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Kombo Beach Hotel
Kombo Beach Hotel - dream vacation

Kotu Stream Road Pmb 541Serrekunda

Gambia Coral Beach Hotel & Spa
Gambia Coral Beach Hotel & Spa - dream vacation

Brufut Heights · AU Highway, PO Box 3311Brufut

Ocean Bay Hotel & Resort
Ocean Bay Hotel & Resort - dream vacation

Koffi Annan Street Cape Point PO Box 4065Bakau

The Gambia is a small, narrow country along the length of the Gambia River in West Africa, almost completely surrounded by Senegal. Besides beaches and wildlife, The Gambia is known for the town of Juffureh, made famous by Alex Haley's Roots. It is known as the Smiling Coast.


The Gambia essentially consists of the flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills — the highest point is just 53 m above sea level, and it is less than 50 km across at its widest point.


Tropical; hot, rainy season (June to November); cooler, dry season (November to May); Natural hazards : drought (rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years).


Before the arrival of the Europeans, oral traditions preserved most of The Gambia's history. The Wassu Stone Circles are thought to be evidence of early settlement, however not much is known about it. The territory of present-day The Gambia became part of the Mali Empire in the 14th century.

Historically, culturally, and linguistically tied to Senegal, The Gambia was split from its neighbor in the 18th century by European powers. Most of the region was taken over by France, but a narrow piece of land around The Gambia River was ceded to Great Britain. This small area eventually became The Gambia.

The Gambia gained its independence from the UK on 18 February 1965. A constitution was written on 24 April 1970, before being suspended in July 1994 and subsequently rewritten and approved by national referendum on 8 August 1996. It was re-established in January 1997.

The Gambia formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia with Senegal between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty. A military coup in 1994 overthrew the president and banned political activity, but a new 1996 constitution and presidential elections, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. Elections have continued ever since, but with government intimidation and detention of opposition leaders, they aren't completely democratic.

After ruling with an iron fist for over 20 years, during which he withdrew The Gambia from international organisations such as the Commonwealth of Nations and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Yahya Jammeh eventually lost the election to Adama Barrow in 2016. Although Jammeh initially refused to concede defeat, Barrow escaped to Senegal, and Jammeh was eventually forced to step down and go into exile under the threat of military intervention from The Gambia's neighbours. Since coming to power, Barrow has attempted to roll back some of Jammeh's excesses, with The Gambia having since re-joined the ICJ and the Commonwealth.

National holidays

The Gambia celebrates its independence day on 18 February. This small country gained its independence in 1965. There is also the Muslim festival of Eid which is celebrated by virtually all Gambians and is a 2- to 3-day event during which up to 250,000 animals are slaughtered to provide food for the feast. It is also a time when Gambians, especially women, dress in their finest regalia and buying new dresses at up to D3,000 (Gambian dalasi).


A variety of ethnic groups live in The Gambia, each preserving its own language and traditions. The Mandinka ethnicity is the largest, followed by the Fula, Wolof, Jola, Serahule, Serers and the Bianunkas. The Krio people, locally known as the Aku, constitute one of the smallest ethnic minorities in The Gambia. They are descendants of the Sierra Leone Creole people and have been traditionally concentrated in the capital.


Other destinations

  • 1 Abuko Nature Reserve — tiny reserve near the beaches with shady paths to get close to monkeys, bushbucks, chameleons, & crocodiles.
  • 2 Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve — mixed patched of thick forest and swamp most noteworthy for its migratory birds but also home to dugongs, otters, hogs, antelope, & hippos.
  • 3 Kunta Kinteh Island, a remainder from the slave trade and a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Makasutu Cultural Forest — a large eco-tourism project near the beaches popular as a package day trip with game drive, boat ride, & performances by locals.

The Gambia has two sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Get in

The Gambia is becoming a popular vacation destination for Northern Europeans. Therefore, many charter and holiday operators offer reasonable airfare and accommodation if desired.


