Q: Is the Gambia a safe holiday destination?
The Gambia is renowned for its friendly, welcoming people and is known as the Smiling Coast. Crime against tourists is very rare and in general it is regarded as a safe destination to explore and mingle with the locals. The country is predominantly Muslim, the main festivals such as Tobaski and Ramadan are observed, however other religions are accepted and allowed to practise freely, for example at Christmas you will find Muslims and Christians celebrating together. Every year tens of thousands of British holidaymakers enjoy the wonderful climate and relaxed atmosphere that The Gambia has to offer, and bars and restaurants are free to serve alcohol with the country boasting its own brewery.
Our experienced team based in The Gambia work closely with the British Embassy locally, and our friendly UK team are on hand to answer any questions on 01489 866939. Read the latest update from our MD Chris Rowles https://www.gambia.co.uk/from-the-gambia
Q: What is my hand luggage entitlement?
On our winter flights this is 5kgs with Titan Airways and 6kgs with Thomas Cook. During the summer this is 5kgs with Small Planet Airlines.
Dimensions differ from airline to airline but should be no larger than 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.
Please ensure that your hand luggage does not contain any sharp objects. Some airlines only allow 1 piece of hand baggage per passenger, including ladies handbags and laptops.
Q: I represent a charity, can I have excess baggage?
If you are travelling as part of a charity we will do our very best to accommodate your extra luggage requirements.
We have a limited allowance per flight for charity excess on our Gatwick flights, this is subject to availability and only given to registered charities. To receive a maximum of 10kg per person charity luggage, you will be required to supply a registered charity number.
- Due to the high number of charity requests we receive this is on a first come first serve basis.
- Airline restrictions mean our charity allowance is limited per flight, once it is allocated we cannot exceed this allowance.
Please contact Administration on 0845 330 2044 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for availability.
An alternative option would be to freight goods, which is also less expensive. This can be done through ‘Redcoat Travel’ on 01293 522440.
Q: I need extra baggage allowance, can you arrange that?
Our standard baggage allowance for package holidays is 20kg per person year round.
If upgrading to Star Service on Titan Airways flights from Gatwick, you will benefit from a 30kg allowance and if upgrading to Star Plus, a 40kg allowance..
During our winter season, we also have a limited amount of excess baggage which we can allocate for registered charities only, and we cannot guarantee that unallocated excess baggage will be accepted. Generally speaking the cost of excess is £15 per extra kilo in each direction, however this is subject to change depending on the airline and excess baggage is not guaranteed to be checked in.
In summer the luggage allowance is 20kg for packages and flight only.
Infants under the age of 2 years old at the time of travel will receive a complimentary 10kgs of hold baggage. Pushchairs, prams and car seats will continue to be carried free of charge. Travel cots will be weighed as part of the 10kgs allowance. Infants must be under 2 years on both the oubound and inbound journey.
Q. Will the fact The Gambia is now an 'Islamic Republic' affect my holiday?
Following a statement by the President of The Gambia that the country is an "Islamic Republic” we wish to offer some clarification on the matter. The Gambia was formerly part of the British Empire and became an independent republic 45 years ago. Whilst The Gambia is a predominantly Muslim country, other religious faiths are respected and allowed to freely practice. Tourism is an important part of Gambia's economy and one of the mainstays of employment for Gambian citizens; European tourists have long been holidaying in The Gambia enjoying the relaxed and friendly environment and great climate. In practice, our office staff based in the country and those visiting recently from the UK have witnessed no change to daily life or to the ability for tourists to thoroughly enjoy their holiday in The Gambia.
Q: What is the weather like?
Located midway between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, The Gambia enjoys virtually uninterrupted sunshine and high daytime temperatures with almost no rainfall from November to June. On the coast, The Gambia experiences only small fluctuations in temperature from winter to summer; however from July to October the humidity level is high as the tropical sun is interrupted by short but spectacular showers. Although the months of heaviest rainfall are normally August and September, we have found that it has not detracted from our clients' enjoyment of their holiday. Nevertheless, a lightweight rain mac or umbrella may prove useful in these months. Between January and April, evenings and early mornings can be cooler than people expect. For those planning to travel inland away from the coast and the benefit of the sea breezes, it is important to note that temperatures during the summer can reach 42°C.
To view a climate chart - Click here
Q: What are the beaches like?
