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“Good choice hotel for Kotu”
Review of Bakotu Hotel

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Bakotu Hotel
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level 4 Contributor
39 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Good choice hotel for Kotu”
Reviewed 14 August 2014

We went to Gambia for the first time in November 2013 and stayed at the Bakotu hotel, attracted by the idea of staying in a smaller scale hotel with huts next to the lake, and in fact on arrival we were given just that, quiet though under a huge Baobab tree which was alive with many birds. This is a bird paradise so if you are interested there is a bird man at the hotel or you can get a tour from the cheaper (but no less informed) guides down by the bridge. The hotel also has a family of vervet monkeys who come down to visit and will accept food.

This is Gambia so everyone wants to know you to make friends with you, sell you something, introduce you to their family and ask for charity, for instance the fruit lady we met who wanted us to sponsor her twins' education at the local school. Beware of all this although the requests may be genuine unless you can really commit and see it through, and even then perhaps the money you send could not necessarily go to your intended cause as there is a lot of confusion here in society with men fathering children and leaving the women behind to care for them, but perhaps ready to take the money you send them for their own interests. There are organised charities to help use the money you provide constructively if you want to ensure it goes towards your intended purpose.

The economy is rich in food being next to the Gambia river so no one starves here as far as I know, but the economy is weird and still unstable with the current "president" an ardent muslim who does some good things but also has some cranky views and people are struggling to make a living. This country also has a strong association with the slave trade, being arranged around the Gambia river through past capitalisations of this route for the transport of slaves out of Africa. As a result perhaps there is a strong rastafarian trend amongst the young people and quite a lot of ganja smoking and talk of freedom etc.

The Gambian people are mostly very pleasant and only trying to make a living, but you will be overwhelmed with friends and have to learn how to say no and pass people by. The hotel will become your sanctuary as no one from the road is allowed inside.

In the hotel there is supposed to be a giant tortoise, though we never saw it. However they do seem to breed tortoises in a garden to the side of the hotel.

The rooms are basic. Ours had a double bed and bathroom consisting of tiled room with shower and sink all quite basic but fine. The hotel staff were all lovely. The lights are powered by the grid but the hotel generator kicks in if there is a power cut. There is no TV or fridge.

You can also go out on a raised T-shaped jetty that gives you a view of the lake which is a lovely spot to sit at towards the end of the day.

The Captain's Table which is next to the hotel and can be accessed from it without going on to the street is probably the best place to eat here, though if you go directly opposite to the corral there is a really good Indian restaurant.

For taxis if you want to go somewhere like Kololi you must use the official taxis which are regulated by a soft police presence. There are always guys trying to get you go to in their car but you may find the car stopped and then you are redirected to one of the official taxis. The official ones cost no more and there are guys who wait all day respectfully for their turn in the queue to make some money so ignore the freeloaders and go for the guys who are trying to make a fair living and play fair.

There are no banks so take cash and change it across the road at the local official exchange or maybe get a better rate round the corner. No one seems bothered about black market money so just look for the best rate.

There are some other more luxurious hotels apart from Bakotu in Kotu where you can get wide screen TVs and night entertainment, but Bakotu is quiet and pleasant, with a small pool and pleasant staff who are all very obliging. If you want internet you can just go to one of the other hotels to get it, but my choice in Kotu having been there once would be to stay at Bakotu, and in fact I am thinking I might just do that when the winter winds in England kick in again around November time and the warmth of Gambia beckons :)

Room Tip: Most rooms are huts. You may choose to have one nearer the pool or towards the back by the lake. I t...
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  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
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80 reviews
79 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 116 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 April 2014 via mobile

Stayed for one week at the end of April. Around 700 dalasi for a taxi from the airport. Hotel based across the road from the beach which you access through a small craft market. Although to avoid the bumsters we went through Kombo Beach hotel to get to the beach.

Beautiful gardens surrounding the rooms and hotel. Bird watching platform towards the rear of the hotel where you can also see the family of green vervet monkeys. There are also tortoises that get fed around lunch time and when they all come out.

Pool is lovely and quiet and set in lovely gardens. There's are bar that serves drinks and lunches during the day. Breakfast was ok, there are 3 types - Baobab which is bread rolls, cheese, fruit, jam and egg. Or and American or English which is pretty much the same - bacon, beans, egg, fried potatoes. Gets a bit repetitive but it's ok. The Captains Table restaurant is next to the hotel, we ate there once but it did take a long time for the food to come. We also ate at Ninki Nanka, Sailor and Tandoor, all of which I would recommend.

The room was basic, just bed and bathroom with small area to hang a few clothes and some chairs. No fridge, air con, fan, tv, tea/coffee (although you can get this from the bar). We were in room N1 and it gets quite stuffy at night, you get used to it though and I think you can hire a fan. All rooms have a terrace or balcony. Beds were comfy. If you want the room cleaned you need to leave your key at reception, otherwise the cleaners will not come.

You can change money at reception or at a few places across the road. There's also a mini supermarket at the hotel which does all the essentials.

Bakotu is pretty quiet at night so we went to Kombo Hotel most nights which had some evening entertainment and a few bars. We also went over there for wifi as Bakotu doesn't have any internet access.

The only annoyance is the bumsters who pounce on you as soon as you leave the hotel and or the beach. They offer you welcome bracelet, taxis, trips, reggae parties, want to take you to their shop or restaurant etc. It gets really tiring. My advice is if you don't want to engage with them, be firm, say no or even say you've been to Gambia before, or even lied about which hotel we were staying in, which we resorted to in the end. If they know you've just arrived or never been before they will not leave you alone. Many people do use these guys for trips etc, but it's not for everyone. Fortunately the hotel is a safe haven. Do not get tricked on the street by people claiming to know you from the hotel, the real hotel staff are told not to approach guests outside of the hotel, anyone who does are con men and want money. Just remember this is Africa and it is a poor country. So be firm but kind.

