The Gambia & Senegal
During almost a decade in the late XX century, Senegambia became the political union of both Senegal and The Gambia. Both countries share a common history and languages but, at the end, the political union was to bring little gains to the much smaller Gambia, and finally it decided to break out the federation.
This tour explores this extremely interesting corner of Africa. Having the base in The Gambia, the smallest country in continental Africa, is named after the river that crosses and vertebrates the country. The Gambia & Senegal are open, friendly countries that preserve some of the best examples of gallery forests in West Africa along with a wonderful array of woodlands and semi-arid country side typical of the Sahel countries. Alongside, they have become a winter tourist pole for many Europeans, what it means that infrastructures are well maintained, hotels are comfortable, and food is rich and has an interesting balance between local traditions and Western likings. This can be an explanation of why this area is one of the most populars African destinations for Western birdwatchers.
We shall begin our tour exploring the country in the coastal plains South of Banjul. We will land in the capital city at sunset in a direct flight from Barcelona. Once in Banjul, we shall meet the guests arriving by their own to the country at our accommodation. The firsts days of the tour we will explore areas immediately around our accommodation where we will connect with a number of West African specialities and other goodies including Oriole Warbler, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Four-banded Sandgrouse, Golden-tailed Woodpecker (a serious candidate to becomes a full species), Senegal Parrot, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, West African Tern (recent split), White-fronted Plover, Brown Sunbird, Greater Painted Snipe, Violet Turaco, Bearded Barbet, African Jacana, Pearl Spotted Owlet and, if lucky, Northern White-faced Scops Owl.
We shall start moving inland in the way to Senegal, and during the coming days we will explore not only impressive wood lands but also some of the most interesting savanna like ambients in the area. Here we will look for species like Abyssian Ground Hornbill, Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Striped Kingfisher, Northern Chanting Goshawk, Bateleur, Grasshoper Buzzard, Yellow Penduline Tit, Namaqua Dove, Pygmy Sunbird & White Helmetshrike! Still, we will be also concentrated in provide excellent views on the charismatic Egyptian Plover.
Once at Oujda National Park, we will enjoy the wonderful concentration of waterfowl living there while looking for the many specialties in the area. Here we shall enjoy Scissor-tailed Kites, Allen’s Gallinule, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Bush Petronia, Temminck’s Courser and Golden Nightjar to name some amazing specialties of the area. If lucky, our efforts will be granted with views on the rare Savile’s Bustard or, if extremelly lucky, the very shy Quail-Plover!
Back to the coast near Banjul, we will keep exploring a number of natural spots preserving amazing corners of gallery forests. We will need the help of local knowledge to find out some of the birds inhabitating these woodlands. Here we shall contact with Green Hylia, Guinea Turaco, Western Bluebill, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Long-tailed & Standard-winged Nightjars, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Palm-nut Vulture, Klaas’ Cuckoo & White-breasted Cuckooshrike to name a few.
The tour expects to enjoy about 300 species of birds, a wonderful array for a tour covering a relatively small ground. Senegambia goes in the way to become a new classical African destination for birdwatchers, not only because of it is a great way to introduce yourself to the African birdlife, but also because of the variety of specialities to be enjoyed here!
Sergi Sales, former member of the Spanish Rarity Comitee, is also a ringer with over 20 years of experience. He has been travelling in West Africa for long periods, being The Gambia in particular one of his favourite birding breaks in the region.
A book to help you understand The Gambia: “Reading the Ceiling” (2007) by Dayo Foster.
Day 1. Arrive to Banjul International Airport in an evening flight, and pick up at the airport. Overnight at the coastal accommodation. For those clients flying to The Gambia on their own we will organize an exclusive shuttle bus connecting the airport to our accommodation for a two nights stay at Bakotu Hotel.
Day 2. First full day of birding in The Gambia. During the day we will combine birding in the well known Kotu mangroves and other coastal locations in search of Oriole Warbler, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Black Heron, Greater Painted Snipe, Little Bee-eater, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Senegal Parrot, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Blue-breasted Roller, Western Olivaceous Warbler and West African Tern to name a few.
Day 3. Transfer to Tendaba area with birding stops in Farasutu and Pirang Bonto Forests to enjoy a good variety of birdlife. Here we can expect a good selection of forest birds that may include Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Green Hylia, Spotted Honeyguide, Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, Green Crombec, Green-headed Sunbird, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, African Green Pigeon, Greyish Eagle Owl or Bar-breasted Firefinch. Ovenight at Walimann Hotel.
Day 4. From Tendaba we will keep going inland to Kuntaur. During the day we will explore Kaur Wetland where we will be in search of the wonderful Egyptian Plover. Here we will also have chances for other goodies including Bearded Barbet, Black-crowned Crane, White-crowned Plover, Collared Pratincole, White Helmet-Shrikes and Red-throated Bee-eaters. Overnight in Kairoh Garden Hotel at Kuntaur.
