Didn't think it was possible to get a taste of Africa in a long weekend? Think again.Read more...
The Gambia - Calendar
Bag a bargain
Christmas is over and budgets are depleted, meaning January is a good time to look for last-minute bargain packages at the height of the tourist season.
Dancing and drumming in Kartong
One of The Gambia's most prominent annual festivals, usually held over three days on the first full weekend in February, is dominated by exciting traditional music and dancing displays.
Chill out on the coast
March and April are among the best months to be at the coast – relatively cool at night, and towards the end of the dry season, which means mosquito and other insect activity is at its lowest.
Easter traditionally signals the end of the peak tourist season, which means that late April is often a very enjoyable time to be in The Gambia, with crowds thinning but facilities still operating in full seasonal mode.
The International Roots Festival, inaugurated in 1996 and now usually held biennially in late May (sometimes slipping into June) offers an opportunity for Europeans and Americans of African descent to explore their cultural roots.
(Photo: Traditional band at the Roots festival in Banjul © Ariadne Van Zandbergen, www.africaimagelibrary.com)
Take a backpack upriver
May and June are among the best months for independent travel, with pleasantly dry weather but falling outside the main tourist season, which means that the coastal resorts are relatively quiet.
The height of the rainy season, July isn't a great time to visit the Gambia.
Still heavy weather
Still in the height of the rainy season, August isn't a great time to visit the Gambia either.
Join the hustle at Abuko market
The livestock market in the small town of Abuko, close to Banjul, becomes a chaotic regional focal point during the build-up to Tobaski (a Gambian variant on the Islamic celebration of Eid-al-Adha), when it is customary for every home to slaughter a ram. Tobaski coincides with the end of the annual Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca, falling in September from 2015 to 2017.
A pre-season taster
Though it can be very hot in the interior, this is a great time to explore the coast, offering pleasantly dry weather prior to the abrupt start of the tourist season.
The early dry season, from late October to December, is the optimum time for ornithological trips to the Gambia. Wetland habitats are still moist and green, following the recently ended rainy season. November in particular sees plentiful passage migrants from Europe, while many resident species enter full breeding colours.
A Senegal thick-knee by the River Gambia © Ariadne Van Zandbergen, www.africaimagelibrary.com
Tourist season peaks
A great time of year to visit in most respects, December is also when the coastal resorts are most crowded with Europeans escaping the northern winter, which means resorts tend to be at their most crowded and room rates are highest and most inflexible.