Birdwatching Holidays in The Gambia

Giant Kingfisher © Gordon Langsbury
Giant Kingfisher

Birdwatching in The Gambia has long been a favourite for the travelling birdwatcher and not just for its tropical climate, unsophisticated charm and easy reach - only 6 hours flight from Europe! The variety of habitats is outstanding, as is the birdlife with an amazing 540 species in such a small country.

When is the best time to go Birdwatching in The Gambia?

Birding in The Gambia is an all year round activity, though there are two distinct seasons in terms of climate. Nine months of unbroken sunshine eventually gives way to brief but impressive thunderstorms in the summer (June to October) and during this time the countryside is fresh green with many birds in their summer plumage e.g. red bishops, village weavers. The first 2 months, June and July, are pleasant with fewer mosquitoes than later in the wet season (August - October). However, flights to The Gambia are more expensive at this time, at least from the UK.

Little Bee-eaters © Gordon Langsbury
Little Bee-eaters

In the drier months, the vegetation thins out and raptors, amongst other birds, can be sighted more easily. The Egyptian Plover aka. Crocodile bird leaves the Gambia around mid to late February (and only returns in June), so birders for whom this is a "must-see species" prefer to visit sometime during November, December, January and February. Most "specialist birding tours" e.g. Ornitholidays, Limosa, Naturetrek, Birdfinders etc. operate their one-trip-a-year birdwatching holidays in November or January so these tend to be the busiest times of year. Feel free to compare their birdwatching tours with ours and judge for yourself which is best in terms of itinerary, sites visited, boat travel, flexibility and group sizes (ours are typically 6-10 people and a maximum of 12 people). And as for value-for-money.....!

Shikra © Gordon Langsbury

Why should I book my Gambia birding holiday with Hidden Gambia?

You will be birding with some of the best local guides in the country and will discover the whole spectrum of habitats from the mud flats, sandy beaches and saltwater mangroves of the Atlantic coast, to the freshwater reaches of Bird Safari Camp on MacCarthy Island and beyond. You will stay at small friendly hotels & eco-lodges, not mass-market tourist hotels, which means you'll avoid a lot of hassle and can enjoy great "on-your-doorstep" birding. Because we don't sell flights, you can travel whenever suits you best - and can save money by shopping around for the best deals on flights to The Gambia.

Gambia birdwatching
Northern Red Bishop

Your travel arrangements up and down the Gambia River will comprise of a well balanced mix of road and river transport and are based on our unique weekly schedule of boats and vehicles. This gives you a maximum amount of time birdwatching on the river - including from our new eco-friendly solar-powered boat - and removes the stress and uncertainty of trying to arrange a similar experience independently (in fact, it would be almost impossible to do so!). You will not only avoid the worst stretches of potholed roads and unreliable public ferries, but more importantly, you will be able to visit all major up-country birding sites. A competent Gambian bird guide will accompany you whilst up-river; and at the coast, where the infrastructure is better, you can either 'do your own thing' independently, or if you'd like to benefit from the services of a local guide to visit Abuko Nature Reserve, Brufut, Lamin rice fields, Marakissa etc. we'd be pleased to arrange this for you. The price for a coastal birdwatching trip is £40 pp per day (includes guide, vehicle, fuel & driver).

Simply let us know which days you'd like a bird guide on the customisation page when you plan your birdwatching holiday to The Gambia.