Comments from previous Gambian Birders!
We echo what the others have written about Ousman and Bojang. It was a combination of complete professionalism and great fun. You couldn’t ask for more. Ousman is a very canny spotter. I saw around 250 species, 168 new ones for me. Actually Ousman showed me around 300 species, but sometimes I was too slow to get a proper look . More than just a birder Ousman was a great guide for us and we were able to see far more of a new country with wonderful friendly people than we could ever have done on our own. Go to Gambia. It’s great, and if you can get Ousman as a guide that’s the icing on the cake. If you are not certain and want to talk Ousman can give my contact details.
Tony & Mary Walters UK February 2015
Ousman Joku was our guide during a family holiday in December 2014. As I was the only birder, we had to find a good balance between birding and other activities to keep everyone happy, including our two teenage daughters! Ousman turned out to be a great host: enthusiastic, punctual, caring and joyful. He is a first class bird guide who knows his species on sight and sound; after 6 days we had a list of 265 species! But he also showed us some touristic hotspots and what everyday life in The Gambia means at local markets, in small Fula villages or the maternity ward of the Serrekunda hospital. His excellent driver Bojang managed to get us there safely and prepared traditional lunches on the hood of the car. Next time I go to The Gambia, I will for sure contact Ousman again.
Jos Hooijmeijer, The Netherlands December 2014
“A trip to remember”
I’m truly grateful to you for your skill, your attention to safety, and your good humor and confident spirit from beginning to end. I could not have had a better tour & experience. Ousman’s passion for his job and the wildlife of his country was evidenced almost on a minute by minute basis.
In most probably the worst season (April) for birdwatching in Gambia, we still managed to see almost 260 species, among them Savile’s Bustard, African Finfoot, White-backed Night-heron, Ahanta Francolin and many other. If you want to see these birds then Ousman is your man.
Bojang, our driver is superb. He drove so well & so cheerfully. I was always safely transported.
Day after day I was feeling I was going out birding with friends like in my country.
At the end of my trip this became true. Now I know I have 2 very good friends in Gambia.
I would like to thank you again for providing more excitement in these days than I typically encounter over a considerably longer stretch of time. I hope we will meet again in the future.
Thanks for a great trip!!!
I enjoyed every minute and would Highly recommend Ousman Joku!!
Theodoros (Akis) Gaitanakis, Greece http://www.greecebirdtours.com 2014
We have used Ousman Joku for bird watching on our trip to Gambia in March 2014. He is an amazing guide who knows all the birds locations very well and is an expert on bird identification. He prepared for us a very good route. For some days we photographed more than 160 bird species.
We enjoyed very much communication with Ousman.
We recommend him to all fans and photographers of birds.
Aleksandr and Elena Tyumen, Russian Federation 2013
My first visit to The Gambia was in 2012 and it was during that visit that I met a keen naturalist who recommended Ousman to me. A search of his name quickly led me to his excellent website and contact was made. As an older person travelling alone there is always an element of risk especially in an unfamiliar country. Both Ousman and his excellent driver Bojang were courtesy itself. Suffering from arthritis I was especially grateful for the comfort of the car and excellent driving. Ousman himself was described to me as ‘the best bird guide I have ever had, anywhere in the world’ -quite a testimonial. I cannot make a comparison but I can say that Ousman took time and patience to show me some of the Gambia’s rich variety of birds and wildlife. On one notable occasion when the osprey I had longed to see was only visible with the top of its head, Ousman jumped up on the car roof with my camera to take some precious photographs for me. Hopefully I will be able to return to the Gambia and will have no hesitation in asking Ousman to be my guide again.
Angela Torpey UK 2013
We used Ousman for 5 days on a trip designed for Spanish birders. We really enjoyed the experience…I don’t think there is a better bird guide than Mr Joku in the Gambia. He is very knowledgeable, has sharp eyes and is a good talker. We found most of our targets having African blue flycatcher, Western ground hornbill and Flufftail as main highlights. If you decide to use Ousman as your guide you will not regret it.
Santi Villa Spanish Bird Tours October 2013
In January 2013 we spent 11 days birdwatching in Gambia and Senegal with Ousman and his excellent driver Bojang. Ousman organised a trip to our requests : as many different nature types we could reach without too long drives and still plenty of time for exploring and photographing. The only species we wouldn’t like to miss was the Egyptian plover. But of course we didn’t mind to have lots of other species. And did we succeed? We think 342 species including the Egyptian plover says it all.
Ousman is very enthusiastic and he worked really hard to satisfy us. Long days in the heat often from sunrise to sunset and he never complained. He is efficient, punctual and reliable. When a problem arose, one of us couldn’t cross the Gambian/Senegal border, he quickly came up with a solution.
His professionalism is outstanding and he is an extremely knowledgeable birder. To recognise bird calls is of course crucial and Ousman is an expert we can tell! We cannot remember that he failed to identify any single call during the whole trip.
It was an absolute delight to spend a trip with Ousman and his driver, so sociable and full of humour.
If you are looking for a first class guide and a first class tour let Ousman Joku be your choice, he is one of the very best- if not the best.
Hans and Ann-Christine Lomosse
Gunnar and Lena Steinholtz, Sweden
I have used Ousman for bird watching trips on both my trips to Gambia. He is a superb guide who knows all the key locations well, constantly carrying out research into new locations for rarer species, and is an acknowledged expert on bird identiification, partricularly in his native Gambia.
I would recommend him unconditionally.
Bob Young, Flintshire, Wales
I spent a week birding in the Gambia, mainly in the coastal region.
