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Ultimate West-African birding highlights-tour

Pelicans in Djoudj

We know The Gambia as a heaven for birdwatchers. The Gambia is enclosed by Senegal. So all the bird species of the Gambia are also found in Senegal. Senegal is also 18 times larger than the Gambia and extends over different climatic zones. From the dry semi-desert in the north to the tropical forests in the south. This trip we also visit the world famous waders hibernating spot Banc d´Arguin in Mauritania and the surrounding Sahara desert.



In this expanded Senegal birding tour we first head north. There we will find Djoudj. An UNESCO parc that is considered the third most important protected bird park in the world.  In winter time the millions of endemics get visitors by millions, mainly water-bound, winter guests. We have a lot of that in the Europe too. Therefore, a reunion with our summer guests is obvious. Other species such as Arabian Bustard and Black Crowned Crane are among the jewels of the park.

In the two days that we stay in this park off rather limited size, we get plenty of opportunities to explore every nook and cranny with our off-road vehicles. In addition to the many numbers and species of birds, we will undoubtedly see other animals like warthogs, green monkeys, jackals, pythons, West-African crocodiles, Nile monitors and with a bit of luck a serval and/or antelope.


Banc d´Arguin, departure at Iwik

If everyone agrees that Djoudj is a world attraction for bird watchers, then so is the Mauritanian park Diawling on the north bank of the Senegal River.
Diawling and Djoudj are only separated by a few hundred meters in places. Diawling, however, is less geared towards the tourist. The only road through the park is 20 km long and leads through different landscapes from end to end. The advantage is that the road runs over a dike with a good view of the lower lying marshes and lakes.
For birdwatchers, Mauritania is best known for the Banc d'Arguin National Park. One of the main stopovers on the East Atlantic flyway for waders. Millions winter here.
We will see them during a tour with an authentic Mauritanian sailboat with triangular sail. Since the Banc d'Arguin is located in the middle of the Sahara on the Atlantic coast, we will encounter many typical desert species on the journey on our way and back through the desert, such as the cream-colored courser and the greater hoopoe-lark.

Niokolo Koba

Northern groundhornbill

Another very special piece of nature in Senegal is located all the way on the other side of the country at the border with Mali and Guinea. The Niokolo Koba Park. Just like Djoudj Unesco World Heritage.

For us this place is quite familiar. About twenty years ago we were the first to introduce countless European Gambia-visitors to this still original piece of African nature.

For bird watchers who have frequently visited Gambia, Niokolo Koba is a dream place that most didn’t know existed. Species that every Gambia visitor would sign for in advance, such as Egyptian Plover, African Finfoot, Red-Throated and Carmine Bee-eaters, Northern Hornbill and the African Marabou Stork are almost certain species.

The Big Four

Beside this, Niokolo Koba is the only place in West Africa that comes a bit close to the well-known parks in East Africa. From the 'big five', only the rhinoceros is missing. Unfortunately, however, populations of lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo are under severe pressure from poaching and habitat fragmentation, and recent sightings almost all have come from camera traps. This also applies to other species for which Niokolo Koba is still the only habitat in West Africa, such as giant eland and African wild dogs. Species that are common are warthog, baboons and antelopes, including the large roan antelope (see photo).

Red-billed tropic bird near Dakar

Senegal's unique birding spots

After leaving The Gambia we cross the Sine Saloum delta, heading for Dakar. Here we will have a look at Ile de Madeleine near Dakar. This is the place where we can find the only breeding colony of the red-billed tropicbird. A project with a Dutch twist because the previous ambassador in Dakar, a bird watcher, provided money for an information center. Furthermore, the Senegalese savanna is an Eldorado for vultures. We regularly see large groups of up to six different species, including European hibernators such as the griffon vulture and the black vulture (we have recorded the fifth and sixth sightings of the latter species for Senegal).

Ile de Kousmar

When returning from Mauritania we visit a new park, the Tocc Tocc reserve near Rosso (Senegal). This park was recently established to protect the rare West African manatee. In addition, there are also numerous water bird species. Both migrants and endemics.

In the vicinity of the city of Kaolack there´s the roosting colony of about 25,000 swallow-tailed kites. A species of kite that migrates from all over West Africa to the delta of the Sine Saloum in the winter. The kites share this spot with even more lesser kestrels. A fantastic birding experience, unique in the world.

After staying a few days in the far east of Senegal, we return to the coast. Along the 300 km long road that connects Eastern Gambia with the coastal region in the longitudinal direction. We spend the night in Janjangbureh (formerly Georgetown) and Tendaba - including the traditional mangrove tour in Tendaba - and ending our course at the idyllic Marrakissa River Camp before taking the plane back home.

If you haven't had enough, you can linger at Marakissa and explore the Gambian coastal region with the help of our cars and a local guide.

Click below for extensive


From - to




Amsterdam - Marakissa

The Gambia

Flight to - Banjul


Marakissa - Marakissa


Stay in and around Marakissa Rivercamp


Marakissa - Dakar


Trip Marakissa - Dakar


Dakar - Djoudj


Ile de Madelijne (tropic birds); trip to Djoudj


Djoudj - Djoudj


Tour through the park


Djoudj - Zirre


Pelican colony boat tour; bordercrossing Senegal - Mauritania


Zirre - Nouakchott


Visit Diawling, then drive to Nouakchott


Nouakchott - Iwik


Drive to Iwik


Iwik - Iwik


Boat trip Ile de Nair/Nairumi


Iwik - Zirre


Drive Iwik - Zirre


Zirre - Dagane


Border crossing to Senegal; visit Tocc Tocc (manatees)


Dagane - Kaolack


Ride over savannah (vultures) Ile de Kousmar (swallow-tailed kites)


Kaolack - Wassedou


Drive to Wassadou;


Wassadou - Camp du Lion


Visit Niokolo Koba, overnight stay Camp du Lion


Camp du Lion - Wassedou


Visit Niokolo Koba, drive to Wassadou


Wassadou - Tendaba

The Gambia

Drive Wassadou - Tendaba


Tendaba - Marakissa

The Gambia

Boat tour Tendaba, drive to Marakissa


Banjul - Amsterdam 


Flight Banjul - your destination

Starting date: 11 january 2023,
Ending: 28 january 2023.

Price: €2495,-
(Included: Flights; transport; accommodation; food and meals and non-alcoholic drinks; all excursions included in the program; guides; entrances to the parks.)

Single room supplement: €300

Max. 9 persons - departure guaranteed!

Departure possible from following European airports:
Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Paris (Orly), Marseille, Zürich, Milan, Rome, Barcelone, Madrid.
Allowance €50:
London (Heatrow/Gatwick), Manchester, Dublin, Oslo
Allowance €100:
Glasgow, Prague, Stockholm, Dusseldorf, Hamburg.
Without airline ticket, discount: €500

Our driving-fleet consists of three Dutch-immatriculated off-road vehicles (Nissans X-Trail)