Birding Tour Senegal and The Gambia: West African Wildlife Adventure
Birding Tour Senegal and The Gambia: West African Wildlife Adventure
Senegal is a medium sized country, about the same size as the US state of South Dakota, and is located on the west coast of Africa. It straddles the Sahel transition zone and subtropics, and this leads to a huge variety of wildlife, particularly birds. Senegal does not have the long-established tourism infrastructure of its neighbor, The Gambia, however it is a quickly developing country and now offers a range of fantastic hotels and lodges which make birding the country easier than ever. This small group tour, which can also be combined with our preceding The Gambia: Gateway to Africa Tour, offers a wonderful adventure across almost the entire country and we can expect to enjoy a superb range of birds and other wildlife.
Pel’s Fishing Owl is one of many spectacular owl species we will look for on this tour.
Following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy (v11.1 in May 2021), Senegal has a bird list of 698 species. This total is made up of a large number of tropical African species and, during the northern winter (when our tour is timed), a mix of Western Palearctic migrants. Additionally, this tour offers one the chance of seeing several highly sought-after species that will whet the appetite of any world birder. The monotypic Egyptian Plover will be sought along the major rivers in the south-central parts of the country, while the northern Sahel zone hosts the likes of Golden Nightjar and even the near-mythical Quail-plover, amongst many others. We will also get to experience vast roosts of both Lesser Kestrel and the stunning Scissor-tailed Kite, a truly breathtaking spectacle, not to be missed. As we travel through the two countries, we will visit a range of great birding locations, a number of these sites are Important Bird Areas (IBAs), which are identified by BirdLife International as being of significant importance to birds. These IBAs include Delta du Saloum, La Petite Côte, Cap Vert, Niayes, Guembeul Avifaunal Reserve and St Louis lagoons, Ndiaël basin (including the Trois Marigots), Djoudj wetlands, River Sénégal (Ntiager to Richard Toll), and Parc National du Niokolo-Koba.
Quail-plover one of the most desirable Sahel special that we will be targeting on this trip (photo Nigel Voaden, Wikimedia Commons).
We begin our tour in Banjul, the capital of The Gambia, where we will immediately head north over the Gambia River and into Senegal. We will first explore the lengthy coastal regions and head right up to the extreme north of the country to the border with Mauritania. The Senegal River provides a vital artery of life here on the borders of the Sahara Desert. We will then head inland across the entire breadth of Senegal and explore the bird-rich Sahel transitional zone, searching for any of these specials that may still be eluding us. Our final area of exploration in Senegal is the fantastic Niokolo-Koba National Park (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Centre). This will give us a great taste of subtropical forest, mangrove swamp, and open forest birding, a real contrast to the arid north of the country. Finally, we will head west and enter The Gambia once more, driving almost its entire length (birding along the way), including a stop at the famous Jangjangbureh Camp, before reaching the coast of The Gambia, where our tour concludes.
We will look for White-crested Tiger Heron during this Senegal birding tour.
This tour offers a potentially vast list of exciting, exotic, and fascinating bird species and birding spectacles. The variety of birds on offer is huge, with shorebirds (waders), birds of prey, waterbirds such as herons, egrets, and pelicans, rollers, bee-eaters, kingfishers, and a seemingly endless list of passerines all awaiting us throughout the tour. Other desired species that we’ll be on the lookout for include African Finfoot, White-crowned Lapwing, White-crested Tiger Heron, Black Crowned Crane, Arabian Bustard, Savile’s Bustard, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Brown Booby, Red-billed Tropicbird, Bat Hawk, Pel’s Fishing Owl, River Prinia, Little Grey Woodpecker, Golden Nightjar, Sennar Penduline Tit, Cricket Warbler, Adamawa Turtle Dove, Red-throated Bee-eater, Mali Firefinch, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Neumann’s Starling, White-fronted Black Chat, and Pied-winged Swallow are all possible.
For the ultimate West African birdwatching experience, join our 10-day introduction to Africa, The Gambia: Gateway to Africa Tour, which precedes and complements this tour of Senegal.
