Travellers to the Gambia will use the local currency called the dalasi. No other country uses this currency today, and the dalasi is issued by the Central Bank of The Gambia.
The dalasi is a decimal currency and it is divided into 100 butut. There are five coins available in the butut denomination. These are the 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 bututs coins. There is also a one dalasi coin.
As for the notes, well you will find the 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 dalasi banknotes in use. It is relatively easy to distinguish them all from one another. Furthermore the coins are all of different sizes to further aid in telling them apart.
Whereas some currencies date back centuries, the Gambian dalasi only goes back as far as 1971. This was due to the country gaining full independence. Before this point it was one of the Crown Colonies of Britain, which meant the currency used was the Gambian pound. The dalasi was introduced to mark the fact the country now had full independence and was essentially now its own country instead of being related to another one.
You can get the currency prior to travelling to the Gambia if you wish – simply use a bureaux de change to make sure you get a good rate. You might want to compare them before choosing the most conveniently priced one. However many people think you actually receive a better exchange rate if you leave doing an exchange until you arrive in the Gambia. You can still get a little cash before you go in case you need it immediately on arrival but this just gives you something else to consider.
Credit cards, while great to use in other countries, aren’t that useful here. Mastercard is practically useless while Visa cards can occasionally be accepted, but don’t assume they will be accepted because only a limited number of places will take them. With credit cards the big hotels in the major cities might take them but that is about it. You might be able to get cash from a cash machine using a Visa card but even then you’ll have to go searching for one that takes it.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind here. Firstly you can take traveller’s cheques into the Gambia to exchange at currency exchange places. Secondly you can take popular currencies to exchange those for the dalasi as well. The best ones to take are the British pound, the US dollar and the euro.
Any good currency converter online today will give you the exchange rate you want. You should remember though that this rate will not be the same as the one you are charged when you exchange one currency for another. There is typically some sort of commission that is added on. This will either be as a percentage rate or included in a slightly lower exchange rate, while advertised with no commission.
If you wish to get some more information about the Gambia and what you might expect if you go there, head online to the official website for the Embassy of the Republic of The Gambia. This can be found at http://www.gambiaembassy.org.uk/.
You should always be careful when visiting the Gambia and it is wise to check on the latest travel information before you go there. Tourists can be a common target for criminals in the country. Even hotels have been broken into and passports and other items of value have been lifted from rooms. Normally it would be advisable to keep your passports and valuables in a hotel safe, but do be sure it really is safe to do so if you are going to do this. Otherwise the best bet may be to wear a money belt and to keep your passport and other items in there so they are always on your person.
You should always keep yourself to yourself and never accept any offer of help from someone purporting to be a guide. Don’t carry any more cash than you really have to and make sure your valuables are safely stored away.
While terrorism isn’t something you really need to worry about, there is a level of crime in the country and some areas are perhaps not advisable to visit. For the most up to date information it is best to visit the UK government website to get the latest details on travel advice regarding the country.
If you want to go to the Gambia you will head for South Africa. It is a long horizontal sliver of a country as you will see when you look at a map. It is surrounded on all sides by Senegal and the Gambia River runs right into it. There is merely a small strip of coastline at the western end of the country, where the Gambia River flows into the Atlantic.
The capital of the Gambia is Banjul, which is located to the western end of the country not far from the point where the river flows into the Atlantic. The city was actually originally created when the British ruled the area. It was used for trade back then. The city has a nice amount of attractions you may wish to visit, including the African Heritage Museum. This is a good way to find out more about the area and to see art work that pertains to it as well. It is also worth a trip to see the Gambia National Museum. This is an ideal source of more information about the Gambia and its history. Elsewhere the Albert Market is a well-known market in the city, and one that dates back to the 19th century. It is fascinating to explore and to wander around to see what is on sale there.
Needless to say the Gambia River is a good place to see as well, especially since it flows through the centre of the country and can be seen near the capital. Wherever you are staying in the country you won’t be far from it so it would be a shame not to take a closer look. It is actually possible to take a boat trip on the river too, which is well worth doing if you have the time. Many people have called it relaxing and fascinating too, with many birds in the area possible to see from the water. The River Gambia National Park is a good place to go to do this, since it also gives you the chance to stay there in tents overnight.
If you want to see more of nature – and some of the most fearsome creatures around today as well – why not head for the Kachikally Museum and Crocodile Pool? This is only a few miles out from the capital and can be found in Bakau. It might seem like the last thing you would want to do but you can touch the crocodiles here if you want to. There are dozens here and it is a good place to learn more about them.
Elsewhere the Kiang West National Park can be found near the southern bank of the river, about halfway up its length. As the name of the park suggests, it can be found in the Kiang West district of the country. There are many animals and birds to be found here, including the leopard, the otter, the mongoose even humpback dolphins! As you can imagine there are some amazing opportunities to see mammals, reptiles and birds all in the one location. Many find it a fascinating and educational experience to visit here.
The Gambia is a country most people are aware of, even if few of them could accurately tell where it is in the world. It is an oddly-shaped country that has a river running through the centre of it, giving it a fascinating shape and many different areas to visit.
Indeed, while a visit to the capital is quite interesting many people prefer to go inland and explore the more rugged and natural parts of the country. The river has much to share with those who go on a trip down part of its lengths, and the many national parks and similar areas here are home to many species.
In short a trip to the Gambia will provide you with opportunities to make the most of everything you would want to see there. It certainly makes for a different holiday destination, particularly as there is plenty more to enjoy elsewhere in the country. Indeed it might be helpful to check out some more information about the Gambia before you book a trip there, so you know what to expect.