The Gambia, the smallest country in continental Africa, is named after the river that crosses and vertebrates the country. Totally surrounded by Senegal, both formed the Senegambia Federation from 1982 to 1989. The Gambia is an open, friendly country that preserves some of the best examples of gallery forests in West Africa. Alongside, it has 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 tradition and modernity. This can be an explanation of why this 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 immediatly 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.
The tour will also spend an overnight inland, with no need for our clients to check out from our comfortable hotel in the Gambian coast. This overnight will enable us to look for an even wider range of species living not only in wood lands but also in some of the most interesting savanna like ambients in the country. A few miles from the coast, the soil becomes red and those guests visiting Africa for the first time will have the real sense of exploring the continent. 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, Bush Petronia and, if lucky, Temminck’s Courser or Sudan Golden Sparrow! Still, we will be also concentrated in provide excellent views on the charismatic Egyptian Plover.
Back to the coast 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, White-crowned Robin-Chat and, if being very lucky, we may see one of the few White-spotted Flufftails left in the country.
The tour expects to add 250 species of birds to its list, a wonderful array for a single week. The Gambia 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!
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. The group will meet at Barcelona Airport (Those clients chosing to go directly to The Gambia will find a private transport waiting for them at Banjul Internacional Airport to lead them to our accommodation during the tour) for an afternoon flight to Banjul. Arrival and transfer to our hotel for our evening meal.
Day 2. Kotu Bridge. An hour of birding in the ground hotels. The area is famous for the variety and quality of its birdlife. Here we expect to see Oriole Warbler, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Yellow-billed Shrike, Lesser Honeyguide, African Harrier-Hawk, Blackcap Babbler or Yellow-crowned Gonolek among several other species. Short transfer to Kotu Bridge, where de shall enjoy a good variety of birdlife that may include Blue-breasted & Giant Kingfishers, Blue-bellied Roller, Western Reef Egret, Little Weaver, Senegal Parrot, African Pied Hornbill, Green-backed Camaroptera and, if lucky, the elusive Greater Painted Snipe .
In the afternoon short transfer to the shore line around. Here we will check for Caspian & West African Terns, Kept Gulls, Slender-billed Gulls, White-fronted Plover or Four-banded Sandgrouse among many species of waders & egrets.
Day 3. Kartong Mining area. These old sand ponds are surprisingly rich in birdlide. The area attracks several overwintering birds such as Little & Baillon’s Crake or even Great Snipe. African Painted Snipe, Western Reef Egret, Malachite Kingfisher, African Pygmy Goose, Senegal Coucal and African Gallinule are also to be found in the pools. Around them the dense coastal scrub host other interesting birds including Yellow-breasted Apalis, Little Greenbul, Double-spurred Francolin, Splendid & Pygmy Sunbirds, Bush Petronia, Zebra Waxbill, Northern Crombec or Red-faced Cisticola.
Days 4 & 5. During these two days we will explore inland Gambia. Mangroves, savanna ambients and semi-arid countryside are some of the habitats we will cover.
Here the variety of birdlife is awesome. Key species will include African Darter, Palm-nut Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Bateleur, African Scops Owl, Namaqua Dove, Woodland Kingfisher, African White-backed Vulture, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark, White-crowned Robin Chat, Blue-bellied Roller or African Blue Flycatcher. We will also look for one of the goodies of the trip; the amazing Egyptian Plover.
Day 6. We will spend most of the day in Abuko Natural Reserve. Here we can still find some good examples of gallery forest along with semi-arid landscapes. Oriole Warbler, Guinea Turaco, Spotted Honeyguide, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Green Hylia, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Common Wattled-eye or Western Bluebill are some of the main targets in the area.
Day 7. Back in the coast, we will explore some forested areas not far from our accommodation. Here we will increase the number of species by adding Copper & Scarler-chested Sunbirds, Red-winged Warbler, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Northern White-faced Owl, Brown-necked Parrot, African Hobby, Red-checked Cordon-bleu, Long-tailed Nightjar, Broad-billed Roller, White-shouldered Black Tit and Senegal Batis among other.
Day 8. Morning birding in our hotel grounds, where we will still look for some last-minute species and enjoy the amazing number of vultures coming to feed in. Hooded and Rüppell ‘s Vultures are likely to provide excellent views. In our way to the airport we will also enjoy some wetlands expecting to find Lesser Flamingo, Pied Avocet, Winding Cisticola and Western Olivaceous Warbler among other species.
Final transfer to International Banjul Airport for an afternoon flight to Barcelona, where we will arrive at midnight. We offer our clients a paid extra overnight in one of the Barcelona airport hotels to make easier flight connections.
Return regular flights Barcelona / Banjul / Barcelona, 7 nights accommodation at Senegambia Beach Hotel or similar in twin room, 1 last overnight in Barcelona Airport (double room; requested in advance), breakfasts, lunches and evening meals, birding guides and tour leaders, ground transport, boat trip, reserve entrances fees and travel insurance. All prices are VAT included.
Transport to / from Barcelona airport, drinks, 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 Gàmbia.
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
Main base during the trip will be Senegambia Beach Hotel which is a tourist hotel with good standard and providing a wide variety of services. All rooms are en suite with air conditioning. Last overnight in one of the hotels around Barcelona Airport (Barcelona Tryp Aeropuerto or similar). All rooms are en suite. All evening meals in Senegambia Hotel are taken in the hotel, and this includes a buffet style restaurant with plenty of choice including an extensive salad bar.
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.
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