From the other local hotels we popped into, Bakotu was by far the best. Yes it is basic, but it is true escape from all things back home, which is why this comes top.

Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Worcester, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 April 2014

Subject: Bakotu Hotel
Location: Kotu, Banjul Division, Gambia, Africa
Title: Birdwatching break at Bakotu Hotel
ID#: 201891086

We made a late booking to stay at the Bakotu Hotel in Kotu because of the excellent reviews we had read about the opportunities for bird watching. The hotel itself was really good and relaxing. Small, friendly, clean and very well situated for local restaurants, beach and adjacent to excellent bird watching on the rice fields. The restaurant in the hotel 'Captain's Table' was very good although the lunch time menus in the bar were unimaginative. We had no problem with the breakfasts and take outs for an early start were more than adequate. Staff in the hotel were polite and friendly. We felt very safe throughout our stay although bumpsters outside can be a little annoying. Our room in the grounds was pretty basic but nevertheless clean with plenty of hot water and clean linen. We understood that rooms of a superior type were available around the pool area but we specifically wanted one close to the viewing platform for the birds.

We had heard that some birding guides were better than others so we booked Musa Manneh on the internet before we left on the strength of 5 star reviews we had read about him. We were not disappointed: he thoroughly deserved his 5 stars. He was very knowledgable; had amazing spotting skills; could call birds to order and was a pleasure to be with. He took us out on trips to areas based on the birds we specifically wanted to see. He organised transport and reserve fees. He was punctual, well dressed, polite and his main aim was to please us - his clients. He showed a lot of patience ensuring we had good views of the birds. We have no hesitation in recommending him, indeed we intend to return to the same hotel and book him again.
Local guides on Kotu bridge are numerous - but be warned, they all talk well, but some are much better than others. We thought we had completed our bird watching, intending to spend our last day on the beach, but on the evening on the bridge Mamadou Jallow talked us into one last day day trip with him to Farasuto - a reserve close to his home - that he is trying to develop. This turned out to be yet another excellent day! So we can also recommend Mamadou if you intend to choose a local guide from the bridge.
Altogether a wonderful holiday with lots of amazing birds.

Room Tip: Tips: Money is filthy - always clean your hands after using. Take pound coins for tips. Tell bumpste...
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Mildenhall, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
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common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 April 2014

Ok!!…here we go!!

This is a trip report on a family “birding holiday” taken in The Gambia, during the last week of Feb and the first week of March this year.

I’m sure you have read all the other reports, so I won’t bore you with travelling details. All I will say is we took a package deal with Thomas Cook. We stayed at The Bakotu Hotel in Kotu. This is probably the main hotel for visiting birders to the Gambia now, (taking over from the Senegambia Hotel). We even had Chris Packham staying here at the same time!! It is a quiet hotel with no TV’s, music or entertainment, which adds to its appeal!! (however, if you want all of that, you can cross the road & use an alternative hotel) very chilled & laid back. The staff are great and are always friendly and helpful. Your room is laid out similar to a local tribal home, very well done with the option to hire a fridge if needed. The grounds are full of birds and wildlife. Sit around the pool late afternoon/early evening and you will enjoy the sight of Broad-billed Rollers, Common Bulbul, Beautiful Sunbirds & Gambian Fruit Bats! coming down to drink, (the Fruit Bats roost in the Captains Table restaurant at The Bakotu!!). The resident troop of Green Vervet Monkeys will keep you entertained around the grounds, but don’t feed them, they can get rather feisty and they have some rather impressive gnashers on them!! The Nile Monitors however are no problem at all, an impressive lizard reaching 6ft in length!

Although decent birds can be seen all around the hotel grounds, the main spot the resident birders gather at is on the viewing platform overlooking Kotu Creek itself. This spot comes into its own during the very hot afternoons, especially on returning to the hotel after a mornings birding with your guide, (more on that later!!). Daily encounters from the platform included Spur-winged Lapwing, Wattled Lapwing, Senegal Thick-knee, Greenshank, Redshank, Grey Plover, various Sandpipers, Blue-bellied Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Blue-bellied Roller, Little Bee-eaters, Hooded Vulture, Palm-nut Vulture, Shikra, Grey-headed Gull, Caspian Tern, plus countless Herons, Egrets, Ibis and Spoonbills & lots more!!!

The hotel grounds also offer access to the Fajara Golf Course, saving a long walk around to the entrance. As golf courses go this one is awful!!, how anybody can enjoy a game on this sparse course is beyond me!! (and I used to play quite a bit!!). However the birding is worthwhile with Violet Turaco, Double Spurred Francolin, various Sunbirds, Rollers, Kingfishers, waders, Woodpeckers, Glossy Starlings, plus lots more easily seen. We also had Red-necked Falcon (the only one of the holiday). The golf course is also noted as a regular site for Black-headed Lapwing, we failed to see them there but we did get good views at several other sites.

The area known as Kotu creek is a fantastic area for birding. Several trip reports and web sites have suggested that the area is no longer good for birds!! Rubbish!! If you came here on a family, (non birding) holiday and treated this area as your `patch` you could achieve 100+ species with a little effort. The sewerage pits still attract many different species and with a little `local knowledge` you can connect with goodies such as Greater Painted Snipe, Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill. The Gambian Bird Guides Association have a `garden` set up on the edge of the rice paddies, here you can take a break, have a cold soda or a hot tea & watch the many birds that visit the site. Here we had Yellow-billed Shrike, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Grey Woodpecker, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Grey Backed Eremomela, Shikra & lots more.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE.

