambia and Senegal still baffle scientists. Visit the museum at this ancient Wassu location, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Gambia holiday information
Local Culture of Gambia
Geography and environment
Shopping guide to Gambia
Gambia Festival calendar
Food and drink in Gambia
Gambia travel FAQs
• Australia: No
• Belgium: No
• Canada: No
• Germany: No
• Ireland: No
• Netherlands: No
• New Zealand: No
• South Africa: No
• Switzerland: No
• United Kingdom: No
• USA: Yes
Visas are not required for stays less than 90 days for the majority of countries. On arrival, visitors will receive a stamp that’s valid for 28 days, and can be extended for a further 28 days.
Visitors from the following countries will need to obtain a visa:
We recommend you check in with your local consulate for the latest up-to-date information on visa requirements.
The best time to visit The Gambia is during the dry season, between November and February, when temperatures are regularly over 30 degrees Celsius (86F) and humidity is low. This is the best time for birdwatching and wildlife experiences. The rainy season from June to September is still comparably sunny and warm, but many places will be closed. This is, however, the time to go if you want to avoid the crowds. You’ll still find decent weather in the shoulder seasons of October and April, and will likely score a discount on travel and accommodation costs.
Tipping is only expected within the tourist trade. Smaller local restaurants won’t expect a tip, but a 10% tip for places frequented by travellers is common and appreciated. Tipping guides at reserves and parks US$1 (50D) or so is considered polite.
Wi-Fi is common in hotels and some restaurants and cafes, but internet cafes are becoming less and less common.
International roaming is supported in The Gambia as long as you’ve enabled it with your provider. Cheap SIM cards can also be purchased at service centres around the coast. Coverage is good in Banjul and most towns, but more remote areas get patchy.
Toilets in The Gambia are typically squat toilets. A good travellers’ tip is to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitiser, as many toilets won’t have any. But the closer to a tourist centre you are, the more likely you are to find a toilet of the Western variety.
Coffee = US$1.50 (65D)
Beer at a bar = US$1.50 (65D)
Short taxi ride = US$0.50 (30D)
Simple meal at a local restaurant = US$3.50 (165D)
Dinner in a high-end hotel restaurant = US$18 (850D)
These price estimates were last updated December 2017.
Water in The Gambia should be considered contaminated, and should be boiled or sterilised before drinking, brushing teeth or making ice. Ice in drinks from restaurants and bars should be avoided. Help the environment and try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle with filtered water. Your leader or hotel can tell you where to find filtered water.
The safe assumption in The Gambia is that you’ll be using cash. Some hotels will accept major credit cards, but the majority of local businesses will expect cash.
There are ATMs available in The Gambia in a pinch, mostly in the banks of major cities and some petrol stations. It’s not advised to rely on these, however. They are few and far between, and those that can be found are often unreliable. Additionally, credit card and bank fraud is common.
The Gambia is not unsafe for LGBTQI travellers, but they do need to exercise extreme caution. While most people are accepting of difference and diversity, open displays of affection between same-sex couples have the chance of placing people in very real danger. Genuine issues for queer travellers are rare, but the exceptions need to be noted.
Yes. All Peregrine passengers are required to purchase travel insurance prior to their trip. Your insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day.
For more information on insurance, please go to Travel Insurance.
Jan 1: New Year’s Day
Feb 18: Independence Day
Apr 14: Good Friday
Apr 17: Easter Monday
May 1: Labour Day
Jun 25: Koriteh (End of Ramadan)
Jul 22: Revolution Day
Aug 15: Assumption
Sep 1: Tabaski (Feast of Assumption)
Dec 1: Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad)
Dec 25: Christmas Day
For a current list of public holidays in The Gambia go to https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/africa/gambia/public-holidays/.
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is often required in The Gambia if you’re arriving from Senegal or another country where Yellow Fever is prevalent. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing.
It is recommended you visit your doctor or travel clinic for up to date advice and make sure to schedule vaccinations 4-6 weeks before your departure date, as some require time to become effective.
Recommended vaccines and boosters
1. Hepatitis A (transmitted through contaminated water)
2. Hepatitis B (transmitted through blood and other bodily fluid)
3. Yellow Fever (transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes)
4. Typhoid (transmitted through contaminated water)
5. Diphtheria (transmitted through person-to-person contact or contact with infected objects, such as a cup or tissue)
6. Tetanus (transmitted through infections to cuts or puncture wounds)