Finally after 5 days we started our trip. First we had to drive to the east to visit the Niokolo Koba Park in Senegal and to continue our journey to Mali. We were very excited.
Within ten minutes after our departure we had the first problem with our car ......a flat tyre.
It was the one we bought in Serrekunda the day before.
After the flat tyre at the first day we lost also the shock absorber of our Toyota. It was the one, which was repaired in the local workshop in Ker Serigne the week before.
What we didn't know yet this first day, that this was only the start of a lot of technical and mechanical problems with the cars during our transsahara trip.
Finally we solved all problems with the car and could head east. The Mitsubishi Pajero in front of us would be the image of the next weeks on our way to Senegal, Mali, Mauritania and back to the north to Morocco and Europe.
Anyway we thought all problems were solved.......
Like everywhere in West Africa we saw also in the Gambia a lot of horse carts, like this one in the centre of Serrekunda along one of the mainroads.
In the Gambia the most horse or donkey carts were used for transporting goods. In other parts of West Africa we saw that these carts were used as taxis or for transporting the whole family.
There are no bridges across the Gambia River, and the only way to get across is by ferry. The Banjul Ferry runs regularly between Banjul on the south bank of the river, and Barra on the north bank. Two rusty and broken-down ferries are scheduled to make the 30-minute trip every one to two hours between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., but there are usually delays, and it is common for at least one of the ferries to be out of commission.
Because space is limited for vehicles, anyone crossing with a vehicle will have to wait for many hours to get on the ferry, and commercial trucks usually have to wait for days. Those without a vehicle can just walk onto the ferry. The boat's top deck can become very crowded, and visitors must be aware of the many pickpockets attracted by the crowds.
Before we could leave for our transsahara trip, the two 4WDs had to have a check up.
In Ker Serigne was a local workshop. Every time we thought the cars were fixed, it turned out there was a new technical problem.
Finally we had a delay of almost four days before we could start our overland trip.
After our first night in Soma, the first thing to do the next morning was to find a workshop to repair our flat tyre.
In the Gambia and most West African countries that will be never a problem, because every town or village has many workshops. So we find quite easy a workshop, recognisable by the many tyres along the road.
During the reparation of our tyre in Soma we found out, what the reason was of our flat tyre within ten minutes after our departure from the Atlantic coast.
First we saw that the tube was full of repairs. Second the tube had not the right size for the tyre.
When you travels in West Africa, you will see a lot of busses and trucks coming originally from Europe. Often you will see still the names and signs of the European companies on the vehicles.
So our fellow-traveller saw this truck with the name Sterenborg still on it. It was a company, he had worked for in the past, allthough this was not the truck, which he usually drove.
For the Toyota Landcruiser we needed new tyres of the right size. We were advised to look for these tyres in a shop in Serrekunda.
At the main road in Serrekunda we found this shop with lots of second hand tyres in all types and sizes you can imagine.
If you stay in one of the hotels at the coast like we did during our first visit to the Gambia, it's nice to hire a moped for short distances.
We did hire a moped and visited quite easily other places along the coast, Serrekunda and even Banjul. We took the scenic old coastal road with wonderful baobab trees.
When I see baobabs, it gives me always the real feeling to be back in Africa.
The best fun you can have is to use the local mini buses known as "Geleh-Gelehs", the driver is often accompanied by his son who is continually balling out their destination. A trip from the west coast beach resorts into Serrekunda can cost you as little as five delasi per person. The bush taxis are literally that, if you take one into the rural areas as we did to visit Ebou Bah's family, they plough through the bush as there are no roads leading to these small villages. The villagers take their crops up to the nearest main road to await collection by the farmers' co-operative. The tour operators warn you that your insurance policy doesn't cover you for local transportation, I've not yet come across a policy that has that clause in it!
Located about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Banjul, Banjul International Airport (BJL) is the only airport in Gambia offering flights to other African countries and Europe. Most of the airlines that serve the airport are from neighboring African countries, but a few European airlines and charter companies fly into the airport as well.
Airlines serving Banjul International Airport: Afrinat International Airlines, Arik Air, Binter Canarias, Elysian Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Gambia Bird Airlines, Mauritania Airways, Nigerian Eagle Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, SN Brussels Airlines, Spanair, TACV-Cabo Verde Airlines, and Transavia.
When traveling around the country make sure to assure you of the services of an OFFICIAL tourist guide. These people are trained by the government. They will show you around and explain about the country. Afterwards you can tip them.
Make sure to get one of these guys in order to have a safe trip.
During one of our stops along the higway to the east I had the chance to have a close look at the pavement of the asphalt road.
Big surprise, I didn't notice it ever before. The road was paved with seashells !!!
The Kombo Beach is the only hotel we have been to in The Gambia, we stayed here the first time and...more
well such an extraordinarily well run venue in Gambia. German influence, very efficient. What...more
AU Hwy, Brufut Heights, PO Box 3311, Serekunda, Gambia
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples