From flights to ferries, here’s everything you need to know about how to travel from Senegal to The Gambia.

“It’s coming! It’s on its way. Trust me!” said the attendant in the Dem Dikk bus station on the outskirts of Dakar. “It’s just had a little breakdown.”

I was four hours into my overland journey from Senegal to The Gambia, and already, things weren’t exactly going to plan. After an early wakeup call (before the sun had even risen over Dakar) I hopped in a taxi and made my way to a large parking lot in the city’s suburbs, only to find that the bus I’d booked online was not running on time.

By 10 am, the sun was rising higher, but there was no sign of the bus. That’s overland travel in West Africa for you (‘TIA’), and I shrugged off the delay, settled into a shady spot and waited. Four hours past its scheduled departure time and I was told the bus was en route after a breakdown, and then finally – just as I was about to jump in another taxi and head to the Sept-Place departure points elsewhere in Dakar – it showed up!

Delays aside, bus travel in Senegal proved relatively smooth and comfortable. You can even take an international bus all the way from Dakar to Banjul, the Gambian capital, which is by far the easiest way to travel between Senegal and The Gambia. Then there are options to fly, take the battered Sept-Places (old seven-seater share taxis) and even travel by a combination of ferries and buses (for the truly adventurous traveller).

If you’re planning an overland West African adventure, keep reading, as I explain how to travel from Senegal to The Gambia (including how to cross the popular Karang-Amdallai land border).

How to travel from Senegal to Gambia

Senegal and The Gambia offer a fantastically colourful introduction to travel in West Africa. These two relatively stable African nations have been developing their tourism industries for years (The Gambia welcomed its first package holiday way back in 1965, for example), and while overland travel in this part of the world isn’t necessarily easy, it’s certainly doable, even if you’re relatively new to African travel.

Given the lack of helpful information out there on the internet, I decided to help you plan your journey by not only exploring the different options available when travelling from Senegal to The Gambia (and vice versa) but also by detailing my personal journey, which I undertook in October 2023. I flew into Dakar in Senegal, and then worked my way south to The Gambia, using a mixture of buses, Sept-Places (more on them later), taxis and ferries.

It’s simple enough to take the direct international bus between Dakar and Banjul, but then you’re missing out on some great wildlife and scenery in Senegal. Along the way, I stopped off in Toubacouta for a tour of the Saloum Delta and spent a few nights in a luxury safari tent in Fathala Wildlife Reserve. From Senegal to The Gambia, my route (and modes of transport) were as follows:

  1. Taxi to Dem Dikk Bus Station in Dakar
  2. Dem Dikk Bus from Dakar to Kaolack
  3. Sept-Place from Kaolack to Toubacaouta
  4. Taxi from Toubacouta to Fathala Wildlife Reserve
  5. Taxi from Fathala Wildlife Reserve to Karang-Amdellai border
  6. Crossed the border on foot
  7. Transfer from Karang-Amdallai to Banjul with my friend Omar from Omi Tours (via the infamous Banjul-Barra ferry!)

My itinerary above is just one of the ways to travel between Senegal and The Gambia. The potential modes of transport you can consider include all of the following:

  • Flight
  • Dem Dikk Bus
  • Sept-Places (via Kaolack if travelling from Dakkar)
  • Private Taxi
  • Ferry and bus (via Ziguinchor in the southern part of Senegal)

Bear in mind that due to the geography of The Gambia (which is largely found along the banks of the River Gambia) any overland travel to Banjul, the capital, will inevitably involve taking the slow and ponderous Banjul-Barra Ferry (more on that experience below!). I’ll assume your journey starts in Dakar, but it’s also possible to travel overland from southern Senegal to The Gambia, usually via Ziguinchor (which is also connected to Dakar via an overnight ferry).

One of the many modes of transport you’ll find when travelling from Senegal to The Gambia.

Read more: 14 Best Things to Do in Dakar, Senegal

How to fly from Senegal to The Gambia

Flying from Dakar, Senegal, to Banjul, The Gambia, represents the fastest and most direct mode of travel between these two West African capitals. Direct flights between Dakar and Banjul are offered by a few regional airlines, but compared to Europe, West Africa is woefully underserved and flights are always overpriced.

Flying is the quickest way to travel, though, with flight times of around 1 hour from Dakar to Banjul. However, schedules can be less reliable, and costs are generally higher compared to road travel. Airlines such as Air Senegal operate this route, and you can check Skyscanner for different options.