Although the coastline around the resort area of Kololi suffers from erosion due to strong Atlantic currents, the area still remains popular with holidaymakers. There are wide sandy beaches at Kotu, Bijilo, Banjul and Cape Point. Read more about the beaches in The Gambia here.
Q: Can I go on safari?
The Gambia has no migrating wildebeest, giraffes or any of the large animals commonly associated with Africa. However without leaving your hotel you can see a breathtaking variety of bird life, in addition to monkeys and lizards. Baboons and crocodiles can be seen nearby and then far up the river, hippos. From November 2014 we are pleased to be offering holidays to the Fathala Wildlife Reserve, which is located just across the border in neighbouring Senegal. Here you can stay in luxurious air-conditioned safari tents and go on game drives to see lions, zebra, giraffes, rhinos, antelopes and many more.
Q: What is the currency in The Gambia and how can I pay?
The Gambia's currency is the dalasi, with £1 sterling buying around 60 dalasis in December 2015 in exchange bureaus, although this had been as high as D75/£1 earlier in 2015 and is currently quite volatile. Rates is hotels vary between 55-65 dalasis. As with all currencies, the dalasi rate to the pound can fluctuate. Dalasis are available in the UK but you will get a better exchange rate in The Gambia. Currency can easily be obtained at the airport, most hotels, banks or bureaux de change and there are a few ATMs where cash can be obtained from a VISA card. The largest note that is available is now a D200 and the smallest is D5 - it is always worth trying to keep your smaller denominations as many stall traders will not have enough small notes for change if you pay with a larger note.
Although some restaurants and hotels in The Gambia accept credit cards, it is not wise to rely on them. Debit cards are still more restricted; Solo, Visa Electron and Switch cards are not accepted. You should always check that your card will be accepted and whether there is any surcharge. At some hotels your bill will be converted into US dollars prior to it appearing as a sterling amount on your statement. This may result in some exchange rate surcharges.
Sterling cash can be changed without a problem but travellers cheques are no longer accepted. The new currency cards are not yet known about in detail and if used may attract a charge.
Q: Can I book an excursion?
We offer an extensive programme of excursions and tours through our agent West African Tours, which can be booked in The Gambia. See a full list of excursions. Payment can be in Dalasi, Sterling or by Mastercard, the surcharge is 5%, however this can be subject to change without notice. Unfortunately we are unable to accept visa credit cards for excursions.
Q: Does The Gambia have watersports?
The surf can be high with strong undercurrents on the coast of The Gambia, so some activities may not be advisable. As a general rule, The Gambia does not offer paragliding, waterskiing or watersports activities.
The Gambia is not suitable for diving as the Atlantic Ocean does not give The Gambia crystal clear waters and there may be strong undercurrents in places.
Q: What language do they speak in The Gambia?
English is the official language and language of instruction in most schools (The Gambia is a former British Colony). However, various tribal languages are used by the Gambians to converse between themselves.
Q: How easy is it to get around in The Gambia?
It must be stressed that good road surfaces are only on the main highways, traffic and direction signs are still limited outside the greater Banjul area, however the road quality on the main highways has improved over the past several years.
There is no rail service but you will find taxis readily available outside your hotel. Taxis can be hired for a specific journey or for a half or full day, in both cases it is best to agree the price in advance; there should be a price board together with a taxi supervisor to help. The taxi waiting time is charged at approximately £2.00 per hour, but often the first couple of waiting hours are free. Bush taxis are available which are often very crowded but offer a very economical way of travelling and a way of absorbing part of the local flavour.
Car and motorbike hire is available for the more independent, although can be rather expensive and definitely not recommended. Please remember that they drive on the right-hand side of the road in The Gambia and sometimes with little driving etiquette, so always be extra careful on the highways!
Q: Do you need inoculations to visit The Gambia?
Although inoculations are not compulsory for entry, we strongly suggest you consult your doctor before booking who will recommend certain medication, including anti-malarial tablets as a precaution. Children and pregnant women may require special vaccination procedures.
Some GP’s may suggest that you will need to show a yellow fever vaccination certificate at immigration and will be refused entry if you don’t show it. If travelling to Gambia from the EU you are not required to show your certificate as proof. You will not be refused entry to The Gambia if you haven’t had the inoculation on this basis alone. However, as stated we do strongly suggest you consult your doctor, obtaining professional advice before booking. Under International Health Regulations, a certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required from travellers over 9 months of age travelling from The Gambia to Senegal or vice versa.