Itinerary (15 days/14 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Banjul (The Gambia) and drive to Toukbakuta (Senegal) birding en route
Welcome to Senegal, well actually, welcome to The Gambia! We begin (and end) our Senegal tour in the tiny neighboring country of The Gambia, which is also a superb birding location. You can also join us for our The Gambia: Gateway to Africa Tour which precedes this tour of Senegal.
Even around the airport we will be instantly introduced to the wonderful exotic species of Africa. Overhead, large flocks of Common Swift and Little Swift fill the skies, and the trees around the airport can hold Hooded Vulture, Pied Crow, Speckled Pigeon, and Common Bulbul. The grounds of the airport often hold foraging Yellow-billed Kite and Western Cattle Egret.
Once everyone has arrived, we will head straight for the Banjul ferry terminal to cross the mouth of the Gambia River to the north bank, making land in the town of Barra. On the short crossing we should record plenty of Little Swift, African Palm Swift, Slender-billed Gull, Grey-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, wintering terns like Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Gull-billed Tern, and West African Crested Tern, plus the chance of Pomarine Jaeger (Skua), a rare but increasingly recorded species on this coastline. The riverbanks here should also hold good numbers of Grey Heron, Great Egret, Pied Kingfisher, Western Reef Heron, and Reed Cormorant.
Hamerkop is in a monotypic family and is always a great species to see.
After making the river crossing, we will continue north through the far more remote northern area of The Gambia towards Senegal. Wetlands near the coast are an excellent location to find wintering shorebirds (waders) from Europe and we will make a stop at one of these areas to look for species like Eurasian Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Eurasian Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Sanderling, Common Sandpiper, and Common Greenshank. These will be joined by African shorebirds like Black-headed Lapwing which adds a touch of the exotic to these perhaps more familiar species.
Other species of note in these wetland areas can include African Green Pigeon, Yellow-billed Stork, birds of prey like African Harrier-Hawk, Brown Snake Eagle, and Lizard Buzzard, and several true exotics like Green Wood Hoopoe, Striped Kingfisher, Abyssinian Roller, Vieillot’s Barbet, Brubru, Copper Sunbird, and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver. European passerines will likely also feature here, with Woodchat Shrike, Crested Lark, Western Olivaceous Warbler, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, and Whinchat all being frequently recorded.
Finally, we will then cross into Senegal and begin our cross-country adventure of this amazing part of Africa. Depending on our time of arrival we may do some birding around Toubakuta, or head straight to our comfortable hotel for the next two nights, where we can unwind after an exciting first day of travel and birding.
Day 2. Birding Toubakuta, with boat trip into Saloum Delta
Today we will explore a portion of the vast Delta du Saloum and some inland areas around Toubakuta. The vast size of the delta gives us plenty of habitat to explore and birds to find. In this southern area of Senegal, species to be sought here include Stone Partridge, Namaqua Dove, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Vieillot’s Barbet, Senegal Eremomela, Northern Puffback, Lesser Honeyguide, Cardinal Woodpecker, Pygmy Sunbird, White-rumped Seedeater and Red-necked Falcon. Our boat trip sees us exploring the labyrinth of mangroves as we try to track down the highly sought-after White-crested Tiger Heron. As always, boat trips are a great way to see birds and we’re likely to find other great species like Goliath Heron and Giant Kingfisher, amongst many others.
Moving inland from the delta we find a more barren landscape of open dry savannah mixed with isolated woodlands wherever water is present. The species begin to change as we enter this new habitat, and it will give us our first chances of exciting specials like Savile’s Bustard, Western Plantain-eater, African Wattled Lapwing, Hadada Ibis, African Harrier-Hawk, Abyssinian Roller, Lesser Honeyguide, Greater Honeyguide, Yellow-billed Stork, Yellow-throated Leaflove, White-billed Buffalo Weaver, and estrildid finches like Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu and Cut-throat Finch.
The final area we explore is a secluded forested area which is nourished by one of the tributaries of the delta. Forest birding is a wonderful experience here, and a great challenge, but fortunately the special birds of this habitat make it worth the effort. Key species in the forest and border habitat that we hope to find include Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Black-billed Wood Dove, Long-tailed Nightjar, African Scops Owl, Senegal Coucal, Shikra, African Grey Hornbill, Broad-billed Roller, African Grey Woodpecker, Senegal Parrot, Black-crowned Tchagra, Glossy-backed Drongo, Northern Crombec, Blackcap Babbler, Variable Sunbird, Red-billed Quelea, Lavender Waxbill, Village Indigobird, White-crowned Robin-Chat, and many others including Western Palearctic migrants like Common Redstart and Western Yellow Wagtail.
