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Book before 28 May 2020
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The Gambia 
The Jewel of West Africa
28th Nov to 4th Dec 2020

The Gambia offers the perfect introduction to African birds, while enjoying a warming winter break in the tropics. We will based throughout at a single comfortable hotel on the sun-drenched West African coast, where many of the top birding sites are within easy reach, with even the furthest only a little over an hour’s drive away. Our itinerary features a great range of locations and habitats, and is timed just after the wet season, when the vegetation is still green and the pools and ponds still full. Birds are abundant everywhere in The Gambia, and highlights may include Black Heron, Dark Chanting-Goshawk, Greater Painted-snipe, Senegal Parrot, Violet Turaco, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Giant Kingfisher, Blue-bellied Roller, Western Red-billed Hornbill, White-crowned Robin-chat, Oriole Warbler, Senegal Batis, African Paradise-flycatcher, Beautiful Sunbird and Yellow-crowned Gonolek. Species as exotic in appearance as they sound, and all within six hours flying time of the UK!

Day 1
After a direct flight to Banjul, we will transfer directly to our hotel on the coast, where we will be based throughout the tour. After check-in and depending on flight times, we will spend the remainder of the day in and around the grounds of the hotel, where we shall begin to see many of the more common African species. These may include Hooded Vulture, Western Red-billed Hornbill, Variable Sunbird, Yellow-billed Shrike, Yellow-crowned Gonolek and Red-billed Firefinch to name but a few.

Day 2
Like most days, we will begin with an optional pre-breakfast walk around hotel grounds, where over a hundred species of birds have been recorded, along with many butterflies, reptiles and mammals. Species likely to be encountered here may include Long-tailed Glossy Starlings, African Paradise Flycatcher, Broad-billed Roller, Bearded Barbet, Lavender Waxbill, Northern Black Flycatcher, Senegal Parrot, Black-necked Weaver, Western Grey Plantain-eater and White-crowned Robin-Chat. After breakfast, we will visit a few sites all within close proximity of the hotel, including the renowned Kotou Creek and the nearby Kotou Ponds. Together, these two sites should produce many interesting waders including Greater Painted-snipe, African Jacana, Black-headed Lapwing, African Wattled Lapwing and Senegal Thick-knee, in addition to a selection of wintering European species. Other highlights might also include watching Black Heron performing their fascinating ‘umbrella’ feeding technique, along with Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher and White-faced Whistling Duck. We will also visit the nearby Cycle Track, another famous birding site which passes through a variety of habitats including palm plantations, rice fields, scrub and acacias. Many special birds can be found here, including the eagerly sought Oriole Warbler, while others may include Pearl-spotted Owlet, Woodland Kingfisher, Blue-bellied Roller, Village Indigobird, African Silverbill and Copper Sunbird.

Day 3
Today we will visit Brufut Woods, a protected area often producing views of roosting Verraeux’s Eagle-Owl, Northern White-faced Owl and Long-tailed Nightjar. Many other sought-after birds will likely be encountered and these may included Double-spurred Francolin, Violet & Green Turacos, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and Greater Honeyguide, while others may include Red-bellied Flycatcher, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Yellow-fronted Canary, Vieillot's Barbet, Red-winged Warbler, Northern Red Bishop, Whistling Cisticola, White-crested Helmetshrike, Grey Kestrel, Lizard Buzzard, Black-billed Wood Dove, Fanti Saw-wing, Pied-winged Swallow, Little Weaver, African Golden Oriole, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Klaas's Cuckoo and many more. In the afternoon we will visit the Tanji Bird Reserve, an excellent site for many species including Cardinal Woodpecker, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Northern Crombec, Western Bluebill and Scarlet-chested Sunbird, as well as many Western Palearctic migrants.

Day 4
We will spend all morning at the fabulous Tujerang Woods, an area of scattered trees which will likely be teeming with birds. It is a reliable site for Lanner Falcon and a number of other localised species including Brown-backed Woodpecker, Black Scimitarbill, White-shouldered Black-tit, Yellow Penduline-tit, Brubru, Senegal Batis, White-fronted Black-chat and Vitelline Masked Weaver. Additionally, we may also encounter others such as Klaas’s and Diderick Cuckoos, Northern Yellow White-eye, Singing Cisticola, Little Weaver and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver. If there are any cattle in the area, we may also be able to find Yellow-billed Oxpecker associating with them. After lunch we will return to Tanji, this time focusing on the tidal lagoons and beach, where amongst the more familiar species we will search for Grey-headed Gull and Kelp Gull, as well as African Royal Tern and Lesser Crested Tern.

