FairPlay Gambia Upriver Adventures

FairPlay Gambia Upriver live aboard holidays
Best Experience in the Gambia! We booked a three night stay with FairPlay including excursions and an overnight trip onboard the Fula Princess boat. It was an incredible experience and we would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an authentic eco tourism package. The owner Dave was really helpful and created a tailored programme that suited our requirements. We thoroughly enjoyed all of the activities they organised for us. We enjoyed our stay at Musa's Riverside Garden lodge. Musa was so friendly and a great host. The bed was really comfortable. Breakfast by the riverbank was relaxing. On our first day we had a guided city tour of Janjanbureh with Mariama, who is very knowledgeable and charming, and a fascinating tour of the Kankurang museum with (the other) Musa, who has extensive knowledge of Masquerade culture from the different regions of the Gambia. The highlight of the trip was the 24 hour boat excursion on the Fula Princess, in particular the Chimpanzee sanctuary and sleeping out on the river overnight. It was such a privilege to see the chimps up close feeding on the riverbank, as we floated by in the boat. The ranger gave us lots of information about the project and the animals themselves beforehand, so that we could really appreciate what we were seeing. We must mention the crew, who were so accommodating and friendly! We were truly in safe hands with "Transporter", the captain of the boat, who gave us a very smooth ride and was always on the lookout for wildlife, spotting hippos and numerous types of birds for us to see. The chef Lamin is a wizard and conjured up some delightful meals for us, and Germano the tour guide was great fun and also highly knowledgeable about the river, wildlife, and the local communities and their way of life. Sleeping on board was a magical experience, gently floating on the water and listening to the sounds of the birds and animals, and was made very comfortable with a mosquito net to keep us safe from bites. We also went to see (and taste) palm wine tapping, and had a short hike to a nearby village. On our final day, we went hiking with Che who I must say is a brilliant guide and very enthusiastic. He told us all about the trees and plants, and their various uses such as making bush tea, and the local ecology and wildlife. We visited several villages and got to meet some of the very friendly inhabitants. All the while, Che happily answered all our questions and chatted with us openly about his own life and experiences. As we were staying in the coastal region for the rest of our time in the Gambia, it was a reasonably long journey to Janjanbureh by bus, but the express bus for 350 dalasis from Kanifing Bus Station was surprisingly comfortable and quick - very good value and recommend taking the express. On our return we accidentally took the local (non-express) bus, which was much busier and slower, but quite an interesting experience nonetheless!
Linda R
A great trip We went as a couple (in our mid 70s) at the end of January and loved our 3 night up-river trip on the Fula Princess. The peace, the birds, baboons and monkeys and the off-board visits made it a truly amazing experience. We were so well looked after by the very friendly, caring and professional crew - captain Modu, guide Sarjo and cook Lamin. Every meal was delicious and the bed very comfortable. We had organised our itinerary with Dave to take in the Kankurang festival in Janjambureh. We were so lucky that our trip coincided with this! So we sailed first to Bansang and enjoyed the market there, then on to Sami Karantaba where we danced with the beautiful joyous ladies and visited the Mungo Park memorial. We sailed on to Diagubu and then were driven to the fascinating town of Basse. Back at Janjanbureh we visited the Kankurang museum and watched a good part of the festival. What an experience!
Amazing tours to explore the nature and culture of the region with local people I have booked a wonderful 2 days trip as a single traveler via Dave. He answered all my questions by SMS until I have finally arrived in beautiful Janjanbureh. The trip was amazing! Thank you again for everything! And Cherno (he was my guide) did a great job & all the other people of the community based tourism who try to do their best to represent their culture and natural habitat in cooperation with Dave! The nature is fabulous and the people in the villages very friendly and curious. 😊🙏🏻
Lisa S
Wonderful river cruise, very peaceful and restful. Lovely crew. We spend two nights on the Fulla Princess with our two kids (11 and 13) and our Labrador. We all loved it. Waking up to the sound of the birds and waves on the boat is absolutely amazing. Swimming in the Gambia River an unusual and amazing pleasure. The activities are interesting and enriching. All in all an unforgettable experience.
Annalisa B
A great experience A trip of 24 hours on the River Gambia has completed our visit to the country. We have navigated downstream from Janjanbureh until the Baboon Islands where we have seen the Chimpanzees, from the boat as you cannot step ashore, to preserve the wilderness of the animals residing there. We have been accompanied by lots of birds and cocooned by the fantastic crew who has led us there, explained everything, fed us with delicious food, and prepared the boat for the night.
Ety F
The best trip ever Amazing ! So beautiful ! We spend 3 incredible days in the boat with the best crew ever Yusuf and Modou , both marvelous persons , full of details , delicious food and kindness. The boat is the best and the river is just a dream , at night you can see all the constellation and millions of shining stars , One of the most beautiful trips I have done. Thank you Dave , Yusuf and Modou.
Pekka P
A once in a lifetime adventure up the river Gambia! Did an amazing adventure with FairPlay Gambia with two days hiking and two days kayaking. Getting up river provided for amazing local hospitality, once-in-a-lifetime experiences exploring local villages, mysterious stone circles, and stunningly beautiful natural landscapes. David was very helpful in arranging everything and even showing me around the local spots (definitely go to Bendula’s bar!) on my rest day in between. Great chance to meet some real characters! FairPlay Gambia also source everything from the local communities, providing employment to some great local guides, putting every much needed dalasi into local communities. If you want a genuine, once-in-a-lifetime adventure with lots heart and soul, this is it! A big thanks particularly to David and Che!
Aaron S
A great kayaktour by fairplay We went to Janjanbureh with 7 friends because we saw the nice website of Dave. Because we are all young we decided to so the kayaking tour. We did not regret it, The full tour is quit long but you see some animals and in the end we had a nice sunset. Also the day before the tour we arrived at late in the nigt and thanks to dave he arranged a nice mael and place to stay. Already one worry less after a long drive from Senegal. I would reccommend everyone this expirience.
Jos V
Een top trip met z’n achten Flexibel en klantgericht. Goede ontvangst. Schitterende trip over de Gambia. Heerlijk gegeten op de boot en veel van flora en fauna gezien. Dit mag je niet missen👍
Jack H
Amazing 4-Night Hiking and Kayaking Trip Down the River Gambia I did a 4 night hiking and kayaking tour down the River Gambia with Fair Play and had a fantastic time. Dave (the owner), was extremely helpful, responsive and flexible when it came to planning out the experience and my other guides were friendly, knowledgeable and reliable as well. There is so many options when booking with this company, and given how accommodating and reliable they are, I would not hesitate for a second to recommend them to fellow travellers. A tour with Fair Play is an excellent way to see and experience the real Gambia.