If you want to maximise your efforts while in The Gambia you will need plenty of local knowledge!!. This comes in the shape of a `local bird guide`. There is certainly no shortage of them!!!, especially in the Kotu area. At `the bridge` the Gambian Bird Guides Association have a hut which is filled with guides of varying expertise!! All of them will approach you on the bridge to try and convince you that they are the guide for you!! and unless you are prepared to spend a couple of hours haggling over your desired itinerary against the max amount you are prepared to spend, you are better off pre-booking a guide long before you set off on holiday. Lets be honest, without any information on your guide it is pot luck as to how good they are!! Be warned there are plenty of time wasters, (and excellent guides to be fair!!), in The Gambia.

I, as most travelling birders do, trolled the internet for months gleaning information about the best places to visit, when to go, where to stay, etc, etc. A guide who’s name cropped up on several trip reports was a local birder called Ebou Barry. I emailed him with a list of desired species and desired destinations. After a few emails back & forth, everything was arranged and still 10 months to `lift off`!!!. Transport was included in all our trips out as Ebou has 2 vehicles including a 4x4, which was needed most of the time!!

On arrival in The Gambia, Ebou met me at the hotel and arranged to take us out the following morning around the Kotu creek area as an introduction to Gambian birds. He also confirmed our schedule during our stay. This was tailored to our needs as my wife has an knee replacement surgery coming up. Ebou is an excellent birder who has an abundance of knowledge from where to find birds, identifying them from calls and of course visually. Always on time, speaks excellent English and has plenty of patience. Whether you are a novice or expert birder, Ebou will bird accordingly. You are paying not only for his knowledge of birds but also his `local knowledge`, those extra special moments such has kneeling 2ft from roosting Long-tailed Nightjars or the site of roosting Verreaux`s Eagle Owls, Northern White-faced Owl, African Wood Owl, or that special spot for Western Bluebill, Pin-tailed Whydah, the list goes on!! The exact itinerary I will break down later in this piece.

So, the bottom line as far as guides goes!!!…. I have birded around the world and have used `local guides` to enhance my visits on many occasions. Ebou is one of the best we have had! Apart from the points previously mentioned, he is good fun to be with, great sense of humour and a great pride for his country and its wildlife, though a dodgy taste in music!! I thoroughly recommend him. His contact details are as follows, (don’t hang around though!! He gets booked up quickly from November- April).

Website: Bird Tours Gambia www.birdtoursgambia.com

Email address: eboubarry@yahoo.co.uk ( be patent it usually takes a few days between replies, the internet is not as widely available as it is in Europe!)

Telephone: (+220) 71 61 202








Our itinerary arranged with Ebou was as follows, Ebou arranged all accommodations, entry fees.

Day 1: Kotu creek area, 07.30-12.30, and Badala rice fields / cycle track, 16.00-19.00.

Day 2: Abuko Forest, 07.30-14.00.

Day 3: Brufut Woods, 07.30-12.00, vulture feed at the Senegambia Hotel, 13.00-15.00.

Day 4: Tanji Beach, 15.00-18.00, Kotu Ponds, 18.15-19.30.

Day 5: Mandinaba, Farasutu & Bonto Forest, 07.00-15.00.

Day 6: Travelling from Kotu - Georgetown via Bansong Quarry & multitude of stops, all day.

Day 7: Georgetown river trip, 08.00-11.30, and north bank via Wassau & multitude of stops to ferry crossing at Farafenni then on to Tendaba. All day

Day 8: Tendaba boat trip, 08.00-11.00, and Kiang West national park. Rest of day

Day 9: Kiang West National park, Pirang Shrimp Farm, drive back to Kotu. All day.

Day 10: Cape Point and The Bunt Road, 15.30-19.00.

Day 11: Day off!!! On excursion with Thomas Cook

Day 12: Day off!!!! Shopping!!! Well!!!…. Gotta keep the wife happy!!!

Day 13: Tujering Woods, 07.30-10.30.

Day 14: Flight home.

We finished the holiday with 251 species, of which 180 were new species for me, (obviously my first visit to a sub Saharan African country!!!). For the time of year, I am more than happy with that. If you want 300+ you will need to visit November-end January. With Xmas/ New Year being the optimum time. I am an experienced birder/ringer with 35 years birding behind me, and I think that without a guide I might, (with a bit of luck and a following wind!!), have struggled to 190-200. We missed the `star birds` of Egyptian Plover and Carmine Bee-eater as both species had left Gambia for their nesting areas by mid February. Our holiday list is at the end of this report.

`Upcountry` Accommodation:

On our trip inland we stayed at Baobolong Beach in Georgetown for one night. This basic `camp` is excellent. As I hinted, the rooms are basic but comfortable with en suite shower/toilet and mosquito nets. The cost is @£7.00 per person per night including breakfast. Evening meal was very good and plenty of it, cost @£3.50!!. The staff are very friendly and are happy to help in any way they can. The `camp` also has the added bonus of being situated on the southern bank of the Gambian River, giving the opportunity to bird until dark. We had Bronze-tailed Starling, Swamp Flycatcher, African Scops Owl (calling), Hamerkop, Red-throated Bee-eater plus lots more at the `camp`. Ebou had also arranged our boat trip the following day to leave from the `camp`, which made life a lot easier. The boat trip lasted @ 3 ½ hours, on a small, comfortable boat with just the 5 of us onboard. We were taken along the main river and ventured down small tributaries in search of some of the specialities of the area. We were treated to views of African Finfoot, Malachite Kingfishers, African Fish Eagles White-faced Whistling Duck, plus many more. The trip also gave both my wife & son their holiday high point with great views of both Guinea Baboons and African Hippopotamus!!

Tendaba Camp is well known to most visiting birders!! It is in a great position, sandwiched between the tidal portion of the Gambia River and Kiang West National Park. Every morning at Tendaba starts with a boat trip into the opposite mangroves, (this was pre-booked by Ebou). Target birds on this trip are Mouse-brown Sunbird, White-backed Night Heron, African Finfoot, and Blue Flycatcher. A word of warning though, if you are still chasing African Finfoot DON’T go on the low tide trip. At low tide the boat can’t make it down the small tributaries that the Finfoot likes. Luckily, we had it at Georgetown.

