Since 2019, Al Henderson (lead birding guide with EBRO DELTA BIRDING) has been making annual visits to The Gambia - a small country in west Africa with an amazing diversity of bird-life!
In 2024, we will be running an escorted bird photo trip to this world class destination, guided by top Gambian expert Fansu Bojang.
The Gambia is a small country on the west African coast, completely surrounded by Senegal. This tropical oasis has a simply stunning array of birds and other wildlife, with many opportunities to take photos at surprisingly close distances. After visiting The Gambia on three previous occasions, Al has come together with local expert Fansu Bojang to create the perfect itinerary to see the whole of the country and enjoy some of the very best bird photography opportunities that are available.
Our week-long bird photography tour of the country will begin with 3 nights at the coast where we will enjoy fantastic day trips to locations such as Kartong and Tanji, before embarking on the incredible canoe trip from Kotu bridge - where multiple species of Kingfisher can be captured just a few meters from your camera's lens!
After completing the first leg of the tour at the coast, we will then embark on a 3 day voyage following the Gambia river towards the country's interior, staying at some charming nature camps along the route. This journey will allow us to see the whole country with many birding highlights along the route, including the opportunity to photograph the incredible Red-throated Bee-eater at two separate breeding sites. We will also venture out on some spectacular boat trips, where we may encounter other wildlife including Chimpanzees, Hippos, Crocodiles, Monitor Lizards and different varieties of monkeys.
We return to the coast for the final night of the trip - with one last canoe trip in Kotu creek on departure day followed by a bird photo editing session with Al prior to leaving. This will include tips on cropping, composition and editing in Adobe Lightroom using Topaz plug-ins to help you get the best from your images.
Included in the price:
Not included in the price:
This nature holiday will be run as a fixed start date small group tour for between 4 - 6 people. If you would prefer to arrange a private tour to The Gambia for either bird photography or bird watching with Al, then simply message for a bespoke quotation - with trips of longer duration than 1 week also possible to arrange.
Viellot's Barbet at Tanji bird reserve
Flight Departs Barcelona T1 at 15.50 and lands in Banjul 20.10 local time. After clearing the airport, we will be met by Fansu and transferred to Palm Beach Hotel in Kotu. We will arrive in time to eat at the Hotel (meal not included).
After breakfast at the Hotel (included) we will be met by Fansu for an early morning start. We travel to the southern edge of The Gambia with birding stops along the route. After a riverside lunch (included) at Stala Lodge, we take a bird watching boat trip along the Alahine river before returning back to our coastal base. Evening meal at Hotel or local restaurant (not included).
Following breakfast at the Hotel (included) we will visit Tanji bird reserve, a short distance to the south of Kotu. After some walk around birding with great photo opportunities we head back to our Hotel base with a stop at Brufut woods. Lunch will be taken at the Hotel or a local restaurant (not included).
In the later part of the afternoon we will meet with Fansu at the famous Kotu bridge which is just a short walk from our Hotel, and then have a wonderful canoe trip on Kotu Creek which has many opportunities to get close up pictures of spectacular birds. Evening meal at Hotel or local restaurant (not included).
On day 4 of the trip we will depart from our coastal base following breakfast (included) and begin the journey to the interior. One of the highlights of the day will be a stop at Farasutu forest which offers spectacular photo opportunities of different owls. We continue our journey with a lunch stop on route (included) and further birding breaks along the journey including the excellent Kimpati raptor hotspot. We will reach Morgan Kunda lodge by early evening and check into our accommodation before taking dinner at the lodge (included).
Breakfast will be at Morgan Kunda lodge and we will have an opportunity to take photos of some of the spectacular birds in the garden before departure. We will then be driving along the North Bank Road heading further inland, with some excellent locations along the route including Njau Ponds with good possibility of Egyptian Plover & Wassu sand quarry which has both Red-throated & Little Bee-eaters. We will take lunch at Kuntaur (included) with an afternoon boat trip to Baboon Island (Chimps & Hippos). Our journey then continues a short distance to Lodge accommodation close to Janjanbureh (Lodge TBC). Evening meal at lodging (included).