I had 4 days planned with a local guide starting on the second day of my stay. However on my first day I chanced upon Ousman as he was scanning for shorebirds with a telescope near my hotel. We talked a bit and agreed to do a little birding together. Very soon I discovered that Ousman knew the local birds very, very well. And not only did he know the birds he was also an expert on butterflies, mammals and plants – he was an all-round nature guide.
During the next 4 days I realised that the guide I had previously hired, though competent, was nowhere near as good as Ousman. I decided to spend my last day birding with Ousman. He delivered, finding me many of the species that the other guide had been unable to locate.
Ousman has the ability to find a bird and put it in the scope with lightning speed. he is also good at pishing and luring the birds in. And perhaps equally important he is a very likeable fellow with whom you can spend a nice time out.
Eildert Beeftink, The Netherlands
We first met Ousman in February 2007. Since then we have used him as a bird guide on many occasions in and around Bakau and most recently on a trip up-river to Tendaba camp, Georgetown. He is brilliant at locating and identifying birds. We recorded well over 200 different species in this time with him. He is very reliable, friendly, trustworthy and reasonably priced! We recommend him without reservation.
Alan & Judith Mills, North Yorkshire, UK
The Gambia is an absolute paradise for birders, but many species can take some finding.
A knowledge of the birds and their habitats is essential to get the best out of your trip.
There is no better way than to hire a professional guide. There are numerous guides in The Gambia, some excellent, whilst many are eager but lack knowledge. If you are looking for a first class guide then look no further than Ousman Joku, he is one of the very best.
I used him on my first trip to The Gambia and found him to be a mild mannered, pleasant and extremely knowledgeable birder who takes his work very seriously, yet with his quiet professional manner and genuine sense of humour, trips out with him were an absolute delight.
I am a volunteer warden on a Nature Reserve in East Yorkshire so I know something about dealing with the public and I can say without reservation that Ousman has got it just right.
During my two week holiday I had a total of seven outings with him, ranging from evening walks to overnight trips. I saw an amazing 187 species of bird including Pel’s Fishing Owl and White-crested Tiger Heron not to mention Giant Kingfisher and Bateleur Eagle, fantastic!
You can arrange your itinerary before or when you arrive if Ousman is available. He will arrange trips anywhere within The Gambia and also into neighbouring Senegal.
You are guaranteed a fantastic holiday, with great weather, wonderful people and superb birding.
Richard and Mandy S., East Yorkshire
We are an ordinary birding and nature loving couple from Finland who have been able to travel a lot and see quite a lot birds in last ten years. We seldom visit the same country again because there are so many interesting places and various birds to see in the world. Still we have visited the Gambia four times since the year 2007. Actually the main reason to visit there again and again is not only the numerous splendid birds we have seen but also the most wonderful person called Ousman Joku. Ousman has not only been our bird guide during our trips but our host too when birding inland, visiting cultural places and his family and friends. We have made unforgettable trips together by foot, taxi, his friend’s car, boats, canoe, float and last time at February 2012 by his own car.
The first time we met Ousman he was youngster, but he impressed us by his talents, good sense of humour and ability to make circumspect decisions. Now is he even more skilful, care taking, warm, encouraging, ambitious, correct and absolutely reliable. Ousman has guided other Finns too and the most famous of them is the Finnish ornithologist called Lasse J. Laine, who has written many books of birds and his trip mentioning Ousman as a splendid guide in his book too. All Finns have been very pleased with Ousman. We are very happy to see that step by step our companionship with Ousman has grown to the close friendship and we respect him as a quide and as a good friend too.
Mrs. Heli-Kirsi Pekkarinen and Mr. Jarmo Lindstedt
My husband and I had the pleasure of touring the Gambia and parts of Senegal with Ousman Joku this past December. We have taken numerous birding tours these past 30 years, both with companies, and individually as we did with Ousman. He is a very accomplished birder as well as tour guide. We had two target birds, the first of which he found for us the second day, the Egyptian Plover. We worked a little harder for our second bird, the Abyssian Ground Hornbill, but did find it after 5 hours of searching. We saw many additional birds, well over 250 different species. I had asked for some cultural experiences as well. Never did I imagine we would be so completely emerged into the Gambian way of life. He invited us to his village to see his 3 day old son. This was also Ousman’s first visit with his new son. While there, we participated in a wedding reception, ate a typical meal in one of their houses, and watched Ousman’s soccer team win the area village’s tournament, and picked the best oranges I have ever eaten off his brother’s tree. The people were welcoming, friendly, and would give you what they had. I highly recommend him if you are looking for an accomplished birder who can find the birds you want to see. Ousman has the personality to make your trip enjoyable at so many levels. Our driver, Demba, was excellent as well. He managed to get us through a 4 hour stop and go traffic jam on the last day of our tour on our way to the airport, calmly and professionally.
Happy Birders from the USA
We first met Ousman when he was our guide along the Gambia river. During the week we got to know him well, his enthusiasm was infectious and his bird guiding skills matched some of the best guides we have experienced anywhere in the world.
We were also impressed by his wide natural history knowledge as we are interested in all wild life as well as birds. He is softly spoken, very polite and took great care to ensure that both of us were able to see all the birds he located.
When we returned to the Gambia for a second trip we contacted Ousman and arranged for him to pick us up from our hotel. As expected he arrived in good time and had planned an interesting range of habitats for us to visit. We enjoyed a couple of great days out with him; he was excellent company and we added a further 100 species to our Gambian list.
Anne and Steve Pilkington UK March 2012
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