The rooms at Tendaba are excellent value. Again with en suite shower/toilet and mosquito nets, comfortable beds and your chalet is set in lovely grounds. They even have a good sized swimming pool!! The breakfast is good and quite filling, lunch buffet or menu are ok. Cheap, however be prepared for a wait!! We waited over 90 minutes for our three lunches to appear. The final word of warning at Tendaba is, when you purchase anything you get the option to pay for it straight away or put it on a room tab. DO NOT PUT IT ON YOUR ROOM TAB!!! When you get your bill before you depart you will be amazed at the number of drinks you are charged for! I apparently consumed 43 soft drinks in 2 days!! You wont win any argument, so pay as you go!!

Random Thoughts & Conclusions:

The food in The Gambia is for the most part excellent. Obviously you would expect that in the hotels and generally it is! (maybe one or two exceptions!). While on our travels `up country`, we ate in little make shift shacks on the roadside or in local markets. Don’t expect a menu!! Whatever the owner has cooked that morning is what your going to get. Generally meaning Beef Domades, a peanut based beef curry. The word beef is used quite loosely as I never found any `meat` in my curries but bits of intestine, tongue and god knows what!! Having said that, the curries were very tasty and a large bowl of rice and curry, a mere 50P!!!. Push the `meat` to one side and steam in. None of us had any stomach problems during our holiday.

Opposite the Bakotu Hotel is an area with various craft stalls, taxi rank and mini supermarket, all worth a visit. You will meet some great characters. Don’t be rude or ignore these people, they are just trying to make a living and they will give you all the time in the world, (along with some great bargains if you put a little effort in). Two restaurants are also here; Ali babas pizzeria, which cooks a lot more than just pizzas. An extensive menu is on offer from pizzas, pasta, local fresh fish, steaks, salads and lots more. We ate here often and found the food, service, atmosphere and value for money excellent. None of us had any stomach upsets from eating here. Again I thoroughly recommend it. Next door to Ali Babas is a tandoori Indian restaurant. We ate here on a couple of occasions, (my birthday and our final night).
Now… being Brits we love our curry and we know the difference between a good one and a bad one!!! I can honestly say it’s the best Indian we have eaten outside of India!!!!! The Goan fish curry and the Himalayan balti are to die for!!! Enjoy!!!

A Gambian restaurant a few doors down from the Bakotu Hotel is called `Boss Lady‘. They cook only Gambian dishes and on a Sunday serve up an `all you can eat` buffet for @ £5ph. We didn’t actually eat here in the end, however we heard good reports.

Several of the other hotels have restaurants within them. The Bakotu has The Captains Table, which is excellent. Just over the road from the Bakotu is another Thomas Cook hotel, The Kombo Beach. Several evenings a week they lay on a massive `all you can eat` buffet/BBQ which priced at @£10 ph, is excellent. The hotel also has several restaurants which are a lovely spot to have lunch, being located on the beach. Service and food quality are again, excellent. Also, if you need to have a day off from birding, you can pop into the sports bar and watch Premiership football or Rugby on the many massive TV’s showing Sky Sports.

The Bungalow Beach Hotel, to the right of The Bakotu, was a handy spot for lunch as they had a half reasonable wi-fi signal!!. On several occasions we took advantage of their `all you can eat` BBQ or seafood buffets. Both were excellent value and came with entertainment, which was probably the most cringe worthy, embarrassing displays by human beings I have ever witnessed!! Bloody funny though!!!

A short walk past the Kotu creek bridge is the Babbala Hotel which offers a Chinese restaurant. We attempted to eat here, however, as is the case with 99% of restaurants, its cash only.

That brings me to another word of warning…you cannot get Gambian currency outside of Gambia and travellers cheques are only changed in a bank. Therefore my advice would to be hire a Safety Deposit box at the hotel and take cash, (from your own country), for the majority of your needs. This can be easily changed up at hotel reception or over the road, (a better rate). Plus take your debit card in case you need more. You can withdraw cash from several cash points in the area, nearest being at the junction with the Senegambia Hotel, (a £5 taxi ride!). If you get Ebou, he will always stop off at cash points while you are out birding, saving a lot of problems.

So…… my final thoughts on the holiday.

Before we arrived I was nervous as to what to expect having never ventured into Africa proper before. Questions such as, how safe is it, will the bumsters ruin the holiday, being hassled all the time, hotel standards, hygiene and health, and so on!! All my worries were for nothing!! I walked around everyday with several thousands of pounds worth of gear hanging around my neck. Never once did I fear for its or my safety. Bumsters are part of Gambian life, be friendly and learn to come back with a conversation killer straight away. “we go home tomorrow” always works well. Even then they might have a chat with you for a few minutes, just go with the flow, its all part of the Gambian way of life. English football shirts are a great alternative currency, especially in the craft market. Most Gambian’s are mad on English football and will happily exchange goods for shirts. Haggling still required though. Don’t rush shopping, enjoy the experience of bartering and having plenty of banter with the seller, its all part of the African experience. The hordes of children that surround you from time to time, (especially up country), were a pain a few times, however that is where having a guide comes into its own!! A few sharp words from Ebou and off they would go.
On the hygiene front, you will see lots of rubbish and its very dusty. Remember you are in Africa not Europe. If you stick to standard precautions such as only drink bottled water and ask if the ice is mineral water (most hotels) stay clear of salads, (again hotels seem ok), you will be fine.

