The Gambia – Winter Birding in West Africa

Friday 25th November – Friday 2nd December 2022

The small West African country of The Gambia is a superb place for an introduction to birding in Africa. Measuring just 338 by 47 kilometres, what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in birding!

With an enviable bird list of over 600 species that includes the sought-after Egyptian Plover, African Finfoot and Painted Snipe plus a multitude of brightly-coloured species from Bishops, Whydahs, Weavers, Sunbirds, Rollers through to Bee-eaters, Kingfishers, Waxbills, Barbets, Gonoleks and more. Birding around the hotels can be very rewarding with around 60 species in the gardens!

With short flight times and good weather this is a perfect winter destination.

Tour Leaders: Ebrima Korita, Steve Grimwade & Steve Moore
Maximum Group Size: 12

Day 1
We take a morning flight from London Gatwick arriving mid-afternoon in Banjul, the capital of The Gambia. We transfer to our hotel and after checking in will explore the hotel grounds for a gentle introduction to the birds of The Gambia.

Birds we should see include African Wattled Lapwing, Hooded Vultures, Red-billed Firefinch, Speckled Pigeon, African Palm Swift, White-billed Buffalo Weaver, Woodland Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Bearded Barbet and Beautiful, Splendid & Variable Sunbirds amongst others.
Overnight: Bijilo

Day 2
During the morning we take a drive down the coast to Kartong, where the beach, freshwater pools and reed-beds make it one of the best birding sites in The Gambia. Species we can hope to see include White-fronted Plover, White-faced Whistling Duck, African Pygmy Goose, Purple Swamphen, Green-backed, Black-headed & Squacco Herons, Black Crake, African Jacana and if we are lucky, Dwarf Bittern.

Other birds present on the reserve include Senegal Coucal, Viteline Masked Weaver, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Pied & Malachite Kingfishers, Piapiac and Pied-winged Swallow.

From Kartong we will proceed to the Footsteps Eco Lodge, where we will relax during the hottest part of the day and have lunch. The lodge grounds give us opportunities to see Pygmy Kingfisher, Wire-tailed Swallow, Orange-cheeked & Lavender Waxbills and Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird.

Driving back towards our hotel in the late afternoon, we make our final stop at Tanji Fishing Village. The beach at Tanji is the most reliable sight in The Gambia for Kelp Gull, our main target here. Other species we may encounter include Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey-headed Gull and Caspian, Royal & Sandwich Terns plus several familiar waders like Whimbrel, Grey Plover and Turnstone.
Overnight: Bijilo

Day 3
Today we will drive east towards Pirang Forest, calling first at Mandina Ba, an area of flooded rice fields, gardens and mixed woodland. Possible species here include Wahlberg’s Eagle, Hadada Ibis and Fine-spotted Woodpecker. From here we will drive to Pirang Forest, one of the best sites in the country for Green Turaco, Yellowbill and Green Crombec, but our main targets will be White-spotted Flufftail and African Wood Owl.

The former will be dependent on conditions within the forest, as rains sometimes leave the path waterlogged until January or February. After a relaxing picnic lunch we move on to the Faraba Banta bush track in search of Greyish Eagle Owl, Red-necked Falcon and Grey Kestrel, although we need to keep a sharp eye out for other raptors in this area, as Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Bateleur have all been seen.
Overnight: Bijilo

Day 4
This is the only day that we have to make a really early start, as we are travelling upriver to Tendaba Camp. We will drive towards Tendaba on the North Bank of the River Gambia and it is important to catch the first ferry from Banjul to Barra, which will necessitate leaving our hotel around 5am.

We will have coffee/tea before leaving the hotel and take a packed breakfast to eat when we are on the North Bank. Once in Barra we will drive for around three hours to Kaur Wetlands where we hope to see the charismatic Egyptian Plover. We will make several birding stops on route to search for Northern Anteater Chat, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Savile’s Bustard, Singing Bush & Flappet Larks, Cut-throat Finch, Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting, Exclamatory Paradise Whydah, Black-rumped Waxbill and Sudan Golden Sparrow.

