For over 20 years we have specialised in formulating ‘world-class’ inspirational field trips to The Gambia. Our personal connections at community-level and the experience of our staff and partners mean that we can experience things no other tours can offer. All excursions are accompanied by a British Zoologist and a Gambian expert to provide clear and knowledgeable talks.
Trips are open to groups and individuals as long as a minimum of 10 participants is met per trip. All trips can be made exclusive to allow for school, college and university field trips as well as for conservation groups. Our trips are planned and prepared bespoke, to meet the groups' requirements. Please get in touch and we will happily work to create the most awe-inspiring expedition which is both inspirational, educational and with a huge conservation impact. For instance trips for conservation groups such as Cumbria Amphibian and Reptile Group will be arranged for the wet season to optimise amphibian sightings. Trips of 7, 10 or 14 days are available all year round with the 10-day trip limited to between November and February.
This is a tour of all the main habitats found in this incredibly diverse country, maximising your chances of seeing the widest range of species possible (see below for example itinerary). This provides an excellent introduction to African wildlife although even repeat visitors will be wowed by the highlights our expert, friendly, guides can provide. Just visiting makes a huge difference as the sight of tourists at eco-attractant sites helps to convince locals that "their" forests and wildlife are important and that there is "value" in preserving them.
The 10-day trip will follow a similar itinerary to the 7-day trip but with an extended trip further upriver. Due to the increased temperature inland this 10-day trip is only available from November to February. The journey gives an opportunity to explore the drier conditions inland. We make regular stops to count birds of prey (including dark chanting goshawk, black-shouldered kite and 4+ vulture spp.) and any other notable species (patas monkeys, baboons etc.)
The highlight will be boat-based transect surveys of all species including hippopotamus, West African crocodile, Nile monitor and 5 species of primate (possibly even a chimpanzee). The relaxed cruises allow close approaches to most species, so a camera is essential. We will also look for even rarer species, but to protect them we can’t mention them here!
These trips include a similar beginning week with the opportunity to conduct some incredibly important research on the second week (see our projects for previous work); as well as additional excursions. Researching critically endangered primates, dwarf crocodiles or even discovering a new species of shark; this trip is suitable for individuals wanting to expand their skillset and contribute to the conservation of some of the world's rarest animals.
We pride ourselves in giving participants the opportunity to gain real-life, hands-on conservation experience with leading wildlife conservation professionals. You will be living and breathing the social, economic, physical and emotional challenges conservationists encounter. Individuals will leave with a clear understanding of the threats climate change poses to an ecosystem’s function and how this generation must lead the way to restore habitats, mitigate human-wildlife conflict and recover species from the brink of extinction.
Example 1 week itinery
day 1 - arrival and beach
It’s always fun to welcome new faces to The Gambia! After the flight from the UK, often departing in grey, cold conditions, the explosion of heat, bright sunlight, vivid colours and huge smiles can be a lot to take in.
After arriving at the hotel we will head out for an evening walk along the beach, dipping our toes in the warm, tropical Atlantic as lines of egrets head to roost as the sun dips into the horizon. We’ll beachcomb as we walk while keeping our eyes on the tropical forest at the back of the beach. If we’re lucky, monkeys may be seen from the beach and distinctly tropical species will call from the edge of the jungle, including the bizarre palm-nut vulture, Senegal coucal and little bee-eater. By the end of the walk, the sun will be gone and bats come out to forage along the forest edge.
day 2 - abuko
Our first full day sees us visit The Gambia’s most popular eco-tourism destination, Abuko. We will also visit the perfect setting to watch Temminck’s red colobus, West African crocodiles, bushbuck and a wide range of jungle birds. Many species of otherwise secretive forest species visit the pools to drink and allow excellent views. At dusk, we’ll look for fruitbats, bushbabies and crocodiles emerging to feed before driving back through the excitement, hustle and bustle of nocturnal Serrekunda.
day 3 - gunjur
A scenic cruise in our open-top Land Rovers takes us to the Southern border of The Gambia. As we travel, we’ll collect data on vultures and eagles and stop to look at wildlife on the way. We’ll visit a fishing village to look at the exploitation of sharks and rays while keeping an eye out for illegal turtle and dolphin remains. For lunch, we’ll call at our friends at the Gunjur Project before visiting Bolongfenyo Community Nature Reserve. We work with locals to restore the jungle here and at Sifoe/Kiti, as well as monitoring a wide range of species, including small carnivores such as genets.
From there we take a short drive to another friend, Luc Paziaud’s, Reptile Farm which holds a wide range of native Gambian reptiles (temporarily, they’re all rereleased). These are used to educate Gambians (especially schoolchildren) on the importance of reptiles to control rodents and protect food stocks. As well as to provide anti-venom to local hospitals from his collection of snakes. Moving on to the border with Senegal (the River Allahein), we’ll watch the sun going down over the mangroves before looking at turtle beaches and monitoring Bushbabies on our drive back to the hotel.
day 4/5 - upcountry
We will start the day with a long drive upcountry to Tendaba, where we’ll stay the night. While inland we’ll explore two of the largest protected areas in The Gambia, starting with an evening safari in Kiang West. From the back of our open-topped vehicles, we’ll see a wide range of birds and scan the sky for martial eagle and bataleur. From a vantage point overlooking a waterhole, we’ll look for Guinea baboons, warthog and patas monkeys. On the way back, we’ll check our night vision by looking for bushbabies and spotted thick-knee in the headlights or with our head torches and we’ll (carefully!) search for scorpions with our Ultraviolet torches.
The next morning we’ll take an early breakfast before a “creek-crawl” to Bao Bolon. We will cruise the myriad lush mangrove channels, not knowing which way to look! The muddy banks have West African crocodile, Nile monitor lizards and even cape clawless otter, while the mangroves have goliath heron, giant kingfisher, African darter, white-backed night heron, finfoot and various kingfishers. Scanning higher up in the trees, African fish eagles mix with parrots! If we’re lucky we may be joined by bottle-nosed dolphins during either of the crossings of the River Gambia.
day 6 - bijol
Another contrast in habitats today. We will visit the Bijol Islands, a short distance offshore from Tanji Bird Reserve. The site used to host a huge seabird breeding colony, including up to 25,500 pairs of West African royal tern and 2,000 caspian terns. Other terns should include little, sandwich, common, black and possibly lesser crested. The gulls and waders need to be checked to find slender-billed, Audouin’s, the rare kelp gull and white-fronted plover. The area has an incredible density of ospreys with up to 20 on occasions. The sight of them hunting above lumbering pink-backed and great white pelicans is a treat!
The islands were, until recently, one of the few remaining green turtle nesting areas and feeding turtles can often be seen during the crossing. The site is the most southerly in the world for Mediterranean monk seal (one of the world’s five rarest mammals) and though we have little chance of seeing one, we will look at how our efforts can help investigate the status of this and many other marine species. The loss of breeding seabirds and turtles is a significant blow to their populations in West Africa and came about when a storm removed the “top” of the island. We’ll discuss how the islands could possibly be restored.
day 7 - your choice
Your options could include trips to Pirang-Bonto National Park, Katchikally (the sacred crocodile pool), Paradise Beach, a shopping trip to the local craft markets, or a school/village visit to see how Gambians live and study. After this week, you’ll have plenty of things you’ll want to do!