Health is fairly standard. Your GP will tell you which vaccinations you need. DO take malaria tablets, Malerone are excellent with no side effects. Malaria is very common in The Gambia and lots of local people die each year from it, SO DON’T GAMBLE, TAKE PRECAUTIONS!!. We also had Yellow Fever vaccinations as we intended to travel `upcountry`. However a word of warning, Yellow Fever is on the increase in Gambia so again, why risk it. They last for 10 years, which opens up South America and the rest of Africa as possible birding destinations!!!

Would I recommend Thomas Cook?….Yes. Good selection of hotels and good value for money. If you are taller than 5ft, do try and book extra leg room seats, a lot more comfortable!!.
Would I recommend staying at the Bakotu Hotel ?…. Yes, if you want peace and quiet, no screaming kids and a chance to actually relax. To be in the middle of an excellent birding area, the Bakotu can’t be beaten. Superb!

Would I recommend visiting The Gambia?…… Hell yes!!! Fantastic, friendly country that has a abundance of birdlife at your fingertips. We will be returning next year. When you are in The Gambia you will meet two types of tourist, the first timer and the one that’s been coming for the past 20 years!! That’s how Gambia grabs you !!

Would I recommend Ebou Barry…. Hell yes!! Excellent guide who not only showed us Gambian birds but also showed us Gambia itself. Great fun and I feel made the holiday the great success it was. Yes we missed a few species I would of liked, but that’s birding, I’ll just have to come back again!!!!

So, my final piece of advice…..GET DOWN TO THE TRAVEL AGENTS AND BOOK IT!!!!!!

HOLIDAY SPECIES LIST:

