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The Gambia Longest Running Democracy

Aug 17, 2007
Gambia is a sliver in the side of Africa, one of its tiniest countries, but its attractions are just as bright as any in the region. Its capital city, Banjul, is a uniquely African experience, with a street side culture that chases away the holiday daze of glitzier cities.

The Gambia was also known, until 1994, as Africas longest running democracy. A small group of army lieutenants staged a coup that year, and the ensuing uncertainty following the uprising led to a decline in tourism, adding further stress to an already fragile economy. With the elections of 2001 and 2006, The Gambia has regained its status as a democracy, but it is a tenuous title as poverty continues to rise, freedom of the press is occasionally threatened and basic infrastructure including road conditions and electricity slides backward rather than forward.

Fajara is the oldest of a string of Atlantic coast resorts that includes Kololi, Kotu and Bakau. Along this six mile strip of beach is a line of about twenty hotels. Back from the beach are more hotels, with restaurants, bars, nightclubs, souvenir stalls and all the other paraphernalia of tourism.

This area of coastline is quite dramatic with red rock cliffs interspersed with small beaches. Care should be taken if swimming in this area.

A green tourist taxi from Banjul International Airport to any Atlantic coast resort costs about a third more than yellow taxis in either direction. There isnt any public transport to the airport, but minibuses between Brikama and Serekunda can drop you at the turn off 3km from the airport. From Fajara, you usually have to walk to the junction of Garba Jahumpa Rd and Kairaba Ave to pick up a shared taxi coming from Bakau.

It is important to always carry some form of ID, either your passport or a photocopy, on long journeys, as there are several checkpoints along the way, and the officials can be difficult if they want to be.

There are very, very few independent travellers in Gambia, like virtually none. This maybe due to very bad roads and almost no public transport.

The coolest period is from December to mid February, however, rainfall is a more significant factor than temperature in the climate here. Generally, the wet season lasts from June to October, and the dry season from November to May. The most uncomfortable time is the period of highest humidity, usually just before the wet season begins in June. However, in recent years the weather in the region has become harder to predict. Generally, rainfall levels have declined due to a combination of local deforestation and global warming. Wet seasons seem to start later and end sooner, although sometimes there are unexpected rainfalls during the normally dry.

Attritions includes the Botanical Gardens which were established during colonial times and are looking a little dilapidated now. However, its still a peaceful shady place. KololiBijilo Forest Park is a small wildlife reserve on the coast.
BakauKachikaly Crocodile Pool is a sacred site for locals, some of whom come here to pray, as the crocodiles.

When you travel to the Gambia a lot of people will ask you the same questions like Where are you from. When you answer these questions theres a little conversation and then a guy will usually walk with you. Its very hard to get rid of these guys. He presumes you need a guide even if you dont. Nevertheless he will demand money for his guiding. He may threatened to get this. The only thing to prevent this happening is to make clear, not only that you dont need a guide, but also that you dont pay anything.
About the Author
Douglas Scott works for The Rental Car Hire Specialist. and is a free lance writer for The Villa Gambia Site
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