CAR RENTAL COMPANIES:
are now quite a handful of car rental firms operating in Gambia
as compared to only a few back in the late 1990s. AB
Gambia Car Rental
can be found located at the front of the Senegambia Hotel.
The others are AVIS
at the Kairaba Hotel and Hertz
at Banjul Airport and Afriq
Cars Ltd in the Kololi Village
Complex on the main highway near Senegambia. Your hotels'
receptionist can best advise you where to look for the most
convenient car hire firm.
The car rentals sector is not very well
developed. You can pick up a vehicle at
Airport's front booths or in the coastal resorts, but elsewhere in
the country the possibilities of getting one are basically slim to none. Daily
rates including insurance and mileage can be pretty steep, and for a
4WD can go through the roof.
There are a few important
points to remember. First, rented vehicles cannot, as a rule, be
driven out of The Gambia into neighbouring Senegal. A few firms are adamant on
you taking only a four-wheel-drive if you're planning on going off
the main roads, even in the dry season. It's not unusual to be
appointed a driver, and it's essential to be clear before hand about
your driver's daily pay, accommodation and food. If you're using a
self-drive car, you have to be 23 years or over and are required to possess an international
licence or a UK driver's licence which can be used for short
Alternatively you can
hire a taxi
on a daily basis as it simpler and cheaper. However low the price, don't get into a vehicle that's not
roadworthy, has an impatient driver or someone you cannot
communicate easily with. Finally, ask politely to see his or her
driver's licence is up to date, the seat belt is working properly
and the lights and signals are in good working order.
Please note that driving in Gambia is on the right-side of the road.
Don't automatically presume that your auto is roadworthy. Before
departing, take a look at the state of the engine and tyres and
don't start the car without first checking the battery, water level
for the radiator tank and ensuring you have a spare tyre or two as well
as the tools to change a flat one. You might want to consider
keeping a jerry can of fuel and tap water in the boot just in case.
You may find yourself low on fuel in the bush or there might be a
small leak in the radiator. These two items may be able to get you
to the nearest mechanic or amenity. If you do have a breakdown local
mechanics are pretty adept at starting your vehicle having cut their
teeth on numerous old cars still on the roads. However, aside from
the major towns, spare parts,
good equipment and tools are few and far between inland from the
Kombo Coastal region, with Brikama being an exception.
When driving, be careful of the sudden appearance of ditches, rocks,
and potholes as well as goats, sheep, cows, chickens, dogs and
people on the road. Very often people will walk along the road due
to a lack of paving or because they don't want to get their shoes
dusty! It's normal to press your horn repeatedly to
alert cyclists and pedestrians of your approach. Do not drive
past a police / military road checkpoint or barrier without coming to a complete stop
and waiting to be waved on, and always keep your documents in the
vehicle's glove compartment.
In The Gambia cars drive on the right, though on very potholed
roads vehicles stay on the smoothest part of the road until they
have to pass one another. Hand signals are normally
used to say "Please give way", "Please over-take me", "Don't
overtake me", but don't presume the driver ahead of you can see that
the road is clear for you to pass, and many drivers rarely look in
their wing mirrors. Don't assume that if a car signals to turn it's actually going to
turn, and don't assume that a car that does not signal to turn will
not actually turn! Many accidents on the road happen due to erroneous signal
assumptions. In short don't assume anything about the intended
behaviour of other drivers.
(See more on
traffic driving regulations)
is the most eco-friendly mode of transport for Gambia. One
is able to hire bicycles from cycle rental stalls dotted around
the coast, mostly close to the major tourist class hotels.
Be choosy though as quality is highly variable. It gives you
great flexibility to go into areas that cars cannot
reach for example narrow dirt roads and people bridges. Most
of the hotel resort areas have cycles for hire on a whole
day or half-day basis for relatively small amounts of money.
Before setting off make sure the lights are working properly,
tires are fully inflated and, when riding at night, always
wear something fluorescent as most rural roads are unlit.
Even where the roads are lit street lights will sometimes
suddenly go out. You must take great care when riding on the
main roads and it is perhaps safer to ride on the 'footpath'
when you are cycling in rural areas.
A bike allows you to travel and explore well off the tourist beaten
track. Many routes that can't be accessed by motor cars because they
are too uneven, or involve passing through small tributaries, are
often accessible by bicycle. With a rugged bike, you can go along
dirt paths in the bush and villages. You can even ride on the beach
from Fajara down to Gunjur in Kombo South - at low
tide the sand near the water-line has a firmer, even surface. Riding
a bike also offers the best short-cut between
Senegambia resorts, while avoiding the traffic along the
Coastal Road. If the tide rises, just pick up the bike and get
back on a path or road. If you get tired just hail a cab and place
the bike on a the roof rack and go on your way.
Rental bikes are not normally well-suited for long distance cycling. For
extensive touring you could bring over your own mountain bike to The
Gambia, or buy a tough bike after your arrival. There are plenty of
retail distributors in many towns with
Serrekunda having the largest
choice, as well as cycle locks, padlocks and chains. Don't forget to
take along strong battery-powered lights - the headlight can have
the alternative use of being a torchlight and batteries are readily
available. A rear view mirror is highly recommended for riding on
the highways, but when it comes to anticipating the intended
movement of the traffic around you, don't take anything as given.