Tourists from ECOWAS, Commonwealth countries and other countries not listed below, or tourists from all nations arriving in The Gambia on a charter flight may enter visa-free for up to 90 days. ECOWAS nationals may also enter with passport or Biometric ID card.

Nationals of Egypt, Austria, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United States, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan need a visa to enter unless they are travelling as tourists on a charter flight.

Nationals of Kenya, Namibia, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Macau, Myanmar, Mongolia, Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay may enter The Gambia visa-free for up to 90 days on the condition that they obtain an entry clearance from the Gambian Immigration prior to travel, unless they are travelling as tourists on a charter flight.

Nationals of Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Libya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, East Timor, Indonesia, Mauritius, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Seychelles require a visa, and/or an entry clearance from the Gambian Immigration prior to travel.

Visas can be obtained at The Gambian High Commission in Dakar, Senegal. Single entry visas cost USD100, XOF35,000 (about USD69, so a better deal!) and multi-entry visas for a three-month period cost XOF30,000.

A single entry visa could surely also be obtained at the border for XOF15,000, even when the embassy in Dakar claims and insists the opposite, as they wish you pay more to them instead!

Information about obtaining a visa on arrival is available at the website of The Gambia Immigration Department .

A list of countries whose citizens can enter without a visa is available at the website of The Gambia Tourism Board.

By plane

Banjul (BJL IATA) is the only international airport in The Gambia. Vueling, a low-cost airline, operates regular flights to/from Barcelona (Spain) with onward connecting flights to many cities in Europe. Royal Air Maroc flies from Casablanca, Brussels Airlines from Brussels, Arik Air from Accra and Lagos, Turkish Airlines from Istanbul and Senegal Airlines from Dakar. During the tourist season (October to April), there are regular scheduled flights direct from cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Brussels. Charter operators include First Choice Airways, Transavia, and Arkefly.

By car

Sept-places or bush taxis run from Dakar to Banjul and Banjul to Ziguinchor.

It is possible use your private car to drive from Senegal to The Gambia via the border town of Amdalli (just north of Barra). The border crossing is pretty straightforward. You will need your V5 logbook. The road approaching the border from Senegal is terrible and its easier to drive next to the road as opposed to on it. Check before you travel if it is ok to bring in a right-hand drive vehicle, as there are conflicting reports on the possibility of this (though it has been done).

By bus

There are direct GPTC buses running from Barra (a ferry ride away from Banjul) to Dakar, but these are not recommended as they are slower than the bush taxis.

By boat

It is possible to charter privately small fishing vessels from Dakar and neighbouring areas; though this can be fairly expensive and slow should one not be proficient at bargaining.

Get around

By car

A 4WD is recommended if you plan to rent a car, since the roads often are in bad condition and only a minority is paved.

By taxi

There are two types of cabs: green ones (tourist cabs) and yellow ones (regular cabs). Green cabs are expensive and the price is regardless of the number of passengers. Although there is no vehicle testing system in The Gambia, these taxis must have basics such as seat belts and working indicators. Yellow taxis are much cheaper and the price depends on the number of persons in the cab. They are used mainly by locals, and in many tourist areas they are prohibited from picking up tourists. Often it is worth it to walk a little to get a yellow taxi.

By bike

You can rent a bike from pretty much anyone that owns one at a negotiated rate. Cycling on major roads can be risky, as motorist safety is unreliable, some roads are not well-maintained, sand and steep shoulders cause road hazards, and pedestrians may walk or veer onto the open road without warning. In high traffic areas, taxis and vans often cut off cyclists to pick up travellers and the car horn may be used excessively to warn of impending passage.

By thumb

No, don't use your thumb. It is an obscene gesture in The Gambia, instead wave if you want a car to stop. As anywhere, hitching is quite risky business, so be careful with what cars you enter and never hitch at night. Also, Gambian motorists will expect you to pay for the ride, so have some cash ready.

By boat

The Gambia River is navigable the entire length of the country.

