Gambia - Profile
- Surrounded on all sides by Senegal with only a narrow outlet to the Atlantic Ocean, The Gambia is a thin ribbon of land stretching along the Gambia river. The 300-mile long river is the heart of this small country, which rarely exceeds 20 miles in width. The river is navigable for 169 miles.
- Some 17 miles upriver lies James Island, site of an infamous slave market. Many yachts have sailed upriver without encountering any problems. The bird and wildlife is prolific and there are many villages along the river banks, where it is possible to stop and barter for food.
- For the ordinary tourist The Gambia's prime attraction are the vast stretches of undeveloped beaches, while upriver is the much visited village of Juffure, from where the main character in the Roots book was abducted and taken as a slave to America. Other interesting sites are Abuko nature reserve and the Wassau burial sites, whose huge stone columns are said to be at least 1200 years old.
- The Gambia is English speaking with friendly people, the cost of living is very low, the wildlife is incredible and there are big supermarkets available on the coast for provisioning for an Atlantic crossing. There are however very limited facilities for yachts.
The country is generally safe, but beware of the odd scam. There have been several reports of theft from yachts in the Banjul area and one report in 2009 of sea thugs trying to board a yacht near the deep water buoy outside the port of Banjul.
Cruisers in 2012, taking the normal precautions (nothing of value in sight, only small amounts of money in the pocket, establishing contact with locals and shops near the anchorage, buying from locals etc.), report feeling very safe here, both at anchor and on land.
Both male and female crew should be particularly cautious of young men locally known as ‘bumsters’ who approach visitors, particularly on beaches, offering help or to act as local guides.
Following political disagreement between the government and the EU about human rights in The Gambia, there has been an increase in political tension which may lead to unannounced demonstrations in Banjul and other parts of the country. You should avoid all demonstrations.
Following French military intervention in Mali and The Gambia’s commitment to participate, there is a possibility of retaliatory attacks targeting Western interests in the region. Be vigilant.
Last updated October 2013.
The climate is tropical with two distinct seasons. The dry and more pleasant weather is from November until May, while the remainder is the wet season. The hottest months are from February to May. The winds are variable throughout the year, with the strongest winds in September and October.
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