Birding Tour Ghana: Upper Guinea Forest to the Sahel
Birding Tour Ghana: Upper Guinea Forest to the Sahel
Ghana is easily the ‘best’ country in which to start one’s West African birding career. Its huge range of habitats is easily accessible and all the special birds, including the charismatic White-necked Rockfowl (Yellow-headed Picathartes), are amazingly well staked-out. While a lot of birders start their West African birding with a visit to the tiny Gambia, the larger and more varied Ghana has a great deal more to offer, including a mammoth 180 of the “Guinea-Congo Rainforest” birds (which will basically all be life-birds for anyone who has not yet been to West Africa) and 12 of the 15 Upper Guinea Forest endemics (which are restricted to a much smaller part of West Africa, i.e. part of the Bulge of Africa). These Upper Guinea endemics can be found in neighboring countries, but access and birding gen is lacking compared with Ghana, and travel for English-speakers is significantly more difficult.
White-necked Rockfowl is one of our special targets on this Ghana birding tour.
Ghana certainly does have a wide range of different habitats, and we look not only for forest birds at sites including one of Africa’s most impressive canopy walkways in Kakum National Park, but we also look for some charismatic arid-area birds. We ensure we have several days to spend exploring the mosaic of open wooded savannas of the fabulous Mole National Park. This is the country’s premier wildlife reserve, and megafauna like African Elephant are a regular feature (often bathing at the pools visible in front of our hotel). We also dip our toes into the Sahel zone (and some of its specials) up on the White Volta River along the border with Burkino Faso. Both Standard-winged Nightjar and the incomparable Egyptian Plover are other highly-desirable and major targets on this tour that is likely to feature a further 400 species of birds.
Ghana must rank as one of the best countries to find the incredible Standard-winged Nightjar (photo Don Cowan).
Itinerary (20 days/19 nights)
Day 1. Arrival into Accra
This is your arrival day into Accra, and you can arrive at your leisure. There are no formal plans for birding today as most flights tend to arrive in the evening.
Overnight: Accra hotel
Day 2. Birding Shai Hills, and transfer to the Atewa Range
Our first day birding in Ghana will be spent at the fabulous Shai Hills Resource Reserve, on the outskirts of Accra. Covering a wide mix of more open wooded habitats, this is an excellent place to begin the tour as we’re likely to get good views of the many birds in this more open environment, allowing you to settle into the African birding. We will familiarize ourselves with common species such as Western Plantain-eater, Green Wood Hoopoe, African Grey Hornbill, White-throated Bee-eater, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Northern Puffback, Glossy-backed Drongo and Northern Black Flycatcher. We should also be exposed to the first of the more special birds of the tour, with the likes of Violet Turaco, Bearded Barbet, Senegal Parrot, Oriole Warbler and Splendid Sunbird all possible, while this is also arguably the best place in the country to see the shy Stone Partridge and White-crowned Cliff Chat. All in all, we’re going to see many species during the course of the day with our daily list likely to be more than 100 species.
While common, the gaudy Yellow-crowned Gonolek is sure to be an early tour highlight.
In the afternoon, we will make the transfer to the Atewa Range, and it should see us arriving with time to spare in the afternoon. Should we have enough time, we’ll likely have a short walk in the farmbrush and scrubby habitat on the edge of the forest, where we’ll be on the lookout for the likes of specials such as Orange-cheeked Waxbill and Compact Weaver, amongst more widespread species.
Overnight: Linda Dor hotel (or similar), Atewa Range
Day 3. Full day hike up the Atewa Range
We set off early to maximise the cooler hours of the day, as we embark on a full day hike up the Atewa Range. Note that this is a challenging hike, both in distance covered and terrain. This hike takes us through varying degrees of forest habitat; first we start off with more open, forest edge habitat, before we gradually ascend into much taller and more mature stands of forest. The more mature stands of forest hold such prized specials as Nimba and Tessmann’s Flycatchers, and the scarce Yellow-footed Honeyguide. We will also seek out the stunning Blue-moustached Bee-eater, arguably the best site in the country for this bird, along with Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Kemp’s Longbill, Violet-backed Hyliota, Finsch’s Rufous Thrush and White-tailed Alethe.
