Go Volunteer Africa running a meaningful and extremely affordable volunteering program in The Gambia, West Africa. Go Volunteer Africa welcomes you to The Gambia the smallest country on the continent of Africa in West Africa. The Gambia has a short North Atlantic Ocean coastline in the west and is surrounded by Senegal so that it is almost an enclave.
The main focus our volunteer work in Gambia is providing education and healthcare to hundreds of children and poor dwellers in the communities and improvement of Agriculture and social welfare. The country captivating array of attractions belies its tiny size. It encompasses: golden beaches backed by swaying palms and sprinkled with scenic lagoons, sleepy fishing villages and biologically rich coastal reserves.
The Gambia, officially the Republic of The Gambia, is a country in West Africa that is almost entirely surrounded by Senegal with the exception of its western coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. It is the smallest country within mainland Africa. The Gambia is situated on both sides of the lower reaches of the Gambia River, the nation’s namesake, which flows through the centre of The Gambia and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Banjul is the Gambian capital and the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama.
Gambia has unique quality features over many other destinations. It is only six hours flight from major European destinations with no jet lag. The Gambia is a popular and affordable all year round destination attracting tourists in search of sun, sand, sea, nature and varied cultural experience and of which this unique country has plenty. The Gambia’s land is fertile for agriculture and the country also relies on fishing and tourism in the capital – Banjul.
Go Volunteer Africa’s volunteering program in Gambia contributes to sustainable development programs in the most vulnerable communities of this country. The community development volunteer work in Gambia include construction and repairs, home repairs, health/HIV/AIDS workshops, youth education, animal rearing, water and sanitation (including well and waterway construction) and project planning and management or other skills that can help us transform this community
Why Volunteer in The Gambia?
With an economy built on a small patch of tourism, peanuts, and money sent home from abroad, poverty in the Gambia has had a period of stability for the past two decades.
Today, more than a third of The Gambia’s population lives below the U.N. poverty line of $1.25 per day. The nation’s poor are mostly in rural areas, and 60 percent of The Gambia relies on agriculture to make a living. Irregular rainfall, economic instability and fluctuating food pricing all contribute to the plight of the Gambian proletariat.
Low productivity persists in the staple area of rice farming, where inefficient technologies and practices lead to less yield during harvests and contribute to worsening soil fertility. Few rural institutions are able to provide basic social services and credit.
***With our volunteer work in Gambia, we allow you to discover the wonders of The Gambia, while doing meaningful and rewarding community work. This is a great opportunity to explore life in West Africa, live and work amongst the locals and realize one person can make a difference.***
VOLUNTEER PROJECTS IN THE GAMBIA
EXTRAS AND SUPPORT
ABOUT THE GAMBIA
The Gambia, officially the Republic of The Gambia, is a country in West Africa that is almost entirely surrounded by Senegal with the exception of its western coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. It is the smallest country within mainland Africa. The Gambia is situated on both sides of the lower reaches of the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the centre of The Gambia and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Banjul is the Gambian capital and the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama.
The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese, during which era it was known as A Gâmbia. The Gambia's economy is dominated by farming, fishing and, especially, tourism. The Gambian economy is heavily dependent on peanut (groundnut) production and export.
In rural areas, poverty is even more widespread, at almost 70%. It is also one of Africa’s most densely populated countries. A few towns are located upriver, but most Gambians live in rural villages. The major ethnic groups are similar to those in Senegal and consist of the majority Malinke and also include Wolof, Fulani (Fulbe), Diola (Jola), and Soninke peoples.
The vegetation cover of The Gambia is savanna on the uplands, various kinds of inland swamp in the low-lying areas, and mangrove swamp along the brackish lower Gambia River. Few wild animals are native to the region, and those that survive are under pressure from the human and domestic animal populations. In the middle and upper river areas there are warthogs, monkeys, baboons, antelope, pygmy hippopotamuses, and crocodiles. In addition, more than 500 species of birds live throughout the country.
Birds and wildlife can be found in Bijilo Forest Park, along the Atlantic coast, the Abuko Nature Reserve, just upriver from Banjul, Kiang West National Park, farther inland, and River Gambia National Park (also known as Baboon Island National Park), near Kuntaur. Gambia is one of the most beautiful and peaceful lands in Africa.
Banjul: The capital of Gambia is located on St. Mary’s Island, at the mouth of the Gambia River. Albert Market is the place for trinkets, including jewelry, local crafts, and clothing; but if souvenir shopping’s not up your alley, go for some visual exploration instead. MacCarthy Square is home to some great 19th-century colonial architecture, and we recommend the National Museum, too. You can take a taxi to the coastal resorts, or, if you have time and want to explore the local waterways, hop into one of the small motorboats called pirogues and see the wildlife of Oyster Creek.
