The Gambia is six hours flying from Europe. It is the gateway to African birding, a small country located where dry and humid zones meet in West Africa. Birds of these both climate zones occur in The Gambia, as well as migrating species to or through West Africa. Africa is custodian to 2,229 bird species and The Gambia lists a total of around 550 species.
Scenic beaches and estuaries, remnant pockets of coastal forest, a vast river with a labyrinth of mangrove and riparian forest, dry savannah woodland, agricultural pastures and paddy fields provide a wide range of habitats.
Turaco Birding Expeditions are headed by the professional bird guide Musa Jatta. With more than 12 years of field experience, his knowledge of the country birding areas and all the Gambian species is absolute. We design specific itineraries according to your needs and length of the expedition, to watch as many species as possible and search for the most elusive ones. Photographic and filming opportunities in good light conditions are excelent. Depending on the group size, we travel with either a 7 sitter or 14 sitter Toyota minibuses. An example of a 4 days expedition is provided below.
TOUR SUGGESSTION 1: 4 DAYS BIRDING EXPEDITION
* This is an example of a 4 days expedition. Please contact us and let us know your needs to arrange the best itinerary for your tour.
We pick you up at about 6.30 am, heading east along the Gambia highway and stopping at interesting sites to birdwatchers and photographers such as Pirang rice fields, Faraba Banta groundnut field or Faraba Sutu woods. A stop will be made at Brumang bridge for half an hour and refreshment made available. From there we proceed to Kwinclah village to find one of the spectacular colonies of Pink-backed Pelican. Our accommodation at Tendaba Camp is basic comfortable, nicely situated on the bank of the river Gambia, including a pool for cooling off.
Expected birds at Pirang rice fields: Yellow-billed Stork, Greater Flamingo, Black Crowned Crane, Lanner Falcon, Brown-necked Parrot, Collared Pratincole, White-fronted Bee-eater, Rufous-rumped and Crested Larks, Plain-backed Pipit, Wire-tailed and Grey-rumped Swallows, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Yellow-crowned Bishop, African Quailfinch and more.
Expected birds on the stops along the road: White-headed and African White-backed Vultures, Bateleur, African and Ayres’ Hawk-eagles, Western Banded Snake-eagle, Tawny and Martial Eagles, Bronze-winged Courser, Rollers, Yellow-fronted Canary, Lesser Blue-eared, Greater Blue-eared and Bronze-tailed Glossy Starlings, White-shouldered Black Tit, White-fronted Black-chat, Pygmy Sunbird, Southern Masked and Heuglin’s Weavers, Red-winged Pytilia and more.
Expected birds at Brumang bridge: Great White Pelican, Yellow-billed and Woolly-necked Storks, Marabou, Rüppell’s Griffon, White-headed and African White-backed Vultures, African Fish-eagle, Bateleur, Brown Snake-eagle and more.
Expected birds at Tendaba airport: Saddlebill, White-rumped Seedeater, Long-crested Eagle, African Little Sparrowhawk, African Hobby, Bronze-winged Courser, Northern Ground-hornbill, Long-tailed Nightjar, Plain-backed Pipit, Western Bonelli’s and Melodious Warbler, Pygmy Sunbird, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Melba Finch, White-rumped Seedeater and more.
Expected birds at creeks at Tendaba: White-backed Night-heron, Goliath Heron, African Finfoot, Pel’s Fishing-owl, Blue Crested-flycatcher, Mouse-brown Sunbird, Black-headed Weaver and more.
Early in the morning we will explore the camp area before breakfast is served at 8.00 am. After, a creek tour to the interesting North Bank Creeks, Tunku and Kisi Bolon is included. Later, we will drive to various good sites as Pakaliba, Buiba, Dalaba or Jahali Swamp. We will also cross the river for the North Bank, where the African Cuckoo-hawk was reported recently, new to the Gambian list. We’ll spend the night at Baobalong Camp or at Bird Safari Camp in Georgetown, 150 m east of river Gambia.
Expected birds at Tendaba Camp area: Squacco Heron, African Spoonbill, Village Indigobird, Brown-necked Parrot, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Bruce’s Green-pigeon, White-crested Helmet-shrike, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark, White-shouldered Black Tit, White-crowned Robin-chat, Black-rumped Waxbill, Cut-throat Finch, Red-billed and Red-headed Queleas, Pin-tailed Whydah and more.
Expected birds at Baobalong area: Dwarf Bittern, Isabelline Shrike, Black-rumped Waxbill, Exclamatory Paradise-whydah and more.
After breakfast is served, we will drive to Basse and arrive to the terminal, where it is often possible to get good views of the Egyptian Plover, which is local here and in a few other localities. We will also visit Bansang Sandpit and adjacent areas.
Expected birds along the road to Basse: Long-legged and Red-necked Buzzards, Brown Snake-eagle, Booted Eagle, Black-bellied Bustard, Bronze-winged Courser, African Skimmer, Adamawa Turtle-dove, Great Spotted and African Cuckoos, Greater and Lesser Honeyguides, Flappet Lark, Singing Bushlark, White-browed Forest-flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Hyliota and more.
Expected birds at Bansang Sandpit area: Amethyst Starling, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Croaking Cisticola, Brown-rumped Bunting, African Yellow White-eye and more.
We will look for aquatic birds at Basse river and nearby rice fields, trying to get all the common and the most elusive ones.
Expected birds at Basse river and rice fields: Long-tailed Cormorant, Black and Ovambo Sparrowhawks, African Crake, African Finfoot, White-bellied Bustard, Greater Painted-snipe, Senegal Thick-knee, Egyptian Plover, Shining-blue Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, African Black Coucal, Zebra Waxbill, African Shrike-flycatcher and more.
