The Gambia has been a popular Birdwatching destination since the 1970’s and is still probably the safest African Country to visit. No wonder our tour leader Ashley has visited close to 20 times, leading two trips a year here since 2011.
As with all our trips, this is run at a relaxed pace, giving ample opportunity to enjoy the wildlife and in particular the many colourful bird species that can be found here. With 9 Kingfishers and 8 Bee-eater species for example, this guarantees to be a real feast for the eyes.
With little effort we can hope to see up to 300 bird species, with the photographers among us expecting to get quality images of a large percentage of these.
Throughout the trip we will have 3 guides and our own driver, making sure individual group members needs are catered for, so photographers for example can spend longer with a single species if they wish.
We spend time near the coast, but also travel inland to experience the real Gambia and it’s various habitats and associated wildlife, including Hippo’s, Bee-eater colonies, bird rich rice paddies and ancient forests.
Top Five Birds
- Egyptian Plover
- Carmine Bee-eater
- Martial Eagle
- Giant Kingfisher
- Pygmy Kingfisher
At Terra Incognita we support tours that do good in the world. They must help to conserve the environment, support local people, and educate their guests. Here’s what Ashley Grove from Experience Nature said to us…
What conservation activities do you support through the tour, and your wider operations?
A percentage of the local official guides fees are put directly into conservation of important wildlife areas in The Gambia. Protecting these areas, provides safe refuge for not only Gambia’s resident species, but also important feeding grounds for many of Europe’s migrants. Osprey is the obvious species to point out, as many hundred overwinter in West Africa, but also a wide variety of Waders, Warblers, Hirundines, etc. We have returned to The Gambia 15 times leading mostly British groups.
How does the tour support local people?
Birdwatchers make up a large percentage of The Gambia’s holiday makers between the months of November and March. And with tourism being roughly 80% of the Gambia’s income, it’s important to keep encouraging people to visit this fabulous and safe country. Our tours bring income to local business, who we support each time, such as hotels and restaurant’s and benefit their staff directly of course.
We employ the services of 2 local guides and a driver throughout each trip and in turn they support their village location including schooling for the children . As we work closely on each trip with the local people,often those who travel on our trips continue to support the people of The Gambia, either through sponsorship of educational studies or simple gifts of clothing or school supplies, the latter we personally take with us to ensure delivery to the schools are received.
What type of environmental education activities do you incorporate into your tour?
Often the opportunity arises to engage some of the local children in what we are doing on a trip. Inviting children and local adults to take a look at the birds through the telescope,close up, will stir an interest in the preservation of the birds and their environment, and having that discussion with them and the tour group is an engaging means of mutual education. Some of the locals have even moved on to be guides themselves in the duration of the time we have run our tours, and our local team has educated more of their staff to now become fully qualified guides . It is after all one of the better paid incomes in the country, despite such a short season.For our clients, not only are we passionate about teaching them the local wildlife/culture and project work i.e. Osprey, but we ensure they leave knowing that our migratory path needs to be sustained.
“Standing at the side of a watering hole and seeing a Shikra take a small bird from a bush just feet away was a magic moment. It was not affected by our presence.
They are very sympathetic to the local environment, uses local providers so as to put money into the local economy. Products were taken to The Gambia to help local schoolchildren and at least one traveller has sponsored a child through university.
Definitely use them! Local guides are used throughout to get the best results. Local drivers are used too and local produce is bought. The guides are all official and some of their fee goes to conservation. The pace of the tour is not hectic and time is taken to appreciate the birds in their environment. Promoting ecotourism demonstrates tourism can help the local economy, environment and conservation.” Rob Williams – Experience Nature The Gambia November 2015
• Experience of the tour = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to conservation = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to local communities = 5/5
• The education the tour = 5/5
“My most memorable moment was the boat trip along part of the river Gambia. Nothing was too much effort and every effort was made to make sure that we all enjoyed the Gambia experience. Do not hesitate to take this tour. It is a fantastic country, rich in birdlife and culture.” Tony White – Jewels of the Gambia Feb 2015. Costa Rica Birding & Birdwatching Central America Oct 2016.
- Experience of the tour = 5/5
- Tour’s contribution to conservation = 5/5
- Tour’s contribution to local communities = 5/5
- The education the tour = 5/5