The West African country of The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. It is being seen more and more as an exotic holiday destination, and has a lot to offer for visitors. You can enjoy nice beaches, see native wildlife in a natural setting, visit cultural attractions, see historic places related to days of colonialism and the former slave trade, and learn all about a completely different way of life. Staying safe in The Gambia should not be a concern if you use your common sense, follow all recommended advice, and consider using organized group tours (even if just for day trips here and there) rather than trying to go it completely alone all of the time that you are in the country.
The following guidance on staying safe in The Gambia should help you to have the best time on your holiday and avoid running into problems:
Be Malaria Aware
Malaria is a very real threat in The Gambia, and you must make sure that you are taking appropriate anti-malarial medication during your stay. You should also make sure that you started taking the medication in advance of travel, and that you have enough to last you for the specified period after you either return home or continue your travel to a non-malarial country. Mosquitoes spread other diseases in addition to malaria, some of which cannot be protected against with medication. You should therefore also use good insect repellent, wear long clothing, especially from dusk until dawn, sleep under a mosquito net, and follow all bit avoidance guidance.
Make Sure that all Necessary Vaccinations are Up to Date
Check with a healthcare professional before you travel to The Gambia to make sure that all immunizations are current. You should certainly think about being protected against yellow fever, meningitis, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and tetanus, as well as making sure that all your childhood vaccinations, such as polio, measles, etc, are all up to date. Rabies is another possible vaccination to consider.
Watch Out for Bumsters
Bumster is the name given to younger unemployed males that try to take financial advantage of tourists. They may out and out ask for money, or try and concoct some other scheme to get you to part with your cash. Be wary of anyone who seems overly friendly and tries to strike up uninvited conversation with you. You may be told a variety of heart-wrenching tales, followed by a plea for help, you may be asked for money to help with education and training, or you may be offered unbeatable deals on buying local products. It is advised to avoid engaging in conversation in the first place, and if you do find yourself being asked for money to just say no. Linked to this, females especially should be cautious of striking up romantic relationships; unfortunately a lot of the time these relationships are mainly about money and can lead to a lot of upset, loss of pride, and loss of money.
Don’t Walk in Dark or Isolated Areas
Whilst not as rife as in other parts of the world, you should remember that many people in The Gambia are living in very poor conditions and struggling to make ends meet. If you make yourself an easy target there is a chance that you may be mugged. Stay in busy and well lit areas to reduce the risk. Be especially on your guard on secluded and isolated beaches.
Don’t Go With Strangers
Be careful of going anywhere, especially alone, with strangers. This could be a ploy to rob you.
Keep Your Political Ideas in Check
Whatever your personal views are on politics, it is better to keep them to yourself in The Gambia. As well as potentially causing offence, criticism of the government is a crime in The Gambia, and one which can have quite strict penalties.
Be Aware of Gay Prejudices
Homosexuality, whether involving males of females, is illegal in The Gambia. People who are openly gay in Gambia put themselves in great risk of physical harm, imprisonment, or even death.
The Gambia can be a wonderful and diverse country to visit, and people should not be overly alarmed about their safety. Take note of relevant points regarding staying safe in The Gambia and enjoy a fantastic trip with many great memories.