Home to over 600 species of bird, The Gambia offers a fantastic experience for birding enthusiasts, with its close neighbour Senegal also being a wonderful haven for bird life. To make it easier to see some of the amazing birdlife that the region has to offer, we have put together one of our favourite itineraries – Birdlife of The Gambia and Senegal - which is available to book as a stand-alone package or can be extended by adding a few days at either end in a hotel of your choice.
Please note that this is a self-guided independent twin-centre holiday. For a triple-centre birding trip in The Gambia alone, look at our Birdlife of The Gambia itinerary which also provides the opportunity to visit the chimpanzees and birds in the River Gambia National Park.
Arrive from the UK and transfer to the small and friendly Bakotu Hotel.
Days 2-7 | Bed and Breakfast
Relax in tropical gardens at this family-run property which is renowned as a perfect base for birdwatchers. Located in the resort of Kotu, you can wander along the nature walk from the hotel alongside Kotu Stream which is a hotspot for birdlife. Here you will find local bird guides or simply take your binoculars to observe the ever-changing wildlife on the water; there are also daily small boat trips to see the vultures. The hotel also has its own viewing deck overlooking the stream which is perfect to spot a wide range of species whilst enjoying the tranquillity of this area.
Embark on a full-day birdwatching tour with award-winning guide Malick Suso, Chris Packham's preferred guide when he's in The Gambia. Malick Suso has over 20 years' experience birdwatching in The Gambia, and knows the terrain and where to look for the rare species like no other. He recently won the Wanderlust World Guide Award for the Safari and Wildlife category, which is well-deserved.
Additional half or full-day excursions with Malick, or another specialist guide trained by Malick, can be arranged either prior to your trip or on arrival. Some of our excursions also provide opportunities to witness the abundance of natural life in The Gambia - why not try Tanji Birding, Kayaks and Canoes for an early morning trip along the local waterways?
Day 8-11 | Half Board
Transfer to the port in Banjul for the 40-minute ferry crossing to Barra and then on by road to the Senegalese border. The ferry is a fascinating opportunity to witness African life as you cross the River Gambia. Your destination is Hotel Keur Saloum, located in the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of the Sine Saloum region of French-speaking Senegal. Perched above the river network of the Sine Saloum Delta, guests can take full advantage of the beautiful views, and watch the sunset over the water. A variety of optional excursions are available to arrange at your leisure using the hotel's boats to explore this beautiful region and search for species such as flamingos, pelicans, egrets and herons amongst the mangrove swamps and sand islands that make up the delta's distinct estuarine environment. Crocodiles and dolphins also inhabit the area and you will witness the locals going about their daily life, for example, fishermen casting their nets and the women collecting oysters in the mangroves.
Head back across the river to the airport for your flight to the UK. Perhaps you'll choose to stay on for a few more days in Senegal, for example at Fathala Wildlife Reserve or head up to the Saly area south of Dakar to explore the birdlife on the La Somone lagoon from either the Royal Horizon Baobab Hotel or Les Manguiers de Guéréo eco-lodge. Mandina Lodges back in The Gambia is set on a tributary of the river and has its own guides for personalised forest walks and canoe trips, offering outstanding birdwatching opportunities.
Prices based on two sharing a standard room on board basis stated, direct flights and transfers. Transfers between centres will be by air-conditioned vehicle. Upgraded rooms at Bakotu and Keur Saloum plus Star Class or other flight upgrades may be available at a supplement.