There are no direct flights from Russian cities to the Gambia, you will have to get there with a transfer. Very few flights from European capitals arrive at the capital’s Banjul airport, so two transfers are likely to be required. Among the most convenient and cheap options are a flight via Paris and Dakar on the wings of Air France, Brussels and Dakar on a Brussels Airlines flight, Madrid and Gran Canaria on Air Europe. The national carrier Gambia Bird operates flights to Barcelona, while Dakar and Banjul are linked by daily Air Senegal flights. On the way you have to spend at least 20 hours in the best scenario. You can also get to Banjul using the services of Royal Air Maroc with the only transfer in Casablanca, but the ticket will cost significantly more.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Gambia is 2.487 million (2021).
Citizens of Russia do not need a visa to visit the Gambia if the duration of the trip does not exceed 56 days, but insurance to Africa should not be neglected.
You can import foreign and national currency without restrictions, and export foreign currency only with the presentation of receipts for the exchange and reverse exchange. You can import duty-free up to 200 cigarettes, or up to 50 cigars, or up to 250 grams of tobacco, perfumes, photo and video equipment for personal needs. The import of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, while there is no ban on the export of local alcoholic products. You can freely export jewelry made of precious metals, malachite and ivory from the Gambia if you have a check or receipt confirming the legality of their purchase.
Most hotels in the Gambia are located in the capital and on the Atlantic coast. There are practically none in the center of the country, with the exception of national parks, where you can stay overnight in an eco-lodge.
The level of Gambian hotels is quite decent: the country has long served the British as an exotic resort, so the service can rightly be called European, which directly affects the pricing policy: the coast is quite expensive, and budget options can only be found in the center of the capital and other cities without access to the ocean. In general, accommodation in a decent hotel on the coast will cost 150-200 USD per night in the high tourist season and about half as much in the low one. Simpler options will cost 80-100 USD.
The monetary unit of the country is the Dalasi (GMD), in 1 Dalasi there are 100 bututs. Current exchange rate: 1 GMD = 1.07 RUB (1 USD = 54.05 GMD, 1 EUR = 56.86 GMD).
You can exchange foreign currency for local at bank branches and specialized exchange offices in the capital and major cities, as well as at the resorts of the Atlantic coast. It is better not to change money in street exchange offices: firstly, they take a 5% commission, and secondly, there is a risk of running into scammers. It is better to go to the center of the country and national parks with dalasi cash. You can only pay with a credit card in large hotels, shopping centers and restaurants in Banjul and resorts. You can also withdraw cash only at ATMs of the capital’s banks.
Maestro plastic cards are not accepted in The Gambia.
There is no Russian embassy in the Gambia, the nearest embassy is in Dakar (Senegal).
Tourist safety in the Gambia
In general, the Gambia is safe for tourists. In cities and resorts, the usual precautions should be taken: money and valuables should be kept in a hotel safe, and when going for a walk, do not take large sums and do not leave things unattended. Despite the fact that the Gambia is officially declared an Islamic republic, about 15% of the population professes Christianity or adheres to traditional beliefs, and hostility on religious grounds is not manifested here. A common scam is harmless: trying to make friends with foreigners, counting on financial assistance. Homosexuality is officially banned in The Gambia.
A clenched fist with a raised thumb (the hitchhiking gesture) is considered offensive in the Gambia.
Before visiting the country, it is recommended to be vaccinated against yellow fever and meningitis, and it makes sense to take antimalarial drugs with you. You will also need insect repellant and high SPF sunscreen.
Transport in the Gambia
The “folk” way of moving around the country is seven-seat yellow minibuses, called in the French manner: “set-dance”. They are not too fast and not at all comfortable, but they cost mere pennies. Green taxis and buses are designed to transport tourists – they are owned by the Ministry of Transport and are controlled for safety (as far as the word “control” in general can be applied to Africa in general and to the Gambia in particular). “Green transport” is more expensive, and it is more comfortable to travel on it.
The road along the northern bank of the Gambia River is better than the southern one, and it is better to go inland along it. To do this, it makes sense to cross to the north coast by ferry from Banjul to Barra and sit there in the “set dance”.
Rent a Car
Car rental in the Gambia is developed, there are both local and international rental agencies (AB, Avis). It is better to rent a four-wheel drive car, as the roads in the country are not in the best condition, and there are few paved ones. It makes sense to rent a car with a driver – so you can enjoy the wonderful scenery outside the window, being relieved of the need to follow the road.
Like a former British colony, the Gambia drives on the right.
The cost of renting a regular car without a driver starts from 1700 GMD per day, a four-wheel drive jeep with a driver – from 3500 GMD.