Our Tour Area's.
This area is the best-known area for bird watching. The creek can easily be reached, as it lies in the neighbourhood of some well-known hotels such as Bakotu Hotel, Kombo Beach Hotel, Bongalo Beach Hotel and Badala Park Hotel.
The area comprises two different habitats. First, the rice fields which are next to the hotels. Walking around the area for just two hours will offer you the sight of up to 80 species like spoonbill, ibis, painted snipe, herons, terns, and many other sea birds migrating from Europe. Second, there is the area next to the rice fields, with sewage ponds and covered with mangrove forest, where you can watch many waders.
The Fajara Golf Course
This is a semi-wooded area which is interesting to visit in combination with the rice fields. The golf course hosts many woodland species like passerine and many Palearctic winter visitors like the western bonelis, warblers, black caps, garden warblers, different kingfishers, lanner falcons, lizard buzzards, and so on.
The popular black-headed lapwings are always present in this area which is covered with little bushes and canopy forest.
Abuko and Lamin rice field
Abuko Nature Reserve is the first protected reserve of the country and it is the only one on the coast. This 105 hectare forest, which has been protected as a private reserve since the colonials, is situated in the midlands, 15 kilometres from most hotels, so that it takes only a 20 minutes drive from your hotel to get there.
Abuko Nature Reserve was handed over to the Government in the early 70s and it was declared that the Government would protect some endangered species of the biodiversity of the fauna and flora of The Gambia. It is now a good site for many forest birds like flufftail, green hylia, western blue bill, turaco, African paradise flycatcher, et cetera.
Brufut wood lands
This place is less than a 30 minutes drive from Kotu Creek or from your hotel, towards the Atlantic Ocean. It is an open woodland which hosts different species of our resident or inter-African migrants, such as Klass cuckoos, black wood hoopoe, African harrier-hawk, green-headed sunbird, cardinal woodpecker, and so on.
Brufut Woods is an attractive habitat for raptors like the brown snake-eagle and Western banded snake-eagle, as snakes (non-poisonous ones) live in the thick vegetation in the dense woodlands. The open areas by the bridge, further up to the East, are good for yellow-throated leave loves, black crakes, etc.
Brufut Woods is now under the protection of the West African Bird Study Association. It is a small area that just covers two to three hectares, but it is an interesting area where one finds, just behind the women's vegetable gardens, the Verreaux eagle owl, the white-face scops owl, long-tailed nightjar, stone partridge and turaco's.
Tanje bird reserve
This reserve is very near to many hotels and it is only a 20 minutes drive from the Senegambia area. The forest gallery of the protected area does not offer many birds to see, but the woodland that lies on the South, behind the office, is always a good place to watch some raptors, e.g. peregrine falcons, African hobby falcon, osprey, black-neck weavers, some of the Palearctic winter visitors.
The scrubby woodland with a few swamps lying towards the East offers a pleasant birding experience, crossing the highway to the North. It is a sandy area with brown ginger plumes and tall grass, where you can find swallow-tailed bee-eaters and nightingales, and ospreys during their visit from November to February. Further south, close to the Atlantic Ocean, is a wide lagoon full of waders, sand plovers, curlew sandpipers, kelp gulls and black-backed gulls, and almost all the terns, varying from the royal ones to the slaves (you know what I mean!).
Offshore you can see an island in the distance, in the Atlantic Ocean, which is also part of the reserve and which is a protected breeding area for both migrant and resident species. There are pelicans in large numbers and it is worth visiting the island. I can always arrange a boat to take you to the island when you make the booking for this tour.
This is one of the best newly discovered areas. It is situated in the far southern coastal region, close to the new five stars Sheraton Hotel, and only 35 minutes driving from Kotu Bridge, just a bit further than Tanji. As the natural habitats in Brufut and Tanji are declining due to population density and land graphing by the local owners as well as industrial development, most of the special species are found moving further into the southern interior.
Tujering is one of the best sites for bird watching in the coastal areas. You will easily find birds like the yellow-bellied hyliota, the white-fronted black chat, the brubru shrike, the white-shouldered black tit, the whistling cisticola, as well as ospreys, kestrels, falcons, to name just a few.
This woodland is an open scattered wood, which enables you to take clear photographs, and it is easily accessible either by car or in a 4 by 4.
