Senegal Birding Tours

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The Republic of Senegal (“Senegal” hereafter) is a country in West Africa that surrounds its neighbor, The Gambia, and shares land borders with Mauritania, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea. Its entire west coast borders the Atlantic Ocean. Senegal is 75,591 square miles (196,712 square kilometers) in area, which makes it roughly the size of South Dakota in the USA. Senegal has a population of around 15.8 million people with around 3.9 million people living in the capital Dakar, which only became the capital in 1960, with the declaration of independence from France.

Modern Senegal came about during the 7th century AD with the formation of the first kingdoms in the region. The first major empire in the area was the Jolof Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries and this lasted until 1549. In the mid-15th century, the Portuguese arrived in Senegal and these were later joined by traders from France, The Netherlands, and Great Britain. In 1677 France took control of the area around Dakar and it took them until 1850 to spread further into Senegal. After over 100 years of French control, Senegal achieved independence on 20th June 1960. After this there was a period of unrest between the Senegal government and the Casamance in the south of the country, but this has subsided in recent times.

Senegal’s geography is a mix of the sandy plains of the western Sahel which gradually rise into a hilly landscape in the southeast of the country, reaching the highest point of 2,126 feet (648 meters). The landscape mostly consists of forest-savanna, acacia savanna, and mangroves. The climate of Senegal is tropical with a dry season between December and April and a wet season between June and October. Temperatures in the interior of the country are far higher than at the coast, with an average of around 17F (10.5C) higher across the year. Temperatures on the border with Mali can reach a staggering 129.2F (54C) in some cases.

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Senegal’s bird list stands at 698 species (following International Ornithological Congress taxonomy v11.1 in May 2021), a high total considering the size of the country. Some of the potential highlight species on our Senegal: West African Wildlife Adventure include Egyptian Plover, Savile’s Bustard, Arabian Bustard, Hamerkop, Black Crowned Crane, African Finfoot, Common Buttonquail, Saddle-billed Stork, Scissor-tailed Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Red-billed Tropicbird, River Prinia, Cricket Warbler, Sennar Penduline Tit, Little Grey Woodpecker, Golden Nightjar, Western Black-eared Wheatear, Adamawa Turtle Dove, Bat Hawk, White-crowned Lapwing, Egyptian Vulture, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Grey-headed Bushshrike, and plenty more! We will also come across a wide range of western palearctic migrants during the tour, including shorebirds (waders), herons, bitterns, egrets, birds of prey, swifts, and interesting passerines.

Senegal also has a wide range of exciting mammals which we may come across during the tour. The highlight would be to spot the Vulnerable (IUCN) (African) Lion, with other exciting mammals including Crested Porcupine, Red-fronted Gazelle, Roan Antelope, Common Warthog (Nolan Warthog subspecies), Guinea Baboon, Patas Monkey, Green Monkey, Striped Ground Squirrel, and Hippopotamus.

We will be staying in facilities that, while basic, are clean and offer all the amenities one can expect when travelling through this region. When we travel to the interior (making use of comfortable vehicles), we will stay in excellent and safe eco-lodges with the birds right on our doorstep. Our The Gambia: Gateway to Africa Tour precedes our Senegal tour and the two are ideal when combined.

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