Raptors should be well represented as we travel through open savannah, with species such as Dark Chanting Goshawk, Long-crested Eagle, Grasshopper Buzzard, Martial Eagle and Brown & Western Banded Snake Eagles all possible. Once at Kaur Wetlands, in addition to Egyptian Plover we may see Kittlitz’s and White-headed Plovers, African Quail-finch, Namaqua Dove, Marabou Stork, Painted Snipe, Collared Pratincole and possibly Black-crowned Crane.

Upon leaving Kaur we re-trace our steps to Farafenni to catch a ferry back to the South Bank and proceed to Tendaba Camp where we will spend the night. The accommodation at Tendaba is basic, but it is the best available in order to enjoy the birds of the area.
Overnight: Tendaba

Day 5
After breakfast and depending on tide we will take a boat trip to the North Bank and drift quietly along the Mangrove creeks. With luck we will see African Finfoot and African Blue Flycatcher, but regular species include Yellow-billed & Woolly-necked Storks, Great White & Intermediate Egrets, Goliath Heron, White-backed Night Heron, African Darter and Brown Sunbird, whilst kingfishers including Blue-breasted, Malachite & Pied will be numerous.

After the boat trip we head back to the coast, making several stops to look for Martial Eagle, Bataleur and vultures such as White-backed & Ruppell’s Griffon.
Overnight: Bijilo

Day 6
Today we drive towards Marakissa Bird Camp where the owner’s wife Adama will prepare our lunch. Before arriving at Marakissa we stop at Penjem Forest to seek out woodland species not yet seen. These could include Grey-headed Bush-shrike and White-breasted & Red-shouldered Cuckoo Shrikes. We will also make a brief stop at Darsalami Wetlands to look for Marsh Sandpiper, Giant Kingfisher and Gull-billed Tern.

Marakissa itself is an area of secondary woodland, scrub and swamp, giving us a chance of seeing Allens Gallinule, Greater, Lesser & Spotted Honeyguides and African Scops Owl. After exploring the area around Marakissa we return to our hotel.
Overnight: Bijilo

Day 7
We have a drive of about 40 minutes to Abuko nature reserve, one of the last remaining examples of gallery forest in The Gambia. Before entering we will spend time birding Lamin Rice Fields hoping to see Painted Snipe, Black Crake and African Harrier Hawk. Once inside the reserve we will keeping an eye out for birds such as Little Greenbul, Western Bluebill, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Green & Violet Turaco, African Grey & African Pied Hornbill, Black-necked Weaver, Yellow-breasted Apalis and African Paradise & Red-bellied Paradise Flycatchers. From Abuko we make the short drive to Lamin Lodge where we will have lunch.

Afterwards we move to the Cape Point area for our afternoon birding, giving the chance to look for species such as Red-billed Quelea, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and Lesser Crested Tern as well as more obvious species such as Pink-backed & Great White Pelicans, Osprey and a range of waders including Black-winged Stilt, Marsh Sandpiper and Greenshank.
Overnight: Bijilo

Day 8
During the morning we take the short drive to Tujerang, which offers a selection of different habitats and should produce White-fronted Black Chat, White-shouldered Black Tit, Singing & Whistling Cisticola’s, Senegal Batis and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, most of which will be new birds to add to our list.

After lunch we head to the airport and take the flight back to London after a bird-filled holiday!

Tour Includes
Flights from London Gatwick to Banjul
Full board accommodation for 7 nights
Ground transport in The Gambia
Full guiding throughout

Not Included
Travel Insurance
Drinks and items of a personal nature
Lunch on day 1

Relaxed, two to three miles walking per day

Expect around 220-250 species

Tour Cost: £1820

* Estimated Flight Cost: £500

Total Tour Cost: £2320

Single Supplement: £130

Deposit: £800

*Please see our tours page regarding flight costs


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