Little Grebe Kotu Ponds
Great Cormorant Fairly common at Tendaba
Reed Cormorant Common
African Darter Common, esp at Tendaba
Pink Backed Pelican Common
White Backed Night Heron Tendaba boat trip
Black Crowned Night Heron Frequent in mangrove
Squacco Heron Frequent on the rice fields at Kotu
Cattle Egret Everywhere
Striated Heron On the river at Georgetown & Tendaba
Black Heron/Egret Fairly common in most wetlands
Western Reef Heron Very common
Little Egret Abuko, Tendaba & Mandinaba
Intermediate Egret Common throughout
Great White Egret Common throughout
Purple Heron Georgetown & Tendaba
Grey Heron Very common
Black Headed Heron Present on most wetlands
Goliath Heron Tendaba boat trip
Hamerkop Locally common
Yellow billed Stork Pirang Shrimp Farm & The Bunt Road, Banjul
Marabou Stork Nesting colony towards Georgetown
Sacred Ibis Common around Kotu
Eurasian Spoonbill Pirang Shrimp Farm
African Spoonbill Kotu, Pirang Shrimp Farm, Fajara Golf Course, Kotu Ponds
White Faced Whistling Duck Frequent, large flocks Badala Rice Fields, Georgetown
Spur winged Goose Tendaba boat trip
Osprey Frequent
Black Winged Kite Common roadside `up country`
Black Kite Everywhere
Yellow billed Kite Very Common, less so inland
Palm Nut Vulture Nesting Abuko. Seen Kotu, Badala Rice Fields
Hooded Vulture Everywhere!!
White backed Vulture Frequent `up country`
Ruppells Vulture 4 roadside sightings on the way to Georgetown
Beaudouins Snake Eagle Mandinaba
Brown Snake Eagle 2 roadside sightings `up country`
Western Banded Snake Eagle 1 roaside sighting `up country`
Bateleur 1 adult just north of Georgetown
African Harrier Hawk Fairly Common
Montagu’s Harrier 4 females on Tendaba boat trip
Marsh Harrier 2 sightings at Mandinaba & nr Kafuta
African Goshawk 1 roadside sighting by Bijilo Forest
Dark Chanting Goshawk Common roadside `up country`
Shikra Common Throughout
Grasshopper Buzzard 1 sighting roadside `up country`
Lizard Buzzard Abuko, Mandinaba, Georgetown
Tawny Eagle Nesting pair nr Baro Kunda
Wahlbergs Eagle Nesting pair nr Mandinaba
Long Crested Eagle 1 sighting roadside `up country`
Martial Eagle 1 sighting roadside `up country`
Grey Kestrel Fairly common throughout
Red necked Falcon 1 sighting Fajara Golf Course
Lanner Falcon 2 sightings. Kafuta & Pirang Shrimp Farm
Stone Partidge 1 sighting of 5 birds at Brufut woods
Double Spurred Francolin Frequent in grassy shrub.
Black Crake 2 sightings. 3 abuko, 1 Kotu Pond
Purple Swamphen 2 Kotu Ponds
Moorhen 4+ 6 chicks Kotu Ponds
African Finfoot 1 River Gambia nr Georgetown
White bellied Bustard 1 east of Farafenni
African Jacana 2 Kotu, 2 Abuko, 5 Kotu Ponds
Greater Painted Snipe Flock 32 Kotu, 1 Kotu Ponds
Oystercatcher 1 Bunt Road, Banjul
Black Winged Stilt 12 sewerage ponds, Kotu
Senegal Thick Knee Very common, incl 1 albino nr Mandinaba
Temmicks Courser 5 Kiang West NP
Collared Pratincole 4 East of Farafenni
Ringed Plover Common on coastal mud
Grey Plover Frequent Kotu Creek, Bunt Road
Wattled Lapwing Common Kotu Creek, max 43
Black Headed Lapwing 3 Mandinaba, 1 Georgetown, 6 Kiang West NP,
2 Tujereng woods
Spur Winged Lapwing Very common throughout
Sanderling 1 Tanji Beach
Curlew Sandpiper 5 Cape Point, Banjul
Dunlin 11 Cape Point, Banjul
Common Snipe 1 Kotu
Bar tailed Godwit 1 Tanji Beach, 45+ Bunt Road, Banjul
Whimbrel Common throughout
Curlew 2 Cape Point, 1 Bunt Road
Redshank Common throughout
Greenshank Common throughout
Green Sandpiper Kotu, Tendaba, Georgetown, Badala rice fields
Wood Sandpiper Frequent throughout
Common Sandpiper Frequent throughout
Turnstone 11 Tanji, 4 Pirang Shrimp Farm, 16 Cape Point, 22 Bunt Road
Pomarine Skua 9 Banjul Harbour
Grey headed Gull Abundant on the coast
Black headed Gull 1 Kotu Creek, 5 Tanji
Little Gull 1 Adult Gambia River trip
Slender billed Gull 8 Tanji
Kelp Gull 1 Tanji, 1 Gambia River trip
Lesser Black backed Gull 29 Tanji, 13 Gambia River trip
Yellow Legged Gull 50+ Tanji, 30+ Gambia River trip
Gull Billed Tern 5 Tendaba
Caspian Tern Abundant on the coast, max 220+ Tanji
Royal Tern Very Common on the coast. max 180+ Tanji
Lesser Crested Tern 25+ Tanji
Sandwich Tern 11 Tanji. 5 Gambia River trip
Common Tern 2 Gambia River trip
Black Tern 2 Bunt Road, 9 Gambia River trip
White Winged Black Tern 11 Gambia River trip
Four Banded Sandgrouse 4 Mendinaba, 24 Kiang West NP
Chestnut bellied Sandgrouse 7 Kiang West NP
African Green Pigeon Frequent inland
Bruces Green Pigeon Frequent inland
Blue Spotted Wood Dove Frequent throughout
Black billed Wood Dove Very Common throughout
Namaqua Dove Abundant `up country`. Scarce near the coast
Speckled Pigeon Very common throughout
Red Eyed Dove Abundant throughout
African Mourning Dove Abundant throughout
Vinaceous Dove Very common throughout
European Turtle Dove Frequent `up country`
Laughing Dove Very common throughout
Brown necked Parrot 16 at Ebous special site.
Senegal Parrot Common throughout
Rose ringed Parakeet Common throughout
Green Turaco 1 Abuko
Violet Turaco 8 Abuko, 1 Bonto, 2 Georgetown, 1 Tendaba,
1 Fajara Golf Club
Western Grey Plantain eater Very common throughout
Klaas`s Cuckoo 1 Brufut woods
Senegal Coucal Common Throughout
Northern White faced Owl 1 Brufut, 1 Bonto Forest
Verreaux`s Eagle Owl 2 Brufut, 3 nr Soma
African Wood Owl 1 Bonto Forest
Pearl spotted Owlet Frequent throughout
Long Tailed Nightjar 3 roosting birds Brufut woods
