Gambia safaris: prices, when to go and where

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

Author and references

The Gambia is a West African state that is reduced to a thin but long strip of land set in Senegal, the only country with which it borders. Despite its relatively small territory, the Gambia also offers visitors the chance to scover natural and wild environments. On the coast and along the banks of the Gambia River, which crosses the entire country, there are different choices between forests, reserves and parks to visit aboard a typical boat Gambian, to venture among the local flora and fauna consisting of fish, birds and some large mammals.
The Gambia is indeed one of the best African places for bird watchers, but unfortunately it is not ideal for those looking for the famous big five. Below we have grouped the best parks for you to do the safari in Gambia, with information on prices and periods!


  1. Travel informed: useful information
  2. When to go: climate and best time
  3. River Gambia National Park
  4. Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve
  5. Kiang West National Park
  6. Mesii National Park
  7. Bijilo Forest Park
  8. What to wear and what to pack
  9. User questions and comments

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 1.800.000
  • Capital: Banjul
  • Languages: English, Mandingo, Wolof, Peul
  • Local currency: Dalasi (€ 1,00 = 56,79 GMD)
  • Weather: tropical, average temperatures 16/32 ° C
  • vaccinations: Vaccination against yellow fever mandatory, malaria prophylaxis and vaccinations against meningitis and hepatitis A and B recommended
  • Entry requirements: Passport with residual validity of at least 6 months and an entry visa to be requested at the Honorary Consulate General of Gambia in Milan are required
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    When to go: climate and best time

    The Gambia enjoys a warm tropical climate all year round and although its territory is vast, the climate is homogeneous throughout the territory. On the coast it is slightly mitigated by the presence of the Atlantic Ocean, while in inland areas it remains warmer. There are two main seasons, the dry one corresponding to the winter months and the rainy one during the summer months. Temperatures are very high during the summer, while the winters are still warm but with pleasantly cool nights.

    • Weather: the climate is tropical with average temperatures between 16 and 32 ° C and no rain for most of the year. In fact, rainfall is concentrated between June and October, with a peak in frequency and intensity in August. The sea temperature is constantly 22 ° C except in summer when it reaches 28 ° C.
    • Best time: December / January for the inland areas, November / May for the coastal area
    • Period to avoid: July / September due to heavy and frequent rains which cause flooding and make it difficult to move around the parks

    1 - River Gambia National Park

    This national park is certainly among the best in Gambia and one of the most sought after excursions by visitors who want to discover the local nature! The River Gambia is the park of the Gambia River and consists of 5 islands, all flat with swampy areas and savannahs that create the natural habitat of different animal species.

    First of all this it is one of the few natural shelters for hippos, which is why you will meet many of them, and you will also be able to observe specimens of chimpanzees, warthogs, baboons, antelopes, crocodiles, badgers, oritteropias and genets.
    But let's not forget the most widespread activity in The Gambia, bird watching, thanks to the over 270 species of birds present in the park. A safari inside the park includes boat trips to visit the 5 islands and this is definitely a strong point to enjoy a different safari than usual!

    • Best time: May / October
    • Recommended duration: 1 day
    • Average price: starting from € 50,00

    2 - Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve

    The Bao Bolong reserve is located halfway between the coastal area and the innermost areas of the country. It stretches for 140 km along the north bank of the Gambia River and it consists of swamps, mangroves and savannas, create a varied ecosystem and as always rich in flona and fauna.

    The main animal species encountered on a safari are birds, especially owls, eagles, parrots and herons, well hidden among the dense mangroves but with a little patience they can be found and observed. But there is no shortage of large mammals such as hippos, warthogs, hyenas and leopards. Definitely another place suitable for birdwatching that offers the natural vision of birds that cannot be found in our territories and a safari dedicated to discovery, divided into long walking routes and suggestive boat trips.

    • Best time: December January
    • Recommended duration: 1 day
    • Average price: starting from € 50,00

    3 - Kiang West National Park

    Another important and sought after park in The Gambia is the Kiang West National Park, which stretches along the south coast of the Gambia River as opposed to the Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve. In this park you will cross mangroves and savannas encountering crocodiles, otters, monitor lizards, warthogs, antelopes, mongooses, monkeys, hyenas, leopards and manatees.
    There are obviously numerous species of birds, about 290, including vultures, eagles, hawks and cianciallegre. This park is therefore also suitable for birdwatching as well as discovering large animals typical of the savannah and a safari inside it involves some movements on foot and others on a 4x4 vehicle thanks to which you can observe the animals more closely.

    • Best time: December January
    • Recommended duration: 1 day
    • Average price: starting from € 50,00

    4 - Mesii National Park

    Thevanai National Park extends on the north coast of Gambia, right on the border with Senegal. This park joins the large Senegalese park, the Saloum Delta National Park, defining the end of the two rivers that create the park, the Sine and the Saloum. Within this vast flat and humid area are therefore large swampy areas inhabited by a large variety of fish and birds, which unfortunately are the only animals that you will see during a safari in the Park of Mesii. In fact, within this park the vegetation is thick and varied but the local fauna is not so abundant. You will be able to spot mainly African manatees and Atlantic dolphins, several birds but no large animals. In any case, this safari is a nice way to spend a day in the African natural landscapes and for discover typical villages and the cultures of the peoples who live there.

    • Best time: November / May
    • Recommended duration: 1 day
    • Average price: starting from € 40,00

    5 - Bijilo Forest Park

    Bijilo is a small forest park of just 5 km, located in the north along the south coast. Although small it it is home to over 130 species of birds, various species of monkeys and several monitor lizards in addition to a rich and dense vegetation of various entities, such as bushes, forests, clearings and dunes, this is why an excursion to this park is still very much proposed by local agencies. Bijilo, like most parks in Gambia, is the environment ideal for bird watching as well as obviously walking among nature and unusual animals, in fact the safari inside it takes place mainly on foot and includes an expert bird guide who thoroughly explains each species sighted.

    A weak point of the park however is the behavior of monkeys. They are now too accustomed to contact with humans and being fed by tourists, so you need to be prepared for mischievous monkeys who often approach to steal food and objects. Definitely not an optimal experience and that at times it can give the impression of being in a zoo, especially if you are looking for a safari that allows you to observe animals in their natural behavior. In summary, a ride in the Bijilo Forest Park is recommended for those who want to discover just a little African nature but without too many pretensions, and above all without having to take too much time!

    • Best time: November / May
    • Recommended duration: half day
    • Average price: starting from € 50,00

    What to wear and what to pack

    As you will have understood from what you have read so far, the Gambia's parks are made up mostly of swamps and wetlands. This ensures that they are present large amounts of mosquitoes, Here because an inevitable accessory is definitely the repellent! Still talking about mosquitoes, in addition to repellent you need to dress appropriately. Choose long trousers, preferably wide and preferably in cotton so as to be comfortable and not suffer from the heat. For the top it's fine a t-shirt accompanied by a light long-sleeved blouse, avoiding bright colors and preferring dark ones. Shoes must be comfortable and suitable for trekking as you walk a lot! Also don't forget a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen in hot weather, and obviously your camera. For birdwatching safaris you can't miss the binoculars!

    • Recommended clothing: long trousers, t-shirt, shirt, trekking shoes
    • Useful accessories: sunglasses, hat, binoculars, sunscreen, repellent, camera

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