Tour Dates: Monday 6th – Tuesday 14th January 2025 (Blaise Diagne to Blaise Diagne)
Tour Price: £2,499pp plus flight
Estimated Flight Price: London to Blaise Diagne approx. £600 return
Deposit: £600 per per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £150 – £200
Minimum Number: 6 people
Maximum Group Size: 7 people
Target Species: Quail-Plover, Golden Nightjar, Scissor-tailed Kite, White-crested Tiger Heron, Arabian Bustard, Black-crowned Crane, Cricket Warbler, River Prinia, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Little Grey Woodpecker, Sennar Penduline Tit, Temminck’s Courser and a good selection of commoner West African and Sahelian specialities.
Senegal is a great winter birding destination and is relatively new to visiting bird tour groups, yet it is home to some world class birds and one of the best birding spectacles! For a number of years now, it has been known that Scissor-tailed Kites and Lesser Kestrels roost in huge numbers in Senegal and it is with this in mind that we created our itinerary. The sight of several hundred and even thousands of raptors at one roost site is surely, a must see for any birder. Of course there are many other quality birds that can be difficult to find elsewhere in the world which will be high on our hit list. Theses include two rarely seen species, the Quail Plover and the mystical Golden Nightjar. Our local guide’s knowledge, will give us an excellent chance of finding these masters of camouflage. This tour allows for some good photographic opportunities of may of the Sahel specialities as well as numerous winter visitors from Europe and North Africa.
ACCOMMODATION: 8 nights in Senegal
1 night Thies, 2 nights Podor, 2 nights Saint Louis, 1 night Kaolack, 2 nights Toubacouta
Inclusive Meals: Full board
DAY 1: Arrival Blaise Diagne – Thies
After arriving into Blaise Dagne international airport, we will take a short transfer of 45 minutes to our comfortable hotel where we spend the night. Overnight Thies
DAY 2: Thies – Podor
This morning we will be out early as we have a long but exciting travel day ahead of us. We will travel north through the Sahel region until we reach the southern banks of the Senegal River and the frontier town of Richard Toll. Here, we continue east to the remote town of Podor where the dry acacias and semi-desert habitats hold two of our key target species. Our journey will take us through some diverse habitats as we see the first of many impressive Baobab trees and then further on our journey we travel through wooded acacia and savanna habitats. Sahelian specialities such as Long-tailed Glossy and Chestnut-bellied Starlings are sure to be seen as well as numerous commoner species such as Hooded Vulture, African Grey Hornbill, Pied Crow, Abyssinian Roller, Rufous-crowned Roller and Little Bee-eaters to name just a few. Once we arrive at Richard Toll, we will see the banks of the lush Senegal River valley and we will make various birding stops en route. By late afternoon we head further east to the remote town of Podor, bordering Mauritania where the habitat becomes noticeably arid. By the end of the day we should have seen a good mix of Sahel specialities and West African endemics, despite being mostly a travel day. Overnight Podor
DAY 3: Podor Region
Today we will start very early as this is the best time for bird activity before the hot wind from the Sahara creates more challenging conditions in this remote part of Senegal. We will be focusing our effort on finding the specialities of the semi-desert environment. Cricket Warbler should be fairly easy to find and with some effort we should also find the range restricted Little Grey Woodpecker and Sennar Penduline Tit, both of which feed within the numerous acacia trees. However, it is Golden Nightjar that will be the real prize! We have an excellent chance of finding a day roosting bird with our local guide’s knowledge of the area and some perseverance. Of course we will also be looking for many commoner species such as Black Scrub Robin, Senegal Eremomela, Senegal Batis, Black-crowned Sparrow-lark, Pygmy Sunbird and White-rumped Seedeater. Overnight Podor
DAY 4: Podor – Saint Louis
We will have a final morning to try for Golden Nightjar if we have been unsuccessful by this point, before we head back west to the St Louis region. We will make a number of birding stops en route remaining alert whilst travelling particularly in the grassland areas we pass through where, with luck, we have a reasonable chance of seeing Savile’s Bustard. We will also visit a number of wetland areas as we continue our journey west, one of which will be the Trois-Margiots in the lower Senegal Delta. Here, we should find a good selection of wetland species including African Pygmy Goose, Black Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Black Crake, African Swamphen as well as a chance of the much scarcer and nomadic Allen’s Gallinule. Overnight near Saint Louis
