Gambia Birding Holidays

Our destination expert says…

Holidays in Gambia offer the best in bird watching. From June to November ( green season ), birdwatching in The Gambia sees many birds in their summer and breeding plumage. 

This means bright colours and long tails are the order of the day. In contrast from November to May ( dry season ), it’s a great time to see plenty of raptors. 

Among others, birds of prey soar effortlessly overhead or perch on the tops of trees. More importantly, that means excellent photo opportunities.

What’s even better is you don’t need to be a professional photographer or birdwatcher to appreciate the wonders of this West African destination. 

Anyone can do it because the birds are all around you.

Bird watching in Gambia

Compiled by Steve Keightley and Ian Misselbrook

Scroll to see the full list

  • Pink-backed Pelican
  • Shikra
  • Blue-spotted Wood Dove
  • Great White Pelican
  • African Hawk-Eagle
  • Black Billed Wood Dove
  • Long-tailed Cormorant
  • Wahlberg’s Eagle
  • Namaqua Dove
  • Green-backed Heron
  • Tawny Eagle
  • Laughing Dove
  • Squacco Heron
  • Grey Kestrel
  • African Green Pigeon
  • Cattle Egret
  • Red-necked Falcon
  • Speckled Pigeon
  • Western Reef Heron
  • Lanner Falcon
  • Red-Eyed Dove
  • Double-spurred Francolin
  • African Mourning Dove
  • Intermediate Egret
  • Stone Partridge
  • Vinaceous Dove
  • Great Egret
  • Purple Swamphen
  • Rose-ringed Parakeet
  • Grey Heron
  • African Jacana
  • Senegal Parrot
  • Black-headed Heron
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Western Grey Plantain Eater
  • Purple Heron
  • Senegal Thick-knee
  • Great Spotted Cuckoo
  • Hamerkop
  • African Wattled Lapwing
  • Senegal Coucal
  • Sacred Ibis
  • Spur-winged Plover
  • Verreaux’s Eagle Owl
  • African Spoonbill
  • Whimbrel
  • Little Swift
  • Osprey
  • Sanderling
  • African Palm Swift
  • Palm-nut Vulture
  • Common Greenshank
  • African Pygmy Kingfisher
  • Hooded Vulture
  • Green Sandpiper
  • Pied Kingfisher
  • Yellow-billed Kite
  • Wood Sandpiper
  • Little Bee-eater
  • Western Marsh Harrier
  • Common Sandpiper
  • Blue-Cheeked Bee-eater
  • Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle
  • Arctic Skua
  • Northern Carmine Bee-eater
  • Long-crested Eagle
  • Grey-headed Gull
  • Rufous-crowned Roller
  • African Harrier Hawk
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Blue-bellied Roller
  • Lizard Buzzard
  • Caspian Tern
  • Broad-billed Roller
  • Green-Wood Hoopoe
  • Brown Babbler
  • Whistling Cisticola
  • Hoopoe
  • Blackcap Babbler
  • Western Red-billed Hornbill
  • Scarlet-chested Sunbird
  • African Grey Hornbill
  • Beautiful Sunbird
  • African Pied Hornbill
  • Variable Sunbird
  • Yellow-fronted Tinker-bird
  • Splendid Sunbird
  • Bearded Barbet
  • Woodchat Shrike
  • Cardinal Woodpecker
  • Yellow-billed Shrike
  • Levaillant’s Cuckoo
  • Northern Puffback
  • Senegal Eremomela
  • Grey-backed Camaroptera
  • Woodland Kingfisher
  • Malachite Kingfisher
  • Red-throated Bee-eater
  • White-throated Bee-eater
  • African Darter
  • Swallow-tailed Bee-eater
  • Greater Honeyguide
  • White-faced Whistling Duck
  • Long-tailed Nightjar
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Black-crowned Night Heron
  • Yellow-billed Oxpecker
  • White-crested Helmet-shrike
  • Northern Red Bishop
  • Common Wattle-eye
  • Giant Kingfisher
  • Yellow-throated Leaflove
  • African Thrush
  • Yellow-crowned Gonolek
  • Heuglin’s Masked-weaver
  • Masked Vitelline Weaver
  • Masked Weaver
  • Orange-cheeked Waxbill
  • Lavender Waxbill
  • Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu
  • Red-billed Firefinch
  • Snowy-crowned Robin-chat
  • Northern Black Flycatcher
  • Piapiac
  • Pied Crow
  • Blue-breasted Kingfisher
  • Northern Grey Sparrow
  • Golden Oriole
  • Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher
  • Black-necked Weaver
  • Village Weaver
  • Fine-spotted Woodpecker
  • Grey Woodpecker
  • Green Turaco
  • Violet Turaco
  • Common Bulbul