Following breakfast at our lodge we will visit Bansang sand quarry to capture the Red-throated Bee-eaters & other birds in the early morning light. We will then begin our journey back along the south bank road with opportunistic stops on the road back and lunch (included). We will check in to Tendaba Camp early evening and enjoy a buffet dinner (included).
Breakfast will be served at Tendaba Camp (included) and we will then take a morning boat trip along the narrow channels off the main body of The Gambia river. After returning from the boat trip we will be journeying back towards the coast with a lunch break (included) and a stop off at Bonto Forest for more owl opportunities. We arrive back at the coast late afternoon and check in to our Hotel (TBC). Evening meal at Hotel or local restaurant (not included).
The final day of the tour. Following breakfast at the Hotel (included) we will take another canoe trip on Kotu Creek in the early part of the morning with spectacular bird photography possibilities. The remainder of the day we will have time for a photo editing session where Al will offer hints & tips on composition, cropping and photo editing in Adobe Lightroom with Topaz plug-ins. Lunch (not included) will be at the Hotel or a beach restaurant. We depart for the airport mid / late afternoon with Fansu in time for our return flight to Barcelona at 21.15
In order to get the most out of this bird watching holiday in The Gambia, we will be teaming up with expert local bird watching guide Fansu Bojang.
Fascinated by the extraordinary birds of his country from an early age, Fansu dedicated himself to his passion by studying for two years at the Department of Parks & Wildlife Management. Now a senior member of the executive commitee of the Bird Watchers Association based in Kotu, Fansu fulfils the role of treasurer of the organisation. Fansu has over 16 years of experience as a fully qualified professional bird watching guide and in this time has been operating tours for private groups around the coast and interior of The Gambia. Along with his exceptional knowledge of birds, Fansu also has an extensive understanding of other flora and fauna that we will encounter as we journey through the country.
Professional, knowledgeable and great company - Fansu is the perfect partner to lead our birding tour in The Gambia.
It's possible to encounter 8 different Bee-eater species when traveling around The Gambia! Red-throated (above) is one of the stand outs - and we can also expect Little, African Green, Blue-cheeked, White-throated, European, Swallow-tailed and maybe even the elusive Northern Carmine!
Colourful Kingfishers are a guarantee in The Gambia and there are a huge variety to see, both great and small! The 9 Kingfishers that it's possible to find are: Pied, Giant, Blue-breasted, Pygmy, Woodland, Striped, Malachite, Grey-headed (pictured above) and maybe even the scarce Shining Blue.
Birds of Prey and Vultures are seen almost everywhere as we journey through the country. There is an extensive list that can be seen but some highlights from previous trips have included: African Fish-Eagle, Osprey, Palm-nut Vulture,Black-winged Kite, Beaudouin's Snake-Eagle, Brown Snake-Eagle, Bateleur, Long-crested Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Grasshopper Buzzard, Lizard Buzzard, Dark Chanting-Goshawk, Wahlberg's Eagle, Red-necked Falcon, Lanner Falcon and others!
In Africa the Sunbirds are some of the most spectacular passerines that will be encountered! Adult males have spectacular coloration while females & juveniles are a more drab brown. Feed on nectar, insects & spiders. Regularly encountered varieties include: Pygmy, Scarlet-chested, Beautiful (pictured above), Variable, Splendid & Copper.
We will be visiting some woodland and forest locations which have resident owls. Local park attendants will know the locations where the owls are resting during the day time and be able to lead us to them. Species likely to be seen include: Verreaux's Eagle Owl, Greyish Eagle Owl, African Wood Owl, African Scops Owl, Northern White-faced Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet (see above) and perhaps even the rare Pels Fishing Owl at Tendaba.
