The Gambia in
January

The small country of The Gambia is found on the west coast of the African continent, surrounded by Senegal on three sides. With constant warm weather, miles of stunning coastline and friendly, English-speaking locals, it’s one of the best countries in Africa to visit on a winter holiday.

The Gambia is the smallest of Africa’s countries, but it’s jam-packed with exciting things to see and do. January is one of the most popular times to visit the country, particularly if you’re looking for a winter break that can offer a lot of hot weather and picturesque beaches. Shake off the winter blues and visit this exciting part of the world – we guarantee you’ll be glad that you did. 

Reasons to visit The Gambia in January

The Gambia Coast
  • January is part of The Gambia’s dry season, meaning that you are highly unlikely to experience any rain during your holiday
  • The Gambia is the perfect destination for those wanting sunshine in the winter, with temperatures in the low thirties every day and virtually cloudless skies all month
  • Whilst January isn’t a good month for spotting wildlife in many African countries, it’s a brilliant time in The Gambia, particularly if you have an interest in birds

Weather in The Gambia in January

The Gambia has a subtropical climate and is a great year-round destination that offers plenty of sun and heat. Although January is the country’s coldest month, you’ll still experience high temperatures and beautifully clear skies offering lots of sunshine.  

Temperature

Average high temperatures in The Gambia reach up to 32°C during the day, so it’s important to keep to the shade during the hottest parts of the day and wear sun protection if you’re out enjoying the weather. At night, temperatures drop quite dramatically to only 15°C, which provides welcome relief from the heat of the day but can catch you off guard if you haven’t packed a thick layer of clothing for the evening. 

Sea Temperature

The sea temperature along the coast of The Gambia is at its coolest during the country’s dry season, with an average temperature of 22°C in January. With the high air temperature that the country experiences during the month however, a dip in the sea will feel incredibly refreshing!

Clouds and Rainfall

January falls in the dry season for The Gambia, so there is practically no chance of rain anywhere in the country throughout the month. There is also a very low chance of cloudy weather, so you can expect clear blue skies for the majority of your holiday. 

Sunshine Hours

There is an average of 7 hours of bright sunshine in The Gambia in July, with 11 hours of daylight overall. Sunrise is around 7.30 am and the sun tends to set just before 7 pm. 

Where to go in The Gambia in January

Sanyang

Sanyang Beach and Village can be found on the southwest coast of The Gambia, with a population mainly made up of local tribes. If you’re looking for somewhere to get away from crowds of travellers and enjoy the peace and quiet of the ocean, then this is the place for you.

Whilst now slightly more geared up for tourism, Sanyang still maintains a very authentic air, with a huge stretch of beautiful beach that is thought to be the best in the whole country. There is a range of different accommodation options if you want to stay in the area, frequent fresh fish markets organised by the locals and numerous footpaths leading to and from the beach designed for treks through the forest. 

Abuko Nature Reserve

The Abuko Nature Reserve is in the west of The Gambia and was the first nature reserve to be established in the country. It’s an incredibly popular tourist attraction so it can get busy, but it’s still definitely worth a visit for the variety of wildlife that is showcased there. 

The reserve is dedicated to the conservation of many of The Gambia’s plants and animals, so it’s a great place to spot some of The Gambia’s rarer species. It’s also a great place for the bird watching opportunities that the country is famous for, so make sure you pack your binoculars if you’re a fan of feathered friends!

Things to do in The Gambia in January

African Bird

Cruise Along the River

The Gambia River flows along the entire length of the country, and a great way to travel between the different towns and villages is by boat. You can admire a huge range of different scenery as you float through the country, and have the chance to spot a variety of different wildlife in the water and along the river banks. 

Go Birdwatching

The Gambia is known as having one of the densest bird populations of any African country, with over 600 different species making their home in its landscape. Even if you’re not an avid bird watcher, it’s hard not to be impressed by the range of birds that you’ll find in the Gambian rainforests and skies, from huge herons and pelicans to tiny, colourful birds of paradise.

Take a Trip to the Beach

The warm weather in The Gambia in January offers ideal conditions for visiting the beach, with a huge range of coastal locations for travellers to choose from. Cape Point offers the ultimate luxury beach resort experience, whereas Brufut beach has miles of clean sand that rarely gets particularly busy and is perfect for a lazy day spent relaxing beside the ocean. 

Crowds & costs

January falls within the high season for tourism in The Gambia, meaning that prices for travel and accommodation are likely to be relatively expensive in comparison to later in the year. It’s the coastal holiday resorts and beach hotels that bring in much of The Gambia’s tourist trade, so if you’re wanting to stay by the sea then it’s a good idea to book your holiday well in advance.

If you don’t want to get caught up in the crowds, we recommend that you stay further inland where there will be fewer tourists and cheaper accommodation prices. Infrastructure isn’t great when you move away from the coast, so it’s usually worth joining a small group tour if you want reliable transport options. 

January festivals & events

African Wall Hanging

Banjul Demba Cultural Festival

The Banjul Demba Cultural Festival is a celebration of traditional Gambian culture and is usually held during the first week of January in the capital of the country. Beginning with a big parade through the city in traditional tribal dress, there are numerous performances of Gambian dance and music, traditional art exhibitions, and displays from different groups of people. 

Banjul Fine Arts Festival

Also held at the start of January, the Banjul Fine Arts Festival has grown from a small arts event to a nationally recognised art show that brings thousands of enthusiasts and collectors to The Gambia each year. The festival showcases artworks from both upcoming and established Gambian artists and aims to highlight the artistic talent that has emerged from Gambian culture and give it more exposure.

Frequently asked questions about The Gambia in January

Is it safe to go to the Gambia?

Travel in The Gambia is relatively safe, and you are unlikely to run into any danger during your holiday. The most common issues that visitors to the country have been with pickpockets or petty theft, but as long as you are careful with your belongings you should be fine. 

What language is spoken in the Gambia?

The Gambia was once a British colony, and so the official language of the country is English, which you will find that the majority of people speak very well. There are also a number of tribal languages spoken in the Gambia, meaning that many residents are bilingual. 

Summary

The Gambia is not often people’s first thought when choosing a country in Africa to visit on their holiday, but with its range of holiday resorts and English-speaking population, it’s a brilliant destination. With culture, wildlife and luxury, it’s certainly somewhere you should consider for your next January trip abroad.

Want to find out more about the top destinations in Africa to visit in January? Read our guides to Cape Verde and South Africa, or take a look at our rundown of Where to Go in January.

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