Birdwatching holidays in The Gambia

Not only do we have over 100 species within our grounds, but equally important we also have over 150 within walking distance.

This means whether you are an avid birder or casual bird watcher, birding in Gambia is great!

Sit and relax by our unique freshwater-filtered pool. Being the only eco-pool in The Gambia means it attracts lots of birds.

For example, not only African Pygmy Kingfisher, and Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher but also Wire-tailed Swallow.

Birdhide at Footsteps in The Gambia
Our bird hide overlooks a natural water feature!

The area around our pool

You will see for example birds such as Bronze Mannikin, Red-billed Fire-finches and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. And also Variable Sunbirds & Beautiful Sunbirds.

Take a stroll around the grounds and set up in one of the bird hides. You will be amazed by the number of beautiful birds making an appearance throughout the day. Hornbills, TuracosSnowy-crowned Robin-chatSenegal CoucalPlantain-EatersCommon Wattle-eye, and Yellow-crowned Gonolek.

Bird trips and birdwatching itinerary

First & foremost, Footsteps offer a variety of Gambia Birding Trips in the company of an expert and experienced bird guide. An opportunity not to be missed. Secondly, you can also visit Nature Reserves, Bird Reserves, Paddy Fields, Wetlands and a trip along the River Gambia. Each with its own ecosystem and also each with an abundance of flora and fauna.

Thirdly, and in addition to our Birding holidays in The Gambia, photography in Gambia is simply superb, whether its birds and wildlife or sunsets.

Birds you will find locally

Our bird watching in Gambia trips are listed below. All come with a top-class bird guide of your choice. However, with around 100 bird species visiting us, you would be forgiven for simply making yourself comfortable and enjoying the best that nature has on offer at the lodge.

Enjoy a taster of a small fraction of the species we have local to us at Footsteps. All the photos were taken by our guests between the months of November and June.

If you have specific birds you want to see, contact us and we will tell you exactly where to find them.

When is the best time for birdwatching in Gambia

A month by month guide

GREEN = Lodge Open

RED = Lodge Closed

January

January is an exciting month for birdwatching in Gambia. The weather is pleasant, and the landscape is green after the rainy season. This month, you can spot species like the African Finfoot, African Jacana, Pied Kingfisher, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, and various species of herons and egrets.

February

As the dry season continues, February is an ideal time to explore Gambia’s birding hotspots. Look out for the African Fish Eagle, African Grey Hornbill, Violet Turaco, African Wood Owl, and a variety of sunbirds and weavers.

March

March marks the transition between the dry and rainy seasons, attracting a wide range of avian species to Gambia. You might encounter the Goliath Heron, Bearded Barbet, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Pied-winged Swallow, and numerous raptors like the African Harrier Hawk.

April

This month, migratory species such as the European Bee-eater, Barn Swallow, Northern Wheatear, and African Golden Oriole can be spotted alongside resident species like the Grey-headed Kingfisher and Yellow-billed Shrike.

May

May is an excellent time for birdwatching in Gambia, as the rainy season begins, and the landscape becomes lush and green. Keep an eye out for the African Blue Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Village Indigo bird, White-throated Bee-eater, and various species of flycatchers and warblers.