Guided tours

There are many companies that offer guided tours in The Gambia.

There are also official tourist guides that will arrange transportation and guide you. They offer a good service and you will get to travel in a small group (usually 1 to 6 persons). Beware that there are false official guides, so always meet them at their offices, around tourist resorts.


Languages spoken in The Gambia are English (the official language), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Sarrancule and other indigenous languages.


  • 1 Abuko Nature Reserve. open daily 08:00-18.30. Nature park situated outside the village of Lamin in the Kombo North District, 25 km from Banjul. At 105 hectares it is one of the smallest (if not the smallest) protected areas in Africa, but it still offers a good introduction to the Gambian wildlife. For instance there's monkeys, crocodiles and some 300 species of birds D35. 
  • 2 Bijilo Forest Park (at Kololi). Birds and monkeys. Can bribe the animals with peanuts for better photos. The staff will try to pressure you into paying for a guide guide. D150. (updated Nov 2022)
  • 3 Gambia River National Park. Beautiful national park below Janjanbureh. The camp is pricey, but worth the money. They will organize boat tours to see chimpanzees, baboons, monkeys, crocodiles, etc. 
  • Makasutu Culture Forest, Serekunda (north of Brikama). A 1000-ha reserve of mangroves, palm groves and savannahs with baboons, monkeys, birds and monitor lizards. About 45 min from Banjul - a D1300 taxi ride, and the driver will wait for you. 
  • 4 Sanyang Beach. One of the most beautiful beaches in Gambia. Public transport leaves from Serekunda and Brikama regularly, and private taxis can also be hired for day trips. 


  • 5 Kachikally Sacred Crocodile Pool, Bakao (In Bakau, like 10 or so blocks inland from the Bakau Craft Market), ? +220 7782479, kachikally@qanet.gm. Opportunity to touch/pet West African Nile Crocodiles. D50. 
  • Four Wheel Drive Adventure. Very popular tours visiting schools, country homes, and distilleries.
  • "Roots" tour to Kunta Kinteh Island. You can go there on cruise up the centre of the wide Gambia river, towards the former French trading post of Albreda and the village of Juffureh. Views of the river bank are distant. Visit the setting of Roots, an old slave trade station. Tourists are overwhelmed by locals who appear only when the boat arrives, and disappear when the boat leaves. Locals are persistent in begging for money and thrusting craft items under tourists noses. Locals insist on being paid to appear in photos. Or you go by car, e.g. with the official tourist guides on the small roads on the North Bank and sail in a pirogue from Juffareh.



The Gambia uses the dalasi as its currency, denoted by the symbol "D" (ISO currency code: GMD). The dalasi is divided into 100 bututs. Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100 and 200 dalasis and you may find D0.25, D0.50 and D1 coins in circulation.

It is better you take CFA francs, euro or dollars with you. If you have a Visa credit card and don't use a PIN or you forgot it, then the only bank that can help you out is (the bigger) GT Bank in Banjul, which only requires your card, your passport, and your signature.


  • MasterCard and Visa can now be used at any GT Bank or EcoBank ATMs to withdraw cash.


  • Kora is the main music instrument of the Mandinka tribe, and could be considered the national instrument of The Gambia. It is 21-stringed and built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator. It sounds like a mixture of harp and flamenco guitar. Real koras can be very expensive but small souvenir versions are also available.
  • Tailor made clothes can be bought at cheap prices.
  • wood carvings
  • wooden masks
  • African drums
  • hand-woven table runners and place mats.
  • Batik and tie-dye fabric.


  • Brikama Market. Big market with some interesting stores, e.g., batik 
  • Brikama Craft Market (ca 10 km north of Brikama, i.e., too far to walk from Brikama). 20-30 small stores with mostly wood carvings. Better selection than the similar stores at tourist attractions and hotels 
  • Gena Bes Batiks, no 16, Salung St, Bakau (in Bakau between the old Kachikally Cinema and the Crocodile pool), ? +220 449 5614. Nice batik designs From D1000. 