In Dakar, flights operate from Blaise Diagne International Airport (DSS), which is around an hour’s drive from the city centre. You can find taxis to the airport using the ride-hailing app Yango, which I found fairly reliable in Dakar. Alternatively, Dem Dikk operates a regular bus service from the city to the airport (and vice versa), which you can book online or on their app (you need access to Orange Money to do so, which requires a local phone number). The bus service departs from the AIBD bus station opposite Leopold Stadium.

You’ll arrive at Banjul International Airport (BJL) in The Gambia, and I’d recommend organising a transfer in advance through your accommodation to smooth things over.

Banjul International Airport, The Gambia.

Read more: 15 Best Places to Visit in Senegal

How to travel from Dakar to Banjul by bus

The most cost-effective way to get from Dakar to Banjul is by bus. Dem Dikk, Senegal’s primary bus company, operate a daily international service between the two cities, which is by far the most efficient way to travel overland.

Operated by Afrique Dem Dikk, the service is as follows:

  • Dakar-Banjul: Departs 7am from the Parcelles Assainies Terminus.
  • Banjul-Dakar: Departs 7.30am from the GTSC Kanifing Depot in Banjul.

There is also a second service on selected days which departs from Dakar at 11 am and Banjul at 10 am (but it doesn’t run every day of the week). Tickets currently cost 12000 West African Francs (CFA) per person.

The journey time can vary massively depending on the traffic and how long it takes to cross the Karang-Amdellai border. You’ll also be slowed down by the Banjul-Barra ferry crossing, which takes some patience. Luckily, Dem Dikk busses are given priority on the ferry, so you won’t be hanging around for as long as you might if you were in a private vehicle. Expect the bus journey to take at least 8 hours, if not more.

I’d recommend booking your bus in advance, as seats are limited. I had great success booking Dem Dikk buses on the Yobuma app. Use the app to check up-to-date schedules, reserve your seat and show e-tickets when you’re boarding. Annoyingly, you do need access to Orange Money when booking your seats, as this is the only way to pay for the tickets online. You can set up an Orange Money account when purchasing a local SIM card, and then top up your account in one of the many Orange Money booths found across Dakar, or using another app like Remitly.

There are several bus terminals in Dakar, so double-check and check again your departure points. Generally, the Dakar-Banjul service departs from Parcelles Assainies Terminus which you can see on the maps I’ve created at the end of this article.

The Dem Dikk bus crossing the border on it way from Dakar to Banjul.

Read more: Where is Senegal? Everything You Need to Know.

How to travel from Dakar to Banjul by Sept-Place

For a more authentic experience (or if the bus is full!), you’ll want to travel via Sept-Place. This form of transport is unique to Francophone Africa and consists of battered and beaten seven-seater station wagons and saloon cars that have seen better days.

Sept-Places only leave when full, but once they’re on the road, they’ll likely be quicker than using the local buses. You can’t reserve a spot in advance, so turn up at the departure points in Dakar nice and early to get a spot. If you’re in a hurry you can always buy more than one seat to speed things along!

In Dakar, start by making your way to the Beaux Mariechers Gare Routiere De Dakar. This manic Sept-Place station is where cars depart for the border. Just say you’re heading to The Gambia, and you should be pointed in the right direction.

Unfortunately, Sept-Places don’t travel all the way from Dakar to Banjul. They typically drop passengers at the Karang-Amdallai border, which is around a 4 to 5-hour drive away. From here, you need to walk over the border and find another taxi to take you to the Barra Ferry Terminal (see border crossing information below for more details).

Officially, Sept-Places operate with fixed ticket prices, so make sure to double-check the current costs in advance, if you can. Don’t be afraid of arguing/haggling if you’re quoted a higher price than you should be. When I visited in October 2024, I was told that a Sept-Place from Dakar to the Gambian border should cost around 6000 CFA per person, plus an extra 500 CFA if you want the premium seat in the front. You may also need to pay extra for baggage.

Typical vehicles in Senegal and The Gambia.

Read more: How Many Countries Are in West Africa? Everything You Need to Know.

How to travel from Dakar to Banjul via Kaolack

It’s also possible to travel to The Gambia via the dusty transport hub of Kaolack, a city around 4 hour’s drive south of Dakar. This was the route I took, as it allowed me to stop off in Toubacouta and Fathala Wildlife Reserve along the way. It’s also a useful route if the international bus is full.