We have joined forces with the Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor so you can now purchase your malaria tablets on line and have them delivered direct to your door. Any commission we receive from sales will be donated to our School Development Fund. Please click the following link to access the service: Lloyds Pharmacy - Online Doctor
For up-to-date advice visit the World Health Organisation at www.who.int/ith and the Department of Health leaflet (Ref T7.1) “Health Advice to Travellers” is available free from your GP, travel agent or online.
Q: What medicines should I take with me?
Any prescribed medication should be carried in your hand luggage with a Drs prescription. We would advise that you take medicines to treat dehydration, small ailments, stomach upsets, insect bites and cuts, along with mosquito repellent and sun tan creams, as such items can be expensive and not always available in The Gambia. A practice which should be avoided in any hot climate is drinking very cold drinks straight after coming out of the hot sun as this can cause stomach upsets. Bottled water can be bought in most hotels and supermarkets at a reasonable price. A Department of Health leaflet (Ref T7.1) "Health Advice to Travellers" is available from your GP, Travel Agent or online.
Q: The Gambia is free of Ebola and always has been. What are the key facts?
- The key thing to remember is that there has never been Ebola in The Gambia and it has remained this way since the outbreak in West Africa first came to prominence in March 2014.
- The Foreign Office advice concerning travel to The Gambia has remained consistent in this time and there are no restrictions at all on travel between the UK and The Gambia.
- The Gambia does not share land borders with any of the current Ebola-infected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia.
Read a message from our Managing Director - From The Gambia
We are, of course, acutely aware of ongoing customer concerns so if you do have any questions or would like a copy of our policy in the event of a case of Ebola in the Gambia please call our dedicated Customer Care team on 01489 866981.
Q: What about travel insurance?
Insurance is a must. We feel it is so important that we insist you either take our special travel insurance or arrange a policy yourself at the time of booking which must provide cover equal to our own standard policy.
If you have taken our insurance and have booked online or received an email confirmation from us, the insurance policy will be attached as a PDF and also appear as a PDF link within your emailed invoice. If you receive an invoice by post, the insurance policy will be enclosed in the form of a booklet.
In both cases your booking reference acts as the policy number and your invoice is the insurance certificate.
Q: Are mosquitoes a major problem?
Mosquitoes are most active around late afternoon and through the evening. We strongly recommend the use of a good insect repellent to prevent being bitten, in conjunction with anti-malarial tablets as prescribed by your doctor.
Q: Is the Gambia safe? I've heard stories of hassling.
Gambians are friendly and hospitable people. Crime against tourists is low. Some Gambians have chosen to make their living outside the hotels and on the beach selling excursions, handicrafts and fruit or offering to show tourists around the local area. However, not all tourists appreciate the attention of these boys who can sometimes be persistent to the point of being a nuisance but not alarming or threatening. Nightclubs outside of resort areas are not recommended. Please speak to your representative first.
Q: What about insects?
These are an unpleasant fact of life, especially in hot climates. The hotels take what steps they can but total eradication is not possible.
Q: How do I go about changing my booking?
Any amendments will be subject to availability and will incur amendment charges (excludes flexible ticket holders) in addition to any difference in costs. Further details can be obtained from our Administration department on 0845 330 2044 or at email@example.com Amendments within 7 days of travel are not always possible and cancellation changes will apply.
If you are already in The Gambia and wish to amend your booking, please contact our Resort Office on 4461104 or 4460317 for a price and availability.
To extend a flight only ticket by a maximum of 2 weeks in resort would be a minimum of £160, subject to availability.
For package holidays the cost would be £160 for the flight extension plus any difference in accommodation costs. You cannot change from a package holiday to a flight only booking once you have travelled.
Q: What form of payment do you accept in the UK?
Debit cards (no handling charge)
•Visa Electron (through our call centre)
Credit cards (will incur a 1.6% handling charge)
Unfortunately we are not able to accept Solo cards.
Cheques should be made payable to The Gambia Experience and your booking reference added to the reverse of the cheque along with your name and address.
•Account number: 06019129
•Sort code: 60-18-46
Please quote your booking reference number as the payment reference on all bank transfer transactions.
Q: Is there any time difference between here and The Gambia?
The Gambia is on GMT, so there is no time difference during the winter.
During the summer, whilst the UK is on British Summer Time, The Gambia is 1 hour behind us.
