Bird Safari Camp

Bird Safari Camp

MacCarthy Island Central River Region, Janjanbureh Gambia
A tent, right next to river.
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About

4.0
#1 of 2 campgrounds in Janjanbureh
Location
4.8
Cleanliness
3.7
Service
4.4
Value
4.3
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Free High Speed Internet (WiFi)
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Pool
Restaurant
Laundry service

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MacCarthy Island Central River Region, Janjanbureh Gambia
71Reviews2Q+A9Room tips
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Detailed Reviews
FriendOfPooh wrote a review Apr 2021
Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Too late from us, too, but we stayed here when on an organised trip, during our first visit to the Gambia in 2001. We still talk about how magical and literally 'enchanting' the experience was. Yes it was rustic...this was part of the charm. The organised music for the evening didn't arrive so the staff did an ad hoc performance which was great and if anything, a bit more 'real'. The young man who seemed to be in charge was also very special...very enigmatic .
The whole experience of our 2 days/one overnight stay will be with us for ever.
So, perhaps too late, but a big thank you!
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Date of stay: April 2021
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
peteduncan63 wrote a review Mar 2012
Eyemouth, United Kingdom
5.0 of 5 bubbles
This is a great place to stay. I came here in late February for 3 nights, mainly for bird photography, after spending 6 nights at the coast. It's a long but interesting journey by minibus (2) and boats(2) and we arrived on the Lady Hippo after dark to a warm welcome and some great Gambian cooking by Binta. We were lucky to arrive 2 weeks before Mark, the owner's, wedding, and , along with his Mum and other guests, we helped him celebrate in advance. The wine and beer never ran out and the drumming and dancing lit up one of the evenings.

We met some wonderful people, the tents beside the Gambia River were great, the composting toilets were pretty much odourless and the beds very comfortable. Apart from a few sandflies, the insects were almost non-existent too - the NE breeze and dry atmosphere no doubt keeping them away. The swimming pool, filled with river water, which we thought might be a bit 'iffy' was in fact very pleasant indeed and well used whilst we were there. My Dutch neighbours had a small shock when returning to their tent one evening, to find a rather large Monitor Lizard lounging outside - all part of the rich scenery here! We watched Hippos from the boat, found an Eagle Owl roosting near the Camp and spent two hours getting very close to over 100 pairs of Red Thoated Bee-eaters at Bansang Quarry - all feeding young. For keen birdwatchers, Wassu turned up a Light Bellied Bustard on our return trip - a bit of a rarity in Gambia; worth searching for instead of looking at the stone circles.

Hard to think how the camp could be improved - it is certainly a cut above Tendaba down the river which, although great for birds too, looks rather depressing when approached by boat! I hear it's not that bad, but first impressions can be important. It could do with a major refurbishment.

Mark runs a logistically difficult operation at Hidden Gambia, but it seems to work well. We did suffer from a 1 hour late pick up on returning to the airport which left everyone a bit breathless and one of the mini-buses we were provided with at the coast was a bit of a wreck (dodgy brakes, crunching gear box, dented side, bald tyres, no seat belts, completely ineffective headlights etc etc) but the standard of driving was pretty good and it didn't break down! A slightly more modern vehicle would certainly increase the confidence levels of European travellers.

