THE GAMBIA & SENEGAL PART TWO:

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ITINERARY & DAILY ACCOUNTS

PART THREE

 

 

ITINERARY:

 

11 March

Flight A’dam-Banjul. Arrival 3:30 PM at Banna Beach Hotel

12 March

Start of tour. After crossing the river to Toubacouto (Senegal)

13 March

Visit to market in Sokone. Onwards to Kaolack.

14 March

Long travel day. Via Wassu stone circles to Bird Safari Camp.

15 March

Boattrip to Bansang. Onwards to Basse and back to BSC.

16 March

To Tendaba Camp. Afternoon boattrip to Baobolong Wetland Reserve.

17 March

Visit to Kiang West NP. Afternoon to luxurious Sindola Lodge.

18 March

Via Bintang Bolong to coast. Check in at Senegambia Hotel.

19 March

Relaxing day birding the garden. Afternoon to Bijilo Park.

20 March

To Abuko by taxi. Afternoon relaxing in the hotel.

21 March

Birding day with Mass visiting Brufut and Tanji.

22 March

Second visit to Abuko. Afternoon relaxing at hotel.

23 March

Second visit to Bijilo. Afternoon relaxing at hotel.

24 March

Day tour with Sehouna to Marakissa.

25 March

After relaxed breakfast left at 11:30 for flight home.

 

DAILY ACCOUNTS:

 

11 March:

Our flight from Amsterdam left on time at 9:05 AM. We arrived at Banjul airport at 2:15 PM and were transferred to the Banna Beach Hotel in Kololi. We relaxed a bit around the pool and later had a walk along the street just outside the hotel. In the evening had dinner at the hotel pool.

 

12 March:

Start of our one week trip into the interior. We were picked up by our guide Sehouna and driver Jawo at 8:30 AM. After changing money in Banjul we took the ferry to the north bank of the Gambia river which is 8 km wide at this point. During the boatride we saw amongst Caspian Tern and Royal Tern. On the north bank we visited a palmoil plantation and had lunch at the river near a village called Sitanunku. A short walk through the dry woodlands surrounding the village produced amongst Gabar Goshawk, Grey Woodpecker, Pied Flycatcher and a flock of beautiful White Helmet-shrikes. We then crossed the border with Senegal and after 80 km of unpaved roads arrived in the late afternoon at the luxurious Keur Saloum Hotel at the edge of the Saloum Delta NP. After a nice shower we had dinner in the open restaurant and were entertained by tribal dances of a local dance group.

 

13 March:

We birded the woodlands and river edge from 7:00 to 9:00 AM. We saw amongst Senegal Thick-knee, Eurasian Curlew, Bar-breasted Firefinch and Bearded Barbet. The dry open savannah produced a Namaque Dove. We visited the colourful weekly market in Sokone before heading to Hotel Relais de Kaolack right at the bank of the Saloum river. While the rest of the group visited the city we did some birding along the riverbank. We noted amongst Pied Kingfisher, White-winged Tern, Black Tern, Slender-billed Gull, African Silverbill and Yellow Wagtail. In the evening we had a nice dinner around the pool.

 

14 March:

Today a long travel day is on the program. After breakfast we drove back to the Gambia were we took the ferry at Farafenni. While waiting at the ferry we saw amongst Hamerkop, Black-winged Stilt and Water Thick-knee. After crossing the Gambia River we headed further inland towards the village of Sapu from where we made a boat trip on the Gambia river towards Mac Carthy island. Besides Hippo’s and Baboons we noted White-faced Whistling-Duck, Comb Duck, Spur-winged Goose and several Black-headed Herons. At the ferry near Georgetown our bus was already waiting for us on the north bank of the river. We drove over an unpaved road to the Wassu Stone Circles. Here we saw our only Blue-cheecked Bee-eaters of the trip. On our way back to the river we saw African Swallow-tailed Kite perched in a tree along the road. On the ferry to Georgetown we saw another new bird for the list: Pied-winged Swallow. We arrived at Bird Safari Camp just before dusk.