The Western Plantain-eater is a strange looking species and a great example of the many interesting birds found in West Africa!
Day 3. Transfer to Kaolack, with birding en route and boat trip at Ndiaffate
Today we will continue our northward journey towards the inland town of Kaolack, which sits on the middle course of the Saloum River. Along the journey we will make regular stops for birding, and this should allow us to get more familiar with the range of species we came across yesterday and also find some news species for our tour list.
The habitat will become even more barren the further north we go but the tributaries of the Saloum River provide much needed life to this harsh environment. These areas of water should hold several western palearctic shorebirds (waders) like large flocks of Little Stint, plus groups of Black-winged Stilt, Common Ringed Plover, Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Common Redshank, and perhaps a scarcer species like Marsh Sandpiper or Spotted Redshank.
Waterbirds also gather here and species like Spur-winged Goose, Gull-billed Tern, Slender-billed Gull, Reed Cormorant, Pink-backed Pelican, Great White Pelican, Little Egret, Black Stork, White Stork, Grey Heron, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, and Western Cattle Egret are reliable where there is water. Passerines will also take advantage of this water with a range of interesting species like Crested Lark, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Western Subalpine Warbler, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Black-headed Weaver, and Yellow-crowned Bishop all possible.
After exploring the areas south of Kaolack we will head to the Saloum River where we will undertake a boat trip near the village of Ndiaffate. Boat trips are a great way to explore inaccessible areas of river and this trip is no exception. Many of the waterbirds and shorebirds (waders) we searched for earlier in the day will be present and these should also be joined by Grey-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, White-breasted Cormorant, Western Reef Heron, and Pied Kingfisher. As we slowly meander along the river, we will scan the banks for large flocks of Red-billed Quelea and hirundines like Red-breasted Swallow hawking over the river for insects.
Finally, with the sun descending, we will head to a nearby forested area. This remote forest sits on an island in the middle of the Saloum River, and it is here that one of Senegal’s gems can be found. Our tour is timed perfectly to witness the incredible spectacle of thousands of Scissor-tailed Kites and hundreds of Lesser Kestrels roosting and hunting over the river. The noise and sight of these amazing (and gorgeous) birds will make a stunning spectacle and a unique opportunity to see huge flocks of birds of prey – it will definitely be an early tour highlight.
We will then head to the town of Kaolack where we will spend the next two nights.
The sight of thousands of Scissor-tailed Kites will be incredible (photo Stéphane Aubert).
Day 4. Birding for Quail-plover
We have essentially a full day set aside to track down, not only one of Africa’s most enigmatic and sought-after species, but indeed the world’s – the near-mythical Quail-plover. While this species is nomadic and moves around substantially in response to conditions, Senegal has proven to be a reliable locality in recent years to track down this special bird. We will be sure to put in a significant amount of effort to find this bird, and with a little bit of luck, we will hopefully be successful. Our time will largely be spent slowly walking through dry, open areas scanning for this bird. While our efforts will largely focus on this species, this will not come to the exclusion of all else, and indeed a wide array of other species can be sought here, and we’re likely to get a head-start on some of the species listed under Days 5 – 7 below. In particular, we’ll also keep an eye open for the likes of Savile’s Bustard, the massive Lappet-faced Vulture, Black-headed Lapwing and Sudan Golden Sparrow, amongst others.
Day 5. Birding from Kaolack to Saint Louis
Today we will continue our journey north through Senegal. We start by heading towards the Atlantic coast where we will stop at good birding areas along the way. Our first stop is near the town of Mbour where a series of coastal lagoons can hold a vast range of interesting European migrant species — the area being vital for overwintering birds. The number of shorebird (wader) species here can be extensive, with highlights including Curlew Sandpiper, Jack Snipe, Little Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, and Wood Sandpiper while other birds of note include Black Stork, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, Woodchat Shrike, Melodious Warbler, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Western Subalpine Warbler, Northern Wheatear, Western Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Common Quail, and even scarcer species like Common Grasshopper Warbler and Red-throated Pipit. Wintering birds of prey are also attracted here, and these include Western Osprey, Black Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Short-toed Snake Eagle, and Common Kestrel.
