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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Gambia

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Gambia. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document sent to all tour registrants, whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

TRAVEL TO BANJUL, THE GAMBIA: This tour is organized by our British company, Sunbird, and starts and ends in London. The cost of the group flights between London and Banjul are included in the tour cost. We strongly recommend that you join the tour in London as it removes a range of possible problems that might occur if you attempt to meet the group in the tour country. You can choose, however, to make your own travel arrangements to Banjul and you would receive a corresponding discount in the tour cost should you decide to do this. Please read the Important Travel Information for Participants on Sunbird Tours here.

ENTERING GAMBIA: A passport, visa and proof of yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers are urged to obtain the latest information on customs and entry requirements from the Embassy of The Gambia, 1156 15th Street, N.W., Suite 905, Washington, D.C. 20005, tel. (202) 785-1399 and 1359; or from the Permanent Mission of The Gambia to the U.N. at 820 Second Avenue, Suite 900 - C, New York, N.Y. 10071, tel. (212) 949-6640.. Visa services such as CIBT can also take care of your needs quickly and efficiently.

MAPS AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Gambia in the University of Texas series here. You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Gambia here.

HEALTH: In addition to the required Yellow Fever vaccination, the State Department strongly recommends a malaria preventative, vaccination against meningococcal disease (meningitis) and suggests up-to-date inoculations against typhoid and hepatitis. It might also be worth checking that you are adequately protected against tetanus. As some of these inoculations cannot be given concurrently, you should contact your doctor straight away and obtain advice about when to start your treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention currently recommend a malaria preventative (one of the following antimalarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam®), doxycycline, or Malarone®). The CDC has determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate antimalarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease. In addition, other personal protective measures, such as the use of insect repellents, help to reduce malaria risk. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what antimalarials they have been taking.

You can review the latest CDC advisories here.

CLIMATE: It will be generally hot and dry with temperatures ranging from night-time lows of about 15-20°C (60-70°F) to mid-day highs of about 25-35°C (80-95°F). It will normally be sunny with little or no rain. At the time of our tour there is a chance of some days with stronger winds which will lower the temperature, especially in the mornings and evenings.

PACE OF TOUR: Most days we will have breakfast at our accommodation around 6:30am before we go birding. Lunch will be taken either at a suitable café where we can carry on birding and relaxing, and on travel days we’ll take a picnic with us. We will return to our hotel around 6:30pm-7:00pm, allowing an “hour to shower” before dinner. The daily checklist will be done after dinner. On one night we will head out after dinner for some nocturnal species.

ACCOMMODATION: During the tour we’ll be based at a good coastal hotel and at the Tendaba Camp, which is fairly basic but is the only option for visiting the many good birdwatching areas in the Middle River part of Gambia. In these areas there are species which cannot be seen at the coastal end of the country, and we feel that a night here is an essential part of any birdwatching tour to Gambia. The accommodation is perfectly adequate and rooms are all equipped with a cold-water shower (surprisingly welcome on a hot day), mosquito net, fat and a flush toilet. The power is run on a generator which is turned on around 6:00 pm and left on all night but is far enough away not to keep us awake. There is an open-air restaurant and bar. Biting insects can sometimes be troublesome in the evenings at Tendaba, so it will be worth bringing long-sleeved shirts and trousers.

FOOD: The food at our hotel is generally varied and good. Breakfasts typically consist of bread, jam, cereals, porridge, cheese and fried eggs. Lunch will usually be a sandwich or something simple, such as an omelette or fish dish. Although salads are supposed to be ok to eat, it may be best to avoid them. Dinner is usually a buffet, but on some nights the hotel provides a barbecue, where the seafood is recommended. Although Gambian food is said to be spicy, there are plenty of non-spicy dishes to choose from. Up-river the food is understandably more basic, but there is still plenty of it. Vegetarians are becoming more accepted in Gambia, but the locals have difficulty understanding “if you can afford meat, why don’t you want it?” Please ensure you tell the office if you have any special food requirements. Likewise anyone with a nut allergy should remember that nuts are used in a lot of Gambian cooking.

DRINKS: Bottled water and/or a soft drinks, beer or wine are provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. We will keep bottled water on the minibus for use during the day.

TRANSPORT: For traveling around Gambia we will be using a small air-conditioned van with a local driver. For our trip on the river, we will be using a motorized long boat. These have wooden boards for seats (some have foam cushions) and are perfect for exploring the shallow inlets.

SMOKING: Smoking is not allowed in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group. If any lodge, accommodation or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than WINGS’ policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail.

TERMS & CONDITIONS: Please take a moment to read About WINGS Tours. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to Gambia will be sent to each registrant on receipt of their booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Updated: 14 November 2014