The best time to visit is between November and March as the temperature will be between 27* - 35* and sunny so it’s the perfect winter sun destination. What also makes it so worthwhile is that it’s incredibly cheap; you can go there for as little as £250 and the most you’re going to pay is £350/400.
You can either stay in the tourist resorts along the coast or the capital, Banjul, but either way, as the country is so small, to get to either place shouldn’t take any more than 20 minutes to get to by taxi. They have specific tourist taxis, which the tour operators recommend, however I caught numerous ‘normal’ taxis and these are completely fine (and cheaper).
The tour operators also recommend that you do all of their activities through them, and while I would certainly recommend some of these, especially the roots tour, which travels up the Gambia river by boat and goes to where the slaves were captured and held before being shipped of to the Americas - I would befriend the locals and get them to take you out; this is what my friends and I did, as there are licensed juice sellers on the beach by the hotel.
After buying juice from them we decided the best way to get to know the Gambia is by letting people that live there show us so we arranged for two locals to take four of us out to dinner in a place they recommended. We also wanted to go on a safari so we got them to organise a Jeep trip to a safari park. We obviously paid for transportation and food and anything else but this would still be cheaper than doing it through the tour operator and it is helping out the local economy.
People in the Gambia are some of the friendliest you would ever meet, in fact an expression I often heard was ‘it’s nice to be nice’, and at no point did I ever feel remotely threatened, even at police stops everyone was extremely courteous.
As an example of how safe it is my friends and I decided to go to a bar about three miles away from our hotel so we decided to go there by foot alone along the beach, by the time we got there it was pitch black so walking along the beach was quite an adventure and when we got to the bar the owner gave us a free lift home.
When you go to the markets you would obviously have to haggle with the price but this is to be expected and is part of the experience but the market sellers are never overly forceful or aggressive.
I had the lucky experience of being on the beach on my last night when the president threw a party to celebrate him being re-elected, so there were local tribes dancing and playing music with lasers and fireworks, it was such a great parting experience. To sum up my experience and the Gambia itself, in order to go into the cordoned-off arena where the President and performers were, I merely asked a soldier if I could go into the area and the solider allowed me to, that is how nice and friendly the people of the Gambia are.
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