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Alkamba Travel & Tours

Visiting Gambia? Topical issues

MY FIRST TIME IN THE GAMBIA: Our Company will act as Local Agents to ensure that your holiday turns out to be what you expected.  As this may be your first time to go to The Gambia, we will provide you with as much information as possible. Gambia is peaceful and stable. Crime rates and the cost of living are among the lowest in the world. The sun shines for all 12 months of the year! The Gambia offers you the best climate in the world and one of the most beautiful landscapes. This makes the Gambians warm and friendly people with a contagious relaxed attitude to life.All visitors require an anti-malaria injection or tablets.

CONTACT OF EMERGENCY: Our Tour Guide will be with you all the way through your itinerary.  If an emergency arises outside the visiting times, the receptionist or the duty manager of the hotel could be contacted, who will in turn inform us immediately.

CLIMATE: The Gambian climate is such a wonderful one, the winter season which starts in June through to December show 68 F to 86F. The summer begins in January through to May also shows 86F to 158F.  We normally have rain fall between July and August.

VALUABLES: We strongly recommend for the security of everyone that you put passports, flight tickets, cash, traveler’s cheque, and jewelry in the hotel safe deposit, or room safe in the hotels where this facility exits.  This facility is generally free of cost.  Some hotels may charge a small fee.  Loss of the safe deposit key is liable to a penalty charge.  Please remember to be mindful with your valuable items at the beach and crowded city markets.  We would recommend that you leave them at the hotel safe deposit.

ROOM KEY: Please leave room keys in the locker provided in the reception area.  It is not advisable to take these outside the hotel or onto the beach.  Their presence in the reception area is also a good indication of your whereabouts if we need to leave a message, etc.

MEAL TIMES: The precise times of meals are usually displayed on the hotel notice board.  If any special times of meals are required, such as early meals for children, very early breakfasts, or special diet you should contact the Head Waiter, or the Restaurant Manager who will be glad to assist you.     

Some hotels may provide a buffet breakfast with more variety than standard continental breakfast.

Room service is generally not available except in an emergency situation.  It is only available at the Kairaba Beach Hotel a five star hotel.

HOTEL ENTERTAINMENT: As The Gambia has not been spoiled by an abundance of night clubs and discotheque most of the evening entertainment takes place in the hotels in the form of African dancing, live entertainment, barbecue evenings and the hotel disco/night club.  However, a small fee is sometimes made for these forms of entertainment.   A casino will be found close to Senegambia Beach and the Kairaba Hotel, Tafbell Marsonettes and Holiday Beach Club Hotel. 

If you do not want to attend the Hotel’s Entertainment, we could always arrange for you to go to the town night clubs where you will hear reggae music.

 LAUNDRY: Laundry facilities can usually be arranged through your hotel.  Please contact your room maid if you require these services.  There will be a small charge for this service.

 EARLY MORNING CALLS: In some Hotels morning calls can be booked at the Reception desk or through the telephonist the evening before

ELECTRICITY AND WATER: The electricity supply is 220/230 volt.  Electricity and water supply minor cuts seldom occurs without our prior notice.  Please be prepared to experience this short fall.

VACATION OF ROOMS: On the day of departure it is necessary in accordance with International Hotel Regulations, to vacate your room by Noon, respective of your departure time from the hotel.  It may be possible to retain your room a little longer but this must be arranged personally with the Receptionist.

EXTRA BILLS: Any extras such as wines, mineral water, a La Carte dishes, room service, etc. are normally paid for on the spot but can sometimes be signed for and charged to your personal account, provided arrangements have been made in advance.  Please make sure that you settle your account for any extras in good time before your departure.

DEPARTURE: On departure day, please remember to arrange for your luggage to be in the reception area at the specified time advised by your representative.  Also, please note that luggage is the responsibility of the owner at all times.  Do not forget to collect all your valuables from the hotel safe.  Please also return your room key to the reception desk.  Do not leave it in the room or at the door.  Lost or mislaid room keys will be charged for by the Hotel Management.

COMPLAINTS, DIFFICULTIES  & SPECIAL REQUESTS: If you have any complaints about the hotel food, service etc. these should be made directly to the Hotel Management, but please advise our representative as soon as possible, since we can possible be of assistance.

If you have any other complaints of a more serious nature, then please contact the Hotel Duty Manager immediately who will take the lead and will contact your local Representative.

Any request for other room facilities, etc. should be made via the representative or direct to the Hotel Management.  However, please note if such requested items are not available, it will be nicely explained to you.  Such services may be subjected to an additional charge, which will be the responsibility of yourself, the client.

CURRENCY: Banks in Banjul are open form 8:00am to 1:00pm Monday – Thursday and 8:00am to 11:00am of Friday, except for public or bank holidays.  However, it is considerably more convenient to change money in the hotel at the Reception desk, where the rate is usually only slightly less than that offered by the bank.

In Banjul the capital city, there is the Meridean Bank, Continent Bank and Standard Chartered Bank on Buckle Street and the International Bank for Commerce and Industry on Picton Street.  Some of these banks have branches beside your hotel, which open in the afternoon and on Saturdays.  

Limited credit card cashing facilities exist at the branches of Standard Chartered Bank (ask your representative for details).  Please remember that the changing of money by private individuals can cause extreme difficulties

TIPPING:Tipping is a normal practice.  However, some establishments have adopted a service charge, so whatever you leave behind on the plate is extra.

CREDIT CARDS: Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but do not assume that every establishment accepts them.  Please check in advance.

LOCAL DRINK : Spirits and wines are available as well as soft drinks like coke, sprite etc.

CIGARETTES: Foreign cigarettes cost $1.00 for twenty sticks (one pack) and are available everywhere, but favorite brands may not be available.