June

June offers fantastic birdwatching opportunities. It’s a time when the bird chorus reaches its peak, and the wetlands become bustling with activity. Look out for the African Palm Swift, African Mourning Dove, Grey-headed Bristle-bill, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, and several species of waders.

July

In July, with the ongoing rains, Gambia’s birdlife is thriving. You can spot the dazzling Egyptian Plover, African Pied Hornbill, Lesser Blue-eared Starling, Senegal Parrot, and a variety of cuckoos and honeyguides.

August

August offers a great chance to observe both resident and migratory birds in Gambia. Look for species like the Red-chested Swallow, Black-headed Heron, African Thrush, Beautiful Sunbird, and various species of kingfishers.

September

As the rainy season draws to a close, September is an exciting month for birdwatchers. You might spot the Rufous-crowned Roller, African Green Pigeon, Lizard Buzzard, Broad-billed Roller, and a variety of raptors.

October

October is characterized by the transition from the wet season to the dry season, creating an ideal habitat for different bird species. Keep an eye out for the African Marsh Harrier, Grey Kestrel, Long-tailed Nightjar, Violet-backed Starling, and several species of finches and buntings.

November

November is an excellent time to witness the arrival of a multitude of migratory birds in Gambia. Keep your binoculars ready for the European Roller, Black-crowned Tchagra, African Pied Wagtail, African Wattled Lapwing, and various species of swallows.

December

As the dry season sets in, December offers pleasant weather for birdwatching. Look for species like the African Hobby, Northern White-faced Owl, Pygmy Sunbird, Yellow-billed Kite, and various species of ducks and geese.

Birdwatching trips

Lamin Lodge & Abuko Nature Reserve

Lamin Lodge – We have an early breakfast and travel 40 minutes to Lamin Lodge. 

Here we enjoy a short one-hour boat trip on the river. 

We expect to see Common Wattle-eye, Royal Tern, African Darter, Long-Tailed Cormorant, Western Bluebill, Greater Honeyguide also Cut-Throat Finch.

Abuko Nature Reserve – Picnic-style lunch around 1 pm and then on to Abuko Nature Reserve. 

Disclaimer – Abuko used to be the pride of the Gambia but in recent years we feel it has fallen behind with its standards ie. rubbish in the reserve, however, it still has birds you will struggle to see elsewhere so we still run this trip. 

Here you will see Giant Kingfisher, Pin-tailed whydah, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher also Senegal Batis.

Tanji bird reserve

Tanji Bird Reserve is 30 minutes away along the coast so as a result, we have more time for breakfast.

Expect to see for example. Black-crowned Tchagra, OspreyYellow-Crowned GonolekBroad-billed Roller, Abyssinian Roller also Purple Glossy Starlings, and Violet Backed Starlings.

Marakissa camp, Darsalami woods & Siffoe

Marakissa is approximately one hour away. 

Because the morning is spent there, Darsalami Woods and Siffoe are on the way back in the afternoon.

In addition to Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike, Exclamatory Paradise Whydah, Wilson Indigo, African Blue Flycatcher, Yellow Shouldered Widowbird, also see Northern PuffbackSenegal Eremomela and Woodchat Shrike.

Mandinaba shrimp farm, Faraba rice fields

Likewise, Mandinaba Pirang Shrimp Farm is one and a half-hour away, we need to be up at the crack of dawn.

And, for example, you can expect sightings of Quail Finch, Village Indigo, Pin-tailed Whydah, and also Cut-Throat Finch.

Banjul, Kotu & Fajara golf course

Because Banjul is an hour away, we need an early start.

Later, we will be visiting Kotu and Fajara Golf Club. Also for those who want to have a 9 or 18-hole round, this can be arranged.

An example of some of the birds you can see here is Grey Plover, Senegal Thick-knee, Wattle PloversWire Tailed Swallow and Little Ring Plover. 

