I went on a 30-day trip in December 2022 and January 2023 to leave the Icelandic winter behind me for some time. The trip had four main parts: visiting Sudan and Kenya; visiting friends, colleagues and relatives in Hungary and the Czech Republic; a family holiday in Tenerife and a business trip to Senegal, The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
I had a total of 18 flights, booked mostly as one-ways and one double open-jaw. Here’s my final list of flights after many cancellations, changes of departure time and aircraft type:
Keflavík to Paris CDG, Icelandair, economy class, B757 (no flight report)
Paris to Istanbul, Turkish, business class, A321
Istanbul to Khartoum, Turkish, business class, B737
Khartoum to Addis, Ethiopian, economy class upgraded to business class, B737
Addis to Nairobi NBO, Ethiopian, economy class upgraded to business class, B777
Nairobi WIL to Mombasa to Lamu, Skyward Express, economy class, Q300
Lamu to Malindi to Nairobi WIL, Safarilink, economy class, Q200
Nairobi NBO to Istanbul, Turkish, business class, A330
Istanbul to Budapest, Turkish, business class, B737
Vienna to Tenerife South, Wizzair, economy class, A321
Tenerife North to Gran Canaria, Binter Canarias, economy class, ATR42
Grand Canaria to Dakar, Binter Canarias, economy class, E195
Dakar to Banjul, Air Sénégal, economy class, A320
Banjul to Freetown, Air Sénégal, economy class, A320
Freetown to Banjul, Air Sénégal, economy class, A320
Banjul to Casablanca, Royal Air Maroc, business class, B737
Casablanca to Paris ORY, Royal Air Maroc, business class, B787
Paris CDG to Keflavík, Play, economy class, A321 (no flight report).
The distance by road between Dakar and Barra, the port north of Banjul is 284 kms (about six hours by car) then you have to take an unreliable ferry to the capital city of the Gambia. The distance between Dakar and Banjul airports is only 154 kms by plane and the actual flight time is only about 25 minutes. I booked this short flight with Air Sénégal.
Dakar’s old airport, called Léopold Sédar Senghor was in Yoff, a small fishing town, a short distance from downtown Dakar. The new airport, called Blaise Diagne International Airport was opened on 2007. It’s located 53 kms from downtown Dakar. There’s a motorway almost all the way and the railway connection is being completed now.
The airport is quite nice. It’s neither too small or too big.
I had a first luggage and document control after I had entered the building. Then I had a document check a few meters from the actual check-in desk. It was done in a minute. Next came check-in with only a few people in front of me. I was checked in in less than a minute by an agent who was in very good mood.
Passport control was quick and so was security check - waiting time was less than one minute for both.
My experience so far has been flawless.
There’s a duty free shop after security.
The terminal is spacious airside. There are a few shops and restaurants.
An Air Sénégal advertisement.
There’s a lounge called Topkapi.
Boarding was by bridge. There were two additional checks: one before the gate in the terminal and the other before actually boarding the aircraft.
The view from the jetbridge.
I was supposed to fly Air Sénégal but this was a plane wet leased from Airhub Airlines registered in Malta.
The plane has a single economy class 3+3 configuration.
The seats are standard A320 seats.
The flight was almost completely full.
Boarding was completed by 16.20 but we didn't leave at 16.40 as scheduled. A single additional luggage was loaded at 16.48.
Doors were closed at 16.50. An expected flight time of 25 minutes was announced.
Push-back was at 16.59 for a scheduled departure time of 16.40.
A distant view of the terminal:
We took off at 17.09 from runway 19.
The views after take-off.
We were flying along the Senegalese shoreline for a few minutes.
Start of descent was only about 8 minutes after take-off. There was obviously no service during this short flight; the seatbelt sign was on all the time.
The views of the Gambian countryside before landing:
We landed at Banjul Airport at 17.36 for a scheduled arrival time of 17.20.
The airport is called Banjul Airport but the actual distance from the capital city is 26 kms.
The plane continued to Freetown in Sierra Leone.
The steps to be done when you arrive to the Gambia: fill out the arrival form (have a pen ready); pay 20 £ or 20 $ or 20 € in cash as an arrival Airport Security Fee; pass immigration. The whole procedure should take about 15 minutes.
Everybody - cashier, soldier, immigration officer – were all very friendly.
The Gambia is the smallest country on the African mainland. Banjul is the capital city with a population of only about 31,000. About ten times more people live in the suburbs.
The country has made some progress both in politics and economy in recent years. Former dictator Yahya Jammeh was replaced by the more democratic Adama Barrow after the 2016 December elections. The standard of living is lower than in Senegal, although there’s a small lower middle class in the Gambia as well. The economy is strongly based in tourism. Most tourists come from the UK and the Netherlands.
Banjul has a lovely market called Albert Market.
There are some landmark buildings such as the National Assembly.
Paradise Beach is popular both among tourists…
Fishing is an important activity.
Dakar Airport is not very big but nice, modern, spacious and easy-to-use. I was surprised that the flight was not operated by Air Sénégal. It was a very short flight so this was not really an issue. Arrival to Banjul was a nice experience with friendly staff.