Scams & Conmen
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 one 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.
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 Tourist
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,
unless you are going by car and know them very well.