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The Gambia in Style

Tour Code: GMB02

A leisurely 8-day single-centre birdwatching holiday based at the luxurious and picturesque Mandina Lodges in Gambia's Makasutu Forest.

8 days from £2195(inc flights) Land Only Price: £0 SRS: £850


Of all the tropical destinations for European birdwatchers, The Gambia has arguably the most allure for drawing birders of all skill levels back year after year, from complete beginners to the highly experienced. Many of its 570+ species are extremely easy to see and many wonderful birds can be seen without even leaving your resort. We will be based for the week at the superb Mandina Lodges, a delightful riverside resort which is surrounded by the 1,000-acre Makasutu Forest in south-west Gambia. Exotics are found here in abundance as well as more familiar wintering European migrants. Our friendly local guides will take us on morning and afternoon tours, often by boat, into the surrounding area in search of herons, egrets, ibises, jacanas, kingfishers, sunbirds, raptors, rollers and glossy starlings. Other wildlife of interest includes Nile Monitor Lizards and a variety of primates, and back at the resort you may choose to unwind each day with a swim in the pool, or simply enjoy birdwatching from the beautiful grounds!

  • A leisurely 7-day, single-centre, birdwatching holiday
  • Easy, yet exciting & varied, birding from a luxurious base
  • Stay at the picturesque riverside Mandina Lodge in The Gambia’s Makasutu Forest
  • Lodge & Makasutu Forest listed in the book ‘1001 Escapes Before You Die’
  • Rollers, kingfishers & bee-eaters plus sunbirds & orioles galore
  • Excellent photographic opportunities
  • Led by expert naturalist guides

We also offer a specialist Photographic departure and a Wildlife painting departure to Mandina Lodges.

Food

Breakfast and dinner are included, lunches are not. Allow £10-15 per lunch.

Accommodation

A very comfortable eco-lodge, all rooms with private facilities.

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Banjul and transfer Mandina River Lodges

Day 2 Birdwatching excursions from Mandina River Lodges

Day 3 Fly London

Of all the tropical destinations for European birdwatchers, the Gambia has arguably the most allure for drawing birders of all skill levels back year after year, from complete beginners to the highly experienced. This small, narrow country situated either side of the River Gambia is easy to get to, safe, friendly and many of its 570+ species are extremely easy to see; that is to say, everything is in close proximity and many wonderful birds can be seen without even leaving your resort. And we have found a gem of a place to stay! We will be based for the week at the superb Mandina Lodge, which is surrounded by the 1,000-acre Makasutu Forest in south-west Gambia. Exotics such as rollers, kingfishers and bee-eaters are found in abundance here, alongside a range of more familiar wintering European migrants such as Osprey, Whinchat and warblers, including Western Orphean and Melodious. Mandina Lodge is positioned in a peaceful river-side and forest setting and the resort offers the chance to combine birdwatching with the joys of the lodge’s luxurious pool and delicious al fresco meals. Indeed, Mandina Lodge and Makasutu Forest are listed in the book ‘1001 Escapes Before You Die’. It’s a must!

Makasutu Forest borders a secluded mangrove-lined tributary of the River Gambia and our friendly local guides will take us on morning and afternoon tours, often by boat, into the forest, rice fields, mudflats and savannah in search of herons, egrets, ibises, jacanas, kingfishers, sunbirds, raptors, rollers and glossy starlings. During our explorations along the riverine forest tracts we will look out for such birds as Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Common Wattle-eye, White-crested Helmetshrike, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Whitecrowned Robin Chat and African Paradise Flycatcher. We will also keep a look-out for Nile Monitor Lizards and Guinea Baboons plus Vervet, Red Colobus and Patas Monkeys. Out on the savannah, we will be hoping to pick out cryptic species such as francolins and Fourbanded Sandgrouse, as well as raptors including Martial Eagle, Long-crested Eagle and Dark Chanting Goshawk, and stunning, colourful species such as Northern Red Bishop, Bearded Barbet and several species of beeeater. We will also visit the neighbouring reserves of Abuko, where Giant Kingfisher, Western Bluebill, Green Turaco, Violet Turaco and Ahanta Francolin can all be found, and Tanji — a coastal reserve with sandbars — for gulls, terns and a myriad of sunbirds, orioles and hornbills in the nearby scrub woodland.