Serekunda: Touted as “the unofficial capital of Gambia,” Serekunda is about four kilometers inland from the coast and is worth a day’s visit. This city is the country’s largest and provides the best glimpse into the daily life of a Gambian. Visit the market on the city’s main street, and sip some pints at a local bar. For a memorable event, we recommend watching the traditional wrestling matches, called boreh, which occur frequently in public areas; ask a local t for his advice on when and where to watch the next match.
Bakau’s Crocodile Pool and Botanical Gardens: The Kachikally Crocodile Pool is a sacred spot for many local people, similar to the Ganges in India, and has been used for public bathing for generations. Do not be surprised if you see people coming to pray and bathe in the water during your visit. About a hundred 100 crocodiles reside in the pool, and having grown accustomed to the presence of people, they allow brave visitors to pet them. Approach the seemingly docile crocodiles at your own risk!
Also in Bakau, the cliff-top botanical gardens are a great place to visit during the early morning, when the gardens are shady and cool. Nearby, you can watch fishing boats bring their day’s catch to the shore or walk through the foliage and admire the many colorful birds that live in the treetops.
Wassu Stone Circles: Believed to be a burial site constructed over a thousand years ago, the Wassu Stone Circles are located in Central Gambia. Hundreds of these stone circles can be found throughout region. Visit the site’s museum, and learn about the human bones, weapons, pottery, and other artifacts discovered at the site.
The Coastal Beaches: There is a reason why the coast of Gambia is popular with tourists: it is located on some of Africa’s most beautiful beaches. (Come on: you deserve a chance to relax, right?) Spend the day on the beach and go swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. In the evening visit a local restaurant, and have a good night’s sleep in one of the cozy hotels. Everything is within a few minutes’ walking distance, so it’s easy to enjoy the beach and get back to your room without effort.
Abuko Nature Reserve: Teeming with monkeys, birds, and more, the Abuko Nature Reserve is one of the finest such sites in western Africa. Because it’s the most visited tourist attraction in Gambia, you will have plenty of company when you make the trip. The animal orphanage is one of our favorite sites, home to a large group of hyenas and birds.
Gambia River: Running through the entirety of the country, the Gambia River is 700 miles (1,126.5 kilometers) long and stretches all the way to northern Guinea. Although you don’t have to leave land to take in river views in Banjul, we recommend a boat ride up the river to explore more of its staggering beauty. Birds, crocodiles, and hippos are frequently observed during these trips; you can even go on a fishing safari.
Bintang Bolong: The largest tributary of the Gambia River, Bintang Bolong is home to a complex of lodges built on stilts above the water among the mangrove trees. The lodges offer daily boat trips—good to consider if you’re traveling with a group; they offer a great opportunity to get away from the larger towns of Gambia and relax by the water.
Bijilo Forest Park: This small rain forest nature reserve is just south of the coastal resorts. You can see more than a hundred species of birds, as well as four different primate species, as you walk through the park. Be wary of the monkeys, though, as they are given to stealing food. We recommend hiring one of the park guides to show you around the area.
Tanji: If you want to see a small, authentic fishing village, we’d recommend making a trip to Tanji. It’s located south of the coastal resorts; you can come for a day and see fish smoking houses, the local market, and fishermen hard at work. The Tanji Village Museum is built in the local fashion and is worth a look. Conveniently, the Tanji River Bird Reserve is also nearby: with an assortment of environments, it’s a great place to see more than 300 varieties of birds. Visitors sometimes also spot turtles, seals, and (if they’re lucky) whales in the surrounding waters.
Gambia sees sunshine year-round, but it has a rainy season (June through September), during which the country’s lush foliage and the rushing water of the Gambia River are at their finest.
Capital: Banjul (Population: 513,397)
Currency: Gambian dalasi (GMD) $1 = 50 GMD / £1 = 65 GMD (2019)
Population: 2,101,000 (approx)
Official languages: English (official)
Area: 11,295 sq km
International Calling Code: +220
PROJECT LOCATIONS & QUICK FACTS
The Gambia is known for its diverse ecosystems around the central Gambia River. Abundant wildlife in its Kiang West National Park and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve includes monkeys, leopards, hippos, hyenas and rare birds. The capital, Banjul, and nearby Serrekunda offer access to beaches.
