FairPlay Gambia Upriver Adventures

FairPlay Gambia Upriver live aboard holidays

Things to do in 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.

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.

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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
Gambia boat trips

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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. 


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FairPlay has been developing a number of 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. 

gambia river cruise

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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.

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:    £45

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 12 pm in order to see the chimpanzee feeding and return as the sun sets and the wildlife is most active.

1 – 4 People:    £90

5 – 10 People:  £120

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 trades.

  • Drumming
  • Cooking
  • Pottery Making
  • Silversmithing
  • Tie-and-Dye / Batik Making
  • Local fishing

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.

Our latest blog posts

Read our reviews for TripAdvisor and Facebook

  • Daves very knowledgeable and vast experience accommodating bespoke trips/ travellors in Gambia. He sources local Gambians setting up their own tourism initiatives -a highly ethical Eco tourism ethos. His staff... read more

    Angela Clare Bush
    February 17, 2018

    awesome with faith play .

    Modou Mbarody Sanyany
    December 3, 2021
  • If you want to go see the real Gambia this is the trip for you,the lads on the boat look after you all the time and are a great bunch,I'm... read more

    Matthew Cheshire
    February 20, 2017

    I checked out the Fula Princess on the water while at Janjanbureh and spoke to Dave a couple of times although I didn't end up travelling on this occasion due... read more

    Ashwin Raghu
    May 29, 2018
  • The 4 Days River cruise on the Fulla Princess was a beautiful experience. I did quite some traveling in my lifetime but this amazing trip with Fair play was surely... read more

    Amadou Bah
    January 11, 2021

    I had the pleasure of training this social enterprise in First Aid, they must be one of the top companies for following Health & Safety, I had 3 nights on... read more

    George Carruthers
    December 31, 2020
  • Great experience and a nice time

    Mike de Keyser
    February 9, 2019

    My wife and I had a memorable and pleasant experience on the Gambia River on boat the Fula Prince. We do recommend it.

    Vincent Gauci
    June 19, 2019
  • An experience every Gambia visitor should do. This adventure will provide you with memories to last a life time and will having you wanting to return time and time again

    Kim Bowskill
    January 4, 2021

    FairPlay organized for us the most amazing 2,5 week itinerary in Gambia! Highly recommended if you want a tailor-made authentic Gambian experience! Below are some of our many highlights of our adventure... read more

    Andrew Stevens
    February 20, 2022
  • in 14 years of visiting Gambia, our trip was the best we have ever done. Lovely journey up river, staff were brilliant and tiger fishing a big bonus for hubby.

    Maria Lavender
    January 9, 2020

    For those looking to minimise their negative impacts on the environment of pur beloved Gambia the Fula Princess is a better choice for you. I know the guys working... read more

    Mustapha Debbal Bah
    April 3, 2017
  • The best experience we have had since we arrived in Gambia! Great team and great company! Feel free!!

    Sergi Avila Juan
    November 8, 2018

  • star rating  Had the trip of a lifetime up the River Gambia from Bintang to Janjanbureh. Starting early from Turntable in the camper van we reached Bintang and boarded the beautiful authentic... read more

    February 9, 2020

    star rating  Still looking for an extra wow experience for your Gambia trip; the RiverGambiaNationalPark trip last January with the Fula Princess was ours.

    Despite the disclaimer, we saw them all:... read more

    avatar thumb JosV-MarK
    February 6, 2023
  • star rating  We have had 2 truly fantastic experiences with this brilliant team - our first being a kayaking trip down a stretch of the river Gambia seeing lots of wildlife and... read more

    April 28, 2022

    star rating  We thoroughly enjoyed our 5 night stay aboard the Fula Princess on the river Gambia from Bintang to Janjanbureh. The very professional crew were excellent - nothing was too much... read more

    June 28, 2019
  • star rating  What better way to birdwatch on the River Gambia than on board a traditional Gambian boat such as The Fula Princess? Six of us enjoyed this trip, with two sleeping... read more

    June 29, 2019

    star rating  Geweldige rivier cruise op de Gambia, niet te missen! - Fijne trip op The Gambia. Onze river-cruise op de Fula Princess met een overnachting was bijzonder de moeite waard!
    Mooie riviergezichten, met veel natuur en beesten (ja ze zijn... read more

    avatar thumb 783fransv
    February 3, 2023
  • star rating  This january we did book the "Chimps & Hippos" rivertrip on the Fula Princess. It was absolutely a great experience! We did see both the Chimps and the Hippos,... read more

    avatar thumb SimoneZoom
    January 31, 2023

    star rating  The Gambia was a gem among gems in my world travel, and finishing my trip with an overnight boat excursion with Fair Play was a great way to cap off... read more

    avatar thumb Kris3232
    December 27, 2022
  • star rating  I cannot express enough what a wonderful trip we had with Fair Play Gambia. Yousufa, our chef, Chris, our guide, and Ibrahima, our captain were all lovely people to spend... read more

    May 1, 2021

    star rating  I took a one-night cruise on the boat from Bintang to the Senegambia bridge at New Year's 2023. On the first afternoon we saw lots of dolphins. The dolphins were... read more

    avatar thumb brandonpsenegal
    February 8, 2023
  • star rating  We joined the Fula Princess and crew at Janjanbureh and decided to head up stream as I had never been this far up The Gambia River.

    The river here... read more

    April 20, 2022

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