The scarce Blue-moustached Bee-eater occurs in the Atewa Range forests.
Keeping an eye to the skies overhead often reveals Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle. The general nature of forest birding is difficult, with the forest often quiet for long periods of time, before bursting to life with a flock moving through that leaves us scrambling to pick out all the different birds as quickly as possible. As this will be our first exposure to West African forest birding, new birds of all sorts will be seen, and we’re going to encounter a wide range of other species including various tinkerbirds, greenbuls, sunbirds and flycatchers (and so much more). After a long, but exciting day hiking up and down the Atewa Range, we’ll return to our hotel for some much-needed rest (and a cold beer) in the afternoon, reflecting on an exciting day of forest birding!
Overnight: Linda Dor hotel (or similar), Atewa Range
Day 4. Birding back to Accra
We have a fairly flexible day, as we ultimately transfer back to Accra. Our morning will likely be spent around the always-birdy farmbrush and scrubby habitat, on the outskirts of the Atewa Range – and we may even venture into the forest edge habitat on the beginning of the trail – all depending on the birds we’re still searching for. We will have the likes of Lowland Sooty Boubou, Blue Malkoha, Black Bee-eater, Red-billed Helmetshrike and Puvel’s Illadopsis firmly on our radar. We also have repeat opportunities for the likes of the dazzling Red-cheeked Wattle-eye and Kemp’s Longbill, should we have missed these species on our full-day hike. We will also try to spend a bit of time in the afternoon at the Sakumono Lagoon, on the beachfront in Accra, where we’re likely to add a great number of various waterbirds to our burgeoning list. The tides will determine what shorebirds/waders we see, but the possibilities are many and include several godwits, stints, sandpipers, shanks and plovers. Several terns and gulls are usually present, and we’re also all but guaranteed to find our first Western Reef Herons and Pied Kingfishers. Content after another good day birding, we’ll make our way to our city hotel and settle in for the evening.
Overnight: Erata Hotel, Accra
Many bright and colorful bee-eaters can be seen on this tour – this Black Bee-eater (surely the most attractive!) can be seen in most forest patches throughout the tour.
Day 5. Transfer to Kakum National Park, birding Winneba en-route
We have an early start to best try and negate the notorious Accra traffic, as we make our way westwards to the mighty Kakum National Park, where we will spend three nights. This is a fairly long drive, but we will break it up with birding stops at the Winneba Lagoon and the surrounding Winneba Plains. The lagoon is also tidal, and much will depend on the times of the tides when we’re present there, but a wide range of waterbirds are possible. The Winneba Plains support a slightly different suite of birds, and in particular we’ll be on the lookout for Moustached Grass Warbler, Red-winged Prinia, Flappet Lark, Copper Sunbird, Yellow-mantled Widowbird and Yellow-throated Longclaw, amongst others. Time permitting, we’re also likely to get a short spell of birding in the scrubby areas surrounding our lodge, where various weavers and greenbuls are possible, along with the above-mentioned Winneba Plains species, while we may even get our first views of the spectacular Rosy Bee-eater as they fly about acrobatically overhead.
Overnight: Rainforest Lodge, Jukwa
Sunrise on the canopy walkway in Kakum National Park provides you with unparalleled views.
Days 6 – 7. Birding the fabulous Kakum National Park
We’ll spend a good amount of time birding the nearby canopy walkway of Kakum National Park, which makes seeing some of the canopy birds much easier than usual! Please be aware that it is a very steep, rocky ascent to get to the walkway. Our time spent on the canopy walkway usually includes the likes of Blue Cuckooshrike, Grey Parrot (it’s truly wonderful seeing this popular cage bird in the wild!), three nigrita species (interesting West African finches), the truly magnificent Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Violet-backed Hyliota, the beautiful Yellow-spotted Barbet and the strangely named Hairy-breasted Barbet, Brown-cheeked Hornbill and the monstrous Black-casqued and Yellow-casqued Hornbills (it’s quite something to hear their amazingly heavy wingbeats), two different Wood Hoopoe species (White-headed and Forest), Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Sharpe’s Apalis, West African Batis and a host of other tantalizing West African birds. Ussher’s Flycatcher are always present as they hawk insects from the wires keeping the walkway upright.
