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Janjanbureh
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Reviewed December 7, 2009

Having read some some terrible reviews about Bird Safari Camp on this website, I felt the need to give my opinion and redress the balance.

Myself, wife and grown-up daughter stayed at the camp for a full week as part of a two week holiday organised by Hidden Gambia. Our trip up to BSC was for a mixture of birdwatching and a chance to see the more rural side to Gambia. The birding was excellent, with excellent and knowledgeable guides provided. My wife, who is not as avid a birder as myself and daughter was delighted at the other options available to her, such a visit to a local village, drumming lessons and cooking African style. These were all provided as part of the holiday at no extra charge.

We were able to choose when we did what so there was no pressure to do anything if all you wanted to do was lounge around on the jetty and watch the world go by. When we did want to do something it was all arranged around us.

All the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. Nothing seemed to be too much bother for them and they would even sit in the bar at night chatting to the guests.

The huts and tents were perfectly adequate accomodation, providing you weren't expecting five-star luxury as it would seem some people were judging by previous reviews. All electricity is by solar power, so there are lights in the huts and tents all night, warm water for showers and places available to charge up camera batteries etc. There is also internet access for anyone who wants it.

Mosquitos were not a problem for us, but there are mosquito nets for all beds and the huts and tents are sprayed inside in the evening.

The pool uses river water but is cleaned and treated every day and is pleasant for a cooling dip in the heat of the day.

Date of stay: November 2009
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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1  Thank MARLEEDS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 5, 2009

I have just returned from a four night stay in the safari camp, am fifty nine and have a very bad hip. We traveled independently. Notwithstanding, the hotel staff were very considerate helping me on and off the boats to get to and from the camp and on a river trip where we saw chimps, red and green monkeys, hippos, yellow bat and many coloured birds. Having said I was not a bird enthusiast but a gardener, the bird guide proceeded to tell me all about the mahogany, raffia, mango and kapok trees.

The swimming pool with river water was lovely and cleaned daily. Birds and monkeys can all be seen around the pool.

Food was excellent, all cooked over charcoal and wood fires. Likewise Mamadou's daily hot baguettes were delicious. Marc the manager's commitment to ecological, socially responsible and culturally appropriate tourism and local employment was impressive.

I could say a lot more but finally, Bintah, the deputy manager worked her socks off to make our stay enjoyable and the kitchen manager especially and all the staff were terrific. We made some great banana cakes together.

Almost forgot, there was nightly entertainment from a Fula story telling dance and music group and drumming lit by a fire on a moonlit stage, being a clearing in the trees on which the nightly moon shines down.

The accommodation was fine enough and importantly, netted well and sprayed nightly.

Either you get the place or you don't. There is more to life than luxury bathroom fittings.

Date of stay: December 2009
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1  Thank LondonPP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 17, 2009

Having decided that I wanted to see rural Gambia as an independent traveller the question was how to achieve this? Having arranged to fly out with Thomas Cook (passengers packed in like sardines) and staying first at Bintang Bolong, I contacted Hidden Gambia who made the rest of the holiday happen.

Mark who runs the business, is a very effective organiser and enthusiastic about the area. I managed to travel where and when I wanted to but he put the travel arrangements together - a mixture of boats and road. We arrived at Bird Safari Camp on the island after dark and the trip up the River Gambia was a combination of hippos and roosting birds in late afternoon and an atmospheric sail in the dark under starry skies.

The camp itself is excellent. I stayed in one of the riverside safari tents complete with running water. Plenty of space. The main building is where guests have food (very good) and at breakfast they make their own bread fresh from the wood oven.

With only 2 nights there I could have done with another one but I had to move on. Mark included a trip to a quarry on the south bank of the river where there are bee eaters and on the return we stopped off at a local market. Absolutely fascinating and there is no hassle.

On the way back down river we stopped off a stone circles and spent some time observing the birds at the wetlands.

If you want to get away from crowded beach restorts, bumsters, and explore the real Gambia, talk to Hidden Gambia. You will not be disappointed.