Also, Stone Partridge, Sand Grouse, European Hoopoe with Red-shouldered Cuckoo Shrike and Woodland Kingfisher.

Wetlands close to Footsteps

This Gambia birding trip is on our doorstep and is simply a fantastic day of birding.

In fact, it’s so good you will want to revisit it again and again.

An example of some of the birds you can see here is Osprey, the White-faced whistling duckPelicansStorksGrey-backed Camaroptera and Woodland Kingfisher.

The above Birds of The Gambia photos were taken by Rob Garner, Rob Carr and Emyr Evans – Thank you!

We have 2 top-class bird guides, please pre-book by emailing David

Gambia bird guides

Abdoulie Ndure Website

Prices for guided Gambia bird watching

Our birding days are as follows. Between 4 and 8 hours in duration. And include your guide and also transport and lunch.

Moreover, all our trips can be prepaid online when you book and are also arranged at the lodge.

Prices for 2023/24
  • Single birder, the price per day is £90.
  • 2 birders the price per day is £60 each.
  • 3 birders the price per day is £50 each.
Gambia birdwatching-Long tailed Nightjar
Long-tailed Nightjar

In conclusion, below you will find websites from guests who enjoyed their Gambia Birdwatching Holidays

Nicky G
6 February 2024
Verified
This place is a gem As a solo female traveller visiting The Gambia for the first time I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but this eco-lodge was superb. On arrival I was given a tour of all the different areas of the lodge, and the staff, who are all friendly and helpful, took the trouble to learn my name. I stayed in one of the round houses, which was clean, comfortable and spacious. The food was consistently delicious, and I particularly enjoyed trying the Gambian dishes. The evening meal was eaten at a huge round table with the other guests, as well as David and Linda (the owners), and there was plenty of great conversation. I went to The Gambia for the birdwatching and wasn’t disappointed. The lodge’s birding guide, Lamin, really knows his stuff and we saw a fabulous range of birds on days out, and within the grounds of the lodge. I felt really well looked after throughout. What really sets this place apart though, is the ambiance…I truly felt as though I’d just gone to stay with friends and already want to return for a second visit.
meikster
22 January 2024
Verified
Wonderful place, owner and staff! Footsteps is a great place on all sorts of levels. The property is beautiful and well-maintained. Accommodations are super comfy and clean (we stayed in the round-house as well as the villa Kaira Bunga). David (the owner) is an awesome resource when it comes to getting tips for excursions and things to do and the entire staff is amazing, caring and very helpful. They all seem to operate as a family which made us feel right at home and part of the community. The food is delicious and we loved chef Fatou's varied and thought out menus. After each day trip we were happy to return to the Lodge. It really did feel like home. Would go back any time and can only highly recommend!
Bourlingueur*in
20 January 2024
Verified
Perfect for travelers who search for a community! It’s a beautiful and clean place to stay if you search for a community and be surrounded by travelers who want to join group happenings. The Gambian employees do a wonderful job and the friendly owner David tries his best to integrate the nature and its resources in his sustainable lodge as well as the Gambian community! The area around and the villages are very local and wonderful!
Mike
18 January 2024
Verified
Beautiful location, wonderful people, excellent food I enjoyed an excellent week at Footsteps in January 2023*. As a solo traveller who finds meeting new people and socialising challenging, I was made to feel very welcome by the attentive and friendly staff. The food was really fantastic, the people, both guests and staff, were very friendly. It was great to meet a range of people over the week, with old guests departing and new ones arriving. The accomodation was comfortable. My favourite evening of the stay was definitely the weekly BBQ! The local birdlife was simply fantastic. It was my first time visiting sub-saharan Africa, and I was dazzled by the sheer variety of beautiful and charismatic bird species in the lodge grounds and on the short walk to the beach (which is beautiful and very quiet). There is a protected woodland next to Footsteps filled with even more birds. The on-site bird guide Lamin Bojang is very knowledgable and day trips can easily be arranged with him (whether birding or otherwise). If you are looking for a beautiful location away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist area, I couldn't recommend Footsteps too much! *I couldn't select Jan 2023 as it was more than a year ago, so selected Feb 2023.