DAY 5: Djoudj National Park
A full day exploring the fabulous Djoudj NP where we will look for the scarce Arabian Bustard, River Prinia, Black-crowned Crane and see the amazing spectacle of thousands of wildfowl and Flamingos. We will take a boat trip to see the impressive breeding colony of Great White Pelicans and then rest a while during the heat of the day and have lunch. The afternoon will be spent targeting any species that we have missed during the morning. We also have a good chance of seeing some mammals including African Golden Wolf. Overnight near Saint Louis
DAY 6: Saint Louis – Kaolack
Today we will be looking for a very special species, the Quail Plover. It is a highly sought after species due to its skulking nature and impressive camouflage. Similar in appearance to a miniature Courser, we will try hard to find this intriguing bird with our local guide. Of course whilst searching for the Quail Plover we are sure to see plenty of other species associated with the dry grassland and thorn scrub such as Cut-throat Finch, Desert Cisticola and Singing Bush Lark. During our journey south to Kaolack we will be keeping an eye open for the Sahel Paradise Whydah! Overnight Kaolack
DAY 7: Kaolack to Saloum Delta
If we were unsuccessful with the Quail-Plover or Sahel Paradise Whydah, we will depart early and head north (approx 2 hrs) to try again and return to our hotel for lunch. If we were successful, we can enjoy a more relaxed start and do some birding within 45 minutes of the hotel where we may find Savile’s Bustard and other grassland species as well as a chance of Verreuax’s Eagle Owl and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
During the afternoon we should be enjoying a raptor spectacle! The beautiful Scissor-tailed Kite is an impressive raptor to see anytime and even more so when in such large numbers. At this time of year, a communal roost of anywhere from several hundred to several thousand birds has remained faithful to this area. We will arrive in good time as the sky is covered in swarms of birds heading into roost! Equally impressive numbers of Lesser Kestrels are also likely to be seen roosting in the area. We will then take the journey of around 1 hour south to our fabulous hotel in the Saloum Delta. It is located on the outskirts of Toubakouta with wonderful views of the impressive mangrove habit. Overnight Toubakouta
DAY 8: Saloum Delta
Depending on the tide, we will take a boat trip on the delta, either in the morning or the late afternoon. The boat is just a short walk from our hotel and we will be enjoying some great birding in the vast mangroves of the Saloum Delta National Park. The park is just north of the Gambian border and is a World Heritage Site and home to many great birds. Species we will be looking for during the boat trip include the often tricky to find White-crested Tiger Heron as well as other specialities like Goliath Heron, Mangrove Sunbird and maybe West African Crested Tern too. During our time in the Saloum Delta, we will also do some general birding just a short drive from our hotel where many new birds await us in this new habitat. Species we hope to see include African Golden Oriole, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Yellow-throated Greenbul, African Quailfinch, Pin-tailed Whydah and much more. huge mangrove. Overnight Toubakouta
DAY 9: Saloum Delta – Blaise Diagne
Today we have the whole morning to enjoy more birding in and around the Toubakouta area. If unsuccessful with seeing the heron, we can take another boat trip or we may have time to visit another area for Yellow Penduline Tit and a possibility of Bronze-winged Coursers. Raptors should also play a big part of the morning as we look for species like Martial Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle and Bedouin’s Snake Eagle. We will then have lunch at our hotel and have time for a shower and packing before our transfer to the airport where the tour concludes.
Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides
Leaders: Wise Birding leader plus local guide
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals, bottled water, all entrance fees, boat trip, ground transport and services of leaders
Not included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than water and any airport/visa fees
Single Supplement: £199
Transport: A/C Minibus
Difficulty: Easy The walking throughout the tour is relatively easy going with flat terrain. We will cover a few kilometres each day when searching for Golden Nightjar and Quail Plover.
Climate: Generally hot and dry with temperature in the mid 20s degrees Celsius.
Tour Start Point: Blaise Diagne International airport, Senegal
Tour End Point: Blaise Diagne International airport, Senegal
Suggested Airlines: Air France or Royal Air Maroc.