Other than that - I have nothing but praise for Bird Safari Camp and Hidden Gambia. I expect to return quite soon!
Read more
Date of stay: February 2012
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled with friends
Room Tip: Go for the tents rather than the huts
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Liz wrote a review Dec 2011
Sheffield, United Kingdom
5.0 of 5 bubbles
From being collected from our hotel to being delivered back to the coast, our time at Bird Safari Camp was quite unique. We travelled 200 miles - by road and then boat up the Gambia river, seeing birds, chimpanzees and monkeys on the lush riverbanks, arriving at the island camp at dusk.
We stayed in comfy, spacious tents overlooking the river, with our own solar heated shower. The whole camp is run as eco-friendly as possible – powered entirely by solar, composting, and growing their own veg. Because of its remote location, it’s full board with tasty meals taken communally with other adventurers, birders and guides.
Mark Thompson who runs the camp and Hidden Gambia was extremely helpful with all our arrangements, during booking our trip from England and when we had a problem while we were in the Gambia – alternative plans helped everything happen seamlessly.
Mark uses two lovely boats and various 4 wheel-drive vehicles to facilitate whatever excursions people want, maybe to see the abundant wildlife in this region – we saw monkeys, baboons, chimps, hippos, storks, owls and many other exotic birds – or visits to the local market to buy food and learn how to cook on open fires. Or we could just relax by the pool or in a hammock by the riverbank, in perfect peace with just the sound of birdsong and water lapping at the jetty.
If you just stay on the coast, you’ll miss out on a fantastic upriver experience, it’s so different here from anywhere else we stayed. Watching the egrets at dusk fly low over the river- glass of wine in hand - was special, or you can even sleep on the boat if you want, under the stars of an African sky – priceless!
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Date of stay: December 2011Trip type: Traveled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
CornelisVenema wrote a review Mar 2016
Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
1.0 of 5 bubbles
I was looking for a place outside the village and ended up in this place that was now in ruins. Wat was left were a few tents with a stone sanitary part. There was no running water So I got water from the river that I had to purify. There were two men who looked after the remains of once a nice place. I think TripAdvisor should remove this place from their site.
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Date of stay: February 2016
2.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
1.0 of 5 bubblesService
1.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled solo
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
angler29 wrote a review Apr 2018
Brusubi, Gambia
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Closed down. Its no longer operating ,its finished,tax reasons,kaput.non longer operating,only janjanbureh guest house left in the area,nothing left here.The other guesthouse in the area is the Boabolong guesthouse,very nice ,situated on the river you can have various excursions including boat trips to see the chimps,crocodiles and hippo,they also do fishing trips for Tigerfish and Vundu Catfish,nice place to stay.
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Date of stay: November 2017Trip type: Traveled solo
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from Mark T, Owner at Bird Safari Camp
Responded May 6, 2018
Yep, it's all over. But nothing to do with "tax reasons" (where did you hear that?!). Much more to do with a corrupt lawyer / politician who decided to register all the shares in his "nephew's" name, thus defrauding several bona fide foreign investors to The Gambia... and making his own countrymen & women that much poorer :-(
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Paul W wrote a review May 2017
Cheltenham, England, United Kingdom
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Sadly, this once beautiful camp is now a shadow of its former self. Dirty, uncared for with staff (if you can find any) who have no idea of how to look after tourists. While the camp used to have excellent facilities,now it is run down and just a shell. Avoid at all costs.
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Date of stay: January 2017
2.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
1.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
1.0 of 5 bubblesService
Trip type: Traveled with friends
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
CLPRtravel wrote a review Mar 2013
Bedford, United Kingdom
5.0 of 5 bubbles
As others have said words can't begin to describe the thrill of the adventure with Hidden Gambia which is run by Mark Thompson. Due to tough circumstances beyond Mark Thompson's control we were unable to stay at his Bird Safari Camp, which he has worked so hard to create, creating welcome business and employment for locals. Mark went the extra mile to reorganise our trip with 3 nights at the Baobolong Annexe in Janjanbureh, one night at Tendaba and two at Nemasu lodge on the coast. It was non-stop excitment with 7 boat trips, a stunning sunset combined with full moon rise, beating drums by a BBQ banquet, beautiful birds, thrilling wildlife and freshly cooked food with local ingredients. Adventures like this are difficult for us with challenging arthritic problems but Mark's thoughtful touches to secure seats we could manage and hire bikes for us one morning made this holiday of a lifetime possible. The Hidden Gambia staff were friendly and excellent to spend time with.
Our room at Tendaba was very acceptable - in fact much larger and lighter than the one at the Annexe and hence much easier to manage. The food at Tendaba was weak compared with elsewhere but more than compensated by the magnificent boat trip though the mangroves.
We just pray that Bird Safari Camp will return to Hidden Gambia very soon so that future travellers and all the local businesses and staff can continue to benefit from Mark Thompson's dedication to the Gambia for many years to come. Thanks!
Read more
Date of stay: February 2013
4.0 of 5 bubblesValue
3.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
4.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
3.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
3.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
Room Tip: If we had stayed at Bird Safari camp location would have been excellent.
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from Mark T, Owner at Bird Safari Camp
Responded Aug 24, 2013