Watching a Rufous-sided Broadbill displaying is a highlight in the forests of Ghana
We’ll also be sure to spend enough time birding from the forest floor in the surrounding sections of the park, and in the general area. One of the biggest stars is always Rosy Bee-eater, the beauty of which almost defies belief. Blue-headed Wood Dove, Blue-throated Roller, Forest Robin, Red-billed Helmetshrike, and Yellow-billed Turaco are also wonderfully colorful. It’s a paradise for hornbills, and we hope to get acquainted with White-crested and Piping Hornbills, in addition to the other species mentioned above. Two species of bristlebill (unusually good-looking greenbuls) are usually present. White-spotted Flufftail skulks on the forest floor but is not quite as elusive as most other flufftail species. Melancholy and Fire-bellied Woodpeckers, and various cuckoos, including the brilliant Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo and the equally amazing (rather tiny) Yellow-throated Cuckoo, are quite possible. White-tailed Alethe is often seen on the forest floor. Two bat-like swift species, Sabine’s and Cassin’s Spinetails, flutter over the forest, and if we’re very lucky, we may see the rare Black Spinetail as well. The list continues, though, as we might also see Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Forest Penduline Tit, Tit Hylia, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Willcocks’s Honeyguide, and plenty more.
Night birding in this area can generate Long-tailed and Brown Nightjars, and both Akun and Fraser’s Eagle-Owls.
Overnight: Rainforest Lodge, Jukwa
Night time searches will hopefully turn up the scarce Akun and Fraser’s (pictured) Eagle-Owls.
Days 8 – 10. Ankasa National Park – supreme West African forest birding!
The still very wild Ankasa National Park easily has the most pristine forest of the trip, and it’s worthwhile for the star birds we find here. White-breasted Guineafowl might put in an appearance, but this is an extremely difficult bird to pin down and we’ll need a good dose of luck. Nkulengu Rail will get a lot of attention from us, and hopefully we’ll manage to get decent visuals on this species (usually at night on their roosts). Grey-throated Rail and the scarce Spot-breasted Ibis are also possible. Very beautiful kingfishers abound. We might see Shining-blue Kingfisher beside a quiet pond, and we usually also find White-bellied Kingfisher and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher. We have stacks of greenbuls to find, including the sought-after Yellow-bearded and Western Bearded Greenbuls, and two bristlebill species.
We will also attempt to see the ultra-shy Rufous-winged and Blackcap Illadopsis, with their pleasant, liquid calls, not to mention Black-throated Coucal, the truly huge Great Blue Turaco, Blue-headed and Dusky Crested Flycatchers, and Crowned Eagle. Red-fronted Antpecker is always a big star should we be lucky enough to find it, as are groups of Red-billed Dwarf Hornbills and the displaying Rufous-sided Broadbill. With some dedicated searching Red-chested Owlet is also sometimes seen, and the shy Forest Robin, while common, will take much patience to see well. Akun and Fraser’s Eagle-Owls occur, and should we still need these species, we’ll be sure to put a bit of time in evenings to track them down.
Overnight: Ankasa Reserve Lodge, Ankasa
Nkulengu Rail is a mega African species we’ll try very hard for during our time at Ankasa.
Day 11. Ebi Mangroves and Brenu Beach en-route to Kakum National Park
We’ll likely spend the morning birding in the Ankasa National Park (depending on what we still need) before we start heading back eastward to our familiar lodge on the outskirts of the Kakum National Park from a few days ago. Nearby wetland areas usually deliver further prized species including African Pygmy Goose, Hartlaub’s Duck, Allen’s Gallinule, Orange Weaver and both Reichenbach’s and Mangrove Sunbirds. Next on the agenda are some desirable species in the Brenu Beach area, such as Preuss’s Cliff Swallow, the brightly colored, absolutely brilliant, rather strange Oriole Warbler, Marsh Tchagra, and Baumann’s Olive Greenbul.
Overnight: Rainforest Lodge, Jukwa
Day 12. White-necked Rockfowl (Picathartes) vigil – The most anticipated day of the trip
The two species of charismatic, cave-roosting, and cave-nesting rockfowl (picathartes) are both West African endemics and both Vulnerable (partly due to their need for caves within rainforest, not a common combo). Needless to say, seeing either of the two representatives of this family is high on the wish list of many a birder. The site we visit is arguably the best place on earth to find White-necked Rockfowl – we’ve had a 100 % success rate so far – as we patiently wait in the late afternoon for the birds to come to their roosting and nesting site deep in the forest.
