The climate is very pleasant, although it can be perhaps a little hot inland in the period just before toubab or not toubab PDF just after the annual summer rains. However, for many, the big attraction about birding in The Gambia is the attitude of the local population that is friendly, and, for the most part, very helpful.
« Tu veux devenir un vrai coupeur de mains ? Un métier sûr, sans morte saison ! » Hondo, douze ans, mauritanien et orphelin, échoue à Abidjan, en Côte d’Ivoire, où il tombe sous la coupe d’un tandem de voleurs sanguinaires, qui, sous peine de mort immédiate, le contraignent à participer à leurs sinistres activités. Pour échapper à leur emprise, le jeune garçon décide de les livrer à la police – mais se retrouve lui-même emprisonné. Il réussit pourtant à s’évader en compagnie de Boubakar, un enfant-soldat surnommé Colonel Jackson, qui a participé à la guérilla en Sierra Leone. Désormais, lâchés sans protection dans la grande ville cruelle et indifférente, il va leur falloir survivre, entre les parias, les autorités corrompues et les « toubabs », ces Blancs libidineux qui ont tous, à un moment ou un autre, leur « quart d’heure colonial ».
Hotels in The Gambia range from adequate to very good. As in all things, you get what you pay for. The Atlantic Hotel is a little out on a limb being close to the capital Banjul. However, it has its own bird garden, is close to the Bund road. There are several hotels, Kombo Beach, Bungalow Beach and the Badala Park that offer good birding just a short walk from the hotel in the Kotu area. The Senegambia has large grounds with a corresponding large bird population.
Almost anywhere in The Gambia is good for birds, especially if you have never been before. Every little patch of rough ground seems to have its own specialities like the black-shouldered kite in the rough ground between the main road to the Senegambia Hotel and the sea. A damp patch on this same piece of ground produced one morning practically every Gambian heron and egret plus spoonbills. A good guide can be a great help, especially if you are looking for a particular bird. The problem in The Gambia is that the local enterprise culture has found that a lot of tourists come to The Gambia to watch birds and that there is money to be made as a guide. If you appear outside your hotel with binoculars around your neck, potential guides will soon surround you. Some are good and really know their stuff, but many know little about bird recognition or where best to find birds.