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“Do not stay here”
Review of Bird Safari Camp

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Bird Safari Camp
Reviewed 20 May 2017

Sadly, this once beautiful camp is now a shadow of its former self. Dirty, uncared for with staff (if you can find any) who have no idea of how to look after tourists. While the camp used to have excellent facilities,now it is run down and just a shell. Avoid at all costs.

  • Stayed: January 2017, travelled with friends
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3  Thank Paul W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 10 March 2016

I was looking for a place outside the village and ended up in this place that was now in ruins. Wat was left were a few tents with a stone sanitary part. There was no running water So I got water from the river that I had to purify. There were two men who looked after the remains of once a nice place. I think TripAdvisor should remove this place from their site.

  • Stayed: February 2016, travelled solo
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6  Thank CornelisVenema
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 March 2013

As others have said words can't begin to describe the thrill of the adventure with Hidden Gambia which is run by Mark Thompson. Due to tough circumstances beyond Mark Thompson's control we were unable to stay at his Bird Safari Camp, which he has worked so hard to create, creating welcome business and employment for locals. Mark went the extra mile to reorganise our trip with 3 nights at the Baobolong Annexe in Janjanbureh, one night at Tendaba and two at Nemasu lodge on the coast. It was non-stop excitment with 7 boat trips, a stunning sunset combined with full moon rise, beating drums by a BBQ banquet, beautiful birds, thrilling wildlife and freshly cooked food with local ingredients. Adventures like this are difficult for us with challenging arthritic problems but Mark's thoughtful touches to secure seats we could manage and hire bikes for us one morning made this holiday of a lifetime possible. The Hidden Gambia staff were friendly and excellent to spend time with.
Our room at Tendaba was very acceptable - in fact much larger and lighter than the one at the Annexe and hence much easier to manage. The food at Tendaba was weak compared with elsewhere but more than compensated by the magnificent boat trip though the mangroves.
We just pray that Bird Safari Camp will return to Hidden Gambia very soon so that future travellers and all the local businesses and staff can continue to benefit from Mark Thompson's dedication to the Gambia for many years to come. Thanks!

Room Tip: If we had stayed at Bird Safari camp location would have been excellent.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank CLPRtravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mark T, Owner at Bird Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 24 August 2013


First of all, a big thank you to all our clients who have stayed at Bird Safari Camp over the years and especially if you have taken the time to write a review on Trip Advisor.

Unfortunately, we are currently experiencing some frustrating difficulties at the up-river lodge I built 15 years ago. This involves our Gambian director who should own 3% of the camp, but is claiming to be the sole proprietor based on flawed documents drawn up by our solicitor, his 'uncle', in 1998.

Mr. Bithaye has been occupying the premises with his wife & family since July 2012 and is denying both me and our staff access to the company. He appears to have been backed by some unscrupulous men in high places, one of whom, the ex-Minister for Justice, has been remanded in jail and is facing various charges of corruption and misuse of power.

We have discovered that over £12,000 of company property has gone missing since Mr. Bithaye has been residing at Bird Safari Camp; however, the police have taken no action against him. By contrast, it took them only a few hours to arrest me for "stealing" my own property when I recovered my solar-powered boat from the camp in November 2012! The boat is still being held by the police "on neutral territory", despite the fact that I have shown proof of ownership.

A long awaited report by the Company Registrar came out recently; however, it is extremely biased towards the interests of Mr. Bithaye and despite the Registrar's own conclusion that "Mark Thompson could be considered as a bona fide director and shareholder of Bird Safari Camp", he is still refusing to register my shares and those of the other investors. Until that happens, we cannot legally remove Mr. Bithaye from the premises.

We did operate my UK-registered tour operation, Hidden Gambia Holidays, last season (2012/13) - without Bird Safari Camp - as I wanted to honour our commitments to our existing clients (we even transferred all of our BSC staff to another lodge), but it just wasn't the same. The alternative accommodation in town isn't nearly as nice as Bird Safari Camp and whilst we made every effort to ensure that food & drink etc. was of a high standard, the overall experience fell far short of what we would like to offer.

Given the current situation (August 2013) with no camp and no boat(!), I have decided to suspend our Hidden Gambia operations for the 2013/14 season, fight our legal battles in court - and hopefully resume business from November 2014.

So, I'm sorry we won't be able to help out this winter, but provided all goes well, we'd love to welcome you up-river in 2014/15. Even if there's only a slight chance you might wish to join us, please register your details on our Hidden Gambia web site and I will keep you informed of developments. As a token of appreciation for your support, you will also receive an "early bird" discount on our 2014/15 holidays.

Thanks again for your interest in staying at Bird Safari Camp. I hope to see you there soon and look forward to helping you plan your next holiday to The Gambia!

Kind regards,

Mark Thompson
PS. Warm greetings also from Binta, Sam, Salif, LB, Yaya, Abdou, Isatou and the rest of our wonderful staff !

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Reviewed 23 February 2013

We travelled to gambia at Christmas for a tour with Hidden Gambia, upon arrival to our first lodge, farakanku resort (nicest resort with the nicest owners) we were told that Bird Safari Camp was closed due to operational problems and that we would be staying in a hotel In the centre of janjanbureh. Although slightly disappointed we were fine with this as mark (the owner) gave us some other options including staying at another lodge (nemasu, which was excellent) for part of our trip which we did and we really enjoyed it. The days leading upto the river trip we heard a few bad things about where we were due to be staying, so we were becoming a bit nervous about it, and a bit annoyed that we weren't staying at the camp. We shouldn't of worried at all tho, we stayed at baobolong annexe and it was excellent, the food was good, the rooms were good (although it was a bit noisy at night), and the staff were all good. We helped cook lunch one day which was fun, walked round the local market and went on several birding trips and one fishing trip where we saw a crocodile, a snake, and lots more birds. The trips up and down the river were amazing to, we saw lots of birds, chimpanzees, hippos, and monkeys and on the way up had a unforeseen adventure that we or any of the other passengers or crew will probably never forget!!
Overall hidden gambia were an excellent tour operator, and mark, who stayed at baobolong annexe is doing a fantastic job over there. We will definitely visit again one day.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Pppmacca43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 February 2013

Words can't even begin to describe how magical and special Bird Safari Camp is!
It is the heart of The Gambia and the closest you will ever get to experiencing real Africa.
Mark is extremely knowledgeable about the country, he and his lovely staff will ensure you have a wonderful experience staying at the camp. I visited with my mum, we took the boat up the river all the way to the camp, it was both a real adventure as well as a truly relaxing experience. We saw river dolphins, crocodiles and hippos!
If you are a wildlife lover, an adventure seeker, or just looking to chill out in a peaceful hideaway then you have to go!! Just be warned... you won't want to leave!!

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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2  Thank Kept123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Bird Safari Camp

Address: MacCarthy Island | Central River Region, Janjanbureh, Gambia
Region: Gambia > Central River Division > Janjanbureh
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 4 Speciality Lodging in Janjanbureh
Number of rooms: 10

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