 

15 March:

I got up early for some pre-breakfast birding at the camp grounds. I saw amongst Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Green Woodhoopoe, Orange Bishop, Yellow-breasted Apalis and a female Woodchat Shrike. At 8:30 AM we left the camp for another boat trip towards Bansang. The trip was very nice and we had breakfast on the boat. During the boat trip we saw Violet Turaco, Malachite Kingfisher, Black-crowned Night-heron, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Black Woodhoopoe and White-backed Vultures. Near Bansang the bus waited for us for our onwards journey to Basse. In Basse we had lunch at the “Traditions” restaurant. I did search for Egyptian Plover but apparantly all birds had already left to their northern breeding grounds. The only bird new for the list was a Giant Kingfisher. During our drive back to Bird Safari Camp I noted a Lapped-faced Vulture along the road. We arrived back at BSC around 3:00 PM and after a drink at the bar we we decided to check out the area in the back of the camp together with our guide Sehouna. The birding was quite productive having amongst Glossy Ibis, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Bearded Barbet, Orange-cheecked Waxbill, Swamp Greenbul, White Helmetshrike and lots of Stone Partridges. In a palm tree we saw two Verreaux’s Eagle-owl. We went back to the camp at dusk and after a cool shower had dinner at the restaurant.

 

16 March:

Again went for some pre-breakfast birding accompanied by Mansah who was the local birdguide at BSC. We checked out the same area as yesterday afternoon having Fine-spotted Woodpecker, African Paradise-flycatcher, Northern Puffback, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Bush Petronia, Black-rumped Waxbill and Scarlet-chested Sunbird. After breakfast we packed our luggage and left at 10:30 AM for our onwards journey to Tendaba Camp. During the ride to Tendaba we noted a Lappet-faced Vulture perched in a tree along the road. We arrived at Tendaba around 00:30 PM. We first had lunch in the open restaurant near the waterfront. During the hot hours of the day we relaxed a bit at our cabins. At 4:00 PM we left for a boat trip to the Baobolong Wetland Reserve which is located at the opposite side of the Gambia River. The birding from out of the boat was really great having amongst African Darter, Pink-backed Pelican, Goliath Heron, Squacco Heron, White-backed Night-heron, Osprey, African Finfoot, Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. We arrived back at the camp at 6:00 PM and after a shower went for dinner at the riverside restaurant.

 

17 March:

During breakfast at the restaurant we saw a Yellow-billed Stork foraging along the river bank. We then left for a visit to the rather dry Kiang West NP. The birding was not too impressive but nevertheless we saw some new birds for the trip like African Fish-eagle, Bateleur, Long-crested Eagle, Purple Roller and Tawny Pipit. We arrived back at the camp around noon and after lunch packed our luggage for our onwards trip to Sindola Safari Camp. We arrived at the very luxurious camp around 2:30 PM and went to the an outdoor wrestling tournament which was taking place near the village. No further birding on the program for today. Arrived back at dusk and had a great dinner in the outside restaurant.

 

18 March:

In the morning I checked out the area around the lodge for birds. The birding was not bad at all having amongst Grey Kestrel, Hoopoe, Square-tailed Drongo, African Golden-oriole, Green-backed Camaroptera, Senegal Eremomela, White-shouldered Black-tit and Yellow-fronted Canary. At 11:00 AM we left for our journey back to the coast. During the drive we had Yellow-billed Oxpecker along the road. We had lunch at Bintang Bolong (no new birds observed) and then headed on for the last part of our tour. We dropped off some fellow travellers at the airport before going to Senegambia Beach Hotel in Kololi. In the evening we had dinner at the Ali Baba restaurant just outside the hotel.

 

19 March:

Today we decided to have a relaxing day on the hotel grounds. After a nice buffet breakfast we had a stroll through the garden having amongst Common Gonolek, Broad-billed Roller and Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike. In the late afternoon we paid a short visit to Bijilo Reserve which was located near our hotel. Besides lots of monkeys we saw amongst Grey Kestrel, Ahanta Francolin, Grey Woodpecker and Copper Sunbird. Back at the hotel we had a shower and went to Ali Baba again for a nice dinner.

 

20 March:

Today a visit to Abuko Reserve is on the program. We arranged a taxi at the taxi stand just outside our hotel and were off at 7:30 AM. The drive took about 30 minutes and we birded the park for about four hours. We saw amongst African Darter, White-backed Night-heron, Black Crake, African Pied Hornbill, Black-headed Paradise-flycatcher, Little Greenbul and several Brown-throated Wattle-eyes. At the pool we met a local guide called Pa who wanted to guide us around, but we told him that we wanted to find birds on our own. We promised him we’d contact him if we would plan a second visit to Abuko and we wrote down his phone number. We then walked through more open habitat towards an animal orphanage which was close to the park exit. We were back at the Senegambia Hotel at around 1:00 PM and filled in the rest of the day relaxing and having a swim in the cool swimmingpool. We booked a birding tour for the next day with Mass Cham who was the resident birdguide of Senegambia. In the evening we had dinner at an Italian restaurant just outside the hotel.