From Dakar, you can take a Sept-Place or book a Dem Dikk bus to Kaolack. The bus to Kaolack departs several times a day, from various stations in Dakar (so double-check you’re going to the right departure point!). My bus to Kaolack was 4 hours late, but I still had time to find an onward Sept-Place to Toubacouta.

In Kaolack, jump in a taxi to the southern Sept-Place terminal on the outskirts of the city (it’s called Garage Niori). From here, you can find transport south to the Gambian border, and drivers are happy to drop you off at destinations on the main road like Toubacouta and Fathala Wildlife Reserve (I paid 2750 CFAs from Kaolack to Toubacouta plus an extra 1000 CFAs for baggage). It’s easy to then find local drivers in both of these locations who will take you to the border once you’ve seen the sights.

The Sept-Place station in Kaolack.

Read more: Where is The Gambia? Everything You Need to Know.

Crossing the Senegal/Gambia border at Karang-Amdallai

Karang-Amdallai is the most popular border crossing between Senegal and The Gambia. This is the border you’ll cross if you’re taking the bus all the way to Banjul or arriving in a Sept-Place. It’s fairly straightforward, but here’s a quick guide to help you out:

  1. Check your visa requirements: Entry requirements for both Senegal and The Gambia vary depending on your nationality. If you’re British (like me) you’ll be granted 3 months visa free entry to Senegal on arrival, and 28 days on arrival in The Gambia.
  2. Check your vaccinations: Technically, travellers are required to have a Yellow Fever Vaccination when they enter Senegal. I wasn’t checked (although I had a certificate ready in case) but I know of at least one person who left their certificate behind and was forced to pay a ‘fine’ when entering Senegal.
  3. Leave Senegal at the Karang Border: First, you’ll be dropped by the Senegalese border control. Make sure you get stamped out of Senegal then walk over the border into The Gambia.
  4. Cross the Amdallai Border into The Gambia: Next, head over to Gambian border control, which is located within an old police building (it’s easy to walk past and into The Gambia so watch out for it!). Get stamped into The Gambia, then head back outside to find onward transport.
  5. Find onward transport to Barra: The next step is finding onward transport to Barra. Share taxis depart regularly for the Barra ferry terminal, and should cost around 200 Gambian Dalasi per person. If you want someone there to pick you up, contact Omar from Omi Tours (he can arrange a transfer all the way from the border to your accommodation anywhere in The Gambia for around 3000 Gambian Dalasi).
  6. Take the ferry from Barra to Banjul: The Banjul-Barra Ferry is the only way to get to Banjul. Tickets cost 25 Gambian Dalasi per person and are purchased at the ferry terminal before departure. This part of the journey is best done on foot, so you’ll need to find a new taxi when you arrive in Banjul. Be prepared for long waits if you’re taking a vehicle over on the ferry!
  7. Arrival in Banjul: When you make it to Banjul, you’ll want to catch another taxi or a shared taxi to your accommodation. Many of the hotels are actually found in Serrekunda, which is just down the road from the capital.

Here are a few tips for a smoother border crossing:

  • Local currencies: Have some local currency (West African CFA Franc for Senegal and Gambian Dalasi for The Gambia) for taxis or other immediate expenses. The nearest ATM in The Gambia is by the Barra Ferry Terminal, but you can exchange small amounts on the border.
  • Don’t pay any bribes: You shouldn’t have any fees to pay when crossing this border, so don’t pay any bribes!
  • Stay fed and hydrated: It’s a long way from Dakar to Banjul, so make sure you bring plenty of supplies for the journey. You never know when you’ll have a chance to stock up.
A shared taxi waiting for passengers on the Gambian side of the border.

Read more: 14 Best Places to Visit in The Gambia

How to travel from Senegal to The Gambia by ferry/bus

Travelling from Dakar to The Gambia via ferry involves a journey that combines road and river travel, offering a unique perspective on the landscapes and cultures of both countries. While there is no direct ferry service that covers the entire route from Dakar to Banjul, you can take the ferry from Dakar to Ziguinchor, and then travel overland to The Gambia.

First, you need to get from Dakar to Ziguinchor, which is in the Casamance region of Senegal, south of The Gambia. This can be done by road or by a combination of road and ferry. The most direct ferry service is provided by the Aline Sitoe Diatta ferry, which offers a comfortable and scenic alternative to the long road journey.