BIRD SAFARI CAMP IS CURRENTLY CLOSED First of all, a big thank you to all our clients who have stayed at Bird Safari Camp over the years and especially if you have taken the time to write a review on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately, we are currently experiencing some frustrating difficulties at the up-river lodge I built 15 years ago. This involves our Gambian director who should own 3% of the camp, but is claiming to be the sole proprietor based on flawed documents drawn up by our solicitor, his 'uncle', in 1998. Mr. Bithaye has been occupying the premises with his wife & family since July 2012 and is denying both me and our staff access to the company. He appears to have been backed by some unscrupulous men in high places, one of whom, the ex-Minister for Justice, has been remanded in jail and is facing various charges of corruption and misuse of power. We have discovered that over £12,000 of company property has gone missing since Mr. Bithaye has been residing at Bird Safari Camp; however, the police have taken no action against him. By contrast, it took them only a few hours to arrest me for "stealing" my own property when I recovered my solar-powered boat from the camp in November 2012! The boat is still being held by the police "on neutral territory", despite the fact that I have shown proof of ownership. A long awaited report by the Company Registrar came out recently; however, it is extremely biased towards the interests of Mr. Bithaye and despite the Registrar's own conclusion that "Mark Thompson could be considered as a bona fide director and shareholder of Bird Safari Camp", he is still refusing to register my shares and those of the other investors. Until that happens, we cannot legally remove Mr. Bithaye from the premises. We did operate my UK-registered tour operation, Hidden Gambia Holidays, last season (2012/13) - without Bird Safari Camp - as I wanted to honour our commitments to our existing clients (we even transferred all of our BSC staff to another lodge), but it just wasn't the same. The alternative accommodation in town isn't nearly as nice as Bird Safari Camp and whilst we made every effort to ensure that food & drink etc. was of a high standard, the overall experience fell far short of what we would like to offer. Given the current situation (August 2013) with no camp and no boat(!), I have decided to suspend our Hidden Gambia operations for the 2013/14 season, fight our legal battles in court - and hopefully resume business from November 2014. So, I'm sorry we won't be able to help out this winter, but provided all goes well, we'd love to welcome you up-river in 2014/15. Even if there's only a slight chance you might wish to join us, please register your details on our Hidden Gambia web site and I will keep you informed of developments. As a token of appreciation for your support, you will also receive an "early bird" discount on our 2014/15 holidays. Thanks again for your interest in staying at Bird Safari Camp. I hope to see you there soon and look forward to helping you plan your next holiday to The Gambia! Kind regards, Mark Thompson PS. Warm greetings also from Binta, Sam, Salif, LB, Yaya, Abdou, Isatou and the rest of our wonderful staff !
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Howie H wrote a review Jan 2013
Swanwick,
4.0 of 5 bubbles
We have recently returned to England after a fabulous 2 week holiday in The Gambia thanks largely to the superb organisation offered By Mark Thompson of the company Hidden Gambia. We asked to stay near the coast for a few days and then up river for 5 days and then the rest of the time near the coast. We didn't want to stay in the large hotels on the coast and Mark arranged for us to stay in eco-lodges throughout. We stayed at Farakunku lodge for 3 nights which had just 4 really nicely appointed "bungalows" and then wemade the trek up river via a combination of 4x4 and river boat stopping on the way at Tendaba camp which to be fair was a bit basic but hey it adds to the adventure. WE then spent 4 nights at the old town of Georgetown, now renamed Janjanbureh where the staff and the food, freshly prepared were excellent and very welcoming. The last 4 nights were at Footsteps lodge 25mins walk from the deserted beach. We wanted this to be a wildlife adventure and we were supplied with a nature guide (sometimes 2!) every day as well as a driver. They were superb and every day was different. We managed to see all the monkey species, crocodiles, hippos, bats, mongoose as wel as over 270 species of birds. If you decide to visit the Gambia, please don,t just stick around the tourist hotels but get out and see the wonderful country with its really friendly people. I highly recommend Mark Thompson and Hidden Gambia to enable you to get the best out of your time there
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Date of stay: January 2013
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
4.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
4.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
4.0 of 5 bubblesService
4.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
Room Tip: Go for the eco lodges. In addition to the 2 above, try Nemasu or Sandele or Kartong
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
boxtree wrote a review Mar 2012
england
4.0 of 5 bubbles
I can't really add much more to the 2 reviews before this one. Bird Safari Camp is a lovely experience, the river trip to get to the camp, the o/n in Tendaba camp and the people at the camp itself. I agree that the tents, half canvas and half brick with a royal throne room! are fantastic to stay in. Ours had local women outside most days, sitting by the river washing clothes and drying them on the bushes outside our tent.
We enjoyed the bird watching trips and the boat trips up river.
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Date of stay: February 2012
4.0 of 5 bubblesValue
4.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
3.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
4.0 of 5 bubblesService
3.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled with friends
Room Tip: The tents are best and take 'mossie' stuff.
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
bob_brewer wrote a review Nov 2011
Oxford
5.0 of 5 bubbles
My wife and I (and 2 other couples) spent 4 nights at the BSC. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and had a fantastic time there. The journey up river from the coast was mostly by solar powered boat, the Solar Queen, which comfortably held 9 tourists and a couple of staff and Mark, the owner. We saw plenty of birds, expertly spotted for us by our guide, Ansoo, and also a lot of monkeys and baboons. We spent a night at the Tendaba Camp, en route, and had an excellent boat ride through the mangroves, again with excellent guides. The night in a hut in the camp was very hot, but there was a pool which was a blessing. The next day we continued for a short time on the Solar Queen before transferring to an air-conditioned mini-bus for a short drive, before once again going on the river in smaller boat - the Lady Hippo.