While this is easily the main target for the day (and probably the trip!), it is a day that will likely feature many other birding stops as we make our way up to the Bonkro village for the rockfowl. Birding nearer Kakum National Park in the morning may yield the likes of White-spotted Flufftail, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Tit Hylia, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat and Black-bellied Seedcracker, amongst many others. A stop further along at the Pra River will also hopefully yield the unique ‘West African race’ of Rock Pratincole, along with White-bibbed Swallow.
Overnight: Picathartes Guesthouse, Bonkro, in the Ashanti region
The diminutive Yellow-throated Cuckoo can play ‘hide-and-seek’ at times.
Day 13. Birding Bonkro and Bobiri Butterfly Reserve
Content from our previous evening watching the strange and incomparable White-necked Rockfowl, we have the morning to spend birding and exploring this excellent forest patch. While the rockfowls are unlikely to be seen this morning, we will focus our efforts on trying to find the other tricky species that occur. Blue Cuckooshrike whistles from the canopy, while Red-billed Helmetshrike flop lazily over clearings and with some careful searching both the tiny Lemon-bellied Crombec and scarce Kemp’s Longbills can be coaxed from the thickets. Several forest weavers, namely the localized Preuss’s Weaver along with Maxwell’s Black and Yellow-mantled Weavers are also reliably sought here. The forest birding generally is excellent, and this site serves as an excellent backup for many species that are becoming trickier elsewhere. We will make the transfer to the sprawling town of Kumasi, where we will spend the night – but not before ensuring we get some quality time in at the local Bobiri Butterfly Reserve. While the butterfly show is good, the birding is even better here, and slowly walking along the road will be sure to net us many exciting species. Foremost of our targets is likely to be Black Dwarf Hornbill and the tiny African Piculet. This is also a great site for the mega Long-tailed Hawk, and it should give us further chances for the likes of Narina Trogon, Forest Wood Hoopoe, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher and White-tailed Alethe, amongst others. Difficult-to-see Latham’s Francolins are also possible here, but seeing this shy ground-dwelling bird requires a big dose of luck.
Overnight: Royal Basin Resort, Kumasi
Black Dwarf Hornbill is a scarce resident in the Bobiri Butterfly Reserve.
Days 14 – 16. Mole National Park – from forests to savanna
En route to the savanna and dry woodlands of Mole National Park, a brilliant game reserve in the north of the country that has a whole new suite of birds awaiting us along with elephant, crocodiles, and a lot of other good animals, we stop at Opra Forest. Here the massive Fiery-breasted Bushshrike is a real highlight. We might see the hulking Thick-billed Cuckoo or the tiny Cassin’s Honeybird, along with several other species. This is a long drive, and will take the bulk of the day, and we anticipate rolling into Mole during the afternoon.
The truly spectacular Standard-winged Nightjar is one of Mole’s most famous avian specials and requires dedicated night drives to find. The West and Central African endemic, Forbes’s Plover, is also sought here, sometimes alongside the scarce Sun Lark. If we’re lucky, White-throated Francolin, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Four-banded Sandgrouse and the nomadic Rufous-rumped Lark can be seen in these more open areas as well.
Forbes’s Plover is a special of equatorial West Africa, occurring on the dry plains in Mole.
We will be sure to spend some time birding the more mature wooded areas, both around the hotel, and further afield. Core of our targets in this environment will be the scarce African Spotted Creeper (more of a miombo woodland bird in southern Africa), White-fronted Black Chat, difficult Rufous and Dorst’s Cisticolas, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, White-crested Helmetshrike, White-breasted Cuckooshrike and Brown-rumped Bunting. More common and beautiful species also abound, and we’re likely to see Red-throated Bee-eater, Bearded Barbet, Grey-headed Kingfisher, African Golden Oriole, the extravagant Long-tailed Glossy Starling, White-crowned Robin-Chat, both Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds (with their extravagantly long tails) and a number of colorful finches including Red-winged Pytilia, Orange-cheeked and Lavender Waxbills, Black-faced and Bar-breasted Firefinches and if we’re lucky an Exclamatory Paradise Whydah.