FairPlay Gambia has developed an exciting range of eco-tourism things to do upriver in Gambia for visitors to the Central and Upper River Regions.

Based in Janjanbureh, we specialise in providing tailor-made, authentically African experiences for solo travellers and small groups looking to get off the beaten track.

We visit areas where the traditional culture is still strong and modernisation has not changed lifestyles.

Our guides are from the local community and they are always happy to share their traditional knowledge of the river, the bush and the villages with you. 

And because we are a social enterprise business, you can enjoy your trip safe in the knowledge that you’re making a valuable contribution to sustainable development.

Sample upriver itinerary

A Gambia River Cruise

A residential Upriver Gambia cruise onboard the Fula Princess takes you deep into the heart of rural Gambia.

Falling asleep to the sounds of the nighttime river and waking up to the spectacular African sunrise is an experience that you will never forget. Along the way, you will have a unique glimpse into the traditional lifestyles, culture and nature of this fascinating country.

Because we are a private charter, we can design the trip around your particular interests and move at your pace. And because we specialise in small groups (maximum 6 guests), you will enjoy a rich and immersive experience of The Gambia.

The Fula Princess is a traditional wooden pirogue, with two full-size double berths downstairs and options for sleeping under the stars on the upper deck. She is equipped with a galley, marine toilet, sit-down shower, solar lighting and charging points and all the required safety equipment. Read more… 

River boat

Local Boat Trips in our Small Boat

Round the Island – Two to three hours trips around the beautiful nature of Janjanbureh Island, looking for hippos, baboons and other primates.

1 – 4 People:    £45and 5 – 10 People:  £70

River Gambia National Park – Six-hour round trip to see the Chimpanzees at the River Gambia National Park and a chance to spot hippos, crocodiles, baboons and other primates. Depart Janjanbureh at around noon to see the chimpanzee feeding and return as the sun sets and the wildlife is most active.

1 – 4 People:    £90 and 5 – 10 People:  £120

Or travel in style onboard the Fula Princess and enjoy comfortable mattresses, cooked lunch and toilet facilities. Private charter day trips to the River Gambia National Park from £295 including lunch and entry fees


Bird-watching in The Gambia is an unforgettable experience, with a huge variety of habitats and species crammed into a small area. Birding on the River Gambia with FairPlay offers a unique chance to experience the full range of what can be found in the inland areas, both on and off the river.

Why FairPlay for Birding?