The visit to Tujering takes half a day. But it might be a good idea for you to combine Brufut, Tanji and Tujering for a whole day and have lunch at Tanji, after having started the day in Tujering.
Marakissa woodland and wetland
Marakissa is located south of Brikama, the third-largest town (from Serrekunda). It takes you at least 40 minutes driving from Kotu Bridge. The area consists of two types of habitats: the woodland area and the wetland.
A) The open woodland with some scattered woods is good for many kinds of raptors like the western banded snake eagle, the short-toed eagle, the long-crested eagle and the white-backed vulture, as well as for a variety of the passerines like the western bonelli warbler, the white-breasted cuckoo shrike, the violet-backed sunbird and the red-shouldered cuckoo shrike. It is worthwhile spending a whole day there, and you can book for lunch at the camps. There are two camps there which are basic: one is run by a Dutchman and the other one by a professional Gambia girl who was a staff member in one of the coastal hotels. They are called the Marakissa River Camp and the Marakissa Kingfisher Lodge. Near the restaurants is a drinking jar for the birds. While you are having lunch, you can enjoy species like the spotted honey guide, the western little sparrowhawk, starlings, turacos and so on.
B) The wetland is just a stone throw from both camps. The water pool, the bridge and the rice fields are good places to see sedge warblers, painted snipes, dwarf bitterns, purple herons, African scops owl, African wood owls, etcetera.
From Marakissa you can proceed to Dasilame, which is also a stream and which contains rice fields. This area, close to the southern border of Senegal, is good to see additional raptors, crown cranes, pelicans and herons.
You can book this excursion for half a day or for a full day, depending on the time you can afford to spend.
Farasutu forestland Bonto rice field
East of the coast, driving upcountry along the coastline of the mouth of the river, 30% of the river bank is covered by mangroves, behind which always lies a rice field or a gallery forest. Farasutu Forest Reserve is a community bird-watching reserve. Because the place is rich in biodiversity, you can see some birds species you might have missed at the lower coastal areas. It could be a good chance to see outstanding species like the sulphur-breasted bush shrike, the African goshawk, the green crombec, the greyish eagle owl, the pied-winged swallow, the collared Sunbird and black-bellied bustards.
At the southern inland, we find wood and grassland as we proceed to Bonto Rice Fields with 85% chance of seeing the yellow-throated long claw, the yellow-crowned bishop, the yellow shouldered widow bird, waxbills, firefinches, flycatchers, etc.
Then, past Bonto, we advance towards the main way to Pirang Forest, which is good to see Verreaux's eagle owl, yellow-bill coucal, buff-spotted woodpecker, etc.
This excursion is for half a day. It is a 35 minutes drive from Kotu Bridge with good roads and good 4 by 4 or small cars.
Pirang - Faraba bush track
These places can be reached from the coastal hotels or Kotu Bridge within 40 minutes. Pirang fish or shrimp farm is popularly known as a good site for the crowned cranes, quail-finches, pipits and larks, marsh harriers, curlew sandpipers, yellow-billed storks, African spoon bills, and others.
Having visited the area in the early morning till 10:00 am, we then proceed to Faraba Bush Track, which is about two kilometres from Pirang. It is a woodland and open grass land with little bushes and farmlands, and it gives you a good number of raptors like Wahlberg's eagle, grasshopper buzzard, white-backed vultures, dark chanting goshawks, singing cisticolas, bush petronia, Vieillot's barbet, and many other passerine visitors.
This excursion takes half a day, including an organized packed lunch. You may also wish to combine Pirang and Faraba Bush Track with Kuloro Bonto for a whole day of birding. You will then be able to encounter an even larger number of species of birds in the area.
Makasutu cultural forest.
This forest is located on the southern bank of the mouth of the river Gambia. The name interprets Mecca the holy city of Muslims, so culturally is a holly forest reserved by our ancient kings for its naturally cultural history and its flora and fauna. Two English bought part of it and developed a hotel along the river bank, as one of the best hotel in the Gambia.
Habitat wise the area is a river rine and a woodland at the background bushes to host a woodland species like White Crested Helmet Shrike, Red-Winged Warbler a Reed Warbler, Silver Bills, both Turacos, few raptors Short-Toed Eagle, Western Banded Snake Eagle etc. It takes you for a full day because it includes a boat trip in the morning for 45 minutes and it is a 35 minutes drive from your coastal hotel. Lunch is inclusive birding in the forest.