Gambia-tourist-scamsThe Gambia is one of the closest tropical destinations to Europe. Just a 5 to 7 hour flight from most European cities takes you to coconut trees and bounty-like beaches, and a temperature of 30°C all year round. The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa, and it is sometimes called the Smiling Coast of Africa because Gambians are generally very friendly and love making jokes.

Tourism in The Gambia is booming, the national language is English and the low prices are an excellent opportunity for low-budget travelers to discover Africa. However, the tourist infrastructure is not yet comparable to that of the Mediterranean destinations. tourist-scams-GambiaThis is partly done deliberately as the government prefers sustainable tourism over mass tourism, preserving its natural beauty, cultural identity and image as a safe tourist destination.

Gambia tourist scams

However, as in every tourist hotspot, tourists need to be aware of people trying to take advantage of the “all is well” holiday atmosphere which causes the traveler to be off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with travelers who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight.

  • Don’t let your hotel or travel agent make you believe a certain taxi company is safer or more reliable than the other, this only means that they take a commission from the company they recommend.
  • If you’re not an expert in gold, beware that if you’re looking to buy gold from a street vendor, chances are that it’s worth much less than they are trying to make you believe.
  • Hustlers are omnipresent around the tourist hotspots, trying to make a couple of  Dalasi off the tourists. Just ignoring them helps most of the time.
  • Gambia is known for its bumsters or “beach boys”, who try to seduce female tourists on the beach. Most of them are not dangerous, but be aware that they may have a second agenda.
  • Gambia is also one of the capitals of online dating fraud, usually by Nigerian criminals.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a handful of Dalasi, but they could still make you feel like an idiot as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked.

Gambia-tourist-rip_offsBe on guard for these known scams and variations to them. If you happen to run into a new kind of scam, or if you have a story about how the swindlers work, make sure you tell us about it. That’s the best way to warn other travelers and to prevent them from falling into the same traps.

And most importantly: just enjoy your vacation. Don’t be discouraged by these stories, they don’t happen to everyone, and they don’t mean Gambia is unsafe. On the contrary, 99.9 percent of the people are incredibly friendly, sincere and honest, especially away from the tourist hotspots, and are genuinely happy to tell you more about their country and culture.

  • Dating fraud


    Most people will be familiar with the kind of online scams that send fake e-mails from banks, asking them to click a link and enter their password, or messages from unknown Africans willing to share their million-Euro inheritance with the recipient of the e-mail, but not before for their notary fees are paid for first. […]

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  • Taxi scam


    Every tourist knows to be careful when choosing a taxi in a country where he not yet familiar with the regular prices of a fare and where the local rules and habits are still unfamiliar. Tourists being overcharged by taxi’s is a worldwide issue (read the Budapest taxi scam), but in Gambia the scam is […]

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  • Fake gold scam


    Many tourists look to buy gold in Gambia, as gold is locally mined and therefore relatively cheap. Albert Market in Banjul is a popular place to shop for gold, silver and other local souvenirs. However, local traders are taking advantage of tourists looking for a good deal on gold without enough knowledge to distinguish genuine […]

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  • Bumsters


    Bumsters, also called Beach Boys, are local men trying to seduce female tourists on the beaches of Gambia. However, they are not looking for true love, but after their money. Some of them are even able to convince these women that they possess voodoo powers, and use this to manipulate them and mentally abuse the […]

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  • Hustlers


    Hustlers are young men who approach tourists walking on the streets of Banjul, Serrekunda or any other tourist-heavy town in Gambia and start a friendly chat with them, pretending to be helpful, but whose ultimate goal is to profit off the tourists. Some ask directly for money, for example a security guard at a bank […]

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