BIRDWATCHING HOLIDAYS

The Gambia provides some amazing opportunities for birdwatching. It has over 540 species and everything is in relatively close proximity, meaning you don’t have to travel far to see some fascinating birdlife – you’ll even find a whole host of exotic species in your hotel gardens. So whether you’re a first timer, a keen amateur or an enthusiast looking for particular species we guarantee you’ll find something to inspire you...

 

Below you will find information on tours led by renowned ornithologist Chris Packham, how to book private birdwatching day trips as well as our recommended hotels for spotting a wide variety of birdlife.  Why not try our new triple centre tour which takes you to the best bases for birdwatching?

Chris Packham

Chris Packham has been leading birdwatching tours to The Gambia for us for many years now, along with his preferred guide, Malick Suso, and is a massive advocate for The Gambia, both as a holiday destination in its own right and as a supreme birdwatcher's paradise.

An Introduction from Chris Packham

‘The Gambia remains a top birding destination. Easily accessible, affordable and packed with a range of exciting species, it’s a great place to get an introduction to African birds or snap some super photographs. The guides are brilliant, the people are friendly, the hotels and food are good and the sun shines. That’s why I go back for more every year!

The Bakotu Hotel is my second home. Small, quiet, friendly, with good restaurants in and around, it also has lovely gardens which are full of bird and mammal life so it’s the perfect place to stay and connect with The Gambia’s wonderful wildlife.

Then onto Mandina which offers something completely different - it is simply beautiful, a patch of heaven on earth, tranquil, lush, peaceful and full of fabulous wildlife, and the stunning lodges are just perfect. Watching the egrets and herons arrive back at their roost as the sun sets serenely over the mangroves whilst sipping a cold beer is the best evening of my year – this place is simply awesome.

I hope you will choose to join me in The Gambia.’

Chris Packham, BBC Presenter

 
 

Tour Pricing Information

With a maximum of just 17 people on the February 2018 Kotu bird tour and 16 people on the Mandina options, there will be plenty of opportunity to learn from Chris' extensive knowledge but it is essential to book early. Following Chris' appearance on the BBC's Springwatch and Autumnwatch programmes, this trip proves each year to be extremely popular.

Tour starting dates are shown below.

The 3-day tour in Kotu will include a welcome get-together on the Friday evening followed by 3 days of birding tours on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. You will visit various habitats for the best chance of seeing the widest range of birds, including trips to Tanji fishing village / beach, Lamin rice fields, Brufut Forest and Tujereng. In addition there will be walking tours of Kotu stream and the local area and a boat trip, enabling you to see water birds and the added bonus of an occasional dolphin. Malick Suso will accompany Chris Packham to assist him and offer his extensive local knowledge. Please note that Chris Packham will use Bakotu Hotel as his base and prefers if the whole group are accommodated at this property for the duration of the tour.  It is possible to move hotels if you wish to stay in a different property for the remainder of your holiday.

At Mandina Lodges, there will be two back-to-back tours this winter, each offering fantastic birding opportunities but with differing itineraries. The first has been run for several years due to its popularity and offers a selection of walks and boat trips in and around Mandina over the 2 1/2 days of birding, including a river trip to the awe-inspiring egret roost, using the experienced Mandina guides to assist Chris Packham.The new itinerary on the second tour additionally offers two half-day trips outside Mandina for the opportunity to spot a different selection of bird species during 3 days of birding, and Chris will be accompanied by Malick Suso.

Pricing is in addition to your holiday package price ie flights are excluded, however Mandina pricing includes 3 or 4 nights' accommodation on half board (based on a jungle or mangrove lodge and twin occupancy). These tours can be part of a longer holiday, and the tours can be combined if required.

3 Day Tour - Kotu

16 Feb 2018
FULL (waitlist for cancellation or 2019)
Per Person
£449

3 Night Tour - Mandina

20 Feb 2018
2 Lodges left
2 Sharing
Single Occupancy
£725pp
£1241

4 Night Tour - Mandina

23 Feb 2018
FULL (waitlist for cancellation or 2019)
2 Sharing
Single Occupancy
£849pp
£1480

Malick Suso

Malick Suso has over 20 years of experience birdwatching in The Gambia and knows the terrain and where to look for the rare species like no other. He's also been described by none other than Chris Packham as one of the very best bird watchers and guides in the whole of The Gambia. High praise indeed! He represented Gambian birding at the UK Bird Fair in Rutland last August and we are delighted to be able to recommend his services to Gambia Experience guests.

HALF DAY 

BIRDWATCHING 

FROM ANY
GAMBIA HOTEL
 
2 Sharing
Single 
£39pp
£65

FULL DAY      

BIRDWATCHING 

FROM ANY
GAMBIA HOTEL
 
2 Sharing
Single 
£69pp
£105

 

We can arrange birding trips with Malick, either before you travel or on arrival (subject to availability), which will involve visits to a variety of habitats, utilising all his local knowledge to help seek out the rarest and the most colourful species.  Malick can also do birding trips into Senegal, please ring our reservations department to check availability and receive a quote for your request.

Here is what some delighted customers have to say about him:

Malick Suso –field guide extraordinaire:

"The Gambia is one of the best places in Africa to go birdwatching, and to get out into the field with the legendary guide Malick Suso is an experience I’ll never forget. A really inspiring day hiking in the bush with plenty to see and never a dull moment. Malick is simply the best."

"It was not only Malick's superb knowledge and awesome skill in locating, spotting and calling up birds that made our time with him so special. In addition to this it was also his passion for sharing his understanding of the people and culture of his country as we ventured 'up river' and away from the coast. He showed great initiative and flexibility in being sensitive to our needs, to give us the trip we really wanted. We learnt a great deal and had lots of fun in the process, coming away enriched by our time with him.  He seemed to know nearly everyone and it was clear why he is liked and respected."

 
 

General Birdwatching Opportunities

There is an abundance of birdlife in and around the hotels so, even if you have just a passing interest, don't forget to pack your binoculars. Below are some of the hotels we believe give you the best opportunity to enjoy what Gambia has to offer without straying too far, but this list is by no means exclusive. We've also put together a three-centre option featuring three of the best locations for birdwatchiing, Mandina Lodges, the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project Camp and Bakotu Hotel on our Birdlife of The Gambia tour. 

For those with a more keen interest we work with a number of specialist companies, as well as offering our own highly recommended tours led by TV presenter Chris Packham. These include Naturetrek, who offer a few different options including a 7 night stay at Mandina Lodges, and Limosa Holidays who can be contacted directly for further details of departure dates and itineraries.

 

Our best hotels for birdwatching...

 

Great value for money African birding trip. We would recommend The Gambia Experience for the organisation of the trip and Malick as a brilliant bird guide. In all, great value for money.

Mr Snell – Guest – Bakotu Hotel