11 days – 2nd – 12th December 2019
£1,800 for 11 days – price includes all accommodation, meals, guiding, transportation, taxes and entrances but excludes flights.
Single supplement £100
This tiny, friendly West African gem has long been a favourite with birders, and with good reason. As the gleaming Gambia River bends gently inland to form its welcoming ‘grin’, it provides access to teeming habitats ranging from coastal creeks to mangrove swamps to freshwater lakes, with species-rich Sahelian scrubland in between.
Occupying about the area of Norfolk and Suffolk combined, this small, accessible country embraces the shores of the languid Gambia River, which flows through its very heart before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. Extensive protected areas interspersed with low-key traditional agriculture make for a welcoming wildlife haven, rich in eye-poppingly colourful flora and fauna.
Appealing, hospitable and easy to visit, this simply amazing birding destination provides an ideal introduction to sub-Saharan Africa, with raptors galore and a myriad of colourful and exciting target species. Bursting with life and culture, it is well-deserving of its nickname of ‘Africa’s Smiling Coast’, not just for its geographical appearance, but also because of the genuinely warm welcome waiting for you here.
The Coast (4 nights)
Tanji Bird Reserve is made up of mangroves, dry woodland, vegetated dunes and coastal lagoons. With this range of habitats it’s no wonder that over 300 bird species have been recorded here. Exploring from our eco-lodge accommodation within the park, we’ll hope to see Black-headed heron, White-fronted Plover, Caspian and Royal Tern, and Grey-headed and Slender-billed Gulls.
The coastal town of Tanji offers culture and wildlife spectacles combined, with superb up-close views of sea- and shore-birds fighting over fish discards at the lively local fish market, where fisherman barter loudly over the catch of the day from their colourfully-painted wooden fishing boats.
Tiny Abuko Nature Reserve was The Gambia’s first protected area and is a veritable treasure chest of natural riches. Among the oil palms and Anthocleista, hardwoods such as mahogany and African teak remain unharmed.
Amongst them live vervet, red colobus and patas monkeys, not to mention a stunning array of birds such as Green and Violet Turacoes, African Paradise Flycatchers, Palm Nut Vultures and Giant Kingfishers. In the pools lurk Nile and Dwarf Crocodiles.
Tendaba Safari Camp (4 nights)
The dense red and black mangrove swamps and mollusc-rich muddy banks of the Bao BolongRiver are protected under the Ramsar convention from the northern border of The Gambia right to its scenic estuarine culmination where it joins the Gambia River.
From our base at Tendaba Safari camp on the opposite shore, we will explore the reserve’s mysterious steamy creeks by boat, getting us up close to avian A-listers such as African Finfoot, African Blue Flycatcher, Malachite, Pied and Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Goliath Heron, African Darter and Spur-winged Plover as well as experiencing the prehistoric sounds (and smells!) of Egret and Cormorant colonies.
Hides around the watering holes of Kiang West National Park will bring us up to close to Laughing Doves, Black-billed Wood Dove and maybe even wintering European Turtle Doves. They can also bring views of some of the park’s mammalian residents such as Bushbucks, Warthogs, and with extreme luck some of the parks reclusive wildcats – Serval, Caracal, or even Leopard.
Janjanbureh and around (2 nights)
Further inland, amongst Sahelian scrub and savannah grasslands, we’ll meet a whole host of other bird species. Flowering and fruiting trees, such as Pterocarpus erinaceus, red acacia and the iconic baobab, provide a real focal point for wildlife. Here we’ll look for Bearded Barbet, Exclamatory Paradise Whyda, White-fronted Black-chat, White-throated, Little, Blue-cheeked, Red-throated and Northern Carmine Bee-eater. We’ll also search for the enigmatic Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, one of the most long-lived of all birds. At dusk we may be lucky enough to see Senegal and Spotted Thick-knees and Long-tailed and Standard-winged-Nightjars.
For lovers of raptors, simply looking up will bring a constant stream of delights. The diversity of raptor species in The Gambia is truly phenomenal, with over sixty birds of prey including spectacular creatures like Bateleur, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Shikra, African Harrier Hawk, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, and even possible Pel’s Fishing Owl to name just a few.
To book your place on the above tour, check availability or for further information contact us