DRINKING WATER: Tap water is generally safe to drink.  However, changes can sometimes cause an upset stomach.  To be on the safe side you may prefer to drink soda, tonic, or mineral water, which are available from the bar or the supermarket.    


LOCAL FOOD: You will find that most hotels and restaurants serve European food, although sometimes Gambian dished are available. If possible while you are there try the following dishes:

Benachin – Rice with fish, meat, or chicken, tomato puree and vegetables

Base Nybe-rice – Stew of chicken or beef with green beans usually served with steamed millet flour balls.

Domoda- Meat stewed in groundnut puree and served with rice.

Seafood is generally expensive.  Most a La Carte restaurants serve crayfish and prawns, but it is best to check the day before.  Local fruits are not readily available in quantity but you can buy mangoes, paw paw, avocado, pears, grapefruit, oranges, watermelon, etc.  When in season, at the hotel market.  Due to the fact that most food producers are imported into The Gambia, it is common for some times to be in short supply and therefore not available in the hotels and restaurants.

POSTAL SERVICE AND COMMUNICATION: Stamps can usually be bought at the Hotel Reception desk or hotel shop, but normally only if purchasing post cards at the same time.  The present postage rates to America are less than $0.50.  If your hotel does not offer direct dialing facilities, the switchboard operator should be contacted for all calls.  You will also have the opportunity to call from the International Telephone Exchange Bureaus in town.

SHOPPING: The shops in Banjul do not offer a very wide selection of goods for visitors.  The best places for souvenirs are the local markets in Banjul, Bakau and Brikama.  A few supermarkets and mini-markets are available close to some hotels.  Some of the “Good Buys” available are woodcarvings, masks, ebony carvings, leather and intricate silver jewelry.  Batik is also very reasonable – as it is a cottage industry and garments can be made upon request.  Prices vary and customers are expected to bargain – if you get 30% – 50% off the first price, the cost should be correct.  Alternatively some traders will “swap” for items, such as T-shirts, wallets, shoes etc. beware of a direct approach by private “business persons” they could be genuine, but not necessarily.  This particularly applies to offers surrounding jewelry, tailoring, woodcarvings, and excursions.  It is normally better to deal with the established outlets.  If you are in doubt, we suggest that you check with your guide.  In any case take careful notes of names and points of contact.  

 FASHION BOUTIQUES: The fashion boutiques are well worth a visit since they usually stock items not to be found else where. Sometimes these form part of the shop found in most of the hotels.

 HAIRDRESSERS: All conveniently situated salons in The Gambia are unisex.  Try these at Atlantic or Senegambia Beach Hotel.  Local hair dressers in The Gambian style are also available.  You may contact our guide for this request.

Appointment can be made but do not be in a hurry!

SECURITY: In common with many developing countries with increasing tourism, difficulties occasionally arise:


  • Proposals to carry packages of drugs illegal out of The Gambia.  Please note that heavy penalties face offenders for whom the authorities have no sympathy.
  • Venturing alone into secluded areas.
  •  All countries have their share of undesirable characters.  The Gambia is no exception. We advise that you go with at least one other person and maybe an approved guide.
  • Throwing coins, sweets or anything to children from moving vehicles. Gambians are a proud nation and do not appreciate seeing their children squabble in the dust over such things.
  • Giving money to begging children

This money normally goes to buy such items as cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, or other harmful substance.  Charities exist to make much better use of any available money.  Please check with your tour guide.

  • Bringing guests into your hotel

Please make enquiries at the reception desk to avoid later problems and embarrassment.

BEACHES & SWIMMING: Please remember that the beaches border the Atlantic Ocean, which can be unsuitable at times for swimming.  Please take careful note of, and respect, the beach flag warning system, where this is in operation.  Please also take note that no occasions there is a strong undertow and great care should be taken.

Please note that nude sunbathing is forbidden and illegal in The Gambia.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Permission should be obtained before photographing is made in certain areas due to religious beliefs.  We advise this permission is sought in order to avoid giving offence.

HEALTH AND SUNBURN: We do hope that you will not fall ill or need the services of a doctor or dentist, but should the need arise then please contact our representative or ask the hotel receptionist to call the doctor for you.  Please let us know if you do this and if you intend to make a claim, as the insurance may approach us for corroboration.  Also, remember to keep all receipts for medical services.

Please remember how easy it is to get sunburned.  The sun can be deceptively strong and exposure to it during the first few days at least should be limited.

Unusual food and drinks (especially iced drinks) should be taken in moderation during the early stages of our holiday to enable you to become accustomed to the sudden dietary change.  Please be aware to the effect of dehydration, which can be one of the main causes of stomach upsets.  Dehydration salts and most supermarkets. Don’t forget to take you anti-Malaria tablets.

Remember that rabies exists in The Gambia and that playing with any animal can be dangerous no matter how docile the animal may seem to be.  Please also note that the African attitude toward animals is different to that of America or elsewhere.  Animals as pets are virtually unknown in an African household.

LUGGAGE: Your luggage is entirely your responsibility but please let us know if any part of it is misplaced.

DEPARTURE ARRANGEMENTS: Full details of your departure times and arrangements are shown on the departure notices in your hotel.  If you would like any further information on advance please see your representative.

We hope that you will find these notes helpful but if you would like information or advise which is not mentioned, or in more details, please do not hesitate to contact us. We assure you that our guides shall be with you all the way through your itinerary. All that remains is for us to wish you, on behalf of our Company a most enjoyable holiday and please come back.

WEATHERThere are 3 different weather seasons.

From November to March is the north east trade wind that blows from the Sahara desert towards West Africa. These time its little cool. The season is locally called the hamarttan. This is also the harvest period. From April to June. This is pure dry season  From July to November is the rainy season.


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