Getting Around Gambia
There are currently no domestic flights available within The Gambia.
Driving is often difficult and slow. Roads in the city centre, around resort towns and those leading to the hotel areas from the airport are reasonably good. However, venture away from those areas and you’ll find more unpaved roads or heavily potholed roads. Vehicles often have to weave slowly and dramatically or drive adjacent to the road on a dirt track to avoid potholes.
Although locals will as a rule drive on the right side, they will often drive on the most accessible portion of the road. Be cautious when driving.
There is a limited number of streetlights in The Gambia. Make sure your car has working headlights and drive with caution during the night. It may also be worth bringing a small torch.
During the rainy season, roads will often become flooded. Take caution when driving in less built-up areas.
Side of the roadRight
Major roads in The Gambia are paved, as well as roads in city centres and around resort towns and the airport. Throughout the country, most minor roads are unpaved, and potholes and free-roaming livestock are common. Streetlights and signage are sparse in The Gambia. Driving at night can be dangerous due to the lack of streetlights – ensure your car has fully-functional headlights.
There are two main roads: North Bank Road (north of the River Gambia) and South Bank Road (south of the river). Both are surfaced with tarmac and in a reasonably good condition. The main roads close to the coast are better but don’t allow you to get far off the beaten track before they deteriorate.
Greater Banjul has a few local and international providers including Avis (www.avis.co.uk). Alternatively, the resort areas are best equipped to supply hire vehicles. It is more common to hire a car and a driver for a daily rate, especially for longer journeys. You can also pick up a vehicle at Banjul International Airport. Driving can be difficult due to variable road conditions; some minor roads become impassable during the rainy season (June to October). Please note that hired cars cannot be driven out of the Gambia into Senegal. Most companies will require you to be 25 years old to rent a car. UK Nationals using a UK driving license may drive for up to three months.
Bush taxis: Apart from private taxis, shared taxis (cars known as ‘sept-place’, minibuses or vans known as ‘Gelli-gellis’) are the only form of public transport between towns and villages. They wait at their starting point until full then travel along fixed routes, stopping wherever passengers want to get on or off. They are not allowed to enter some areas of the tourist coastal region or Cape Point. Fares are fixed.
Private taxis: There are two types; neither have meters. Tourist taxis are painted green and are licensed by the Gambian Tourist Authority (GTA) to operate mainly from ranks in the resort areas; each rank has a noticeboard listing tariffs by destination. Local taxis are painted yellow with green stripes and can be hailed in the street; fares are lower and should be agreed in advance. Both types of taxi can travel anywhere in the country.
Available to hire at many hotels and resorts, these are a cheap and convenient way to explore the country as the landscape is flat and distances are short. If you get tired, load the bike onto a bus or bush taxi for a small luggage fee.
The Gambia Transport Service Company (www.gtsc.gm/) connects the major cities and towns throughout the day although departures are irregular and journey times often long.
Drive on the right and overtake on the left, but beware that drivers often stick to whichever bit of road is in the best condition. There are almost no streetlights, so take care after dark.
Speed limits are 70kph (43mph) on major highways and 25kph (16mph) in residential areas.
There is no automobile association or official organisation, but there are lots of improvised garages along major roads where minor repairs can be made.
An International Driving Permit is accepted for up to three months. A temporary licence is available from the local authorities on presentation of a valid national licence.
Bush taxis (shared cars, minibuses or vans) and private taxis are the only form of public transport in Gambian towns.
There is no passenger railway in The Gambia.
There are nearly a dozen points where travellers can cross the River Gambia by boat. Vehicle and passenger ferries between Banjul's commercial port and the town facing it across the river mouth, Barra, runs in each direction every day (from 0700-2100). Tour operators run adventure and fishing trips using small motorboats or large converted pirogues and offer day cruises along the river with lunch or dinner and a live band.