African species are also numerous in these water bodies and wooded areas within the arid landscape and species found here include Pink-backed Pelican, White-rumped Seedeater, Vieillot’s Barbet, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Red-billed Quelea, African Silverbill, Temminck’s Courser, Black-crowned Tchagra, Northern Crombec, Kittlitz’s Plover, Lesser Crested Tern, Red-necked Falcon, Black Scrub Robin, Green Wood Hoopoe, and Sudan Golden Sparrow.
From here we will continue northward towards Saint Louis. We will make more birding stops along the route, including stopping to look for Red-billed Tropicbird, a real exotic beauty, but as it is a relatively long drive, the focus will be to get to our hotel in Saint Louis in good time.
Overnight: Saint Louis
Red-billed Tropicbird is one attractive seabird!
Day 6. Birding from Saint Louis to Podor
After a long day exploring almost the entire length of western Senegal we enjoy effectively three days of more relaxing birding in the extreme north of the country, focusing our birding in the fantastic Djoudj Wetlands, the Richard Toll area, and near the small village of Podor – the latter two near the border between Senegal and Mauritania.
What will be quickly apparent is the presence of many new species that were not present further south in Senegal. Before heading to Podor, we will explore wetlands around Saint Louis where new species could include Spur-winged Goose, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Long-tailed Nightjar, Black Crowned Crane, Yellow-billed Stork, Rüppell’s Vulture, African Fish Eagle, Blue-naped Mousebird, Great Grey Shrike (leucopygos subspecies), Winding Cisticola, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Western Black-eared Wheatear, and the highly prized River Prinia, a species with tiny fragmented populations across the Sahel region, with the population in Senegal by far the most accessible.
We will work our way up to the Podor area, where we will ultimately spend the night, however, not before enjoying an afternoon’s birding in the dry Sahelian scrub, which will be a focal point of this northern region. This area is home to three big targets of our tour: Golden Nightjar, Sennar Penduline Tit, and Cricket Warbler, plus a host of other interesting species like Black-headed Lapwing, (African) Green Bee-eater, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Anteater Chat, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Temminck’s Courser, Cream-colored Courser, Little Grey Woodpecker, African Scops Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Black Scimitarbill, Short-toed Snake Eagle, and Dark Chanting Goshawk.
The localized River Prinia is a huge target species for our tour (photo Wim van Zwieten).
Days 7 – 8. Birding Djouji National Bird Sanctuary, Richard Toll and surrounds
We do not have far to transit to get back to the Djouji area (which we would have passed through yesterday), where we will spend the next two nights. Our time will be spent exploring the dry scrub ranging from Podor to Richard Toll, and the floodplains and wetlands of the Djouji region.
Within the perimeter area of the Djouji Wetlands many of the wetland species here will be similar to those found in previous days with a huge host of wildfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds (waders), gulls, and terns being present. Key species of interest here include White-faced Whistling Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Knob-billed Duck, Spur-winged Goose, African Sacred Ibis, African Fish Eagle, Malachite Kingfisher, Greater Flamingo (perhaps with a Lesser Flamingo in tow), Yellow-billed Stork, Kittlitz’s Plover, Black Crake, and much more. The surrounding scrub and dry woodland are great locations to look for African Grey Woodpecker, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Abyssinian Roller, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Red-billed Quelea, Red-necked Nightjar, Tawny Pipit, Senegal Batis, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Crested Lark, Blue-naped Mousebird, Greater Swamp Warbler and others.
Within the Djouji National Bird Sanctuary, one of West Africa’s most important wetland areas, we will come across a huge range of fascinating species. A small selection of the vast array of species we will look for includes Black Crowned Crane, African Wattled Lapwing, Common Buttonquail, White-backed Vulture, Pallid Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Arabian Bustard, Collared Pratincole, Little Tern, Bonelli’s Eagle, Great Grey Shrike (leucopygos subspecies), Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Egyptian Nightjar, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Allen’s Gallinule, Marbled Duck, Whiskered Tern, Western Orphean Warbler, Cream-colored Courser, Singing Bush Lark, and much more.
