Safe Travel in The Gambia – Africa

Earlier this year I visited the wonderful country of The Gambia. It is also called The Smiling Coast of West Africa. It is Africa’s smallest country and is totally surrounded by its neigbhouring country Senegal. The Gambia has only 2 million citizins. And some of you asked if it was safe travel in The Gambia. So let me tell you more about that!

Safe Travel in The Gambia: The Smiling Coast of Africa

There are a lot of prejudices about The Gambia I found out when I told people my plans to go travel here. The first thing they asked me, and they almost expected it maybe.., was I looking for a man? Or bring someone with me.. Or at least I would be bothered by a lot of men that were looking for a way to get to Europe.

And then I will start with that immediatly.. Yes, a lot of people were talking to me. I say people because it were not only the men talking to me, it were the ladies also. There were a bit more men ofcourse but only because they hang the streets more then ladies.

But they were not all men that wanted something with me. They just wanted to talk, to know about me and my plans.

Safe Travel in The Gambia?

Let me start with the things I wanted to say

  • Solo travel also as a female felt totally safe
  • Everybody wants to help you and has a sincere interest in you
  • As a woman almost every man will talk to you and we, Dutch, are polite and well mannerd and so we listen and don’t see too quickly that we are not interested. Be polite but straight and firm in your message. If they know what you want and it’s not they’re selling they will as easily go to the next person to try.
  • Everybody can guide you around. Also to get rid of some attention it is good to take a local guide. I had a man helping me to get around that turned out to be a local fisherman, he helped me perfectly and I didn’t had the attention of every man anymore.
  • I didn’t travel by myself this time as I took that fisherman with me. It is the easiest way totravel around and I got the right prices for everything. Inland English gets a bit less wide spread.

My tip is to be clear in what you want of a person and what you don’t want.

Be straight forward about that. It is really apreciated and saves time. Not only your time but also the time of the other person trying. And in the end this saves a lot of frustration 🙂

Safe Travel in The Gambia

Safe Travel in The Gambia – Africa

Money Scam in The Gambia

  • The Gambian people love to talk. There are lots of situations known that the local Gambian people talk the tourists into coming with them to their compound and talk them into giving them money.
  • Also at some point if you are in the compound, on unknown ground for you, they can get agressive and force you to give them money
  • So don’t just follow anybody that seems nice and wants to show you how they live.
  • Changing money in the streets. They will count the money in your presence, they ofcourse count on the fact that you will trust them and don’t count again in their presence. Do count it! There are instances known that they can slip money out of it without you seeing it. So how nice they seem and sincere… do count it again!

When I took the bushtaxi from Senegambia back to my hotel in Bijilo a man was sitting next to me. He asked me which hotel I was at. Once he knew that he told me that he thought that he recognized me, and ofcourse why I didn’t recognize him?

He was working at the hotel and had been making music at the entrance the day before. I knew for sure this wasn’t right and when I said that he was offended and got a bit angry.

I loved it when I did saw the same man later that day walking along the street near turntable. He didn’t recongize me ofcourse.. untill I talked to him and reminded him.. He just laughed and didn’t wanted to start a conversation again with me 🙂

Safe Travel in The Gambia

  • The food in the streets did look good. Expecially the fried food is good for trying.
  • Food at busy local places is also always good to try!!
  • Fruit salads are good on the beah, fresh and washed with good, fresh water. They have licenses and have certain rules to obey.
  • The same for the fruitshakes on the beach. They are good and taste great!!

Safe Travel in The Gambia - Africa
Food in the compound and some tea ofcourse 🙂

I had most of my dinners in local restaurants. I even had my dinner at a local home twice. I did bought a fruitsalad and a fruitshake on the beach and loved them! I loved the local food and didn’t got sick at all!

Safe Travel in The Gambia

With the Public Transport?

  • Traveling by public transport is a good way to go. The cars, buses or such don’t have a reguired check up. So they can be in a really bad shape. The roads are quite good but also those can be bad at certain parts. I did felt safe and good on the roads and in the buses. I ofcourse saw things I wouldn’t see in The Netherlands and most things I would not allow in The Netherlands but for Africa it was good.
  • Same for the ferry. The ferry was loaded to the max, well over the max because it was too heavy and didn’t got away by itself anymore. You can not imagine that in The Netherlands. They wouldn’t allow so many persons on the ferry but in Africa they don’t count. Same for the boats, I took one because the ferry didn’t go and they packed it with at least a 100 persons….and then they only had lifevests for 25… These things were amazing….and not safe… But I made it to the other side 🙂
  • The seatbelt in cars, buses and such. They have to be worn but only sitting in the front seat. I saw many times that they seatbelt is losely hung over the shoulder when the police was in sight otherwise they don’t wear it. Most of the time there isn’t one available in the back. If there is one, do wear it!!

Nobody can ever say that going by boat is safe… I didn’t felt safe to be honoust. I do like the experience in hindsight. But I really can not recommend this to anyone!

If you are half way and the boats sinks… It is way to far to swim and the best thing you can do is to float and slowly let yourself drift to the shore, beach.. That way you safe your energy.

Safe Travel in The Gambia - Africa

Safe Travel in The Gambia

Did you know that

  • Dalasi is the currency of The Gambia
  • English is the official language of The Gambia
  • You can’t water drink the water out of the tap?
  • 90% of the Gambian  people is islamitic?
  • All over the place they smoke weed?? I was so amazed by this..

And also:

  • In The Gambia it is forbidden to be openly gay. This rule also affects tourists. This is something to take into account when traveling to The Gambia

  • On a number of crimes the sentence is death penalty. For instance murder, treachery, human trafficing and arsinism.

  • The alarmnumbers in The Gambia are 116, 117 and 118. They are for the ambulance, police en fire brigade.

  • Alcohol  buying and or drinking is allowed for persons older then 18 and only for non muslims. But it is always forbidden in traffic.

Safe Travel in The Gambia - Africa
Local fishermen working hard

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Are you curious about more travels?

Cycling to the Fish of Tanji – The Gambia

Surfing the waves of Kartong – The Gambia

Having dinner with the Locals, The Gambia

Why I didn’t travel solo in The Gambia

Extra Dimension: Safe Contact with Locals

I hope you like this world as much as I do!!