 

21 March:

We had an early breakfast and left at 7:00 AM for a birding tour with Mass to Brufut and Tanji Birdreserve. The birding turned out excellent today and produced our longest daylist of the trip. The first few hours we birded the excellent woodlands of Brufut. We saw amongst Black-shouldered Kite, Helmeted Guineafowl, Violet Turaco, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Splendid Sunbird, Striped Kingfisher, Blue-bellied Roller and Purple Roller. In Tanji we stopped at a small pool having Lizard Buzzard, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Wattled Lapwing, Dideric Cuckoo, Giant Kingfisher, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and White-billed Buffalo-weaver. We had lunch at the Paradise Inn near Tanji river. It was very hot today and in the afternoon we relaxed a bit under a thatched roof at the beach. We called Pa to guide us the next morning in Abuko because we missed the Guinea Turaco on our previous visit. Around 4:00 PM we drove back through the coastal woodlands which produced amongst White Stork, Black-headed Lapwing, African Green-Pigeon, Golden-tailed Woodpecker and Yellow-fronted Canary. The last section we took a turnoff to the left and drove over the beach back towards the Senegambia Hotel. The birding along the beach was quite productive making stops for amongst Redshank, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Little Stint, Little-ringed Plover, Kelp Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. We also had seven species of Terns having amongst Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern and Sandwich Tern. We arrived back at the hotel at 6:30 PM. In the evening we again had dinner at Ali Baba’s.

 

22 March:

Today a second visit to Abuko is on the program. Tamba who was also our taxi driver on our first visit was already waiting for us at the taxi stand at 7:00 AM. When we arrived at Abuko we met Pa at the entrance and first went to the ricefields on the opposite side of the road along Abuko. Here we had close up views of foraging Black Herons and we had Intermediate Egret, Striated Heron, Black-crowned Night-heron, Hamerkop and excellent views of Greater Painted-Snipes. From here we went back into Abuko. New birds observed here were amongst Guinea Turaco, Greater Honeyguide, Cardinal Woodpecker, Fanti Sawwing, Grey-headed Bristlebill and Northern Crombec. Back at the car around 1:00 PM we paid Pa and thanked him for his services. Tamba brought us back to the hotel were we relaxed a bit during the rest of the afternoon.

 

23 March:

While Wilma stayed at the hotel I checked out the Bijilo reserve again. Apart from birds observed before I did not see many new ones. New for the trip were White-throated Bee-eater, Siffling Cisticola, Snowy-crowned Robin-chat and the beautiful Oriole Warbler. Went back to the hotel around 11:30 PM. The rest of the day was filled in with some relaxing and a stroll through the streets of Kololi.

 

24 March:

Our last full day in the Gambia. We were picked up at the hotel by Sehouna who was also our guide during the first week tour. We first drove to Kotu Creek where we had African Spoonbill, Palm-nut Vulture, Wood Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and other more common birds. We then took the Bund Road having amongst Long-tailed Cormorant and Senegal Thick-knee. At Cape Point we had a group of Sacred Ibis. From here we went to Marakissa where we arrived around 1:00 PM. We first had lunch at the Marakissa River Camp and relaxed a bit during the hot hours of the day. Around 4:00 PM we checked out the area with woodlands, cultivated fields and a river. The birding produced amongst African Fish-eagle, Lanner Falcon, Greater Painted-snipe, Wattled Lapwing, Roseate Tern, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher and African Golden-Oriole. We arrived back at the hotel at 6:30 PM and said goodbye to our friend Sehouna. In the evening we went for our last dinner at Ali Baba. We also met Tamba our taxi driver and had a last drink together before going to bed at midnight.

 

25 March:

We had a good long sleep and went for breakfast at 8:30 AM. After breakfast we went back to our room to pack our luggage. At 00:30 PM we were picked up for our transfer to the airport and our onwards flight back home ….             


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