Tourist traps are easy to find in every destination! It's even difficult to avoid them sometimes – and The Gambia is no different.
Read below the some of the Gambian tourist traps we found on www.virtualtourist.com:
Bumsters: are harmless if you don’t fall for their tricks, they are friendly and talkative. Usually they will walk with you for a while then give up if you politely say you are not interested.
Money changers: When you are out and about you will find locals coming up to you and offer you to change money. Be aware of those offering a high rate as it sometimes turns out that they fool you. Hidden in a bunch of 100's you will find some 25s. Or they will just give you a few notes short.
Green Tourist Taxis: The Green Tourist taxis are not different from their yellow cousins other than colour and price! Walk out of the controlled tourist zones avoiding various touts, negotiate a competitive price with a yellow taxi or better still take a bush taxi - the large vans which take set routes.
Local guides are best: The holiday company reps will try to sell you their trips. They do this within the first 24 hours of your arrival, before you have time to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. They will advise against using the local guys as your guides, telling you that it may not be safe.DO NOT BELIEVE A WORD OF IT.
Bumbster tricks:A local bumster noticed my wife had several mosquitoe bites on her arms and legs. English mosquitoe cream no good" he said and picked up a jar of cream from a stall in the market. He opened the jar and said "Smell, coco butter very good protection from mosquitoes" and smeared cream down my wife's arm "Only 450 dalasis" he said. I replied "No thanks" by then the stall holder joined in "How much will you pay me" he said. I replied "Nothing, I do not want your coco butter" "You have already used it" he shouted, to which I replied "No your friend used it, so he can pay for it but I'm certainly not giving you 450 dalasis for a tub of coco butter" I then walked away leaving the bumster and the sall holder arguing. That particular bumster never came near us again. We did later buy a jar of coco butter for 50 dalasis only to find it was just a cheap skin cream. (But it does smell nice)
A bit too expensive: A trip out to James Island, costs about US$15 return, and all you can see is a bit of wall and a canon - definitely not worth that much money.
“Friendly” children:All over The Gambia you will be approached by friendly children practicing their English. "Hello", "What's your name", "Where are you from", "Your first time in Gambia", "How you like my country?" "I give you my address, you send me gift" so on and so forth.
Give your money to the people:The biggest tourist trap has to be the one set by the international tour operators who get you into their welcome meetings before you can talk to the locals. The fill your mind with doubt and uncertainty putting you into a nervous state of mind so that you sign up for their overpriced tours of the Gambia. Don't commit yourself to any of these, take a walk down to the local bush taxi (that's the yellow and green ones that aren't allowed near your hotel) and ask a driver how much he'll charge for a trip across the Barra ferry to Juffure. That guy doesn't own that cab, he has to pay the owner a monthly fee for using it, put some money in his pocket not into the coffers of some German tour operator. Okay, so you’re going to be followed by one of the boys outside the hotel gate so be it, ask the driver should you trust this boy? Like as not he'll not want to share his tip with someone else and besides they have a five passenger limit. Please be generous to the locals they can show you the real Gambia for about quarter the cost of a tour operator and that includes a generous tip.