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Living in Banjul
A comprehensive guide about living well in Banjul
Living in Banjul can be challenging, but this Gambian city has much to offer: it boasts a lively welcoming atmosphere and a rich heritage. Moreover, its coastal position offers all the advantages of a tiny seaport, from the beautiful beaches to the good cuisine.
Life in Banjul
Transportation in Banjul
The city of Banjul is located on the Trans-West African Coastal Highway and has good transport links to surrounding cities and neighboring African nations. The roads in the heart of the city are mostly in good condition and easy to navigate. However, many roads in the city, particularly in the outskirts and more rural districts, are in very poor condition and suffer from roughness and potholes. Driving in the city takes place on the right hand side. The speed limit on major roads and highways is 70 mph, this comes down to 25mph for residential streets. Although the police make their presence known throughout Banjul, and violations such as drunk driving and speeding are punishable offences, reckless driving is still a very common occurrence.
There is a convenient selection of public transport available in Banjul. There are numerous taxis operating throughout the city, and taxi ranks in every neighborhood. A list of destinations and fare prices are clearly displayed at each rank, and there is also a controller who arranges journeys with passengers and helps them to find their cab. Taxi drivers are known to be ruthless motorists who rarely adhere to speed limits, so caution is advised.
Culture and Leisure
This unassuming capital city is well known for its lively, welcoming atmosphere and its rich cultural history. The city is filled with iconic attractions, such as the National Museum, which is filled with exhibits and artefacts from Gambia’s ancient past and the Royal Albert Market. At the Royal Albert Market, merchants and customers gather in the mazes of brightly colored stalls to haggle the price of local produce, such as food and fabrics. This market has gained popularity over the years and has become one of the city’s main attractions. Another iconic feature of Banjul is Arch 22. This 35m high cream arch and monument features a statue of a soldier holding a small child and was built to commemorate Yahya Jammeh, who instigated a political overhaul in 1994.
Banjul is also home to some natural attractions. The Gambia River National Park is one of the most popular places to visit. This extensive natural landscape includes the Baboon Islands Archipelago, which spans 1,450 acres and consists of five tropical islands. Nature lovers come from far and wide to admire the exotic array of animals that call the park home, including chimpanzees, green monkeys, baboons, warthogs, hippos, otters and manatees.
Safety and Security
One of the main security warnings given to anyone moving to Banjul is about ‘bumsters’. This is the informal name given to gangs of local young men who target expats with scams and hassling. Gangs of bumsters can often be found outside hotels and in tourist filled areas. Expats should be aware of this issue, remain astute and exercise caution around potential scammers. One of the main methods that these gangs use to get money out of foreigners is to offer assistance or help out with directions, only to forcefully demand monetary compensation.
Although Banjul is mostly a very safe city, it is advisable to avoid walking alone at night. The risk of mugging and petty theft is significantly higher after dark, and foreigners are at a much greater risk of being targeted.
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