Depending on your physical health and keenness, expect to cycle around
40-100km each day. The landscape geography is
generally flat and gentle and, with the occasional rests, you could move
across the whole country from west to east and back again in less
than two weeks.
(See more on
other increasingly popular and leisurely way of getting around the
Gambia is by
which can be used on the roads, some paths and is great for the
beach flats. It is advisable however to avoid the major highways
when possible, especially during
the rush hour and always wear a helmet.
Finally do make sure that it is covered by your travel insurance
These taxis are green coloured and are
regulated by the
and as a result must be fully insured and have to pass a yearly
inspection - the closest thing to the UK's MOT Test. These
offer trips at set prices, including standing time and a return
journey, if requested. Ask for a discount if you are taking a return
journey as they might otherwise return empty. These prices are
normally displayed on special boards at the taxi queues in the
resort areas, thus reducing the chances of you being charged
exorbitant rates. The advantage of these tourist taxis is that they
are usually given easy access close to the major hotels in Kotu
Bendula, Senegambia Strip in Kololi
and Cape Point.
These areas are
normally out of bounds for the standard yellow cabs, however, they
can obtain a special ticket just outside the Senegambia Strip which
allows them to drop you off, but not pick up.
There are also a number of green 4 by 4 wheel drives that are very popular
with the more independent minded travellers and can be found for hire outside the
Senegambia Strip in
the other busy coastal hotel resorts. They are a good way to get
great views of the scenery while being driven deep in the bush or
down south to the secluded beaches of
Kartong and Sanyang.
The major drawback of the green tourist taxis is the cost - about
three times as much for a typical short trip. It's a good idea to
get the mobile number of a driver you get on well with and try and
negotiate prices if you call him regularly. Often they oblige
because of the repeated custom. Fling them a treat occasionally too.
about 8 ferry crossing points along the
Gambia River at
many small terminals as well as the main one at the
Banjul Ferry Terminal. The cost of crossing
the Gambia River estuary from
Barra is less than the cost of a soft
canned drink. There are also vehicle ferries connecting
Janjangbureh Island to the north and
south banks of the river at Sankulay Kunda Lamin Koto; a
Bambatenda-Yelitenda ferry; and ferries at Bansang,
Basse Santa Su and Fatoto. At other points the river can be
crossed by hand paddled passenger vessels.
are river boats available for private charter, such as
the river vessels operated by
(UK tel: 0121 2884100), who can take you for up-river fishing and
birdwatching cruises from Banjul's
Denton Bridge up to
For relaxation or wildlife spotting around the creeks
Jane's Boats (tel: 7768074,
Another alternative is to hire
a fishing boat from one of the many
boating and fishing tour
operators located at
Denton Bridge, Banjul. They are usually run as sports fishing businesses but can
double up for a tailored, lazy cruise up-river as far as is
You can also hire an African Pirogue from a number of local fishermen but
please bear in mind such people don't usually carry life jackets or 2
way radios on
The African pirogues (narrow canoes) are usually powered by an outboard engine,
and are a neat way off exploring the many creeks and swamp mangroves. You
can use them as a form of enjoyable transport if you know the
precise spot you want to get off at by the river bank.
MICROLIGHT & LIGHT AIRCRAFT FLIGHTS:
This is a spectacular way
to enjoy aerial scenery of the Gambia's creeks, mangroves and
national parks while
getting from A to B. There are a few landing strips in the country so you are able
to make stopovers in certain areas of tourist interest. These light
aircraft flights are operated by Maddox Microlights who essentially
operate a light aircraft and microlight training centre. By light
aircraft, you can be taken up-river to Georgetown (Janjanbureh) or
Tendaba in a lot less time than by road.
Club House:+220 7021167 or 4374259
Bookings: +220 7702119 or 4462100
If you choose to do a lot
of walking. then you should consider carrying a small rucksack with
plenty of cold water, sun factor cream, mosquito repellent, wear a
hat, put on sunglasses. If you are entering the bush by foot then
you should wear boots, thick trousers to protect you from possible
stings and bites from spiders, scorpions, mosquitoes and snakes.
The bet times to go on foot are first thing in the morning or late
afternoons. During mid-day it can get very hot even in the winter
season so do be careful about sunstroke.
What to Pack)
This form of transport is not at all easy as most people giving you a
lift expect something in return since you are a relatively 'well
off' visitor. You may get lucky and get a lift from a well to do
local who won't normally expect anything in return. Also remember
that you would be competing with many poor people who don't have a
car or bike and free lifts is all they can get. Anyhow, local
transport is very cheap and you get to chat with the locals. If you
have a backpack then look for transport with a roof rack.
Since around the mid
2000s motorised rickshaws
have begun to spring up around the Gambia as a budget and more
to the numerous taxis plying the streets.
They can be great for leaving the main roads and venturing down dirt
roads, for shopping or exploring relatively tranquil areas around your
hotel and nearby beaches and nature spots.
You can find these parked around the major hotels around Senegambia