Go Volunteer Africa offers a wide range of volunteering and travel opportunities in Gambia from teaching, childcare, construction, conservation or healthcare projects. If you are looking for somewhere to volunteer and get immersed in the culture, Gambia is an ideal destination. Programs are perfect if you want to go off the beaten path and would like to see more than the average tourist and truly start to understand this distinctive culture.
VOLUNTEERING IN GAMBIA QUICK FACTS
- The program is open all year-round
- Very flexible start and end dates (arrive any day of the month)
- Over 10 oustanding sustainable project options
- Projects are based across the country with major locations being Banjul, Serekunda & Brikama.
- Accommodation available at volunteer house & host families
- Program fees include pre-departure support, airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- We are the most affordable organization in Africa, because we are the locals!
It’s no wonder that The Gambia is so popular with winter holidaymakers. Friendly, tropical and peaceful, The Gambia is a short flight from Northern Europe and its costal resorts around Banjul are perfect for a lazy poolside break. More intrepid travellers can head inland to find more classic West African landscapes. Cruise along the River Gambia to spot playful chimpanzees or basking hippos and trace the history of the slave trade at James Island. Birders will be in seventh heaven at the Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve, a protected area of salt flats, marshland and wetland that is home to a huge number of species.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to Go Volunteer Africa's local Coordinators on arrival in the country.
SAFARIS & TOURS
Safaris, day and cultural tours can be organized over the weekends for volunteers. This is a fantastic opportunity to see the famous Gambia wildlife and beaches. There is a lot to see and do in Gambia.
BEFORE YOU GO
§ Pre-departure support & documentation
§ Travel & medical advice & documentation
§ Advice on visas & equipment advice
§ Project orientation
§ 3 meals a day
§ Airport pickup
§ In-country emergency support
§ 24-hour HQ backup
§ Free GVA t-shirt
GAMBIA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Volunteer Guest house/ Host Family
ARRIVAL & AIRPORT PICKUP
After you have booked and confirmed your placement, please book your flights to arrive at Banjul International Airport in Banjul. A member of staff from our local partner organization in Gambia will meet you on arrival at the airport and take you to the volunteer guest house or host family which will be your base for volunteering.
Orientation and Placement will be done the next day. This airport services numerous international carriers. Gambia has good connections to destinations throughout Europe, the Asia- Pacific region, USA and Africa.
ACCOMMODATION & LIVING IN GAMBIA
Participants in our programs and tours in Gambia are provided accommodation in a nice well organized guesthouse or in a homestay accommodation managed by the local coordinating team. Three meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) are provided to the participants from Monday - Sunday. Life at the accommodation facility is simple, unsophisticated and fun, perfect for unwinding from a busy day!
The accommodation is neat and clean. Accommodation is shared amongst volunteer tourists on the ‘same gender sharing’ basis rooms. Wifi internet, warm water is not guaranteed. The facility has western style toilet and shower facilities are shared between 4 or 10 people.
The accommodation is very close to useful amenities like banks, ATM’s, currency exchanges, restaurants, cafes and shopping places. All placements are around 10 - 30 minutes from the accommodation. Its equipped with a lounge, TV, Kitchen, hand washing facilities and spare electricity sockets.
Over the weekends or evenings, participants are free to eat out and explore the different delights that the Gambia has to offer. We arrange city day tours and long-weekend safaris. No matter what your interests, there is always something for everyone to enjoy!
Some volunteers are also provided accommodation in the project premises itself. For example - Volunteers working in orphanage project can be provided accommodation in the project premises itself in a separate room that is allotted for volunteers.
PLACEMENT BOOKING FEE:
After application process and acceptance into the program, you will be required to pay a placement booking and confirmation administration fee of USD$180 (solo traveler), USD$150 (2-5 participants p/p), USD$125 (6+ participants p/p). This is charged above the program fee quoted which is paid in cash upon arrival to your host country.
The fee covers: Administration Costs, Placement Booking & Confirmation, Pre-departure support & documentation, 24-hour international HQ back-up
Visas: Visitors to the Gambia must obtain a visa from one of the Gambian diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries. In October 2019, Government of the Gambia announced plans for a new visa policy. Citizens of some countries can obtain a visa on arrival.
Insurance: You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the program. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave your home to the day you return.
APPLICATION & BOOKING
To participate in this program, you have to fill an online application form, and submit it for consideration. After application process and acceptance into the program, you will be required to pay the booking fee to confirm your placement. Failure to make the placement booking and confirmation payment will lead to cancelation of your program.