When’s the best time to go?
It might be the smallest country in West Africa, but what the Gambia lacks in size it more than makes up for in character. Expect the warmest of welcomes from the locals, golden beaches, clear waters and spectacular nature reserves. The cuisine is fresh and fantastic and there’s even the chance to visit authentic Gambian villages, such as the ones found at Cape Point. In short, the best Gambia travel advice we can give you is to book your tickets as soon as possible.
However, while the ‘Smiling Coast’ is well known for glorious weather and a sunny attitude, there are times of the year that might be preferable over others.
For a cooler climate and minimal chance of rain, book your Gambia holiday between October and June. This is the dry season, when temperatures average from around 24-28°C. If you like things hotter, the months between July and September see temperatures climb into the 30s and, occasionally, the low 40s. However, this is the rainy season so expect some hefty downpours, especially in the afternoon and evening.
Gambia Weather Overview
Jan | Feb | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
What should I pack?
Whether you’re taking your holiday to the Gambia in the dry or the rainy season, sunscreen is an absolute must. Mosquito repellent is also crucial; while the night-time nippers are less prevalent in the dry season, they’re still out and about. During the wet season, the increase in humidity sends their numbers up, so pick a room with a bug zapper and a mosquito net for an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
While the Smiling Coast is famous for its friendliness, it is a relatively conservative country. Save your swimwear and skimpies for the beach and keep covered up in public. Light and airy clothes, perhaps made from linen, cotton or bamboo, offer further protection against the sun, help to keep you cool, and minimise the potential for causing unintended offence.
For men, it’s a good idea to pack some smart-casual clothing. While you might spend most of your mealtimes at your hotel or at one of the beachside snack shacks, you might also want to visit one of the country’s excellent restaurants. If you do, smart trousers and a shirt are the best way to ensure you’re not refused entry.
Passports and visas
Do I need a passport?
Gambia passport requirements state that British citizens must hold a full UK passport, which is valid for at least the duration of their stay. For further information on entry requirements, visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/the-gambia/entry-requirements
Do I need a visa?
If you’re taking Gambia holidays for less than 28 days, you do not need a Gambia visa. On arrival, your passport will be stamped, stating the date by which you must leave. If you intend staying any longer than that, then you’ll need to apply for an extension. To read more about visas, head to: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/the-gambia
Health and Safety
Should I get travel health insurance?
You should have comprehensive travel health insurance whenever you travel abroad. It protects you against the financial cost of unexpected events, such as illness and accidents. With a good policy behind you, the cost of things like medicines, medical treatment and even returning to the UK can be covered. However, it’s worth reading through yours to check what is and isn’t included, especially if you’re planning on doing any sports such as scuba diving.
Any other tips?
- While the locals are very friendly, it’s always worth asking permission if you want to take a photograph of someone.
- The markets can be overwhelming to begin with and as a tourist, you’re likely to attract some attention. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to anyone trying to sell you something you don’t want, or to the locals who might offer their services as guides. Be polite, but firm.
- Avoid using tap water for anything other than washing. Drink bottled water, avoid salads that have been washed in tap water or fruits that have been peeled and then washed, and dodge ice cubes in your drinks at all costs.
- Where possible, use the green tourist taxis. Do check on the price before you travel; while these taxis operate on fixed prices, it’s always better to double-check.