Gambia is located in western Africa surrounded by Senegal as the only neighbor and with the Atlantic on its western side. Although Gambia is one of the smallest countries in the continent with only 2 million inhabitants, it is a good stream of tourists visiting the country every year.
A beautiful climate, beautiful scenery, abundant plant and wildlife as well as beautiful beaches make Gambia an excellent destination. There is a lot to do, see and experience. English is the official language which makes it easy to understand and navigate in the country. In addition, the price level is low and compared to other similar tourist destinations such as the Canary Islands, it is much cheaper to vacation here. The currency is called Dalasi (GMD).
The main industry in the country comes from fisheries, agriculture and tourism. Especially peanuts are grown on a large scale in Gambia and are sold to other countries. Fishes account for about 2% of the country’s GDP. Tourism together with contributions from other countries constitutes a major part of the economy. Gambia is a republic and sitting president Mr. Adama Barrow who advocates democracy took office in 2017 after a long-time dictatorship. Approximately 90% of the population is Muslims, about 9% are Christians and 1% belong to other religions.
Gambia has a stable location and is considered a safe country for Westerners. As long as you respect their customs and culture, locals are very welcoming and pleasant. A large proportion of the population is poor, yet crime rates are low compared with other countries in Africa. But just like in other countries, one should watch out for pickpockets and those who see their chance to earn some extra money on your generosity. By the way, Gambia is considered Africa’s friendliest country and is sometimes called “The Smiling Coast” because you are most often encountered by local residents.
Climate and nature
Gambia has a tropical climate divided into two seasons. The rainy season lasts during July and October when it is warmest. The rest of the year is cooler and less moist. The dry period lasts from December to April with heat, sunshine and cooling winds. Gambia is one of the world’s most sun-drenched areas with about 320 days of sunshine and is the perfect destination for those who want to be sure of sun, heat and bath when it’s the coldest in Sweden. The temperature of the coast is on average about 30 degrees daytime all year round with sometimes cooling winds. Inland, it may be somewhat warmer. During the winter, the temperature of the night can drop to about 17 degrees with a cool evening breeze while the summer evenings are warmer especially during the rainy season.
The landscape consists mainly of salty mangrove and savannas, but you will find lovely sandy beaches all along the coast. Gambia has a varied landscape from the coast and inland with many nature protected forests. Although the peak season is from October to April, it is still wonderful to visit the middle of July when the humid rainy season begins. Many tourists come here mainly from England, Germany, Belgium or Scandinavia.
Although tourism has been great for many years, there are still plenty of hidden gems and distant beaches to visit along the coast. Here you will find a very rich animal and plant life. Take a boat trip along the Gambia River and get the chance to see everything from crocodiles and hippos to monkeys and warthoghs. Gambia is very popular with birdwatchers because there are hundreds of bird species, many of which are only available here. There are about 540 different bird species and the same number of plant species.
Food and drinks
In Gambian cuisine you will find a mix of local dishes and other traditional dishes from West Africa. Gambia’s coastal location makes the local cuisine often made up of seafood. Chicken is also popular. The most common dishes you should try are Benechin, Domoda and Yassa (which is usually extra spicy). Gambia’s traditional dishes are all very fresh and delicious. You will also find classic tourist food at almost all restaurants. There are plenty of local restaurants serving Gambian dishes. Most small local restaurants usually maintain very good hygiene and service. If you are looking for good local restaurants, go outside the tourist areas. The hidden gems are usually frequented by locals.
A typical traditional juice is wonjo juice, made on dried hibiscus flowers, sugar and water. A sweet drink popular with the locals. If you want to try beer, try either julbrew or beer made from ginger. For those who prefer to drink wine, there is a local palm wine. Tea is a very common drink in Gambia where the most common and most popular varieties are Attaya and Kinkeliba.
In Gambia you will find lovely beaches with a relaxed atmosphere perfect for a quiet vacation. The most popular tourist destinations are Kololi and Kotu, where most tourists travel. Other popular beaches are Cape Point, Bijilo, Sanyang and Kartong.
Cape Point Beach – Cape Point is a real paradise beach located on the outskirts of Bakau where most tourists do not find. Combine a visit to this beach with a visit to Bakau where you will experience the true Gambia. Finish the day by watching the beautiful sunset at Cape Point. The sand is nice and the beach is very good for families especially because it is in a bay with calmer waters.
Bijilo Beach – Bijilo Beach is a real favorite spot south of Kololi. Most tourists are hanging on Kololi Beach and therefore this little gem is not as popular, but has everything needed for a beautiful day at the beach. If you want to combine the beach with an activity, Bijilo Forest Park (Monkey Park) is nearby. Here you can play with and feed wild monkeys who like to arrive.
Sanyang Beach – This is undoubtedly one of Gambia’s best beaches. The beach is located on the northwest coast about 30 kilometers from Kololi. Here a real paradise beach is waiting for golden fine sand, palm trees and crystal clear waters. Do not be surprised if you get a big piece of the beach for yourself. The easiest way to get to Sanyang Beach is either by taxi or by hiring your own car.
Kartong Beach – Kartong Beach is a wild beach located in the southern parts of Gambia. Around the surroundings there are several beautiful beaches that all offer a beautiful day at the beach. On this beach, it’s easy to be alone and just enjoy the warmth and nature around.
Kotu Beach – North of Kololi you will find Kotu Beach, which is considered one of Gambia’s best beaches. Here is a golden sandy beach surrounded by beautiful and stately palms. This beach is definitely worth a visit and is also very close to Kololi, but keep in mind that it quickly gets deep about 25 meters into the sea.
Kololi Beach – Gambia’s most popular beach is undoubtedly Kololi Beach, located in the middle of the largest tourist area in Gambia. Here is life, movement and many people. In addition to a nice sandy beach, there is also a good range of activities, beach bars, hotels and restaurants.
West African music
On this page you will find a mixed selection of typical West African music. Kora music, balafon and djembe drums are most typcial but in the Gambia you will also hear alot of Nigerian music (pop and R&B) and reggae from Jamaica.
Balafon – The balafone is a kind of wood xylophone or percussion idiophone that plays melodic melodies and usually has between 16 and 27 keys. It has been played in the region since the 1300s and originates in Mali.
Djembe – Djembe is a drum whose origin is often counted in Guinea in West Africa. It is also traditionally played in Senegal, Gambia, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire. Djembespel has spread throughout the world and is now also played in other parts of Africa, in the western world, and so on. Djembe is played with his hands directly against the skin. You usually talk about three fundamentals with different sound qualities. These types of names are under different names, depending on traditions and how the djembeplay has spread. Characteristically, the skin is tensioned very hard, giving a special tone. This sound is accomplished with “slap-stroke” and “tone-stroke”. Thanks to the rounded shape, a deep tone can also be produced using “bass-stroke”. Other sounds and tones can also be achieved with different impact techniques.
Doundoun – The African bass drummer is available in three sizes Doundoun, Sangban and Kenkeni. In the West African orchestra, this percussion is always combined with the Djembe drum.
Kora Music – The Kora (a 21-stringed African harp) is one of the most important instruments belonging to the Manding peoples of West Africa (Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau). It belongs exclusively to griot families (hereditary musical families), and only those who are born into one of these families have the right to take up the instrument professionally. Sona, who was born into one of the five principal Griot families, has become the first female to take up this instrument professionally in a male tradition that dates back over seven centuries.