  • Benachin or Jollof rice — a traditional West African rice dish with onions, spices, tomatoes or tomato paste mixed with meat, fish or vegetables.
  • Chicken Yassa — chicken boiled with onion, black pepper and lime or lemon.
  • Domoda — meat stew with rice and peanut butter sauce.
  • Lots and lots of peanuts, the main crop of The Gambia.
  • International food. Please don't be put off by what you may hear about Gambian cuisine, everything may come with rice, but the cuisine is international and the fish is great. But if you're after something your stomach is used to, then there is a plethora of international restaurants to choose from where you can have a Chinese or Indian curry, good old fish & chips or Japanese noodles, and there are also Thai, Lebanese, German, Dutch and Mexican even British-run eateries where you can get a full English breakfast. 


  • Gambia's own beer, Julbrew is worth a try. It's made by Banjul Breweries, who also make soft drinks.
  • Palm Wine is juice from palm trees that is collected and fermented. It is used as a kind of wine by the locals, and you may get a chance to try it if you go on a tour to rural The Gambia.
  • Baobab juice
  • Spirits. You can most of the well known spirits and liqueurs in the tourist areas along the coastal strip 
  • Spirits, Beers & Cigarettes. Julbrew is a lager beer, it is mainly sold in bottles but you can get in a draught form which is a lot less gassey than the bottled. You can get most of the spirits you would expect to find at home and they are still a lot cheaper than in the Costas, Greece or Turkey. Whisky, rum, gin, vodka, brandy are freely available as are Curacao and Tia Maria. Cigarettes can be bought very cheaply at around GBP2.50, €2.80 per 200 pack from all the main supermarkets or in the tourist areas. (updated Dec 2022)


There are many luxury 4- and 5-star resorts along the Atlantic coastline. Further in land there are eco camps and lodges which offer basic accommodation usually in natural surroundings.


Stay safe

There are a number of very commonly used scams in The Gambia. If someone stops you on the street, they may tell you that they remember you from the hotel you're staying at and that they work there. They may invite you to another hotel, but this could be a scam to attempt to rob you. Also, because people are constantly looking for ways to support themselves, if they offer you assistance or directions, it may be understood that they expect some monetary compensation.

Sadly, many Gambian military have an unfavourable view of Brits (sometimes white people in general) and can be extremely racist. Expect it especially at border crossings as you will almost always be asked to pay to have your passport stamped and receive more than a few insults aimed at not only your country but also yourself when you refuse to pay. As always, do NOT pay any bribes as you're only making the problem worse, not just for tourists but the locals that are already struggling to fight the rampant corruption. Absolutely do not mention calling an embassy as this will only enrage them and start another string of abuse, as your embassy has no control over them and they hate the thought of it. If you've made friends with a Gambian they might possibly be able to help but as The Gambia is seen as one of the most repressive countries in Africa, they may be putting themselves at risk of punishment - so don't get annoyed if you're not assisted.

Scams also exist in which marijuana is offered to tourists or they are invited to come smoke in a home, only to find police waiting for a hefty bribe. A simple "Sorry, I am in a hurry" could suffice to dismiss them. But don't tell them why you are in a hurry and don't say anything else after that as this may lead to a conversation, and this could lead to unwanted attention and possibly a scam. Also remember that some Bumsters are not unemployed or young, and never fall for hardship stories. Should you feel you want to give a person some money out of sympathy or just to get rid of them it will certainly lead them to ask you for more money at a later date should you meet again. Some recommend a stern and harsh response to such requests, but this should be informed by your values and the relationship formed with the individual in question. Keep in mind that you may see this person again, and they could truly be helpful if you're in a jam or need information. Many people in tourist areas are merely 'friendly facilitators' who may hope for an exchange of favours, but are harmless. Being overly guarded could deny you an offer to join a local family for a traditional meal, or to personally meet one of the craftspeople who make the local goods for sale.

The Gambia is a great holiday destination but just keep your guard up at all times.

