Dunes Resort and Casino

The Gambia may not be the first place you would think of for a winter sun holiday. Surprisingly though, it is a small gem of rich history, vast landscapes, fascinating culture, great restaurants, colourful markets and of course beautiful beaches. It is the smallest country on mainland Africa bordered by Senegal and a small coastline. Gambia has a population of only 1.7 million and its capital city is called Banjul. It is a relatively stable country, having only one short spell of military rule in 1994. Its economy is heavily reliant on its fishing, farming and tourism industries.

Dunes Resort

This luxurious resort is located in the centre of the golden sandy Kotu beach. It is an easy 25 minutes drive from Banjul airport and city centre. Many of the deluxe suites have fantastic views of ocean and the immaculately maintained tropical gardens.

This resort has a very good reputation for its smart, polite, helpful and friendly staff. Nothing is too much trouble for them, all being well trained and hard working. The hotel rooms have been described as fantastic, the suites as exceptional and most include air conditioning, fridges, hot water and safes. Rooms are also cleaned on a daily basis. The hotel has a bar and restaurant, again with great service and delicious food. The resort also hosts a casino so you can try your hand at poker or roulette during your stay.

There is plenty to do outside of the resort if you can bring yourself to venture away from your quiet pool and beach that is! You can experience a safari or picnic at the nearby National Bijilo Forest, you could lunch on a typical African pirogue, you can walk through Koloti town's colourful markets and nightlife or you can even have a round of golf in nearby Fajora.

Currency

The exchange rate for the Dalasi to the Pound has stayed level for the past two years which means your money will go a long way. £1 sterling will buy you around 400 Dalasi and exchange rates are better in Gambia than here in the UK. It is worth having small denominations of money as most of your shopping will be done in markets. Euros are accepted in Gambia and can be exchanged in hotels. Credit and Debit cards are only sometimes accepted so travellers' cheques would be preferable.

Weather

Due to its location Gambia has plentiful sunshine and high daytime temperatures with virtually no rainfall for six months of the year (November to June). The coast is the only part which really notices a change from winter to summer. From July to October it is very humid and short sharp showers can be experienced. Inland temperatures can reach up to 42 degrees C.

Vaccinations

There are no compulsory vaccinations needed to enter Gambia but it is generally advised that anti-malarial medication is taken. It is also advisable to take a supply of medicines for dehydration, stomach upsets, bites and cuts, high factor sun cream and mosquito nets and repellents.

Transport

Gambia does not have a reliable public transport system but its roads are slowly improving. The capital city does have a limited bus service but otherwise there are taxis. Taxi fares should be agreed before starting your journey and bear in mind they are not regulated like here in the UK. Car hire is expensive and not recommended.

Shopping

Shopping for souvenirs and gifts in Gambia will be mainly done in markets and bargaining is the name of the game. You need confidence and an idea of how much you are willing to pay for something before you start. You can usually reduce the price by about 25 to 50%. On offer at the markets are shoes, elaborate wood carvings, handcrafted straw, leather and cloth goods, sand paintings and batik pictures. Silver jewellery can also be bought but proceed with caution.

Customs

Gambia is considered a developing country so water in particular is a precious commodity and should not be wasted. Be mindful of dripping taps, use showers instead of baths, fill basins rather than running taps and report leaks. Handshaking is a common form of greeting and Gambians are very friendly and welcoming so don't be afraid to accept their hospitality. Gambians speak and understand English well and know western customs and beliefs. Gambia's main religion is Muslim. Casual wear is suitable for out and about and beachwear is only acceptable on beaches or by poolsides.

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