TOUR SUGGESSTION 2: 2 WEEKS CULTURAL DISCOVERY
Tour in The Gambia and Senegal with river cruise.
We discover tropic Gambia and exotic Senegal ,could be a very good experience for nature lovers and historians . The tour starts in the Gambia and we venture into Senegal through the Saloum Delta, visit to a game park in Fatala and spend the first night in Tubakuta.
Saloum Delta National Park: Wilderness delta area ,pirogue trip through the national park to view the birdlife
Fadiout Fishing Village: Entirely constructed with oyster shell and clams
Isle De Goree: UNESCO world Heritage Site.Tranquill island with mediteranian influences
St. Louis: 19th century French colonial town
Djoudj National Park: One of the most important bird reserves in the world
A day cruise on the river Gambia: Great scenery ,fauna and flora and a chance to see the Chimpanzee
Wassu Stone Circle: Ancient burial sites
Drive and cross the ferry to Tendaba Camp.
The Gambia and Senegal have many excellent reserves for birdwatching .During the annual migration from November to April,millions more arrive from Europe .660 species have been recorded .If you are keen, remember to pack a pair of binoculars and note that there are several bird books available on this area.
1. DRIVE TO SALOUM DELTA
Today we cross the river to the north ,heading to the saloum delta via the Fatala park then to Toubakouta ,where we will spend the first night.
2. IN SALOUM DELTA WE WILL HAVE A PIROGUE TRIP NORTH THROUGH THE DELTA
3. DRIVE TO DAKAR
4. CROSS THE FERRY TO THE ISLAND OF GOREE
We bgin our tour by taking a ferry to isle de goree ,a small and peaceful island without any traffic .We make a walking tour of isle de goree .a busy trading center ,during the 18th and 19th centuries ,it is now UNESCO world heritage center colonial-style houses,wrought-iron balconies,narrow streets and brightly coloured bougainvillea.Le castel is situated on a rocky plateau from where there are good view across to Dakar.The fortifications date back to different period.Also worth visiting is the slave house originally built in 1786.
5. FERRY TO DAKAR;Drive to St Louis.
This morning we return to the mainland by ferry and drive to Lac Rose- the pink lake.This large shallow lagoon is extremely salty and is also renowned for its pink tinge .due to the high concentrations of minerals in the water .We continue north to St.Louis.
6. In St.LOUIS;Visit Djoudj National Park.
St .Louis is a marvellous old town full of 19th century French colonial buildings St.louis was the first French settlement in Africa and the headuarters of Senegambia [the term use to describe the whole region]By the late 18th century it was a busy port and trading center .On our second day in St.louis we’ll explore and visit the Djoudj National Park. Regarded as one of the most important bird reserves in the world ,it provides the first major water source for migratory birds after their long gruelling flight over the sahara desert .We travel by motorised boat along the complex network of channel which lead off the Senegal river .The bird count reaches millions ,some species are prevalent such as Pelicans -there are as many as 15,000 in the park.We may see them performing an amazing display of synchronised diving for fish and will see a breeding colony.Around three million birds pass through the park annually which includes 400 different species-Herons,White-breasted Cormorants .Spoonbills Jakanas ,Egyptian Gees,West African Fish Eagles and Flamingos to name but a few .You may also see Crocodile,Wild hog ,Monitor Lizard and Water Python.
7. In St.LOUIS;Visit Langue de Barbarie NP.
Today we plan to visit the Langue de Barbarie National Park ,home to water birds such as flamingos ,pelicans ,cormorants,heron ,egrets and duck .From November to April they are joined by many more migratory birds from Europe .The afternoon is left free for you to follow your own interest.
Overnight standard hotel ,include meals.
8. Drive and ferry to Geogetown
Early this morning we head to the Gambia ,en route we stop to view the overwhelming mosue in Touba,the sacred focus of the Mourid Islamic brotherhood .Their founder Amadou Bamber ,Senegal ‘s most famous and influencial marabout [holy man],is buried here and pilgrims visit the town all year round .We try to pass through here when the mosue is busy with worshippers .Continuing through the town of Kaolack ,we enter the Gambia and head east following the route of the river to our night accommodation in Georgetown which was an important administrative centre during the colonial period .It may be possible to experience local traditional dancing after dinner in the camp.
9. CRUISE ON GAMBIA RIVE .Visit river Gambia National park and Wassu Stone Circle.
The Gambia river flows along the entire lenght of the country for 300 miles from east to west into the Atlantic Ocean .Slave ship once travelled along its course exporting slaves.We spendthe morning cruising down stream, passing tropical forest ,bamboo groves,rice paddied and mangrove swamps.Amongs the varied fauna present in this area are monkeys ,hippos ,crocodiles and of course a great number of biord species.The bank of the rive have been inhabited since 2000bc.On the first day we will visit the stone circle after the boat trip. There are several circles each consisting of about 10 to 24 ,reddisbrown stons between one and 2.5m high and weighing several tons .These were once burial sites dating back to 500 to 1000 AD,however very little is known about the people who were buriedv here and the stone still present a mystery to archaeologists..From there we will drive and cross the ferry to Tendaba Camp.,where we will spend two nights there.
10. At TENDABA ;Kiang West Nationall Park and Bao bolong Wetland Reserve.
11. CREEK TOUR AT TENDABA TO BAOBOLONG WETLAND.
12. BACK TO THE COAST ,BIRDING ON THE WAY.
13. ABUKO NATURE RESERVE.
14. FREE DAY .BEFORE GOING TO THE AIRPORT.
OTHER TRIPS AVALAIBLE:
WE ALSO DO NIOKOLO KOBA NATIONAL PARK FOR NATURE LOVERS AND BIRDWATCHERS