Overnight: Djouji (two nights)
Sudan Golden Sparrow is a stunning species and quite range restricted in Senegal, found only in the north of the country (photo Mattias Hofstede).
Day 9. Transfer from Djouji to Kaolack
Today will primarily be a travel day, as we make the long journey south, retracing much of our steps from the previous few days. Various road-side stops are likely, and more importantly, we have an additional chance to try for the enigmatic Quail-plover, should we have missed it earlier on the trip. We finish the day back in Kaolack (where we spent the night of Day 3), where we will again spend the night.
Days 10 – 11 Kaolack to Parc National du Niokolo-Koba.
Today will be another day of travel as we head east across the breadth of Senegal to the more sub-tropical southeastern corner of the country (to the east of The Gambia) around the Parc National du Niokolo-Koba, our base for the next two nights. Once again, we will make regular birding stops to break up the journey as we transition between these very different climatic zones.
This route is little explored by birders outside of Senegal which gives the potential for surprise finds and interesting sightings. Continuing east we will reach Parc National du Niokolo-Koba and over the next one and a half days we will get to enjoy one of West Africa’s most remote birding areas. Birds of prey will be prominent with White-backed Vulture, Palm-nut Vulture, Bateleur, Brown Snake Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Grasshopper Buzzard, Lizard Buzzard, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Booted Eagle, Fox Kestrel, Grey Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Red-necked Falcon, Black-winged Kite, Shikra, and African Fish Eagle being the main species around the national park. The real bird of prey star is the elusive and secretive Bat Hawk, a bird that is right at the edge of its range here.
The often-elusive Bat Hawk is one of the star species of Niokolo-Koba.
Of course, it is not just the birds of prey that makes this area so special and we will spend time looking for other specials including Mali Firefinch, a very range-restricted species in Senegal, Gosling’s Bunting, Stone Partridge, Adamawa Turtle Dove, Dorst’s Cisticola, Guinea Turaco, Red-throated Bee-eater, Sun Lark, Neumann’s Starling, and Lavender Waxbill. Other birds of note here include several endemics or near-endemics to West Africa, including Blue-bellied Roller, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, West African Swallow, and Oriole Warbler.
A boat trip in the national park should give up yet more strange and beautiful species with few more strange than African Finfoot and surely none more beautiful than Egyptian Plover, both highly desired species. Other species we can hope to see from our boat include African Jacana, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Western Plantain-eater, Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, African Palm Swift, Senegal Thick-knee, Hamerkop, Hadada Ibis, and the crowd-pleasing, gorgeous Northern Carmine Bee-eater.
African Finfoot is always a top target when in range.
We will also take time to explore the park on foot and it is here interesting species dwell including Bearded Barbet, African Golden Oriole, Helmeted Guineafowl, Double-spurred Spurfowl, Black-billed Wood Dove, Senegal Coucal, Blue Malkoha, African Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Yellow-throated Leaflove, and the impressive Abyssinian Ground Hornbill.
Overnight: Niokolo-Koba National Park (two nights)
Day 12. Birding Wassadu Camp area
Today we will begin to head west as we enter the final stages of our tour. Our first stop is the Campement de Wassadou, another excellent birding area, and only a short drive from Niokolo-Koba National Park. So varied are the available species here, that it is almost impossible to cover all of what we might see (over 250 species have been recorded from this area). However, the camp area is home to many highly prized species, such as Egyptian Plover, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Adamawa Turtle Dove, White-crowned Lapwing, Hamerkop, Northern White-faced Owl, African Harrier-Hawk, Red-throated Bee-eater, Northern Puffback, Blackcap Babbler, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Green-headed Sunbird, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Wilson’s Indigobird, Giant Kingfisher, and many more.
White-crowned Lapwing is a beautiful species and a main target during our time in the south of Senegal.
Forested areas are home to a vast array of Western Palearctic and Afrotropical species with birds of particular interest including Pel’s Fishing Owl, Northern Yellow White-eye, African Scops Owl, Violet Turaco, Cardinal Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Klaas’s Cuckoo, African Golden Oriole, Lesser Honeyguide, Western Subalpine Warbler, Western Olivaceous Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Common House Martin, Common Redstart, European Pied Flycatcher, and others.