Day 5
Today will be our longest day, as we head south towards the Senegal border after breakfast to visit the superb Kartong Bird Observatory, although even this journey should take little more than an hour. Created many years ago when rain water filled old sand pits, which over time have been surrounded by vegetation, these sand pits now offer some of the only fresh water pools in the area, and thus a rich avi-fauna has grown up around them. African Swamphen, Black Crake and even the occasional Allen's Gallinule stalk the reedy fringes, and if we are lucky Dwarf Bittern can also be found, while others may include Black-headed Heron and the unique looking Hamerkop. In fact, the area teems with waterbirds and Knob-billed Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Pink-backed Pelican, Intermediate Egret, Western Reef-Heron, Sacred Ibis, Osprey and Malachite Kingfisher are all possible. We will also explore the bush around the observatory on foot, where Four-banded Sandgrouse is a real possibility and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters often congregate. Others in the area also include Green Wood Hoopoe, Abyssinian Roller, Piapiac, African Thrush, Beautiful Sunbird and Bronze Manakin. A whole range of palearctic migrants also winter here, including Common Nightingale, Western Subalpine and Western Olivaceous Warblers. We will also check the shoreline here for gulls, tern and skuas, as well as the assembled waders for White-fronted Plover, here at its only mainland breeding site in The Gambia. Kartong also has a reputation for producing some of the Gambia’s scarcer birds such as Yellow-billed Stork, Goliath Heron or Northern Carmine Bee-eater.

Day 6
Today we will travel to the Pirang Forest reserve and spend the morning looking for some of the more difficult species such as the rare Yellow-throated Leaflove, the elusive Green Crombec and the localised Blue Malkoha. We will also search for White-spotted Flufftail, an elusive species which is perhaps easier to see here than at any other site in the country. African Wood-owl have recently been recorded, while others in the area include Little Greenbul, Green Hylia, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, African Pied Hornbill, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, African Green Pigeon, Violet Turaco and Brown-hooded Parrot. Later we will visit the nearby Pirang Ponds, a former shrimp farm and now yet another superb area for waterbirds. Here, flocks of Eurasian and African Spoonbills can be found, along with Greater Flamingo and a whole host of overwintering waders. African Fish Eagle also sometimes hang around the area, while other raptors may include African Harrier-Hawk, Yellow-billed Kite and Palm-nut Vulture.

Day 7
Today we will head out to the Farasutu Forest and the Sotokoi Forest, both of which have many interesting species to search for. At Farasutu we can look for roosting White-backed Night-heron and Greyish Eagle Owl, as well as others such as Senegal Eremomela, Snowy-crowned Robin Chat, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Quailfinch, Black-rumped Waxbill and Western Violet-backed Sunbird. At Sotokoi we have the chance to see many exciting birds of prey, including Long-crested Eagle, Beaudouin's Snake-Eagle, Dark Chanting-Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, Shikra and if we are lucky, perhaps even Tawny Eagle or Bateleur. Meanwhile in the forest itself White-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Northern Puffback, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, Green-backed Camaroptera, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu and Tawny-flanked Prinia are all possible.

Day 8
Our last morning is set aside for people to do as they choose - take a walk on the beach, go for a swim, or just relax back at the hotel. Of course, you may want to spend the last few hours birding around the hotel grounds, or perhaps join our guide for anothervisit to the Cycle Track or Kotu Creek, either way the choice is yours. We will return to hotel for lunch before transferring to the airport for our flight back to the UK.




More Details

Total Cost
  Price Breakdown
  Air price
Single room supplement
  Ground price


Whats Included
All Flights, All ground transport once in The Gambia, Accommodation, All Meals, Drinking water, All excursions listed in the itinerary and Guiding services throughout.

Not Included
Additional drinks and snacks, Insurance, Tips and Items of a personal nature.

Group Size
Maximum of 10, including leaders.

Dave Read, plus Iocal guide.

The tour will be run at a relaxed pace, with no compulsory early mornings or late finishes, although optional pre-breakfast walks will be available most mornings. Walks, for the most part will be easy and on good tracks or paths, although a few may be rather uneven and require a little extra effort. November is one of the cooler months, although temperatures still average around 26°C, with highs of around 30°C. Rain is unlikely. There are a number of health requirements and you should consult your GP in this respect. Visas are not required by UK nationals.




Financial Protection
Many of the flights and the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL certificate go to

Yellow-crowned Gonolek

Western Red-billed Hornbill

Black Heron

African Pygmy Kingfisher

Diderick Cuckoo


Violet Turaco

Long-crested Eagle

Oriole Warbler

Bearded Barbet

Blue-breasted Kingfisher



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