Take a day trip from Banjul to the Abuko Nature Reserve

Take a day trip from Banjul to the Abuko Nature Reserve

If you’re a nature lover visiting The Gambia, you’ll definitely want to put this fantastic destination on your itinerary! Just a half an hour drive from Banjul Beach is the Abuko Nature Reserve where you can experience a wide range of rare wildlife.

Although it’s somewhat smaller than many other nature reserves in the country, it’s extremely rich in wildlife. In fact, it’s estimated that there are more than 290 species of bird at the Abuko Nature Reserve, which means it’s one of the best birdwatching areas in The Gambia.

The oldest designated wildlife reserve in the Gambia

Take a walk through the reserve to explore the different wetlands including various lakes and forests. See the Nile crocodiles and snakes as well as 52 mammal species like the adorable bush babies, bushbuck, and three types of monkeys including the endangered western red colobus monkeys. You may also be able to spot the emerald snake, python, dwarf crocodile, monitor lizard, and other impressive reptiles, as well as beautiful butterflies and moths.

Other places to see at the Abuko Nature Reserve

Visit the animal orphanage to spot the hyenas and vultures, and head to the observation deck where you’ll get an amazing birds-eye view of the crocodiles and lizards. The park is also home to the Darwin Field Station, an important research centre, which examines local wildlife and plant life.

How to get to the Abuko Nature Reserve

The easiest way to get to this reserve is to book an organised tour or a taxi from Banjul. It’s only about a 30-minute drive from the Gambian coast, so you can easily come here for a morning, an afternoon, or a full day. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and sun cream with you.

The best time to visit the Abuko Nature Reserve

While it’s very warm or hot throughout the year here, the Gambia has a distinctive rainy season from around mid-June to mid-October. In the wettest month, August, there’s an average of 19 rainy days, so try to avoid visiting the park at this time of year. This region is almost continuously dry from around November to May, when lower humidity makes it much more pleasant to explore the great outdoors.

The best times to see different species

The best time to observe the lizards and crocodiles is in the morning, when they come out to sunbathe. If you’re a keen birdwatcher, try to visit the Abuko Nature Reserve in the early morning or late afternoon, as the park will be much quieter during these times.

Other practical information about the Abuko Nature Reserve

You’ll need to pay a small entrance fee when you arrive, and it’s important to wear mosquito repellent, especially if you’re visiting during the rainy season. It’s also a good idea to bring a packed lunch, although you can buy some light refreshments at a kiosk on site.