Delightful Red-throated Bee-eaters are abundant in Mole National Park.
The wetland in front of our hotel regularly brings in African Elephants (along with other mammals including Roan Antelope), and often has a wide range of birds, including African Openbill and Senegal Thick-knee in attendance. Many raptors can also be sought in the park, and we’ll be sure to keep an eye out for Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, White-headed Vulture, Bateleur and the dry-country specialist, Grasshopper Buzzard. Our night time searches for Standard-winged Nightjar are also likely to produce other night birds, and in particular, we’ll keep an eye out for African Scops and Northern White-faced Owls and Greyish Eagle-Owl, along with Long-tailed Nightjar.
Overnight: Mole Motel, with a view over Mole National Park’s savanna
Day 17. Transfer to Bolgatanga, via Tongo Hills
After two full days, and a final morning today, of safari drives and walks in Mole National Park, we’ll bid farewell to this fine reserve, and journey right the way to the Burkina Faso border in the far north of the country. While we have a fair drive, we’ll have enough time for some birding stops, and targets as the vegetation becomes increasingly arid, include Red-necked Falcon, the good-looking Fox Kestrel, the nicely named Rock-loving Cisticola, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, striking White-crowned Cliff Chat and Gosling’s Bunting.
Overnight: Blue Sky Hotel, Bolgatanga
Egyptian Plovers are usually present on the White Volta River in the north of the country – our main reason for trekking up to the north.
Day 18. Egyptian Plover on the White Volta River
We make an excursion right to the northern border of the country, where we look for what is usually regarded as another of the top birds of our Ghana birding tour – the spectacularly plumaged Sahelian special, Egyptian Plover. The dry and arid habitat up here is different from anything we will have encountered so far, meaning we’re bound to add a lot of other birds to our growing list. The pickings include a number of seedeaters such as White-billed Buffalo Weaver, African Silverbill, the aptly named Cut-throat Finch, White-rumped Seedeater etc. However, it is the stunning Abyssinian Roller with its spectacular tail streamers and bright colors and the even more dazzling Northern Carmine Bee-eater that are in general the most admired. Black-headed Lapwing and Four-banded Sandgrouse are also very popular, though, and if we’re lucky, we may also find Greater Painted-snipe, African Green Bee-eater and the incredibly localized Black-backed Cisticola, amongst many more.
Overnight: Blue Sky Hotel, Bolgatanga
Day 19. Flight to Accra
We have a final morning of birding available to us in the Bolgatanga area – where we can visit some of the dry scrub areas, searching for any possible species we may still be needing (which might include African Green Bee-eater), before we make the drive to Tamale. From Tamale, we will catch a domestic flight back to Accra in the afternoon (cutting out an otherwise long and arduous two-day drive), following which we’ll settle in at our comfortable hotel, and reminisce about the good times, and excellent birds we’ll have found along our comprehensive tour to this country.
Overnight: Erata Hotel, Accra
Preuss’s Cliff Swallow are restricted to equatorial West Africa, and will feature on this tour.
Day 20. Departure from Accra
The day is set aside for your departure, and you are welcome to depart at your leisure. Morning birding can be arranged for those departing later in the evening, but kindly note that the tour officially ends after breakfast.
Overnight: Not included
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.
Ghana: Upper Guinea Forest to The Sahel Set Departure Tour Report,
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26 FEBRUARY – 19 MARCH 2023
White-necked Rockfowl is one of the ultimate species of this tour, and indeed Africa!
Ghana is arguably the best country from which to access West Africa from a birding point of view. Vast tracts of lowland forests still persist, with the wild Ankasa Conservation Area being the best example, housing almost the full contingent of Upper Guinea Forest specials. Further north in the country, the forests are replaced by Guinea woodlands and savannas, where herds of African Elephants still roam around in the vast Mole National Park. Further north still, one reaches the edge of the Sahelian zone – an effective buffer to the Sahara Desert, which hosts typical dry country arid specials.