We arrived at the Bird Safari Camp late and were welcomed by the staff who explained how everything worked. After the heat at Tendaba, we opted for tents which were relatively new and provided excellent accommodation. They looked out onto the river and included an ensuite bathroom, in which everything worked, although the shower only provided cold, or luke warm, water but in temperatures of over 30 degrees, that was all that was required. The food was, at worst, adequate and at best, very good and there was plenty of it. Ice cold beers and soft drinks and some excellent South African wines were always available. Breakfast was excellent with bread freshly baked on the spot.

All the staff were knowledgeable, cheerful and friendly and in particular, Ansoo, the guide and Binta who manages everything, could not have done more. Whatever we wanted to do was never too much of a problem and we were honoured to be invited to Binta's home in nearby Georgetown.

The swimming pool was large enough to allow everyone to swim in comfort and cool off during the heat of the day. There was (solar powered) electricity in our tents and sufficient light to be able to comfortably read a book and it was cool enough to require at least a sheet to sleep under.

All in all, we would recommend this to anyone who enjoys getting away from the crowds, particularly (but not exclusively) if there is a strong enthusiasm for watching the huge variety of birds which inhabit this area. We also saw hippos in the river, but the guide was careful not to take us too close! And on the return journey on the Solar Queen, we were accompanied for about 15 minutes by a school of dolphins! Even on the various boat trips, food was provided at the appropriate times and tea, coffee and cold drinks at all times. Well worth a visit.
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Date of stay: November 2011
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled with friends
Room Tip: At Bird Safari Camp, opt for the tents. They are newer, cooler and have an excellent view of the...
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
tinietje asked a question Apr 2019
Ostend, Belgium4 contributions1 helpful vote
Ik vraag mij af of dit kamp nog bestaat, volgens mij niet.
mariams55 asked a question Sep 2014
Sweden5 contributions4 helpful votes
Vad kostar det per person och natt?
Answer from Mark T
Janjanbureh, Gambia5 contributions4 helpful votes
Sorry, but Bird Safari Camp is currently closed and is being occupied by thieves. Do not go there.
CLPRtravel wrote a tip Mar 2013
Bedford, United Kingdom48 contributions28 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"If we had stayed at Bird Safari camp location would have been excellent."
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Howie H wrote a tip Jan 2013
Swanwick,3 contributions5 helpful votes
4.0 of 5 bubbles
"Go for the eco lodges. In addition to the 2 above, try Nemasu or Sandele or Kartong"
Read full review
Brenda K K wrote a tip Sep 2012
Canada1 contribution3 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"The tents by the river are great."
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peteduncan63 wrote a tip Mar 2012
Eyemouth, United Kingdom38 contributions54 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"Go for the tents rather than the huts"
Read full review
boxtree wrote a tip Mar 2012
england11 contributions10 helpful votes
4.0 of 5 bubbles
"The tents are best and take 'mossie' stuff."
Read full review
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LOCATION
GambiaCentral River DivisionJanjanbureh
NUMBER OF ROOMS
10
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BIRD SAFARI CAMP

Frequently Asked Questions about Bird Safari Camp
What are some of the property amenities at Bird Safari Camp?
Some of the more popular amenities offered include free wifi, a pool, and an on-site restaurant.
What food & drink options are available at Bird Safari Camp?
Guests can enjoy an on-site restaurant during their stay.
Are there opportunities to exercise at Bird Safari Camp?
Yes, guests have access to a pool during their stay.