At a Glance
Dates: 30th November - 14th December, 2022
Extension: No extensions currently available
Prices: This tour is available for £2,995 per person sharing. There is a £200 single supplement.
In a sentence: A novel safari offering species as diverse as Giant Eland and African Manatee, this is a truly unique trip and one that any serious mammal-watcher shouldn't miss!
Senegal is rarely on a list of top safari destinations but it has a huge amount to offer committed wildlife-watchers. The country's rich coastline offers opportunities to encounter the rare Atlantic Humpback Dolphin and African Manatee. Inland, the arid north is a good bet for the shy Pale Fox, with the estuarine environment of Djoudj offering great birding opportunities. The highlight of any visit, however, must be the beautiful Niokolo-Koba National Park. Here, with a slice of luck, Lion, Leopard and even African Wild Dog can be encountered, and the remote Mount Assirik holds populations of Bush Elephant, Forest Elephant, Lord Derby's Eland and Chimpanzee.
On arrival into Dakar, you will be taken to your comfortable hotel to rest before the trip ahead. For those arriving early enough, we can arrange a trip into the city. Overnight accommodation will be at the Hotel Djoloff or similar.
St Louis & Djoudj
This morning we leave behind the bustling city of Dakar and head north, through the little-visited arid interior of Senegal. Our destination, though, is anything but arid. St Louis, and the nearby reserve of Djoudj, benefit greatly from their proximity to the life-giving Senegal river, which forms the border with Mauritania. We will stop for lunch in St Louis, and there will be a chance to tick off several bird species here, before we head directly to our lodge for the evening, just south of Djoudj.
A full day in Djoudj lies ahead, a real treat. The third largest protected area set aside specifically for birdlife anywhere in the world, Djoudj attracts impressive densities of waterbirds, and is particularly well-known for the pelican 'nurseries' found here. A boat trip this morning takes us deep into the reserve, where birding will be our sole focus, with assistance from a local guide and our birding expert Sogui Wade. Keep an eye out for mammals too, as African manatee are occasionally spotted, and you are sure to see the resident green monkeys and warthogs.
After lunch in a nearby hotel, we will return to Djoudj and explore on foot, aiming to tick off several North African species rarely seen elsewhere in Africa. Thereafter, we will return to our lodge for dinner and some rest.
Richard Toll & St Louis
Early this morning we head to the border town between Senegal and Mauritania, Richard Toll. The morning will be spent birding around Richard Toll, before we return to St Louis for another few hours birding on the coast.
Leaving the north behind, we now head to the centre of Senegal and town of Kaolack. After a quick stop for lunch, we will head to the Keur Waly wetland, an oxbow lake near the Saloum Delta, which hosts a consistently impressive diversity of shorebirds, including good numbers of European migrants. If the group tires of shorebirds, we can also head to Kousmar, just to the west of Kaolack, where savanna species are easily seen. We will overnight in Kaolack.
This morning we set out towards the tiny village of Dar Salam, the gateway to Niokolo-Koba. En route we will grab lunch in the busy town of Tambacounda, and there is scope for some birding en route. If time permits, we may head directly into the park and our excellent lodge accommodation, where we can enjoy exclusive access to a network of trails and hides that surround the lodge - lions, leopards and many other species are seen here regularly. If not, we will instead overnight just outside the park in basic tourist accommodation in Dar Salam.
Days Seven to Nine
Three full days in Niokolo-Koba are a real privilege, and we will make the most of it with morning and evening game drives, as well as nights in hides around our lodge. Whilst game densities are lower here than in more established tourist destinations in Eastern and Southern Africa, there remains the potential here for remarkable game-viewing. Lion are the main draw for visitors here, although leopard, wild dog, elephant, buffalo and spotted hyena are all present. Gambian mongoose, Guinea baboon, red-flanked duiker and green monkey and western hartebeest are all easily seen, alongside the abundant kob, roan, waterbuck and bushbuck. We will spend most of our time in the core game-viewing area around Simenti, although we may embark on a longer drive to Mt Assirik during our stay, where the few remaining elephant, chimpanzee and giant eland in Senegal can be found.
Pointe St Georges
An early start today, as we drive west for approximately seven hours through the Casamance to Pointe St Georges, stopping for lunch in the city of Ziguinchor. The birding here can again be superb, although the main purpose for our visit is the rare chance to spot African manatee at a natural spring near our accommodation. We will overnight at a basic campement.
Pointe St Georges & Cap Skirring
Our primary goal this morning is to enjoy several hours at the main viewing platform at the point, where manatees frequently congregate at a freshwater spring to feed. Whilst there are no guarantees, and sightings are largely dependent on the timings of the tides, we stand a very good chance of a sighting today. After spending some time here, we continue on to the island of Karabane, which is well worth a visit for its colourful buildings and white sand beaches alone - but, with luck, we may spot bottlenose dolphins and perhaps even humpback dolphins from the island during our visit.
This afternoon we continue on to the popular tourist destination of Cap Skirring, where we overnight at a comfortable beach hotel.
Gambia & Saloum Delta
It's not often that one crosses an entire country in the course of a day, but that is exactly what we will do today! The Gambia is surrounded on three sides by Senegal and stands between us and the beautiful Saloum Delta. Our drive will take us through the centre of the country, avoiding the chaotic Banjul ferry, and to Kaolack, where we will stop for lunch. From here, it is a further drive to Toubacouta, from where we will head into the delta itself by boat, navigating through the mangroves in search of the abundant waterfowl here. As the sun sets, we will anchor amongst the mangroves as birds descend around us as they come into roost - a memorable experience!
Today allows a full day to explore and bird the area around Toubacouta and the Saloum Delta, with our exact focus dependent on the interests of the group.
This morning we set out once more into the delta by boat, with our quarry this time being the elusive Atlantic humpback dolphin. Sightings are unusual, with the bottlenose dolphin seen much more regularly, but with the assistance of local fishermen we stand an excellent chance of spotting these very rare cetaceans. After lunch on the banks of the Saloum, we may choose to continue our search for the dolphins, or instead seek out the water-birds that call the Saloum home. As darkness falls around our lodge this evening, we set out on foot to track down pale fox, which are commonly seen on the shores of the delta.
Today you transfer back to Dakar for your homeward flight.
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 from November 30th to December 14th, 2022. The tour is timed to maximise our chances of encountering Atlantic Humpback Dolphins, African Manatees and the big game of Niokolo-Koba before the intolerable heat of the dry season sets in.
The cost of this trip is £2,995 per person sharing, with a £200 single supplement. This excludes all drinks and some meals outside of Niokolo-Koba - exact inclusions and exclusions will be provided upon enquiry. To secure a place on this tour, a deposit of £1,650 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.
British nationals do not require a visa to enter Senegal or 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 Senegal in December is very hot, with little rain and maximum temperatures of around 35 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 20 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.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. All major currencies can be exchanged in Dakar.
Safety and Security
There are currently no security issues in any of the areas visited by this tour.