has a sub-tropical climate with a wet season from June till October and a dry
season from November till May. It is considered to have the most pleasant
climate in all of Africa.
It is the smallest country in Africa, protruding from the western North
Atlantic coast, 740 km into Senegal
around Gambia River. The strip of land is
almost entirely flood plain and is less than 50 km wide. As a result, the
country is almost entirely flat and very low, which itself results in little
regional climatic variation. However, the short coastal area does receive much
milder conditions than the country’s interior which sees higher temperatures
and a prolonged wet season.
dry season, from November till May, starts with the very tail end of the
rains. An infinitesimal amount of rain falls in short showers before the
beginning of the dry season proper which is as dry as the driest of dry bones.
This means that the reliably high temperatures are not made worse by humidity
and the sun is almost always out. However, sometimes winds blow over from the Sahara creating hazy conditions, and a wind from the
north can cause fog by the shore. In Banjul, the capital
city, the average high temperature hovers around 32°C at the very beginning of
the season, and then slips down to 31°C as the last of the country’s humidity
is squeezed out by the relentless sun. The difference between night and day
temperatures increases as the country dries out. At the beginning of November
night time temperatures see average lows 10°C below daytime highs. By the end
of December the difference has increased to about 15°C with night time lows
around 17°C. In January the average low drops to 15°C. In February temperatures
start to increase again with a mini peak in March at 34°C, after which it cools
back down to 32°C. March and April are historically the driest and sunniest
months in the year, expecting to see absolutely no rain at all. The end of May
sees the very beginning of the rains. On coastal areas these relentlessly high
daytime temperatures are tempered slightly by northeast trade winds, while
further in land they can soar unchecked into the 40s and get much colder at
night. Moderate rainfall all over the country and Gambia River ensure that Gambia is very
green for an African country but away from the coast and the river it mostly
consists of scrub land and savannah, and in the dry season these parts can
become very arid.
periods between seasons are the best times to visit Gambia as the high temperatures are
complemented by cool nights without dropping too low. Rainfall is low and the
sun, as always, can be relied upon. These are also the best times for
discovering the flora and fauna of Gambia as in the spring the
increased rainfall brings the area to life, and at the end of the rainy period,
in autumn, the country is thriving with the benefits of prolonged rainfall.
wet season, from June till December, sees rainfall steadily increasing
to a definite peak in August, which sees around 500 mm of rain. While daytime
averages remain at the usual 31°C to 32°C, Gambia is definitely hotter during
this period the night time temperatures begin to stay up in the mid 20s.
Afternoon breezes help to alleviate the heat in coastal areas, but elsewhere
with such high humidity it becomes unbearable. Rainfall is highest from June
till September and falls in unpredictable downpours that can cause flash
flooding, mudslides and landslides. The sun still comes out every day in
between these storms. Having been starved for so long, Gambia’s plant
life bursts into life as soon as the rains start to fall.
climate can be attributed to its situation and topography. Gambia sits at
tropical latitudes, and its low elevation suggests that it should receive the
full amount of rainfall expected for a tropical region. However, despite have a
relatively pleasant climate for Africa, it is still arid in comparison to other
areas at similar latitudes, for instance the tropical islands of Barbados
and St Lucia. Its comparative aridity can be put down to its
consistently flat topography. Without any areas of high relief, humid weather
systems pass easily over the area without forming precipitation. Luckily,
hillier areas surrounding Gambia
force rain to fall which then drains into Gambia River.
Despite the dry season, the river allows for an almost uninterrupted abundance
of life. It does run lower, and some tributaries dry out, but it generally
serves animals and human settlements well. Gambia is renowned for its diverse
wildlife, especially for its endless varieties of bird. Gambia
River has a salt water delta and during the dry season, due to the
lowness of the riverbed, sea water intrudes as far as 250 km up the river.
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