  • Wake up in nature
  • Visit the best birding sites both on the river & off
  • Top birding guide or bring your own
  • Explore new places that only we visit
  • Environmental & socially conscious company Read more…
Gambia boat trips


Kayaking with FairPlay is a chance to experience the beauty and tranquillity of the River Gambia in perfect peace and at your own pace. 

We offer a range of trips to suit all levels of fitness and experience, from half-day local paddling to multi-night expeditions in tents, lodges and local homestays. 

Along the way, you will enjoy incredible wildlife and have the chance to visit local communities.

UK instructors trained our friendly, professional guides and they have an in-depth knowledge of the river and surrounding communities. 

They can offer basic instruction and safety assessments for beginners. Read more…



FairPlay has been developing several hiking and cycling trails from Janjanbureh and further afield, that take you deep into the heart of rural Gambia. 

Experience the fascinating wildlife, traditional culture and a warm Gambian welcome as you explore areas rarely visited by travellers. Read more…

gambia river cruise


The River Gambia is home to the famous African Tigerfish and brings anglers from worldwide to test their skills against this fearsome predator. Our captain has vast experience in the area and will take you to the best fishing sites on the river, ensuring you the greatest chance of success.

Two x 3-hour sessions (morning and evening). Max two people: £120

Tiger fishing Gambia

If you prefer to fish from the bank, we can recommend the best sites and arrange equipment hire and a local assistant. Please message us for more information or to make a booking.

We have had 2 genuinely fantastic experiences with this brilliant team - our first being a kayaking trip down a stretch of the river Gambia seeing lots of wildlife and camping overnight. Today we returned from a 24-hour cruise on board the Fula Princess - 4 of us with the superb FairPlay Gambia team. Seeing hippos (including a whole family stretched out on the bank) was an experience of a lifetime as countless other wildlife along the way. The crew couldn't have been more hospitable - delicious food, a comfy bed with nets (on the top deck) and interesting conversations. Fairplay Gambia stood out to us as a social enterprise helping to support local communities which was wonderful to see.
I would thoroughly recommend this great organisation for individualised and exciting trips into the heart of Gambia!

Visit TripAdvisor to read more 5-star reviews of FairPlay Gambia

Workshops in local arts and crafts

Traditional skills are still very much alive in rural Gambia. So whether you’re interested in learning about African music, cooking, pottery, silversmithing or traditional fabrics, FairPlay can organise single-day or multi-day workshops with local artists who are happy to share the secrets of their trade.


The River Gambia

The River Gambia runs from its source in the Fouta Jallon highlands, 1,120 km to the Atlantic Ocean at Banjul. The last approximately 420 km of which are in The Gambia. It contains or supports some of the most pristine environments in West Africa. These include The River Gambia National Park and the Bao Bolong Wetlands. 

The freshwater habitats of the River Gambia around Kuntaur and Eastwards are home to Hippos, Nile crocodiles, Turtles, Warthog, Hyenas, African clawless otters, monitor lizards and four species of primates including Guinea baboons. The saltwater habitats nearer to the coast have two species of dolphin, saltwater crocodiles and even manatees. The country as a whole boasts a huge diversity of bird species for its small size.

From pre-colonial days until recently, the river was the main route for people/goods travelling to and from the provinces. These days tarmac roads have replaced the bush tracks and the bus service has replaced the riverboats. Leaving the river unused apart from a few fishermen and the peanut barges that still carry the annual harvest downriver.

River Gambia National Park (RGNP)

Upriver Gambia
The chimpanzee rehabilitation project

The River Gambia National Park is situated to the West of Janjanbureh and was established in 1978.

It includes the five ‘Baboon Islands’, three of which are home to more than 80 chimpanzees.

The animals have been rescued from the illegal trade in exotic species as part of Stella Marsden’s Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project and now live undisturbed on the islands.

While it is not permitted (or safe!) to land on the islands, it is possible to walk on the mainland with the park rangers to look for the endangered Temminck’s red colobus monkeys and to learn more about the rehabilitation project.


As a social enterprise, FairPlay strives to ensure that our style of ecotourism brings benefits to the local community. And minimises damage to the environment and supports the development of The Gambia as a whole. We believe in people over profit. Employing local people as far as possible and always on fair terms. We try to use local, sustainable products whenever they are available and prioritise ethical suppliers in our purchasing decisions. 

We’ve been involved in supporting various projects in and around Janjanbureh. These include bee-keeping training, forestry projects, educational sponsorship, kayaking training for local youths, football academies and much more. Want to know more? Or would like to involve yourself with a community project in the area, we can also arrange volunteer placements.

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