  • Booking the Ferry: Tickets for the Aline Sitoe Diatta ferry can be purchased at the Port of Dakar. It’s advisable to book in advance as the ferry can get booked up, especially during peak travel seasons.
  • Ferry Schedule: The ferry usually operates twice a week, but schedules can change, so it’s important to verify the latest timings.
  • Journey Duration: The ferry journey from Dakar to Ziguinchor takes approximately 15 to 20 hours.

From Ziguinchor, you’ll need to continue by road to reach The Gambia. The distance to the border is relatively short, and you can use public transport, such as buses or sept-place taxis, to get to the Gambian border. After arriving at the border, you’ll go through the usual customs and immigration checks. Once in The Gambia, you can use local transport to reach your final destination.

The Dakar-Ziguinchor ferry in port in Dakar.

Read more: How Many Countries Are in Africa? Everything You Need to Know.

Other Senegal-Gambia border crossing points

Besides the popular Karang-Amdallai border crossing, there are other overland border crossing points between Senegal and The Gambia. These alternatives can offer different experiences and are worth considering based on your travel plans, the regions of Senegal or The Gambia you wish to explore, and the conditions of travel at the time of your journey.

Here are a few notable crossing points:

1. Seleti-Farafenni

Located further inland compared to Karang-Amdalai, the Seleti (Senegal) and Farafenni (The Gambia) border crossing is another option for travelers. This crossing is particularly relevant for those travelling to or from the northern parts of either country. Farafenni is near the recently completed Senegambia Bridge, which spans the Gambia River, significantly easing travel between the north and south banks of the river.

2. Sabiji-Gambissara

This crossing is less frequented by international tourists and serves more local or regional traffic. It’s an option for those looking to explore the eastern parts of The Gambia or the southeastern regions of Senegal. The crossing is more remote and may offer a more authentic but also more challenging travel experience due to less frequent public transport and fewer amenities.

3. Kubuneh-Brikamaba

Another crossing point suitable for those interested in accessing the central parts of The Gambia. Like the Sabiji-Gambissara crossing, it caters primarily to local traffic. The roads leading to and from this crossing might be less developed, so it’s essential to consider the season and road conditions when planning your journey.

Travelling overland through one of the less visited border points will save you having to brave the Banjul-Barra Ferry!

Map: How to travel from Senegal to The Gambia

Here’s a map of useful locations when travelling from Senegal to The Gambia:

FAQ: How to travel from Senegal to The Gambia

Here’s an FAQ on the topic, ‘How to travel from Senegal to The Gambia’:

Q1: Do I need a visa to travel from Senegal to The Gambia?

A1: Visa requirements depend on your nationality. Many nationalities can enter The Gambia without a visa for short stays. However, it’s crucial to check the latest visa requirements based on your passport before planning your trip.

Q2: What are the common modes of transport for travelling between Senegal and The Gambia?

A2: The most common modes of transport include buses, sept-place taxis (seven-seater cars), private vehicles, and ferries for certain segments of the journey, especially if you’re travelling via the Casamance region.

Q3: How long does it take to travel from Dakar to Banjul by road?

A3: The journey by road can take anywhere from 7 to 10 hours, depending on traffic, the condition of the roads, and the time spent at border crossings.

Q4: Can I fly directly from Dakar to Banjul?

A4: Yes, there are direct flights available from Dakar to Banjul. The flight time is approximately 1 hour. Airlines such as Air Senegal may offer this route, but availability can vary, so it’s advisable to check current schedules.

Q5: What should I expect at the Senegal-Gambia border crossing?

A5: Expect to go through customs and immigration checks at the border. You may need to present your passport, visa (if required), and possibly vaccination certificates. The process can be time-consuming, especially during peak travel times.

Q6: Is it possible to cross the Gambia River by ferry?

A6: Yes, there are ferry crossings available, such as the Banjul-Barra ferry, which are primarily used by locals. These ferries are essential for certain routes and can add an authentic experience to your journey, but be prepared for potential delays.

Q7: What currency do I need for my travel?

A7: In Senegal, the West African CFA franc (XOF) is used, while The Gambia uses the Gambian Dalasi (GMD). It’s advisable to have some local currency for each country for small expenses and border fees.

Q8: Are there health requirements for travelling between Senegal and The Gambia?

A8: Yellow fever vaccination is often required for entry into both countries. Check the latest health advice and vaccination requirements before your trip.

There you are, that’s how you travel from Senegal to The Gambia, by land, sea and plane. How will you be making the journey?