When swimming, be aware that the currents in the Atlantic waters can be strong. Always look out for flags on the tourist beaches indicating the level of danger on a red — yellow — green scale.

Be careful about your political opinions, as such critical opinions against the government are considered a crime.

Active homosexuals could be in extreme danger in The Gambia, subject to possible arrest or even killing.

Stay healthy

Yellow fever vaccination is strongly recommended. Meningitis vaccination is recommended. Anti-malaria pills are also necessary. Most cases of malaria in The Gambia are contracted between June and December. Mefloquine, Doxycycline or Malarone are the medicines of choice for The Gambia, and for most of sub-Saharan Africa, because of the increasing chloroquine resistance.

It is a good idea to bring insect repellent, sunscreen and other health items from your home country since these may be hard to find in some areas.

Residents say the tap water is drinkable, but for travellers bottled or boiled water is advised, because you may get sick from the different minerals and microbes in the water.


Always ask before you take a photo of anyone. Some Gambians have certain beliefs about having their picture taken, in particular by a stranger.


Go next

  • Senegal is both north and south of The Gambia. There are excursions to Fathala Reserve just north of the border.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in The Gambia. Maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and avoid public gatherings and street demonstrations.


Petty crime such as pickpocketing and purse snatching has increased, particularly in crowded markets and on ferries.

Theft from vehicles has also increased. Car doors should be locked and car windows closed at all times.

Be aware of men called “bumsters” who approach tourists and offer to be tour guides. If approached, politely decline.

Check with local authorities to determine which beaches are safe. Do not bring valuables or large sums of money to the beach. Avoid isolated beaches.

Police roadblocks are common throughout the country and identity documents may be requested.


Cases of attempted fraud occur. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

Road travel

In the greater Banjul area, main roads are paved but narrow, potholed and poorly lit. Most roads outside the capital are unpaved. Overland travel can be difficult without a four-wheel-drive vehicle, particularly during the rainy season. Avoid driving outside urban areas after dark. Contact the nearest police station if involved in a traffic accident. Stop at all security roadblocks and checkpoints and cooperate with the local authorities.

Regional Travel

Be careful when travelling overland to the Casamance region in Senegal, as separatist rebels operate in this area. Travellers have been attacked on roads leading north from Ziguinchor to Banjul and from Bignona to Sedoba, near the Gambian border. You should view the Travel Advice for Senegal before departing.

It is dangerous to cross the Gambia River on wooden pirogues due to overcrowding and the lack of security measures.

General safely information

Do not show signs of affluence and ensure that personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times. You should keep informed of local developments that could affect your safety.

Tourist facilities are limited outside of Banjul.

Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.


Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.


Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.


This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.


Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
  • Vaccination is recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.



  • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.


Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are very limited. Some medical treatments may be unavailable.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Laws and or illegal activitie

In December 2004, as a result of amendments to the Criminal Code of The Gambia, the offences of libel, sedition and slander were criminalized. Persons who break this law are now punishable by prison terms, without any option of a fine.

Some medications and skin-bleaching creams are subject to strict import and export laws. Visitors could face fines and/or imprisonment if they arrive in The Gambia with substances containing hydroquinone, hydrocortisone, betamethasone, flucinonide, clobestatol or clobestatone. Contact the High Commission for the Republic of The Gambia in Washington, D.C., for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Homosexual activity is illegal.

Photography of airports, government buildings, military installations and embassies is prohibited.

Penalties for importing or exporting drugs or contraband are strict. Never accept packages from strangers and pack all luggage yourself.

An International Driving Permit is recommended.


The majority of the population is Muslim.

Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behaviour. You should dress conservatively (for example, women should wear a headscarf and also cover their arms and legs). Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. The use of drugs and alcohol is prohibited. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.



The currency is the dalasi (D). A currency declaration form must be completed on arrival. Certain regional currencies may not be accepted or exchanged, including currency from Algeria, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Mauritania and Tunisia.


The rainy season extends from June to October. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

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