Mandina LodgeMandina LodgeAfrican Paradise Flycatcher (Dave Montrevil)Beautiful Sunbird (Dave Montrevil)Gambia - Blue-breasted Kingfisher (Dave Montrevil)Cordon-Bleu (Dave Montrevil)Dark Chanting Goshawk (Dave Montrevil)Swallow-tailed Bee-eater (Dave Montrevil)Northern Red Bishop (Dave Montrevil)Mandina LodgeWhite-Throated Bee-Eater (Dave Montrevil)Bearded Barbet (Dave Montrevil)Lizard Buzzard (Dave Montrevil)Hammerkop (Dave Montrevil)Violet Turaco (Dave Montrevil)Black-shouldered Kite (Dave Montrevil)Abyssinian Roller (Dave Montrevil)Male Beautiful Sunbird (Dave Montrevil)Male Vitelline Weaver (Dave Montrevil)Senegalese Parrot (Dave Montrevil)Woodland Kingfisher (Dave Montrevil)
D.F.
Dorset
Lovely accommodation, well situated for purpose with welcoming, helpful staff. Rob was an excellent tour leader: very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and well organised. And he didn't make this non-birder feel isolated!
M.F.
Dorset
A blissful holiday in beautiful surroundings with an itinerary that mixed prolific bird sightings with welcome periods of relaxation. Rob Mileto was a splendid tour leader, both knowledgeable and entertaining. Brilliant local guides.
J.H.
Hampshire
Very relaxed with itinerary changeable according to circumstances. Very capably led by Rob Mileto, who considered the views of all participants.
J.C.
Norfolk
I enjoyed having more time than is usual to use the facilities at Mandina Lodges, especially the swimming pool! The adjoining gardens were ideal to potter around, with many birds to see.
M.L.
Buckinghamshire
Particularly impressed with the abilities of the trip leader and local guides to spot the birds and provide background information.
A.P.
Kent
We thought the balance of days out and walks and canoes trips locally was spot on. Mandina itself was great. Very easy to relax during the heat of the day but just as easy to keep yourself entertained if you wished. We had a great time not only with the wildlife but also the other tour participants. We feel the key to all these trips are the guides and Mandina's guides are brilliant. Always friendly, patient and helpful in showing you what their country has to offer. They are a real asset to the Lodge. On top of that we had our Naturetrek guide as well. Marcus is one of those rare individuals who can turn a group of strangers into friends within an hour. His enthusiasm was infectious and we learnt so much from him during the course of the week. First class!
I.N.
Hertfordshire
The tour leader Eric Barnes - one of life's gentlemen.
U.W.
Buckinghamshire
Mandina Lodge is a lovely place with lovely staff and very good service and food.
A.B.
Clwyd
The pace was just right. The leader was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, helpful and willing to be flexible. Any minor problems sorted quickly. The group 'gelled' very well. The local guides were also excellent - friendly, interested, keen to show us everything. I had my 60th birthday on the trip and it was really memorable.
P.W.
Hertfordshire
The staff were all excellent, very friendly. Great weather, and good food. Our guides really knew the birds. Overall an excellent trip and would like to return.
H.W.
Hertfordshire
Linda and her staff were really friendly and welcoming, like we were visiting friends. The weather perfect! Good food and accommodation. The guides were great and very knowledgeable. Lots seen. The group all got on well together. Fabulous swimming pool! Flight duration great. Would love to go back sometime.
G.M.
Hertfordshire
Excellent bird watching with enthusiastic guides
S.J.
Hampshire
I can't think of anything else that would improve the holiday. I loved it.
S.C.
West Midlands
The local guides were particularly good at ensuring that everyone got a chance to get a good view of all the birds. Where there were gaps in their knowledge, Marcus was very good at clarifying the identity of birds seen. The accommodation was excellent. Service and food was also very good.
Mr & Mrs W.
Clwyd
Good local guides at Mandina Lodge - worked hard to find birds and photographic opportunities. Organisation of the day - relaxing time in early afternoon to enjoy the facilities at Mandina Lodge.
J.T.
Hertfordshire
Good use of time - early start then back for breakfast, with another birding activity late afternoon. Knowledge, leader and guides
J.L.
East Sussex
I have clocked up quite a few wildlife spotting trips over the last 15 years and have to say , this was probably the most enjoyable...for several reasons: A leader jointly skilled in identification of birds and interaction with people, who allowed the local guides to run the show, only chipping in to correct any mis-id's; a well run lodge with friendly, happy staff providing tasty meals; keen local guides; facilitated by a small friendly group of clients.
J.P.
Herefordshire
Beautiful site at Mandina - charming staff and local guides - nothing too much trouble. Very pleased the week was not exclusively aimed at birds as this gets very tedious for those with more general interest in natural history. Ed was the star turn. Not only was he cheerful, positive, organised and very helpful, he had excellent knowledge and observation skills across the whole spectrum of species in the areas, making it much more interesting for generalists. He was also very professional.
A.P.
Herefordshire
Very good accommodation, staff friendly, food good quality. Excellent trip leader: Cheerful, experienced and knowledgeable, took his responsibilities seriously and in a good-natured way. Looked after his clients well. Very wide range of birdlife. Good flight with pleasant staff on board.
P.L.
Norfolk
Vast amount of birds. Excellent Naturetrek leader - Ed gets 12 out of 10. Took time with individuals to make sure everyone was catered for both in terms of logistics and also specific interest i.e. photography. He was also very knowledgeable on birds in Gambia. Likeable chap.! Staff at Mandina Lodge gave a good level of service. Chef certainly looked after us - the food was scrumptious...felt spoilt.
S.L.
Norfolk
Lot's of birds. The guides were all friendly and knowledgeable, the tour leader, Ed, was brilliant. Mandina Lodge staff friendly and hard working. The chef and his food was excellent.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Fri 12th January 2018 - Fri 19th January 2018

FULL

£2395

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £0 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tue 13th February 2018 - Tue 20th February 2018

FULL

£2395

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Fri 9th March 2018 - Fri 16th March 2018

FULL

£2295

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2295 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Fri 13th April 2018 - Fri 20th April 2018

YES

£2195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2195 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Gambia

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Tour Reviews

Lovely accommodation, well situated for purpose with welcoming, helpful staff. Rob was an excellent tour leader: very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and well organised. And he didn't make this non-birder feel isolated!
D.F., Dorset