Day 5. During the morning we will enjoy a boat trip to River Gambia National Park to see the rich wildlife in this untouched corner of the river. Here we will search for Goliath Herons, Swamp Flycatcher and African Blue Flycatchers while White-backed Night Herons are roosting in the dense vegetation. This is also a good place to search for African Finfoot. Among mammals, Hippos are common while Chimpanzees can appear at any moment walking along the shores! In the afternoon we will transfer to Kaolack (Senegal), where we will enjoy a roosting site for Scissor-tailed Kites. Overnight in Senegal Relea Hotel ar Kaolack.
Day 6. Morning birding in the woodlands around our accommodation in search of Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Dark Chanting Goshawk and, if lucky, Three-banded Courser or African Scops Owl. In the afternoon drive to Djoud Bird Sanctuary. Two nights stay in Camp de Djoud Hotel at Djoud.
Days 7 & 8. A visit to Djoud is always an unforgettable experience. We will enjoy of two days we will visit a number of interesting spots expecting to contact a large number of species including African Pygmy Goose, Winding Cisticola, Black-headed Weaver, Black-faced Quailfinch, African Skimmer, African Swamphen, Zebra Waxbill, African Stonechat. This massive wetland attracts large numbers of Pelicans, Ibises and waterfowl, and scarcities such as Lesser Moorhen and Allen’s Gallinule are also real possibilities depending on the water level. At sunset we will also have a chance for the very sought-after Golden Nightjar.
Here we will also look for some desert specialties such as Cricket Warbler, Atlas & Desert Wheatears, Savile’s & Denhams Bustards, Spotted Thick-knee or Temminck’s Courser. No promises but this is also a wonderful place to look for the very scarce Quail-Plover & Bronze-winged Courser.
Day 9. Morning birding in the area looking for some specialties before driving to Kaolack. Birding in the way if timing allows. During the afternoon drive back to Kaolack. Overnight at Kaolack.
Day 10. During the morning we will spend a couple of hours in Fathala Game Reserve to enjoy a good game drive and some birding. Fathala is one of the best areas in West Africa to enjoy mammal watching. Here we can see Roan Antelopes, Derby Elands, West African Buffalos, Bushbucks, Deffasa Waterbucks & Red Patas Monkeys to name a few. Along with them we will enjoy Abyssian Rollers, Green Woodhoppoes as well as Brown and Beaudouin’s Snake Eagles. In the afternoon we will arrive at Bakotu Hotel back in coastal The Gambia.
Day 11. During the day we will visit Kachummeh & Brufut woodlands in search of a long list of species including Guinea & Violet Turacos, Palm-nut Vulture, Long-tailed Nightjar, Verreaux Eagle Owl, WesternOlivaceous Warbler, Splendid Sunbird, Double-spurred Francolin, Glossy-backed Drongo, Yellow-throated Bulbul and many more. Depending on flight combination, overnight in our coastal accommodation or final transfer to the airport.
Day 12. For those clients having their flight, final transfer to Banjul International Airport during the morning.
Return regular flights Barcelona / Banjul / Barcelona, 12 nights of accommodation in twin room. All accommodations along the tour have hot water, wifi, restaurant and air conditioned. Price includes all breakfasts, lunches and evening meals, birding guides and tour leaders, ground transport, boat trips, reserve entrances fees, water along the itinerary, and travel insurance. All prices are VAT included.
Transport to / from Banjul (off flights option) or Barcelona airports, shoft drinks, alcoholic drinks or any other item not listed as “INCLUDED”
The group will assemble in Barcelona International Airport for an evening regular flight to Banjul, capital city of The Gambia.
For those tour participants flying by themselves to The Gambia, assembling will be in the International Airport of Banjul. Our flight from Barcelona arrives about midnight. In the case you may prefer to wait in the hotel, a transfer between the airport and Senegambia Hotel can be arranged
During the tour we will stay in a 5 different accommodations. We always them to be local owned, even if sometimes the options are limited and we end up in bigger resort-like accommodations. All accommodations along the tour have free wifi, restaurant, hot water and air conditioned.
PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH
Visa is not required for UE citizens and you will be issued with a 28-days tourist stamp on arrival. Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return date. Please check standard health and innoculation requirements applies in your local authorities. However, it is strongly advisable to take precautions agaisnt malària for this tour, and if you are travelling from or have recently travelled in a regió with Yellow Fever, you will require the innoculation certificate to travel. Please note that some prescription or over the counter medicines are banned in The Gambia, please check the Gambian Embassy before travel.
Reportes de viaje:
December 2019 Tour Report (in Catalan)
Dates: December 8th to 14th, 2019
Number of species seen: 270
January 2019 Tour Report (in English)
Dates: January 15th to 22nd, 2019
Number of species seen: 243