Article written by

Jo Fitzsimons is a freelance travel writer who has visited over 50 countries. www.indianajo.com is the place where she shares destination details, travel itineraries, planning and booking tips and trip tales. Her aim: to help you plan your travel adventure on your terms and to your budget.

12 Responses

  1. 50 Biggest Culture Shock Experiences | Indiana Jo
    50 Biggest Culture Shock Experiences | Indiana Jo at |

    […] I’ve been on some crammed, questionable transport in my travels but the ferry between The Gambia and Senegal has stuck with me.  Picture […]

  2. Shelly Scott
    Shelly Scott at | | Reply

    I was a “tubob” teaching with the Peace Corps in The Gambia in 1976-1977, Roots was shown (open air) in Banjul, strange site to see. I have been contemplating a trip back, reading through your blogs, I’d rather remember the country before the roots sojourn. I remember so clearly a conversation of a local Bakau man and a tourist, “do you own a car?” to which the tourist said “two”, “indeed you are rich and can give me one as I am your brother” . . . . . Thank you for your wonderful writings and pictures, I’ll add these to my cherished memories.

  3. Let’s Talk About Sex: Female Sex Tourism in The Gambia | Indiana Jo
    Let’s Talk About Sex: Female Sex Tourism in The Gambia | Indiana Jo at |

    […] A Day Exploring the Sights of The Gambia […]

  4. Hitch-Hikers Handbook
    Hitch-Hikers Handbook at | | Reply

    It looks like a great country! One of my bosses was from the Gambia and I’ve always wanted to go there 🙂 I really like your pictures as well. If you like photography, we’d like to invite you to participate in the next edition of our popular Travel Photography Competition. Here are the details:
    http://hitchhikershandbook.com/your-contributions/travel-photography/
    Happy travels!

  5. Kathryn Burrington
    Kathryn Burrington at | | Reply

    Great post Indiana and thank you for mentioning us.

    You asked on Twitter if I had any other tips to offer and I’d just like to add that, as I understand it, the reason why you should not feed the monkeys at Bijilo is that the green vervet monkey population is increasing rapidly at the expense of the rare, and much shyer, red colobus monkey. Here’s a link to my post about wildlife in The Gambia. http://www.thegambiablog.co.uk/2012/09/getting-to-know-the-wildlife-of-the-gambia/
    If anyone wants any advice feel free to contact me on Twitter @GambiaXperience or through our blog.
    Thanks again Indiana and I hope you’ll be back in The Gambia one day soon!

    1. IndianaJo
      IndianaJo at | | Reply

      Hi Kathryn, thanks for the tip and the extra info. I didn’t manage to catch site of the red colobus, which made sense with the over-excited green vervets hopping around for free food from the tourists. Good to know! I’m sure I’ll be back in the Gambia some time soon so I’ll be in contact for more exert advice when I do!

  6. Bryony Fletcher
    Bryony Fletcher at | | Reply

    Hi,
    I too am looking into a trip to The Gambia in 2014. I am going with my husband and we dont really want to just lay round a pool every day either. Your blog was really useful! Thank you!

    Id be interested to know how much standard things tend to cost out there? For example how much a meal costs roughly? and bottles of water? just those little questions that you can never really find in a guide book that accurately!
    Also, how easy is it to get around the country? Ive heard that local guides, like what you did, is the best way? But obviously that could soon add up to do that regularly throughout the stay. Are there any other ways you would recommend?

    We are intending on booking with a travel company but usually prefer to do our ‘own thing’ to avoid just being bundled up with the masses as it were!
    Thank you for posting your trip! Any further advice would be very welcomed
    🙂

    1. IndianaJo
      IndianaJo at | | Reply

      Hi Bryony, happy to help 🙂

      Yes, the local guides are one of the best ways to get around, especially if there are two of you to split the cost. There is a fair bit of scope for negotiation with the local guys in terms of price for touring. If you get someone for a few days and use them for taxis at night (the local company that runs the taxis outside the hotel is extortionate for the area – think UK prices), it can bring the overall cost down if you do a deal – just make sure you pay daily rather than up front just in case. You’ll no doubt end up with several business cards in the bottom of your bag! Some of the guides go for the hard sell with photos, written reviews etc and, from my experience, they tended to be much more expensive. One couple paid over £75 ($100) for a half day trip to the local area while I paid £30 for the same thing. We were told by the more expensive guy that all sorts of bad things could happen if we went elsewhere, playing on fears, which I guess might bring in some business. We took a recommendation from the receptionist in our hotel and were happy.

      I’d highly recommend a jaunt out to Senegal. I’m a bit more dubious about recommending the Roots tour because of the way tourism has significantly altered the community with kids out of school, begging and hassling. But, many people go – I did. Just do some research before you visit.

      In terms of prices generally, the problem is that with so many holiday makers in the Gambia, the prices in the tourist area are way above what you’d expect for Africa. That said, prices are still affordable. Dinner cost between £5 and £8 outside the hotels and around the same as UK pub prices within the hotels. These prices lower (£3 – £6) if you eat the local food, which is delicious (and I’m not so easily pleased!). Beer prices were also pretty varied – we would pay around £2 in the hotel but find happy hour (they are pretty prevalent) in the Senegambia strip and we were paying 25p per bottle when we bought 4. In short, there are deals to be had, you just need to sniff them out, which was half the fun for me!

      Bottled water is affordable. There is no alternative (you can’t drink the tap water – and don’t brush your teeth with it either) so it is priced accordingly. About half the cost of the UK from memory and cheaper the larger you buy. Stick to the local brands for lower prices. The same applies to mixers (tonic, juices etc) if you intend to make some of your own drinks. Some people worry if they don’t know the brands – I tried them and I’m still alive, stomach intact 🙂

      If you want more info on prices, this site is pretty good – for all places though keep in mind tourist areas do push prices up: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Gambia

      In terms of package versus doing it separate, I looked at a DIY trip, which is how I usually travel but it was actually cheaper to book a package. Many of the hotels are subsidised/have tie-ins with the companies that buy up the charter flights. I travelled close to Easter and was looking at £500 for flights while I could get a package hotel deal for less! I booked with the Gambia Experience and would recommend them (I’m not in any way affiliated with them!). In fact, they owned the hotel I stayed in. Gambia Experience is probably a bit more expensive than Thomas Cook and the like but they seem to be less group focused (minivan versus coach at the airport) and I did a few day trips with them which, again, were smaller and seemed to have better guides and felt more exclusive. They also felt better integrated into the culture with a cool book on the people, the sights, foods and how to get the most of your trip. I’m not a fan of the companies that exploit countries for their sun with little thought to the local people they are impacting. Here’s a link to the company page on the local food – there is more info on there if you are interested in checking prices: http://www.gambia.co.uk/Docs/Travel-Info/Know-Before-You-Go/Local-Delicacies.aspx

      I hope this info helps. If you want any more tips, get in touch. Otherwise, I hope you have an amazing trip 🙂

  7. Stan Owen
    Stan Owen at | | Reply

    I am researching a trip The Gambia for 2014 and found your blog very informative and fun to read.

    1. IndianaJo
      IndianaJo at | | Reply

      Thanks, Stan. Glad you’ve found my blog useful (and fun!). Message me if you want any tips on The Gambia or help planning you’re trip – it’s always easier when you’ve been 🙂

Please comment with your real name using good manners.

Leave a Reply