Senegal & The Gambia: Traveling overland from Dakar, Senegal to Banjul, The Gambia

Senegal & The Gambia: Travelling overland from Dakar to the Gambia using public transport!

After full week of work plus a few days exploring Dakar, I was ready to move on. Dakar is a truly unique place, rough around the edges, bristling with diversity & full of interesting places. I was anxious to leave the big city life, explore Ziguinchour, the Gambia and maybe even try to reach Guinea Bissau!

From Dakar to the Gambia – this is easy if you know the proper sequence of steps to take. First, start early and catch a morning taxi (8am) from the Dakar city center to Beaux Mariechers Gare Routiere De Dakar (around 4k CAF). Tell them you want to go to the “Sept Place” (literally “7 places” in French) taxi area for the Gambia. After the taxi driver drops you off, tell people that you want to go to Banjul or the Gambia, and they will point you in the correct direction. Its way in the back under some metal awning type things. We refused people trying to grab our bags to “help us” because the bags were tiny and they will then demand $$. Once we found the cars lined up for the journey, we asked for the price. 2 back seats cost 6000 CAF per person. It’s another 500 if you want to sit up front but that was taken already. We waited about 15 minutes for our car to leave.

Once in route they will ask everyone if you want to take the fast route. This is a democracy it seems and everyone votes on whether to pay an extra +500 CAF to take the fast route which (saves an or or two). This was then collected for everyone in car and used to pay the highway toll booths. Pay the 500, trust me. It took only 4 to 5 hrs to reach the border. En route you will pass many small towns and thousands of amazing baobab trees.

Note: even though they say it goes to Banjul, what they mean is the sept place will really just drop you at the border.

Gambia to Banjul and Serrekunda

Once you are finished with the border, catch a share taxi outside the Gambia border post to the ferry. 200 Gambian Dalasi per person to the Baffa ferry port in a car with 4x people. You can use CFA to get all the way from the border to the ferry if you wish. Once you reach the ferry, on the North side of the river before you cross to Banjul – you will find an ATM. It’s a green building.

At the ferry, buy your ticket 25 Gambian Dalasi per person (you may have to pay extra 10 Dalasi for your luggage, which they will weight). We were given priority entrance ahead of everyone else because, Africa? Anyways this was nice as it allowed us to secure a seat and save 2 seats for the extremely nice people that had helped / adopted us tourists at the Gambian border. The ferry was nice, and you will see everything from military vehicles, buses and goats abord.

From Banjul – Serrekunda.

We had limited time so chose to skip the super tiny capital of Banjul (which must be one of the smallest capitals on earth), and headed straight to the larger city of Serrekunda (which has a nice beach). After you exit the ferry don’t get distracted by the taxi touts, keep walking and avoid them. Walk for several streets and ask people to point you towards shared taxis for Serrekunda. They will show you the correct direction. Be quick as they fill and leave quickly once the ferries arrive. We were fortunate to be “adopted tourists” and our new friends gave us a ride in a fancy Volvo SUV all the way to our hotel on the beach in Serrekunda.

Border and Visa (Senegal to Gambia) US Citizen report

Exit Senegal – was super straightforward and simple. They asked to see both of our covid tests and they will scan you passport, take your finger prints and stamp you out. The machine didn’t like my fingers so this actually took several awkward minutes of efforts to complete, but the border guards were nice. It’s a short walk to the Gambia post. I recommend you google the exchange rate and change money here. This will avoid “currency negotiations” if you need a Visa for The Gambia. If you don’t, its easy to use CFA to get all the way to the ferry for Banjul (where there is an ATM right next to the Ferry office on the north side of the river).

Entering Gambia – You will go to a window first, then they will pass you on to several offices if you need a visa. WARNING, everyone cautioned us about the infamous Gambian border “pill search”. Basically make sure you have all pills in the original prescription bottle, clearly labeled. Everything. Even Advil or Tylenol needs to be in the original packaging and clearly labeled. If not, they will supposedly find a pill that is not in the original packaging and claim that you are trafficking drugs, and it will need to be sent to the capital for “testing.” You can obviously pay a “fine on the spot” to avoid this. You wont get a receipt. It’s an elaborate ruse for a bribe. Amazingly, we weren’t searched entering or leaving Gambia. I guess that means we look legit enough (travelling with my wife helped? I had a rolly bag and not a backpack?) or we just looked poor? Who knows?


You can get this on arrival in The Gambia for 3000 Gambian Dalasi per person, around 60 USD (USA passport). We were passed on through 4 different offices, seemingly each escalating to higher commanders in slightly nicer offices each time. When entered the final office, the commander sat us down at his desk and then turned on the air conditioner before closing the door. “Ahh, the process had begun”, I told myself. He asked all the normal questions, job, purpose of travel. We chatted a bit a bit about Gambia and the US. He then asked us to pay our 6000 Dalasi, the normal price for 2x visas. We asked if we could pay in CFA, he said “sure, that will be 80,000 for the two of you.” This price should be around 64K – 65K Senegal CFA per the current exchange. We spent the next 20 minutes negotiating the exchange rate. It was a cordial process, and I almost walked out to go exchange the money myself. In the end we settled on receiving a 5 year, multiple entry visa for around 70,000 CFA total. (the usual visa is 30 days, dual entry). Despite the “negotiations”, the commander was never rude or threatening, and rather pleasant overall. Just, be prepared. In retrospect, the extended time spent with the commander may have helped us avoid the baggage search, so in retrospect, everything ended up positively.

2 Comment

  1. Mukkee Muuyaa says: Reply

    Nice writing style – very useful information.

  2. Oreilly says: Reply

    Great Read! Danke sehr.

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