Our tour largely followed suit, covering all the habitat types found in Ghana. Firstly, various tracts of forests near the coast, including the Kakum Forest and its excellent canopy walkway, and the vast Ankasa Conservation Area wilderness zone were visited. Here we found such desirable birds as Rufous-sided Broadbill, Black and Blue-moustached Bee-eaters, White-bellied Kingfisher, Tit Hylia, Sharpe’s Apalis, and the mega Nkulengu Rail. We also visited the Bonkro forest, where we would stake out one of the country’s premier birds – White-necked Rockfowl.
Blue-moustached Bee-eater is one of Ghana’s more sought-after birds – we did well to find a pair at Ankasa.
We then transitioned into the wooded Guinea savannas of Mole National Park, which were very birdy. Gaudy birds like Violet Turaco, Red-throated Bee-eater, Senegal Parrot and Black-faced Firefinch were seen, along with other specials like Forbes’s Plover and Sun Lark. The group also had close encounters with African Elephants. The arid north, near the Burkina Faso border, was also visited as it hosts the Egyptian Plover – another excellent target species. Various other arid-country species, like Abyssinian Roller and Long-tailed Glossy Starling, were seen in this Sahelian zone. A long trek back down to the more forested coastal region gave us the special Long-tailed Hawk and Black Dwarf Hornbill at Bobiri Butterfly Reserve, along with other excellent species including, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Yellow-footed Honeyguide, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher to round up the tour.
The birding in Ghana, as is typical of the lowland West African forests, is generally difficult and requires lots of time and patience in the appropriate habitats. We did very well by all standards, finding all the major specials of the tour, like White-necked Rockfowl, Nkulengu Rail, and Egyptian Plover, along with a heap of other scarce species restricted to this Upper Guinea section of Africa.
A detailed daily account of the tour can be read below, and complete bird and mammal lists can be found at the end of the report. Well over 400 species of birds were recorded on this tour.
Day 1, 26th February 2023. Arrival into Accra
Today was set aside as an arrival day, with no formal plans. Some of the guests had arrived the previous day, and the remaining part of the group arrived during the course of the afternoon. After some downtime, the group formally met for dinner and spent the evening running through the many exciting birds that lay ahead over the course of the next few weeks.
Day 2, 27th February 2023. Accra to Kakum, via the Cape Coast Castle
We had an early breakfast and hit the road soon after, negotiating our way through the crazy Accra traffic. Indeed, it was a bit slower than we anticipated, and we eventually arrived at the Winneba Lagoon, our first stop of the day, in the mid-morning. Unfortunately, the tide was up, and water covered the entirety of the mudflats. Fortunately, a few small grassy banks in the distance supported a fair number of shorebirds and terns, and we slowly worked through them in the scope. Numbers of the sought-after West African Crested Tern were present, and some careful scanning also revealed Sandwich and Black Terns among the more numerous Common Terns. Waders were dominated by large numbers of Grey Plovers, with small numbers of Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Common Whimbrels, Curlew and Common Sandpipers, Common Ringed Plovers and Bar-tailed Godwits all noted. We also enjoyed the antics of the resident Western Reef Herons and Pied Kingfishers. Having worked the area to our satisfaction, we continued on our way once more, now bound for the tragic Cape Coast Castle. Some minor vehicle issues on the way halted us, but we eventually arrived in time for lunch, after which we undertook a tour of the castle. This was an emotional experience for all of us, as we visited various points around the castle, including the dungeons and the ‘Door of no return’.
Following this rather sobering visit, we continued the short distance to our lodge right outside the Kakum National Park, where we would be based for the next three nights. We quickly checked in and dropped our things off before venturing into some nearby farm-brush habitat for a short spell of late afternoon birding. Initially the birding was slow, but soon picked up, and we barely moved for a long period of time as new birds came in thick and fast. A lively Red-winged Prinia called from a nearby tree, while a pair of bright Splendid Sunbirds visited a flowering bush. Both Common and Grey Kestrels graced the skyline before a Mottled Spinetail and several Rosy Bee-eaters crashed the party. A stunning Vieillot’s Barbet perched wonderfully on an exposed snag for us, while a bright Diederik Cuckoo came calling by. We were able to pry out a shy Black-crowned Tchagra from the scrub, along with both Little and Simple Greenbuls. Numbers of Copper Sunbirds also provided regular entertainment, as did several African Pied Hornbills. We tore ourselves away and settled in for the evening, following a long but productive day out –excited for our days ahead in the Kakum area.
