Gambia Holiday Information
The official language in The Gambia is English, which is used in schools, courts of law and the administration. French is taught in some secondary and high schools and many of the staff in hotels, restaurants and excursion agencies speak other European languages. They are German, Italian, Dutch, French and the Scandinavian languages.
Islam is the main religion, practised by ninety percent of the country's population. The majority of the Muslims in the Gambia adhere to Sunni laws and traditions, however, there are three Christian denominations - Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist. Recently, other churches have established missions in The Gambia located in parts of Greater Banjul and in the provinces.
It is recommended to greet a person before starting a conversation. A handshake is widely used as a form of greeting with the word 'Salamalekum' meaning Hello. The majority of Gambians are Islamic and their religious beliefs should be respected by visitors. The right hand should always be used to give or receive things. Gambians are a very friendly people and visitors should not be afraid to accept their hospitality.
In the resort areas, most tourists wear light casual clothing. During the months of November to February, lightweight woollen jumpers or a jacket are needed for the cooler evenings. If you travel in the summer season, take a light raincoat. Although dress in the beach hotels is very informal, ladies should avoid wearing bikinis or be topless outside the hotel grounds or beaches.
In most of Greater Banjul, the water supply system is fed from deep bore holes which is adequately chlorinated and considered safe for drinking. However, bottled mineral water is available from all hotels, supermarkets and restaurants. The water at Footsteps Lodge comes from its own borehole which is uncontaminated by other users and filtered drinking water is provided which is perfectly safe.
The crime rate in The Gambia is generally lower than in most countries in this subregion. The main offences are petty thefts and break ins. No need to worry, Footsteps has its own security staff. Just take normal precautions when out and about.
Please remember: It is illegal to export from The Gambia any article made from wild animal skins, ivory, or the feathers of any protected creature. Offenders will have goods confiscated and heavy fines imposed.
The craft markets outside the hotels in the main resort areas offer a variety of items and the most popular are tie-and-dye materials, batik, antique masks and other wood carvings, leather goods, jewelry, sand painting and basketry. Buy with caution and use the African practice of bargaining for a fair price using your own judgment. The main markets in Banjul, Serrekunda, Bakau and Brikama are also interesting to visit. Shop and stall owners literally sell everything under the sun.
There are well-stocked supermarkets in Banjul, Bakau, Serrekunda and along the mixed business and residential area of Kairaba Avenue. The main supermarkets are St. Mary's, Harry's, Maroun's, GSC, Atson's, Kairaba, Happiness, Stop Step and Shop, Sony's and A-Z. Most stores are open from 9.00 am. Some close at 10.00 pm and others are open up to midnight. Most are closed on Sunday, but you'll find still some that are open.
Alcohol & tobacco
Gambia is mostly Islamic however alcohol is available almost everywhere at less than European prices. All brands of cigarette are sold for under
The Gambia is small and narrow and its borders mirror the Gambia River. It lies between latitudes 13° and 14°N, and longitudes 13° and 17°W and is less than 48.2 km (30.0 mi) wide at its widest point, with a total area of 11,295 km². Approximately 1,300 km² (11.5%) of the Gambia's area is covered by water. It is the smallest country on the continent of Africa. The Gambia is surrounded on three sides by Senegal, with 50 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean on its western side. It has a population of 1.7 million people (pop census 2014). Read more on Wikipedia.
Useful info apps for your holiday:
There are some great fun apps available with useful info to make your Gambia holiday more enjoyable, here are a few:
Star Walk (allows you to point your device at the sky and discover names of stars, planets and constellations).
Iboplanet (allows you to identify plants simply by pointing your phone at it).
Audubon African Wildlife (allows you to discover in-depth species information for 164 mammals, 284 birds and 24 reptiles along with beautiful high-quality photographs and range maps).
Birds of Senegal & Gambia is available online and it comes with bird song.
Your next steps to Footsteps...
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