Introduction to The Gambia and Senegal

The gambia bird watching

The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in West Africa. It is very rich in birds and has a large biodiversity. The country is divided in two by the river Gambia, North and South, following the river Gambia to Georgetown and to Basse. The river consists of salt water from the Atlantic Ocean and it contains this salt water from the estuary at Banjul all the way up to 180 kilometers land inwards. There, the water of the river becomes fresh water for over 250 kilometers, up to its source on the eastern boarder of Senegal. All along the river a wide range of colorful birds can be seen, such as Palearctic winter visitors and inter-African migrants.

During your stay in The Gambia you can choose to visit the following habitats:

  1. The Coastal and Maritime Region: including shallow marine, sub tidal beds, salt marshes, mangroves forest, brackish lagoons, etc.
  2. The Inland Water: including riverside floodplains, fresh water marshes, forest gallery, artificial wetlands, etc.
  3. The Upland Country: following the river to Georgetown, Tendaba and Basse, both riversides offer you the best variety of bird life, the endemic species as well as the inter-African migrants.

The Gambia registers more than 500 species of birds, and even more if we add the species to be found in Senegal.

Senegal: north and south

As The Gambia is surrounded by Senegal and as Senegal and The Gambia are closely related to one another, we wish to provide you with some information about how interesting and relaxing bird watching is in Senegal, in case you should choose to visit that country.

The North of Senegal, the most relaxing area of the country, consists of an open savanna and salt marshes, reed beds and gallery forest on the coast line.

Njunge Bird Centre, situated at the far northern coastal border with Mauritania, is an excellent area to watch many Palearctic migrants which cannot be seen in The Gambia, e.g. Denham's bustard, Senegal bustard, orphan warbler, gannets and petrels. All these birds can be seen in the woodlands, but also in the open savanna's, open woodlands, flat plains, brackish marshes and fresh water holes.

Nyocolokoba Game Park is a good place to watch raptors, which can difficultly be seen along the Gambia River, e.g. Pel's fishing owls, spotted eagle owl, the Egyptian plover (late in the year) and many inter-African migrants.

The South of Senegal is rich in vegetation and dark forest, shallow waters with both fresh water and salt water down to the coast. It has a larger variety of bird life than the North and has an enormous richness in the biodiversity of its fauna and flora. More than 160 species of birds are registered in Senegal, most of which are found in the South.

As The Gambia is completely surrounded by Senegal on all sides, except for its coast on the Atlantic Ocean, it is not difficult to travel from The Gambia to Senegal.