With only 6 hours flying time from the UK and no jet lag you can be relaxing by the pool by late afternoon, sipping a cocktail and watching the sun set.
Q: What type of clothing should I wear?
Generally take clothes that are comfortable and loose fitting, preferably cotton or linen; we also recommend a hat as protection against the strong midday sun. Although dress is not formal, in the evenings most hotels and restaurants require gentlemen to wear shirts and long trousers or dress shorts. A jumper may come in handy for early morning excursions, although for most other tours we would recommend shorts and T shirts.
Q: Is there poverty?
The standard of living in The Gambia is obviously much lower than ours as it is a developing country, so poverty and begging are common. Having said this, most Gambians are extremely hospitable and it is not uncommon for locals to invite tourists to their homes. If you wish to visit a compound, a bag of rice would be an ideal gift, the cost being approximately £20.
Q: Can I take photos or videos?
Please ask first as not everyone likes to be photographed and you may be asked for payment in return. Uniformed personnel such as the police, military and government organisations generally will not accept photos being taken.
Q: What is The Gambia's smoking policy?
The Gambia has introduced a smoking ban in public places which includes enclosed restaurants, bars, reception areas and hotels now only allow smoking on the balcony or terrace of your room. Banjul Airport is also non-smoking, however there is an outdoor bar area near the departure lounge.
Q: Do I need a visa to visit The Gambia?
For British passport holders, visas are not required for entry into The Gambia. You must be travelling on a full 10 year British passport, valid at least until the date of arrival back in the UK.
One way travel to The Gambia is not permitted for British passport holders without the correct documentation. Please check with the Gambian High Commission for more details.
Other passport holders should contact the Gambia High Commission for visa requirements.
The telephone number for the Gambia High Commission in London is 0207 937 6316.
Q: What is Advance Passenger information (API)?
As a result of UK Government legislation, we are required to collect Advance Passenger (passport) Information from all customers (including infants) travelling to and from the UK by air.
If we do not receive this information, tickets cannot be processed.
What information is needed per passenger?
- Full name, as per your passport including any middle names
- Date of birth
- Travel document 'type' eg: passport
- Country of Issue
- Passport number, issue date and expiry date
When is the information required by?
- Either at the time of booking or at least 21 days before travel in order for your tickets to be processed in time. Failure to do so will prevent tickets from being issued. Any API details received within 7 days of departure will result in a Ticket on Departure being arranged, for which you may be charged.
How can I provide this information?
- Please visit our API page where you can input the information. Alternatively you can call Administration on 0845 330 2044. We advise that you do not email this information for security reasons.
What if I book late?
- Our website will not allow a booking within 7 days of travel, unless API details are input at the time of booking.
- Ticket on Departure information will not be provided until we have your API details.
Q: Are my Star Class/Star Plus/Extra Legroom seat numbers guaranteed?
Although seats are pre-bookable and we endeavour to provide requested seat numbers depending on availability, they may be subject to change by the airline at short notice. This can happen if there is an unexpected change in aircraft or for medical reasons.
Q: Can I book legroom seats for my return flight in The Gambia?
Yes, although this will be subject to availability. Please check with your hotel representative or with our Resort Office.
If you wish to book the air-conditioned Banjul Airport lounge you can check availability with our UK Sales Team at the time of booking or with our Resort Office whilst in The Gambia. The cost is from £15 per person.
Q: What happens if there is a delay?
Occasionally, despite the best efforts of all concerned, flights are delayed for reasons beyond our personal control. If a long delay occurs, we will always do our best to provide a snack or meal when appropriate and in the case of an overnight delay, suitable accommodation. If we are made aware of a potential delay we will do our very best to advise you, again this is another reason why you must reconfirm your flight.
Please note that the choice of accommodation for flight delays is made by the airline and is not part of your original package holiday.
Q: Where can I pay by card?
Although some restaurants and hotels in The Gambia do accept credit cards, it is not wise to rely on them. Debit cards are still more restricted; Solo, Visa Electron and Switch cards are not accepted. You should always check that your card will be accepted and whether there is any surcharge. ATM machines in The Gambia are still not overly reliable. Sterling or travellers cheques can be exchanged at hotels, local banks, exchange bureaux and Euros are now widely accepted.
Q: Are transfers included?