Standard Winged Nightjar 2 nr Tendaba
Mottled Spinetail 5 Tendaba boat trip
African Palm Swift Abundant throughout
Little Swift Fairly Common, breeding colony at Tendaba
Blue bellied Kingfisher Frequent in mangrove
Striped Kingfisher 2 sightings both Kiang West NP
African Pygmy Kingfisher 1 Abuko
Malachite Kingfisher Frequent sightings in most wetlands
Giant Kingfisher 1 male Abuko, 1 female Mandinaba
Pied Kingfisher Very Common throughout
Little Bee-eater Common throughout
Swallow Tailed Bee-eater 2 Brufut Woods
Red Throated Bee-eater 3 Georgetown, 40-50 pairs at Bansong Quarry colony
White Throated Bee-eater 6 Tendaba boat trip
Blue Cheeked Bee-eater 16 Brufut Woods, 8 Mandinaba, 6 Georgetown, 4 Tendaba
European Bee-eater 16 nr Soma
Rufous Crowned Roller 18 roadside sightings `up country`. 2 Kiang West NP
Blue bellied Roller Frequent throughout
Abyssinian Roller Scarce nr coast. Very common inland
Broad billed Roller Common in coastal areas
Green Wood Hoopoe Frequent throughout
European Hoopoe 2 Kiang West NP
Red Billed Hornbill Very common throughout
African Pied Hornbill Common throughout
African Grey Hornbill Common throughout
Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird 3 Bonto Forest
Vieillots Barbet 1 sighting east of Farafenni
Bearded Barbet 5 Mandinaba, 4 Tendaba, 6 Tejereng woods
Greater Honey-guide 3 Brufut, 1 Bonto Forest
Lesser Honey-guide 1 Tejereng Woods
Fine Spotted Woodpecker 4 Kotu, 1 Bonto Forest
Golden Tailed Woodpecker 1 Kiang West NP
Buff Spotted Woodpecker 1 Abuko
Grey Woodpecker Common Throughout
Brown Backed Woodpecker 1 Kiang West NP
Crested Lark 3 Pirang Shrimp Farm
Chestnut Backed Sparrow-Lark 2 nr Soma
Fanti Saw-wing 8 Abuko
Red breasted Swallow Very common throughout
Red rumped Swallow 2 sightings nr Georgetown
Grey rumped Swallow 3 east of Soma
Wire Tailed Swallow Common by Kotu Bridge
Yellow Wagtail 5 Kotu Sewerage ponds, 1 Mandinaba
White Wagtail 1 Kotu, 1 Tanji, 3 Farafenni
Plain backed Pipit 1 east of Farafenni
Little Greenbul 15 Abuko
Common Bulbul Abundant throughout
Snowy crowned Robin-chat 1 Kotu
White crowned Robin-chat 2 Badala rice fields, 1 Abuko, 5 Brufut
Whinchat 1 Mandinaba
Northern Wheatear 1 Mandinaba, 3 Kiang West NP
African Thrush Frequent throughout
Reed Warbler 2 Kotu, 3 Badala rice fields, 1 Bunt Road
Western Olivaceous Warbler 1 east of Farafenni
Senegal Eremomela 1 Brufut, 9 Tendaba, 1 Kiang West NP, 3 Tejereng Woods
Northern Crombec 1 Brufut, 1 Kiang West NP
Willow Warbler 1 Abuko, 1 Kiang West NP
Chiffchaff 1 Brufut,
Singing Cisticola 13 Tejereng Woods
Winding Cisticola 1 Mandinaba
Rufous Cisticola 1 Brufut
Zitting Cisticola 1 Kotu, 4 Mandinaba, 3 Kotu Ponds
Tawny Flanked Prinia Frequent throughout
Red Winged Warbler 6 Tejereng Woods
Yellow breasted Apalis 3 Abuko
Green Backed Camaroptera 1 Kotu
Grey Backed Camaroptera 2 Brufut, 3 Mandinaba
Oriole Warbler 1 Brufut, heard frequently throughout
Northern Black Flycatcher 1 Brufut
Swamp Flycatcher Common on freshwater part of Gambian River
African Paradise Flycatcher 5 Abuko, 1 Brufut
Red Bellied Paradise Flycatcher 16 Abuko, 1 Mandinaba,
Common Wattle-eye 3 Abuko, 1 Tendaba boat trip
Brown Babbler 2 Kotu, 22 Brufut, 12 Bonto
Blackcap Babbler 4 Badala rice field, 2 Brufut, 7 Bonto Forest
Yellow Penduline Tit 1 Kiang West NP
Mouse Brown Sunbird 6 Tendaba boat trip
Scarlet Chested Sunbird Fairly Common Kiang West NP
Collared Sunbird 5 Abuko
Pygmy Sunbird Fairly common Kiang West NP
Beautiful Sunbird Very common throughout
Variable Sunbird Fairly common throughout
Splendid Sunbird 25 Brufut, 20 Tejereng woods
Copper Sunbird 2 Brufut
African Yellow White eye 2 Brufut
Woodchat Shrike 2 Mandinaba, 1 Kiang West NP
Yellow Billed Shrike Fairly common throughout
Black Crowned Tchagra 1 Kiang West NP, 1 Tejereng Woods
Yellow Crowned Gonolek Frequent throughout
Brubru 1 Kiang West NP
African Golden Oriole 1 male Mandinaba, 1pair `up country`
Fork Tailed Drongo Frequent throughout
Pied Crow Abundant throughout
Piapiac Fairly common throughout
Purple Glossy Starling Common Throughout
Bronze Tailed Glossy Starling 11 Georgetown
Greater Blue eared Glossy Starling 3 Mandinaba, Fairly common Kiang West NP
Lesser Blue eared Glossy Starling 1 Mandinaba, 2 Georgetown, 9 Kiang West NP
Long Tailed Glossy Starling Common throughout
Yellow billed Oxpecker Frequent around livestock
Northern Grey Headed Sparrow 23 Brufut, 10 Soma, 21 Kiang West NP, 27 Tejereng Woods
House Sparrow 8 Badala rice fields, 2 Tanji, 10 Tejereng Woods
Bush Petronia 7 east of Farafenni
White billed Buffalo Weaver Common throughout
Chestnut Crowned Sparrow-Weaver 2 nr Georgetown, 3 Tejereng Woods
Black Necked Weaver Frequent throughout
Vitelline Masked Weaver 1 Brufut
Village Weaver Abundant throughout
Red billed Quelea Fairly common inland
Northern Red Bishop Common throughout
Black winged Bishop 10 Brufut
Lavender Waxbill 3 Brufut, 13 `up country`
Orange Cheeked Waxbill 1 Kotu,16 Mandinaba, 35+ `up country`
Black Rumped Waxbill Fairly common throughout
Western Bluebill 1 Abuko
Red Cheeked Cordon Bleau Very common throughout
Red billed Firefinch Common throughout
Cut Throat finch 6 Bansang Quarry
Bronze Manikin Common throughout
Pin Tailed Whydah 1 Brufut
Village Indigobird Fairly common throughout
Yellow Fronted Canary 8 Brufut, 9 Kiang West NP, 10 Tejereng woods
Cinnamon Breasted Bunting 1 Bansang Quarry



