At a Glance
Dates: December 9th - December 18th, 2023
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £1,595 pp sharing (with no single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Gambia is certainly a very well-known birding destination, but the mammal-watching potential is also good, with several species of primate easily seen and perhaps even the elusive leopard skulking through Kiang West.
In recent years, Gambia has been descended upon by many operators, drawn in by the undeniably excellent birding and the low costs. There is certainly a huge amount to keep birders happy, from the impressive densities of European migrant shorebirds in Niumi to the plentiful finfoot of the Gambia River. But there are mammals too, often overlooked by passers-through. Patas and green monkey are often seen, as are western red colobus. Hippo and chimpanzee are also commonly spotted, with leopard and Atlantic humpback dolphin sightings reserved for the very luckiest clients.
On your arrival into Banjul, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris tour leader and transferred to your comfortable beachside hotel. If time permits, we will enjoy a short walk along Kotu Creek to tick off the first of many bird species to come. There will be a pre-tour briefing this evening in the hotel.
Leaving Banjul by ferry this morning, we will make a beeline to the Niumi National Park. Niumi is located at the southern end of the rich Saloum Delta, known worldwide for its diversity of shorebirds. It is a particularly important feeding ground for European migrants, and we expect dozens of species to be ticked off today. There is plenty to tantalise mammal-watchers too, as Atlantic humpback dolphin are known to frequent these coastal waters, and there is an excellent chance of spotting three primate species - green monkey, Patas monkey and western red colobus.
After a full day's birding in Niumi, we will head for our comfortable lodge for some well-earned rest.
This morning we transfer for approximately four hours east to the town of Janjanbureh, with plenty of stops en route to scope out waterholes, swamps and open farmland for new bird species. After settling into our accommodation, this afternoon we take to the water with a pirogue trip on the famous Gambia River. Sightings of chimpanzee and Guinea baboon are common here, but most often the stars are the hippos and the elusive African finfoot. Finfoot are common almost everywhere along the Gambia and Janjanbureh is no exception. This evening, we overnight at nearby basic lodge accommodation.
The first few hours of the day, perhaps even before sunrise, will be dedicated to birding with our local expert guide in Kunkilling Forest Park on the southern side of the river. Finfoot are again common here, as are Adamawa turtle doves and red-necked falcons.
After some productive birding and a delicious lunch, we will again spend the afternoon seeking birds and mammals on the Gambia River.
Today it is a 2.5 hour drive along the southern bank of the Gambia to the excellently-located Tendaba Camp. Nestled between Kiang West and Bao Bolon National Parks, it is superbly located for both birding and mammal-watching. This afternoon and evening will be spent scouring the area around camp for as many species as possible, including the elusive leopard, which is known to persist here in small numbers.
Days Six to Seven
Kiang West & Bao Bolon
The next two days can be split between Kiang West and Bao Bolon as the group desires. Both areas offer a range of habitats, and birders and mammal-watchers alike are highly unlikely to get bored!
Today we enjoy a leisurely return to the coast, stopping often to bird when we identify any areas of interest. After dinner this evening, we may walk the area immediately around the lodge to seek out galago and nightjars.
Today is a real highlight for many birders, with excellent accommodation that barely requires one to leave one's chair to spot dozens of species! But leave our chairs we shall, as we head to Bonto Forest and Farasutu Forest, both excellent birding sites with plenty to offer.
Guests are today transferred to the airport for their homeward flights.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may
occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in December 2023, aiming to take advantage of the excellent weather and plethora of birdwatching opportunities. The tour will run from December 9th to December 18th 2022.
The cost of this trip is £1,595 per person excl. flights, with no single supplement. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinks are not included. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £650 must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Banjul at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Banjul after 12.00 on your return, if leaving on the same day that we return to Banjul to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do not require a visa to enter the Gambia. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Gambia in December is hot and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 32 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 18 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
There are no security concerns in any of the areas visited by this tour.