Finally, we will explore the camp’s more open areas where a new array of species can be found, including Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Stone Partridge, Western Yellow Wagtail, Grey Kestrel, Little Bee-eater, Red-necked Falcon, Palm-nut Vulture, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Hawk-Eagle, Western Banded Snake Eagle, and Martial Eagle.
This will be one of the most species-productive days of the tour with a great range of habitats to explore and species to find. We will spend the evening at Wassadu Camp, where once again we will be in comfortable surroundings immersed in wildlife.
Overnight: Wassadu Camp
Day 13. Boat trip at Wassadu, transfer to Janjanbureh (The Gambia)
This morning we will take a boat trip on the Gambia River. As we drift along the water, we will keep an eye out for Intermediate Egret, Senegal Thick-knee, Reed Cormorant, African Wattled Lapwing, Hadada Ibis, Western Osprey, Spur-winged Goose, Woolly-necked Stork, Striated Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, African Fish Eagle, Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Rose-ringed Parakeet, and other species associated with the riverine habitat. This boat trip should also give us a good chance of finding non avian species like Hippopotamus, Guinea Baboon, and Nile (West African) Crocodile.
We have several chances to see the beautiful, and desired, Egyptian Plover during the tour (photo Mattias Hofstede).
Once we have gathered our belongings, we will leave Wassadu and make the journey westward through southern Senegal. The first part of this journey will be familiar to us as we head towards Tambacounda before heading south into the Kolda region, which borders The Gambia. By early afternoon we will cross the border and enter The Gambia (where we will spend the last couple of days of the tour). We will stop at the well-known Basse Santa Su area for birding to break up the journey. This area is one of the best in The Gambia to find Egyptian Plover and these are joined by stunning species like Black-headed Lapwing, Eurasian Hoopoe, Red-throated Bee-eater, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Bar-breasted Firefinch. Spur-winged Goose, Abyssinian Roller, Greater Honeyguide, Oriole Warbler, Common Redstart, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Cut-throat Finch, Yellow-fronted Canary, and Black Crake.
We will then continue west through The Gambia to Bansang. This agricultural area by the Gambia River is bird of prey rich with species like African Harrier-Hawk, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Lizard Buzzard, Grasshopper Buzzard, African Hawk-Eagle, Shikra, and Dark Chanting Goshawk all present here. These are joined by a range of species which thrive in open areas like Double-spurred Spurfowl, Senegal Coucal, Red-throated Bee-eater, Brubru, Anteater Chat, Exclamatory Paradise Whydah, Four-banded Sandgrouse, Standard-winged Nightjar, Long-tailed Nightjar, Collared Pratincole, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, and Sahel Bush Sparrow.
Our destination for the day will be Janjanbureh Island (also known as MacCarthy Island), and arriving here in the late afternoon will give us a chance to squeeze in some birding before the sun sets. Key species in the area include Egyptian Plover, African Fish Eagle, African Finfoot, Swamp Flycatcher, (African) Green Bee-eater, Red-throated Bee-eater, Hamerkop, Marabou Stork, Red-necked Falcon, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Gabar Goshawk, White-backed Vulture, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, European Turtle Dove, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Mosque Swallow, and Temminck’s Courser.
We will spend the evening at the Jangjangbureh Camp close to the Gambia River, our final evening in more traditional accommodation before we reach the coast of The Gambia the following day.
Overnight: Jangjangbureh Camp, The Gambia
Day 14. Birding the south bank of the Gambia River to Banjul
For our final full day of the tour, we will continue west along the south bank of the Gambia River, making birding stops en route. The wonderful thing about The Gambia is that it is a small country and, despite driving nearly three quarters of its entire length today, we will only cover around 180 miles (290 kilometers), leaving plenty of time for birding.
The main areas we will visit include Jakhaly Rice Fields, Tendaba Camp, Kiang West National Park, Pirang Fish Ponds, and other highly regarded birding locations in the country. These are all fabulous areas for birding, which you can explore in much more detail on our The Gambia: Gateway to Africa Tour, which runs immediately before this tour of Senegal.
