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The Republic of The Gambia borders around the Gambia River, thus appearing on a map as a sliver out of Senegal. It enjoys a cooperative relationship with its neighbour Senegal, having separated from their federation of Senegambia in the early 1990s. This Western Africa country, which its shores on the northern Atlantic is approximately 4,363 square miles (11,300 km sq) in size, smallest country on the continent. Its first historical accounts come from the records of the Arab traders in the 9th and 10th centuries, who were in search of gold, ivory and slaves. The Portuguese then ruled over the area and subsequently sold the trade rights to the British. It officially became a British colony in 1889. Today, it is an independent democracy.
Sadly, as many as three million of its inhabitants were taken from the country and enslaved until the British ended the practice in the 1800s. Alex Haley in his epic “Roots” was able to trace his family ancestors to rural Gambia, where Kunta Kinteh’s trail began. Today, The Gambia’s natural beauty and proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger markets for tourism in Western Africa.
Banjul, capital of The Gambia, began as Bathurst, a British, military outpost in 1816. Located where the Gambia River enters the Atlantic, this port city is known for its colourful market with its batik cloth and Arch 22, its commemorative entry. Towns and beaches outside of the city are referred to as Kombo. Natural parks in the rural areas are home to over 250 species of birds as well as different monkeys and crocodiles. Banjul is a destination suited to those who can look beyond the developing infrastructure and see the natural beauty that awaits.
Please note: Be wary of pickpockets in crowded market areas and informal tour guides known as “bumsters” who may harass visitors.
The ship is scheduled to dock in Banjul. The distance to town is less than a mile (one kilometre). Taxis are generally available, although some may prove to be in poor condition and unreliable. Be sure to agree on the fare prior to setting out. Some roads are paved within the city limits; 4WD vehicles are recommended outside town.
The best shopping can be found at the Albert Market, the Serekunda Market or at the craft stands along the beach road. Hard bargaining is to be expected. The local currency is the The Gambian dalasi. US dollars may be accepted; the rate is not likely to be favourable, and guests are cautioned to avoid using credit cards at locations other than resort hotels.
Local restaurants offer European and Gambian foods. Peanuts, rice, seafood and chicken are the basic ingredients in Gambian cooking. You may wish to try jollof rice (rice with meat and tomatoes) and yassa (spicy chicken) with Julbrew
, the local beer.
Private arrangements are not available in this port.