Before travelling to somewhere exotic like Gambia in West Africa the travel advice is to visit your doctor 8 weeks before you leave. The doctor will then determine by country what vaccinations you may need. The last time I saw the doctor relative to travel was early 2002 when I visit Goa in India, which was my first trip to the third world, where I was expected to take anti malaria tablets daily.
For Kenya in 2005 I not bother, I felt confident I could simply avoid mosquito bites. But for Gambia I was not so sure and was worried about the possibility of getting malaria. This may be linked to a story…
A guy I knew had recently divorced his wife, he could not wait to break free from her. After the settlement, to celebrate he decided to book a singles holiday to Gambia. Seems his wife had the same idea when she was on the same flight as himself. It then got worse as she booked into the same hotel as him. Finally when the holiday was over, back home he was taken to hospital with Malaria.
So at my GP I fill out a form with my travel details and then had an appointment to see the doctor. I had to have an injection for yellow fever which was over £50 you then get a yellow fever certificate. Some tetanus boosters and the recommended tablets to prevent Malaria were Malarone which you have to take daily for the duration of your holiday, 2 days before you leave and for a week after you return. The Malarone tablets were not cheap either, so before I had even packed my case I had to depart with over a £100 just to prevent contracting some nasty diseases that are prevalent in West Africa and Gambia.
The tourist peak season in Gambia runs from mid October until the end of April. This is the Gambian winter, which means dry and hot for us touching 35 Celsius, but less mosquito’s. The summers months in Gambia and its alot hotter can touch 50 Celsius, its also the wet season alot more mosquito so more chance of getting malaria.
Obviously I would be flirting with the ladies, anyone who knows me, knows I love the black girls too. Cannot rely on local condoms, so would be packing my own. If your a bit embarrassed about buying them in a pharmacy you can order big boxes of Durex off sites like Amazon for a good price. I always take some KY Jelly too for some extra lubrication.
Regarding money, usually I load up my cash card which provides a good conversion rate and never blocks. ATMs are present on the SeneGambia strip but are unreliable and generally only Visa is accepted. Due to booking a package which included pickup from Bangul airport to Sarjes hotel, I would not need any cash until I ventured out of my hotel. I was told by my tour operator, the Gambia experience the best option is local currency exchange there. The hotels provide 24 hour service. So I decided I would take a £1000 in £50 notes. I was also told all the hotel rooms have safes, essential if this is going to be your mode of access to hard cash.
For Brazil in 2010 I took a percentage of cash to try this method and for sure it always provided the best currency conversion, but they rejected any notes that were worn or had writing on them. So I arranged with my bank to pick up new notes a few days before leaving for the Gambia. Looking online tourist exchanges rates for Gambia were around 60 Delasi to £1.