Rollers are another spectacular family of birds which we will see in The Gambia - often perching prominently on roadside wires and bushes. They can be seen swooping down on their prey, generally large insects and beetles. The five varieties of Roller that we are able to see on this birding tour are: Abyssinian (pictured above), Rufous-crowned, Blue-bellied, Broad-billed and maybe even European in it's wintering grounds.
The bird photography opportunities on the canoe trip from Kotu bridge can only be described as world class. You will have the opportunity to see multiple species of Kingfishers, along with herons and egret varieties including the fascinating Umbrella bird (Black Heron). Other birds like Hamerkop, Senegal Thick-knee and Little Bee-eater make up a stellar cast! This birding boat trip is simply exceptional - so much so that we will do it twice during the tour!
Our bird photography tour of The Gambia offers two opportunities to marvel at the spectacular Red-throated Bee-eater. These exquisitely colourful birds can be photographed close to their breeding sites at Wassu & Bansang.
Enjoy this short movie of Red-throated Bee-eaters, taken in February 2023, filmed using the Canon EOS R7 in high frame rate HD video mode!
Pearl-spotted Owlet are extremely active at dawn in the gardens of Morgan Kunda Lodge - one of the accommodations we visit as we venture into the Gambian interior.
Click through to this short video and enjoy the sights and sounds of a dawn chorus, Gambia style and enjoy close ups of this beautiful little owlet.
Chimpanzees can be seen reliably on the boat trip from Kuntaur to Baboon Island. The Chimps, which live on 3 different islands in The Gambia river, are part of a rehabilitation project started in 1979. Supplemental feeding is provided during the boat excursion to provide an extremely good chance of a close up sighting from the safety of the boat.
There is also a very good chance that we will encounter Hippopotamus on the same boat trip to Baboon Island. These huge mammals can usually be seen wallowing in a shallow area close to the river bank, and emerge regularly from the water to keep an eye on 'passers by'!
We may be lucky enough to encounter Crocodiles on any of the boat trips on the tour. This mid sized croc was spotted basking on a log on the Feb '23 tour.
We will see different types of monkeys as we travel through The Gambia, such as this Green Vervet. Other varieties include Red Colobus and Common Patas Monkey. Troops of Baboons may also be encountered.
You should consult with a doctor / travel clinic in your home country to seek guidelines on recommended vaccinations before travelling to The Gambia. Yellow Fever is not required for citizens entering from the EU. It is recommended to take medication for Malaria (Malerone) during your holiday.
At the coast we will be staying at a mid-range beach hotel with good amenities including WiFi, A/C in the bedroom, swimming pool and bar / restaurant on site.
The camps in the interior are situated in remote villages and we can expect only basic but adequate facilities. Generally WiFi is not available (exception Tendaba camp) but the rooms will be equipped with a cold shower, mosquito net, room fan and electrical points to recharge camera batteries etc.
At the coast, a wide range of western cuisine is available alongside more traditional Gambian fare (similar to curries). When we venture inland to the camps, the dinner is usually a buffet with rice, potato chips and fried chicken or fish available. Fresh fruit like bananas, oranges and water melon are available, depending on what is in season.
The Gambia has a sub-tropical climate with temperatures typical in the low 30s Celsius. The coastal climate is cooler to that experienced in the interior owing to the Atlantic breeze.
English is the official language of The Gambia (as a former British colony). Gambian people will also converse amongst themselves in local tribal dialects.
Tourism is a major part of the Gambian economy and as such, punishment for crimes committed against tourists are severe. The Gambia is a safe place to visit, although if you venture off site you will likely encounter 'bumsters' who will try to offer you services or goods. Although this can be a nuisance, if you politely decline their offers they will quickly lose interest.
Long, lightweight trousers and sturdy walking shoes / trainers are recommended when we are in the bush. Long-sleeved safari style shirts work well, with a wide brimmed hat to protect your face from the strong sun.
In The Gambia the local currency is the Dalasi. At the current rate of exchange, 1 Euro is equal to approximately 64 Dalasi (04 June 2023)