There is relatively little serious
physical crime in The
Gambia particularly against tourists. You are more likely to become the victim of
conmen or tourist
hustlers who simply want your cash with the least bit of trouble.
Though The Gambia is known as the
"Smiling Coast" and is indeed
of the safest and friendliest countries in Africa, there are
still good and bad people, and sometimes it is difficult to
distinguish between them. If you are a foreigner, and especially
if you are white, you will stick out as a
"Toubab", and thus as
'rich' and vulnerable. The most common theft is pick pocketing in
crowded places like Serrekunda. Violent muggings and other
assault are rare but definitely not out of the question. Though
common sense goes a long way by itself, you should keep a few
things in mind.
Don't be complacent as there are Gambian criminal elements
such as pickpockets operating in crowded
areas such as Banjul
Market, ferries and the
Serrekunda town area. There are also
some handbag snatchers who are particularly active at night and who would
make their escape along dirt side roads and disappear into the night. Use
an empty bum bag as a decoy or put just your less valuable items in your bag
and carry you cash close to your body. Muggers hardly exist in the tourist areas but you have to be careful in parts
of Serrekunda, Bundung and the rougher ends of town particularly at
night as some
criminals would not hesitate to pounce.
Packages or your luggage brought on
holiday should never be left unattended, especially in
taxis & mini-buses. Attacks on tourists are not common; however, you
should not take valuables or large sums of money to the beach or
display them in public. Travelers should also be cautious of
individuals who persistently offer unsolicited help. Always take
precautions in unlit areas or in places away from the
Development Area (TDA).
If you have to
venture into these areas then go along with a well known and trusted
Gambian friend. 'Well known and trusted' because they themselves maybe the ones
to set you up!
If you do venture out at night always tell people where you are going
and carry at least a pocket-sized torch on your person. And finally,
avoid going to visit people's houses at night-time.