Date of stay: November 2009
  • Trip type: Traveled solo
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1  Thank BobCScotinWales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2009

I peruse Tripadvisor when planning holidays but have never produced a review, and so thought I'd better make a contribution.
Being a constant user of the site I quite often find that the opinions of reviewers do not tally with my experiences. They often seem to say as much about the reviewer as they do about the faciliity.
I allowed "Hidden Gambia" to organise our visit and used Bird Safari Camp as our main base. I am a manic bird watcher and have nomally signed up with specialist avian groups. They can be a bit myopic and the groups, while knowledgeable, somewhat overbearing. Zealous members often dominate the guide. Thought I would like a change. "Hidden Gambia" seemed to be good value.
The boat jouneys up river were exceptional. and the guide was certainly an expert and extremely helpful. Food and drink were supplied as part of the package.
The overnight stop at a rather run down Tandaba, was worth it for the boat trip around the mangroves.
Bird Safari Camp was a joy. The staff always friendly, the accommodation excellent and the food well prepared and tasty. The fresh bread and pizzas a real treat. It is an eco-camp with an ever increasing number of solar panels.
On occasions we did not have water in the morning. This was caused by visitors leaving taps running overnight and draining the system. Not a huge problem as it topped up again when the sun came up, which it always does. We had bottled water for drinking and teeth, and filled a couple of containers to overcome this early morning hitch. People like the idea of eco and solar but forget to turn off taps and then complain. I sometimes worry about the antics of the "white tribe". I believe the camp has now invested in a huge new holding tank which will solve a problem that should not have existed.
Our fellow visitors had a variety of interests and proved to be good company. We spent so much time mixing and conversing with staff and guests, that we forgot why we were there. Heresy.
The bird watching was great , and at times we had the guide to ourselves. A real bonus.
Many excursions, some by boat, were part of the deal and incurred no extra costs. The visit to Basse is a must. Much of the "safari" can occur near the camp and on foot. River bank, rice fields, and a variety of woodland habitats surround you. We saw three Verreaux Eagle Owls roosting five minutes walk from our boundary.
If you are a bird person or not, want a swimming pool, enjoy good company, relax amongst a wonderful staff, stay at a spectacular location with good facilities and not pay the earth, then try Bird Safari Camp, Janjanbureh.

Date of stay: February 2009
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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1  Thank garregsiglo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 2, 2009

We first became aware of Mark Thompson and his 'Hidden Gambia' at the British Bird Watching Fair at Rutland in 2006. At that time we saw the trip options he had to offer but put The Gambia on the back burner. On visiting the Gambia stand the following year we decided to book a holiday with him which we took in November 2008. We now wish we had gone earlier as the trip is amongst the best we have taken.
If you have a sense of adventure and don't mind the simple things in life then this trip may well be for you. I do not need to go into detail as there are other reviews that cover what Mark has to offer and how things operate, suffice to say that if you do your homework and read about the 'Discover the River' itinery you will have a pretty good idea what to expect. You may find a pretty negative review in these trip advisor pages but I can assure you that this surprised me very much, perhaps the reviewer approached the trip in the wrong frame of mind or failed to read ahead, expecting a bit of luxury.
On booking you may choose between a large tent with screened off shower and loo or a round hut. It seems that the tents are cooler at night as the walls of the huts hold the heat of the day. We chose a tent but both are comfortable and the choice is really down to personal preference. The tents do give a feeling of being close to nature as you can lie in bed listening to lizards scurrying over the canvas and hearing the pitter patter of monkey poo falling from the high trees above, this, together with the sound of the river gliding by a few yards away and the distand 'put-putting' of a fishermans outboard is what the Bird Safari Camp is all about.
Meals are taken together with other guests and the fare on offer is fine, well cooked and very tasty local food. You can even go to the market in Janjangbureh (Georgetown) with the cook to choose your food! All the staff are friendly and will do all they can to help or point you in the right direction.
You will not need 'good' clothes for the evenings, it's not that sort of place. It is also a good idea to take cleaning equipment for your camera gear and binoculars as the dust, away from the camp gets everywhere, also take enough memory cards or film as they are not available up river.,
Don't get me wrong, we had the odd minor problem (plumbing) but Mark and the staff either sorted it out there and then, or had it fixed by the time we had returned for lunch.
You are welcome to view my Gambia photos on flickr to give you an idea of what to expect. (www.flickr.com/photos/latherspics)
All in all a thoroughly enjoyably holiday with wildlife, particularly birds in abundance, wholeheartedly recommended, just take it in context and without comparisons to the Ritz!

Date of stay: November 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Paul L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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