Sian C
12 January 2024
Verified
The best place to go in January We just love the place - been 5 times now. Always great hospitality, lovely staff , food excellent and always interesting people to meet . Not to mention the wonderful attractions of The Gambia - such a beautiful country, friendly people and amazing wildlife Plus sunshine!
Marc Eeckhaut
12 January 2024
Verified
An enjoyable stay at Footsteps For the second year in row we enjoyed very much our stay at Footsteps. The roundhouses are very clean and comfortable, good wifi, hot water and a very good bed. We appreciated very much the tasty food they serve, the seafood kebab was the best dinner we had in the Gambia... Especially nature lovers will enjoy the large garden, full of birds... Thanks David and the whole crew for the exellentnservice.
Jackum B
28 December 2023
Verified
An eco hideaway in the Gambian forest. A perfect place to be: peacefully situated in the forest, with gorgeous Gambian birds chattering away in the background. Lovely salads and an excellent buffet dinner. Footsteps has nice rooms, nice staff and an altogether friendly and helpful atmosphere.
alisono27
26 December 2023
Verified
A lovely mature eco-resort, great for relaxing, birding and enjoying The Gambia. We found this fabulous eco lodge, a perfect place to relax and explore southern Gambia. Rooms are individual huts which are spacious and stay relatively cool. David, the lodge owner has been here 25 years and the compound has a lot of lovely mature shady trees and plants. We didn’t miss air con. The composting loo works really well. We had visited The Gambia with birding in mind. The local guide, Lamin Bojang is very knowledgeable and there are a number of local places with an abundance of gorgeous birds. It was the beginning of dry season and surprisingly few biting insects. The staff are very local Gambians, friendly, making you feel very welcome and cared for. We are now looking at all our photos and thinking we will definately plan a return visit one day.
Vigdis J
14 December 2023
Verified
The authentic and peaceful Gambia It is just beautiful to wake up to birds singing and coffee ready just outside the african huts after a good night sleep in a comfortable bed. The staff is wonderful and food is very good. And to walk for twenty minutes to a beach that is quiet away from the typical tourist places is also a bonus. Highly recommended!
Bodyfix B
13 December 2023
Verified
What an incredible week We just arrived home from a magical weeks stay. My sister & I stayed in Tickety Boo lodge for 7 days. It was so beautiful waking up to the birds, the butterflies and the people. Eating breakfast under the trees with all of the other guests is a fab way to start the day. Finding out where everyone is going and what they are up to. We would the. Return to the lodge for dinner all together at the camp to debrief about our adventures! The staff at Footsteps make everything so much more special. Everyone is so so friendly and helpful and will go out of their way to make sure you face what you need. David & Linda were fab hosts and it was lovely to have such knowledge in the lodge about the area and places to see and go. I had a bracelet and a ring made from the silver smith on camp. A beautiful wooden pot from the incredible carpenter and those amazing print trousers from the tailor. I also really enjoy an earlier walk with the Camps bird watching expert Lamin. The camp itself is located in the most beautiful spot, away from hustle n bustle but not too far to reach the village of Gunjur. And the beautiful Sunshine beach bar is a very pretty 20 min walk away. We’ve met friends that will stay in contact and found a place will be 1000% be back to. Thankyou to Osman for being an awesome driver. And thankyou for David & Linda for having such an incredible slice of paradise to share.
Holiday deals

A/ We won’t be beaten on price.

B/ If you find a better deal, we’ll price match & discount it by 5%.

C/ Book your next Gambia vacation today with no deposit, nothing to pay until one month before travel & a full refund guarantee up to 2 weeks before travel.

"Simple as ABC", start planning your holiday today with Footsteps Eco-lodge!

Want a Gambia Bird Identifier?, then purchase The Birds of The Gambia book, considered to be the best for birdwatchers.

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