As fun and adventurous a holiday in Africa is and can be, please make sure you do not face unpleasant surprises. A good preparation of your holiday is necessary and will bring you a safe holiday.
Remember TIA: This is Africa! Things are going to be(slightly) different then you expect them to. We will give a couple of tips.
Malaria, Medicins & Vaccinations
Gambia is a country where Malaria occurs. It is wise to protect yourself against the Malaria mosquitos, which are active throughout the year. Bring DEET (tropical anti mosquito spray) and take anti-malaria pills. Wearing trousers and long sleeved clothing during dawn and at night will not give you enough protection against the mosquito bites. At the hotel room you can put on the fan or use the airco to make sure mosquitos will not bite you. We strongly advise to take anti-Malaria pills. We always use Malarone, but please feel free to use any other type of anti-Malaria pills you feel comfortable with. If, despite all precautions, you are experiencing a fever or flu effects, please go to see a doctor within 24 hours.
Only the vaccination against Yellow Fever is compulsory if you have been in a country where Yellow Fever occurs 7 days before entering Gambia. A Cholera stamp is only compulsory if you travel to Gambia over land. The same is applicable when you visit Senegal. So when you want to visit Senegal when you are in Gambia, please make sure you get this stamp.
Regardless of the duration of your stay, the following vaccinations are recommended: DTP-vaccine and Hepatitis A-vaccine. When you stay longer than 3 months Typhus, Hepatitis B, Rabies and tuberculosis vaccines are recommended as well. Also a vaccination against Meningitis is recommended with a stay of 6 weeks or longer combined with close contact with the local population in the period December until June.
In Gambia the contamination percentage of Aids is relatively low compared to other African countries. Never-the-less this is a quickly spreading disease in Gambia and is mostly obtained by unprotected sex. The contamination percentage under prostitutes is extremely high, namely 70%. We want to point out that prostitution is forbidden in Gambia and also a big taboo for the local people. Prostitution or the use of these ‘services’ are highly punished.
Other health risks
In Gambia it can happen that you get travel diarrhea. It is recommended to bring ORS and take this. This solution makes sure that fluids and the salt are faster incorporated.
The so-called Tumbu Fly can sting and lay a little egg inside your skin. Within a couple days this egg will emerge as a larva. If you have anything that seems to be an infected mosquito bite with a little hole in the middle, please have it checked by a doctor. The larva is easily removed and it sounds a lot worse than it actually is, but better safe than sorry!
Put the anti-Malaria pills and other medicine in your hand luggage. Also valuable items are safer in your hand luggage. Please put your name and address on and in your suitcases, in case your suitcase is lost. Also bring a small first aid kit with you which contains: Band-Aids, tweezers, aspirins and disinfectant spray or hand lotion, because even the smallest injury will infect sooner in the warm climate.
Food and drinks
It is perfectly fine to eat and drink the local dishes in the restaurants and also the fruit which they sell at the beach never gave us any trouble. Water is only drinkable when it comes from bottles and we also brush our teeth with bottled water. When it is very warm, you will be less hungry, but it is necessary to eat some extra salt and sugar, to prevent you from feeling weak.
The tropical sun is very intense and you will get a sunburn before you know it, so it is important to bring a good sun cream with high UV protection.
Please make sure you have a good travel insurance and give your family or a good friend the information about where you are staying.
In Gambia they mostly use English electrical sockets, so bring a travel adapter. The voltage is 230.
Gambia is in the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) zone. This means that when it is summertime in the UK, it will be 1 hour earlier in Gambia and when it is wintertime in the UK, there is no time difference.
When it is summertime in Holland, it will be 2 hours earlier in Gambia and when it is wintertime in Holland, it is 1 hour earlier in Gambia.