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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 The 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.

ENTERING THE 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, 5630 16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011, tel. (202) 785-1399; 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 The 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: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend the Yellow Fever vaccination, a malaria preventative, and accination against meningococcal disease (meningitis) as well as up-to-date inoculations against typhoid and hepatitis. 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 most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/the-gambia.

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 quality coastal hotel and at a lodge at Tendaba Camp, which is basic but close to good birdwatching areas. Accommodation here is in the traditional ‘rondavel’ African-style huts (Tendaba) which are all equipped with a cold-water shower (surprisingly welcome on a hot day) and toilet. The power here 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, fruite, cheese and eggs; you may wish to bring some cereal bars to supplement this. Lunch will usually be a sandwich, omelette, or rice and fish/chicken. Although salads are supposed to be ok to eat, it may be best to avoid them. Dinner is usually a buffet with a choice of chicken, fish or meat with rice, pasta, vegetables and chips. 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. Breakfasts and lunches are similar but dinner usuall consists of rice, a meat dish, chips and a bowl of tomato sauce. 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, a soft drinks or a beer (or wine if appropriate) are provided at meals, 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 The 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: 12 June 2018