Transfers are included if you have booked a package holiday with us, unless you have booked a budget package holiday where transfers can be added for £15pp. Private transfers can also be arranged from £40 one way. Please note we do not provide transfer vouchers in your ticket pack for standard transfers, however it will be displayed on your confirmation invoice.
The average transfer takes around 30 minutes depending on the drop off and collection point. The longest transfer is still under an hour.
Q: Are there many restaurants in The Gambia?
A noticeable change over the last few years has been the increase in the number of restaurants offering quality dining for excellent value. There is a wide variety of restaurants in The Gambia ranging from casual beach bars to formal gourmet dining, serving a range of cuisine from Italian to Lebanese. Of particular note is the abundance of freshly caught seafood including lady fish, barracuda, snapper, butter fish, lobster and huge Atlantic prawns.
Vegetarians are increasingly catered for; many hotels and restaurants will offer a vegetarian dish and some will accommodate with dishes made to order. Click here for our restaurant guide.
The dress code in most restaurants is casual, but in the evening gentlemen are usually required to wear long trousers or dress shorts depending on the venue.
Prices vary with a good 3 course evening meal in a top quality restaurant costing on average about £30 per person excluding drinks and service and a simple meal and beer can cost around £10 per person.
Depending on your hotel, some of the restaurants may be a taxi ride away but these can be pre-booked with waiting time until you are ready to return to your hotel.
Some dishes in The Gambia may be cooked in peanut oil. It is advisable for anyone suffering with a nut allergy to check with the restaurant prior to ordering.
Q: Do the hotels have Wi-Fi access?
Increasingly the hotels do have Wi-Fi access, usually in the reception area although some do have access in the rooms. There may be a charge locally for this access. Please check regarding individual hotels and be aware that telephone and internet connections in The Gambia can be erratic with often weak connections.
Q: Can I stay on an ‘All-inclusive’ board basis in The Gambia?
Generally speaking many hotels situated in the busier resorts of The Gambia offer a 'Bed & Breakfast' board basis, due to the affordability of meals and drinks, plus the wide variety of restaurants in some resort areas. At The Gambia Experience, we encourage clients to support the local economy as part of our commitment to Sustainable Tourism. Currently there are no all-inclusive options that we offer; however there are a couple of hotels who may introduce an option for next winter and the website will be updated accordingly should the situation change.
Q: Who do I tell about special requests?
We shall be pleased to pass on your request to the airline or hotel, however we cannot guarantee that they will be met. If you have any special requests for your accommodation or flights, please ensure they are requested at the time of booking as procedures for flight requests vary from airline to airline and they require as much notice as possible. Airlines tend to require at least 5 days notice for any dietary requirements.
Q: When will I receive my tickets?
These can be expected 2 weeks prior to your date of travel and will include our Gambia Guide (packages) or Travel Advice leaflet (Flight Only) which we hope you will find useful. For security reasons, tickets can only be posted to the billing address.
If you have started your journey in Banjul and amend your ticket in the UK, the ticket will be available to collect at the airport on the day of travel. Tickets for UK passengers who have booked close to the departure date will also be issued at the airport on the day of travel, so you will need to allow sufficient time for collection. Unless you are advised otherwise, please collect your tickets from the Ace Handling representative who will be near the check in desk indicated beside your flight number on the departure screens. For passengers travelling from LGW, the Ace Handling Desk is located in Zone G at the South Terminal.
Q: How do I voice my feedback on my holiday?
To assist us to improve our service and ensure standards are maintained, we will be most grateful if you would take the time to complete our questionnaire in resort and return it to our resort staff prior to your departure. We will also donate £10 to The Gambia Experience School Development Fund for every 100 questionnaires received. Your details will also be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win a holiday to The Gambia by completing the questionnaire.
We are also a member of the consumer review site Feefo, which enables us to gather independent and honest reviews from our customers. We hope it will also allow future customers to decide whether to visit The Gambia as a holiday destination. You will receive an email within 21 days of your return and we would appreciate your participation.
Q: Is there a problem with electricity?
Unfortunately The Gambia does have problems with mains electric supply, however most hotels have their own back up generator, although when used for long periods they do need to have a cooling period after a certain number of running hours. Any disruption in supply can effect the efficiency of air-conditioning and supply of hot water during periods of high demand.
Due to strong fluctuations in current and weather conditions, facilities can be affected and on occasion, repairs can take time, due to the sourcing and delivery of spare parts, which are not available locally in The Gambia.
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