African Fish Eagle is one of many fantastic birds of prey found on our Senegal tour.
With just the day to visit the above sites we will try and squeeze in as much birding as possible, with target species to be chosen based on what we have or have not seen to date on the tour. Some of the species in the area include Diederik Cuckoo, Egyptian Plover, African Pygmy Goose, African Wattled Lapwing, Greater Painted-snipe, Dwarf Bittern, Kittlitz’s Plover, White-spotted Flufftail, Black Scimitarbill, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Sahel Bush Sparrow, Brown-rumped Bunting, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Woodland Kingfisher, Brown-backed Woodpecker, and many more.
There should also be an entire legion of raptors possible, including European Honey Buzzard, African Fish Eagle, Gabar Goshawk, Long-crested Eagle, African Hobby, Dark Chanting Goshawk, African Harrier-Hawk, White-backed Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Rüppell’s Vulture, Bateleur, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Lizard Buzzard, Grasshopper Buzzard, Black Kite, and Lanner Falcon.
We will aim to arrive at the wonderful Senegambia Beach Hotel in time to freshen up after a day on the road and to explore the grounds in the late afternoon. Staying at the Senegambia Beach Hotel is quite a unique experience to visitors as the grounds are packed full of birds and the hotel offers some of the easiest birding for common species in The Gambia. The hotel grounds offer a great chance to get close up views of species like Hooded Vulture, African Grey Hornbill, Western Red-billed Hornbill, Abyssinian Roller, Broad-billed Roller, Bearded Barbet, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Oriole Warbler, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Beautiful Sunbird, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Western Plantain-eater and Yellow-billed Shrike.
After a walk around the grounds (time permitting, or the following morning at your leisure prior to your departure), we will have dinner in the hotel and we will use the time to go through the extensive trip list, discuss any bird identification questions you may have, and make a tough decision in choosing the “Bird of the Trip”.
Overnight: Senegambia Beach Hotel, The Gambia
The beautiful Abyssinian Roller is a regular species around the Senegambia Beach Hotel.
Day 15. Departure from Banjul (The Gambia)
After breakfast it will sadly be time to end our Senegal: West African Wildlife Adventure tour as we head to Banjul International Airport for our flights home.
Overnight: Not included
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes must use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.Download Itinerary
Importantly, although this is a Senegal birdwatching tour, the tour starts and ends in Banjul in neighboring The Gambia. The Gambia has an excellent tourism infrastructure, and this allows us to make a great birding circuit out through the key bird sites of Senegal and finally back through The Gambia to our start and end point of Banjul. The majority of time will see us birding in Senegal (from the late afternoon of Day 1 until the morning of Day 11), the remaining time (the majority of Day 1, the afternoon of Day 11, all of Day 12, and until our departure on the morning of Day 13) will see us traveling through and birding, as time permits, in The Gambia. However, for a thorough birding tour of The Gambia, we recommend our very relaxed and easy The Gambia: Gateway to Africa Tour which is an excellent introduction to birding in Africa as a whole and combines excellently with this Senegal tour.
This small group tour will be undertaken in a comfortable vehicle perfectly designed for the tour. There will be some longer walks during the tour, but these will be carried out at an easy pace on generally flat ground, however some of the sites may be sandy or muddy.
Throughout our tour we will stay in comfortable and safe hotels in both The Gambia and Senegal, including a final night at the wonderful Senegambia Beach Hotel (a birder’s paradise). During the rest of the tour we will experience more remote bush camps which will get us closer to the best wildlife in both countries. These camps are comfortable, safe, and well equipped for visitors (this is not a “camping trip” tour).
Temperatures during our tour will be hot to very hot. In coastal areas, day temperatures are typically 86–95 oF (30–35 oC), falling, eventually, to around 70 oF (21 oC) at night. Humidity is generally low unless we encounter an overcast day where the temperature will be lower but humidity significantly higher. Our visit to inland areas of Senegal will see the temperatures climb further and we can expect 95–104 oF (36–40 oC), falling, eventually, to around 75 oF (24 oC) at night. Humidity will be higher in the forested areas around the Niokolo-Koba National Park.