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Best Hotel? (1 Viewer)

Jeanie

Jeanie with one n.
Hi, we are in the middle of arranging a trip to the Gambia with a guide. Went many years ago and stayed at the Koto Beach where we had devastating food poising.
Does anyone have experience of the Bakotu Hotel?
I am trying to decide between that and the Senegambia. All we need are clean rooms and good birds.
Many thanks.
 

scodger

Well-known member
Hi Jeannie

Recently back from 7 nights in the Gambia, just a few bits from my experience for you and anyone thinking of heading there

I stayed at Kombo Beach Hotel, ( was that the one you meant? ) not the best not the worst, probably one of the better tourist hotels, but I thought very good and very handy for Koto Bridge and meeting your guide, as well as a good place for an evening watch , there's usually something new to see each evening, and you can have some banter with any guides that are there. I ate every day morning and evening, including salads rice etc , ( at Kombo and out ) never had a problem and found the food very acceptable, but yes take care. The only thing I'd really be wary of is water, I always drink bottled water anywhere I go, and always use gel antiseptic hand wash after toilets ( the lodges etc can be a bit low key on providing soap etc ) , and before eating etc. Common sense stuff

I'd booked 2 and a half days with guide Ebrima Sidebeh ( Hawkeye ) and ended up going out 6 days, very luckily he was available for the extra days, absolutely superb guide, if it's there he'll find it and picks up a lot of stuff on call and is determined to find something once he hears a call! He is very well respected by the other guides and will put a schedule together for you. And a really nice guy to boot, and if you are looking for some genuine cultural experiences outside the hotel-provided African dancing etc it's worth having a chat with him, who knows what might be happening. I ended up being invited to the evening ceremony of the wedding of one of the other bird guides and it was a great evening, and well out of the tourist area. If you are not a hardened birder then he'll do a more leisurely day outing, it's up to you, just ask. I was visiting alone so was able to throw everything into the birding.

Without going too far away from the coast and working ( very ) hard ( except lunchtimes when we stopped at one of the lodges and ate in the shade watching the birds coming to the water pots ) we found 204 species, Gambia is a phenomenal place IMO . I'm going to go back later in the year and spend a few days with 'Hawkeye' upriver and should add a significant number of species once the rains have started

IMHO dont go to the Gambia and expect to find your own stuff and get a decent list, if you dont know the calls & the off the beaten track places then you'll miss out, a good professional guide is worth every single penny and usually great company, if Ebrima is booked on your dates he will put you in touch with one of the other guides, and if he's recommended him/her ( yes there are lady guides ) then he/she will be good. Dave Gosneys booklet and video are great intros but a guide for a few days will absolutely seal the deal for a great birding holiday. Think you'll find and get good views of the owls or nightjars without help? Good luck with that!

My other recommendation is make the effort to get up and get going early, preferably at dawn, ( at the Kombo Beach breakfast starts at 6 ) the air is fresher, the birding is great & it gets a lot harder walking in the sun after 11 and the smaller birds get quieter. The lodge at Marrikissa is a great place for lunch, lots of water pots for the birds and walks along the creek etc ( and you can stay there ). Lamin Lodge is also another good lunchtime stop but less to see from the Lodge. If you're a less driven birder, early starts and the afternoon round the pool may be the way.


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And if you contact him tell him David recommended him!
 

Jeanie

Jeanie with one n.
Many thanks David for all your helpful advice. Yes it was the Kombo Beach. This was before we became birders but we were astonished at how lovely they were.
We are in touch with a guide called Ebrima Barry. Just waiting to confirm dates. We thought we could fly on a Wednesday but the hotel says Sunday so hoping he can still do it. The plan is to bird locally with him for aprox 3 days and then go up river for 4 days. We will be there for 14 nights. Planning to stay at the smaller hotel which seems to be good for birding. Will re read your info and take note of advice.
Jeanie
 

Deb335077

Well-known member
Hi Jeanie,
We stayed at Farakunku Lodge which were absolutly immaculate.
www.farakunku-lodges.com
The lady is called Heather and runs a very small (only 4 lodges) and perfect set up for birders. All you need do is get your own flights to Banjul and Heather will organise the rest for you. We found it to be the perfect place. try the website
 

pratincol

Well-known member
Hi, we are in the middle of arranging a trip to the Gambia with a guide. Went many years ago and stayed at the Koto Beach where we had devastating food poising.
Does anyone have experience of the Bakotu Hotel?
I am trying to decide between that and the Senegambia. All we need are clean rooms and good birds.
Many thanks.

We stayed at the Coral Beach Hotel Brufut Heights.
It was excellent then and no food poisoning!
 

Jeanie

Jeanie with one n.
Many thanks for all suggestions. We have gone with our guides suggestion and booked the Bakotu.
 

Mark Jarrett

Well-known member
Hi Jeanie

We are off to Gambia on Sunday for a week staying at the Bakotu. Highly recommended by Chris Packham and that’s more than good enough for me. Never been before, either hotel or country.

Have booked one and a half days with Malick Suso who, by coincidence, is also known and recommended by Chris Packham! Other than that (as I will be with my non birding wife) I will be birding the beach and Kotu Creek for a couple of hours each morning. If I can, I will try and fit another half day in with a guide.
 

Jeanie

Jeanie with one n.
Hope you have a great time Mark. Do let me know any helpful hints re the area. I have noticed that they do not supply pool towels. Otherwise most reports seem positive.
 

Mark Jarrett

Well-known member
Just back from a week at the Bakotu. Very nice hotel, rooms are fairly basic but well cleaned. The main restaurant attached to the hotel, the Captain’s Table, is excellent. Gardens fairly small but the jewel in the crown is the viewing platform to the rear which affords views to Kotu Bridge. I clocked up around 60 species from the platform, birding one hour each morning with a further hour each late afternoon. You can also reach the golf course from the rear of the hotel and the adjacent pools which form part of Kotu Creek. As I mention above, I booked a guide for one and a half days. If you intend to do some birding yourself, Jeanie, and need a reliable taxi driver to ferry you around, use Alex. If you go in the bureau de change, to the left of the Bakotu main doorway, ask the guy in there for Alex who keeps his car round the corner. He’s a nice lad and can be trusted. Tell him I have recommended him to you! I gave him my blue Wigan Rugby away shirt at the end of our stay. If you mention that, he’ll remember me.
 

Johnnie Lee

Well-known member
Hi

I stayed at Bakotu Hotel a couple of years ago. It is well situated for birding Kotu Creek and the golf course. Birding in and around the grounds is productive too, including Oriole Warbler. The food was good and both my wife and I had no problems. the staff were great fun so I would recommend it. I think it may have been refurbished since our trip - it was slightly shabby but passable when we stayed there.

John
 

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