Banjul & the coast
The River Gambia is over 10km wide at the mouth near Cape St Mary but narrows to 5km at Banjul. The city, seat of government and the country’s only major city, sits on a deep, sheltered harbor on St. Mary’s Island. The area around MacCarthy Square has a colonial atmosphere with beautiful 19th century buildings. The handicraft market is very close by. The National Museum is also worth a visit. Souvenirs can also be bought at Bengdulalu (singular: Bengdula ) at Wadner Beach, in front of the Sunwing, Fajara and Senegambia hotels and at Kotu Beach. Bengdula means “meeting place” in Manding and is a cluster of African-style stalls selling handicrafts and souvenirs of all kinds.
South of Banjul, the Atlantic coast offers some of the best beaches in Africa. There are many hotels in the Banjul, Kombo and St. Mary area.
The river dominates the landscape, is the main traffic artery, is used for irrigation and offers fishing and sailing opportunities. The extensive river and estuary network ( Bolong ) is a true paradise for bird and nature lovers. Of interest is the Abuko Conservation Area, where you can see monkeys, crocodiles, birds and antelope up close. The Kiang West National Park also offers a variety of birds and other animals. The tourist facilities in this park are very good.
THE RIVER ESTUARY: Fort Bullen is located at Barra Point and was built by the British 200 years ago. This fort replaced the fort at James Island (destroyed by the French) as the colony’s main point of defence.
Oyster Creek is located in a cross-river area and is easily accessible from Banjul.
FROM BANJUL UPRIVER: Before the French left, Albreda was an important trading post. Nearby is Juffure, home of the ancestors of American writer Alex Haley, who wrote the novel Roots. If you want to see more, take the ferry from Banjul to Barra, continue to Juffure and Albreda (journey time approx. 50 minutes) and then take the canoe to Fort James Island about. The fort was built by the Germans in 1651 and conquered by the British ten years later.
Tendaba is a new resort center which is 160 km away from Banjul and can be reached by land and river. Further upstream near Wassu are fascinating stone circles – UNESCO World Heritage Site burial sites over 1200 years old. Not far from Wassu is the Baboon Islands National Park.
Georgetown was the country’s second largest city during colonial times and remains the region’s commercial and administrative center. Basse Santa Su is an important trading center on the upper reaches of the Gambia with beautiful buildings from the turn of the century. Along the riverbanks at Perai Tenda are numerous abandoned shops that were once run by European, local and Lebanese traders. Sutukoba used to be a bustling trading town and portuguese hub for goods coming from inland Portugal.
Souvenirs can be bought at Banjul Handicraft Market (opposite MacCarthy Square) and Bengdulalu (see Resorts & Excursions). One of the most popular souvenirs is the gambi shirt made of colorfully printed and embroidered cotton fabric. Wood carvings, beaded belts, silver and gold jewelry, and handbags are also very popular; other West African handicrafts made of straw, beads, leather, fabric or metal are also available. Shop opening hours: generally Mon-Thu 9am-12pm and 2.30pm-6pm and Fri and Sat 9am-1pm.
There are nightclubs in Banjul, Farjara, Bakau and Serekunda. Fire-eaters and ballet, drum and dance groups often perform in the hotels.
Local specialties include benachin (aka jollof rice, a mix of seasoned meat and rice with tomato purée and vegetables), base nyebe (chicken or beef stew with green beans or vegetables), chere (steamed millet flour balls), domodah (meat in peanut sauce with rice), plasas (meat and smoked fish in palm oil with green vegetables), served with fufu (pureed cassava) or pureed cassava churq-gerteh (sweet porridge made from peanuts, rice and milk). Mangoes, bananas, papayas, grapefruits and oranges can be bought on every street corner. Drinks: There is a good selection of spirits, beer and wine, as well as local fruit juices.
90% Muslim, 9% Christian and animist minorities.
Social Rules of Conduct
They shake hands to greet each other. Nanga def (“How are you”) is the traditional greeting. The country is Muslim, European customs are not unknown due to tourism. The Gambians are known for their open and friendly nature. Casual clothing is accepted, but bathing suits should be worn on the beach. Only very posh restaurants expect evening wear. Always use your right hand to give or receive objects. Despite the European influence through tourism, tradition and culture is maintained in music, dance and handicrafts on both banks of the Gambia. Tipping: It is customary to tip 10% in hotels, restaurants and taxis.
Best travel time
Subtropical with wet and dry seasons. Dry season on the coast from mid-November to mid-May, the rainy season from June to October. Inland it is shorter than on the coast. Temperatures are very high between March and June.
Area (sq km)
2,416,668 (Source: homosociety)
Population density (per square km)
Population statistics year
Main emergency number