All photographs are the property of David Culham, copyright protected.
Further information available from David Culham, email skeet2112@hotmail.co.uk

Room Tip: try and book a room at the rear of the grounds or by the creek if birdwatching
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank david c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Durham
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 April 2014 via mobile

My husband and I have just returned from a week at the Bakotu. Being the end of the season it was very quiet and peaceful. The hotel was spotlessly clean, staff very friendly and breakfasts fine despite what some reviews have said. On our first day we met Bakary Jarju, a bird guide who took us for a walk around the area. He was brilliant, writing down over 50 species for us to look up in our book when we got back to the hotel. He was very knowledgable and extremely patient, helping me to spot the birds. He also arranged for us to visit a local school and took us to visit his family and on other birding excursions. Would definitely recommend Bakary and the Bakotu Hotel.

Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
5 Thank Shirley H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 April 2014

We first stayed in the Bakotu in November 2013 for 10 nights on our return we booked to stay again on 26th March 2014 for 11 nights.
The hotel rooms are basic but spotlessly cleaned everyday (make sure to hand your key in to get cleaned) the beds are very comfortable, plenty of storage for clothes. The bathrooms are small but everything you need the shower is fantastic constant hot water available (if you don't get hot water let them know at reception the heater may not be on). Our room was N2 which was brilliant location right next to the tortoises, also near the pool which could be seen from the room but not over looking (if you want a quiet morning maybe N2 not ideal as other guest bring fruit for the tortoises early in the morning).The rooms have a balcony or a terrace with table and chairs.This room didn't have Air con in November we hired a fan which was more than sufficient but in march it was cooler nights which meant we didn't have to, you can upgrade to Air con at extra cost either on arrival or by emailing the hotel before travel. The Gambia does suffer from power cuts but the hotels have back up generator's and only take a few minutes to start up REMEMBER you are in Africa not Europe.
The hotel is in a fantastic location with restaurant's nearby which include 3 onsite: Baobab, Captains Table and Boss Lady. Across the road there is a Tandoori restaurant and Ali Baba's which serves everything from traditional chicken yassa to English fish and chips. If you are looking for something more relaxed or a take out meal you can go to Dominos which is on the beach front. All the restaurants a very reasonably priced we would spend around £10 for 2 starters, 2 mains and drinks (around the area you will find smaller family run restaurants or street sellers doing food which will cost a lot less).
At the hotel there is a mini market (there is a second mini market across the road) selling most things you would get from home so don't worry if you forget anything, as part of the hotel there are two bars Skippers and Tiger-Tiger which have seats outside which is perfect for people watching or having a lazy afternoon with a cool beer (local beer is Julbrew). Bakotu has a massage studio which also does nails,hair and waxing we've had 3 treatments over our 2 visits which were fantastic. Tip: don't have anything planned for the day other the relaxing as the massage makes you very relaxed. Go see Ade and the girls who do a fantastic job there.
The hotel doesn't have Wi-Fi but the Kombo across the road does which also shows the football, you can also get Wi-Fi at the BB hotel next door, which can be picked up at the Bakotu in certain areas. We purchased a sim card whilst there which we used in an unlocked phone, this is a good/cheaper option if you want to use facebook,whatsapp etc,and is easy to top up with the scratch cards from the mini market.
The hotel grounds are lovely well kept with lots of flowers and shrubs, the pool area is quiet and relaxing with no music so if you like to relax with music take your IPod/MP3 player. Towards the back of the hotel there is a bird watching platform which looks over looks the Kotu stream you can also come out the grounds and walk round the stream. Around the grounds you will see monkeys this could also be on your balcony/terrace. There are few more cats around the hotel now compared to when we went in November this is not an issue they are well kept and not vicious, more often you will see them in the shade sleeping. We didn't feed the cats (although very tempting) as this meant they weren't around the room constantly.
All the staff were very friendly and helpful if you needed anything they were very quick to help. Bi (sorry if not spelt correctly) who works on reception in the afternoon was excellent, we had a problem with our shower head and our fridge (payable locally) was freezing all our food, the knob to turn it down had fallen off, he had these sorted straight away by King Solomon who again was a lovely member of staff always friendly said hello when ever he saw you. The night guard Lamin was also very helpful and friendly.
After reading many reviews about the breakfast we wasn't sure what to expect. The hotel offers three breakfasts Baobab breakfast which is continental almost consist of 2 bread rolls each egg of the day which could be boiled, scrambled, omelette or fried, Jam/marmalade, cheese and fruit with juice tea or coffee. There is also full English or American Breakfast. We had the Baobab every morning and have no complaints there was plenty of it and set you up for the day! The staff at breakfast were excellent and very friendly. Whilst in the Gambia wherever we ate we never had a bad meal and found all restaurants sold a good variety of food to suit everyone.
Kotu its self is a small resort very relaxing but close enough to Senegambia 10 mins by taxi which has a large selection of bar and restaurants for a late night out.
We did several tours whilst in the Gambia which range from lazy day fishing to busy markets of Banjul and Serrekunda. Don't ever think there wont be much to do in the Gambia you can go on an adventure everyday! We did our tours with a local Baka who we found excellent very reliable and trustworthy he also picked us up from the airport on our return. We would have no issue recommending him. Please remember most the Gambians will say they are tour guides but be careful if you are unsure, use one of the bigger companies. All Gambians will want to be your friend they will want to know your name where your from how the family is but don't be alarmed by this. If you don't want what they are selling be firm but be friendly and never admit to it been your first time there, tell them you are a frequent visitor.

We loved the Gambia and The Bakotu Hotel we will never stay at another hotel when visiting, we felt very safe secure and happy at all times in the hotel and outside.
We will defiantly be returning hopefully November this year and see the Gambia and Bakotu as a destination we would always like to visit for many years to come.

Top Tips
Take pound coins for arrival at the airport for tips.
Take any unwanted clothes school books, pens the Gambians are very grateful of this.
If travelling later in the season e.g March take a jumper, Jacket, trousers as cooler in the evening

Becky and Ali

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Rebecca B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
liverpool
Level 6 Contributor
147 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 April 2014

We recently stayed here for a week and had a fab holiday hotel was good we read plenty of reviews before we decided on staying and we glad we decided on this hotel the staff were very friendly and helpful. The rooms basic but comfortable bathrooms very basic but a hot shower, the grounds were brilliant with a great pool really quiet too which was great. You must eat at the captains table their restaurant excellent value and great food. The breakfast was good despite lots of negative comments on tripadvisor three choices English American and continental different choice of eggs each day don't expect napkins though we used the facilities of BOB a local guy who showed us the true Gambia worth doing some trips with him. Great friendly staff really made you feel at home Tip wait to change your money at resort better rate of exchange than marks and Spencer's also take some gel the money is disgusting dirty

Room Tip: We liked the rooms on the first floor although the bungalows looked lovely
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank scouser79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Bakotu Hotel

Property: Bakotu Hotel
Address: Kotu, Gambia
Region: Gambia > Banjul Division > Kotu
Amenities:
Beach Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Hotel Class:3 star — Bakotu Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 80
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Renowned and well established, Bakotu is a small, friendly hotel ideally located in Kotu between the beach and the golf course. Facilities include a small swimming pool, sun and shade terraces, reception, laundry, shop, restaurants and bars. Individually decorated rooms, with comfy beds and either terrace or balcony are grouped around mature gardens. The monkeys, squirrels and birds are great attractions. Ideal for those looking for something a little different with good value for money. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bakotu Hotel Kotu
Bakotu Hotel Gambia/Kotu

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