Birding from the canopy walkway in Kakum National Park offers unparalleled access to the forest birds of the region.
Day 3, 28th February 2023. Birding the Kakum walkway
One of the many highlights of our Ghana tour is the day we spend on the canopy walkway at the fabulous Kakum National Park. We had an early start to maximize our time on the walkway before it got too warm (and crowded), and soon, we were summiting the steep rocky pathway and making our way onto the walkway. We noted a few birds on the way up, which included a few bright male Buff-throated Sunbirds, along with several greenbuls like Little Grey Greenbul, while numerous calling Forest Robins remained unseen sadly. The canopy walkway itself was a little quiet, and while we added birds as we went along, they were mostly few and far between. A pair of Violet-backed Hyliotas flew in and kicked things off but didn’t hang around for long, while a Red-headed Malimbe gave us more satisfactory views. Both Little Grey and Ussher’s Flycatchers showed well, as did a migratory Wood Warbler. Numbers of barbets and tinkerbirds were heard calling, but we only managed views of Speckled Tinkerbird, along with a very brief Yellow-billed Barbet. Both Black-winged Oriole and Sabine’s Puffback eventually showed well, as did the sought-after Sharpe’s Apalis and a fast-moving party of Spotted Greenbuls. While enjoying the antics of a pair of Collared Sunbirds, we picked up on a fast-moving Tit Hylia. Fortunately, the bird settled close to us and put on quite the show – also joined by several other individuals – before eventually melting back into the forest. Raptors were also sparse, and only an African Cuckoo-Hawk and African Harrier-Hawk were seen, while a calling Congo Serpent Eagle sadly left us frustrated. We eventually called it a morning and made our way back down the hill, where we took a short break over the lunch period.
We resumed in the mid-afternoon back at the Kakum walkway, hoping for more activity than the morning spell had produced. We were partly successful, as although it was still decidedly quiet in the afternoon on the walkway, we did manage to eke out a few more birds. A tiny West African Batis jumped around the tree tops in front of us, and after long and patient scanning, we finally picked up on Brown-cheeked Hornbill, and enjoyed some good scope views! Several Black Bee-eaters made a few flyby passes over us, while a tiny Yellow-throated Tinkerbird posed briefly. We also finally enjoyed good looks at Grey-headed and White-breasted Nigritas – both of which were frequently heard during the day. While watching a Palm-nut Vulture cruising overhead, we also picked up on two distant Red-fronted Parrots flying above the treetops, but we had to be content with somewhat distant views of these. As to be expected we added a few more birds to the heard-only list, such as Grey-headed Bristlebill, White-throated Greenbul, Blue Malkoha and Yellow-billed Turaco. We waited until dark and tried for a few owls around the parking area but came up empty-handed. We headed back to our lodge and settled in for the evening, following another long, but good day out.
Glorious Black Bee-eaters were seen around the Kakum walkway and proved to be a regular sight in most forests we birded in Ghana.
Day 4, 1st March 2023. Birding Kakum and surrounds
We started our morning nice and early before it got too warm, birding the farm-brush (and eventually the forests themselves) on the edge of the Kakum National Park. Activity was high, and progress was slow – as there were almost too many birds to look at! A look at a bustling colony of the unique West African race of Vieillot’s Black Weaver also produced a fine African Pygmy Kingfisher and a Guinea Turaco. Nearby thickets held the tiny Green Crombec and a very mobile Brown-throated Wattle-eye. A small flock of Piping Hornbills joined the throngs of African Pied Hornbills, with a few of the sought-after (and bright!) Rosy Bee-eaters mixed into the groupings. Several Blue-throated Rollers perched atop some of the larger trees on the forest edge, eventually showing their blue throats. At the same time, small groups of Orange-cheeked Waxbill and Red-headed Quelea flitted about the rank growth. A flowering tree held masses of sunbirds, with the large Superb Sunbird dominating the numbers. Here, we also picked out Buff-throated and Blue-throated Brown Sunbirds. We tried our best to get into the forest before it was too late in the day, with our final distraction being a flock of scarce Black Spinetails flying low overhead. Once in the forest, the activity, and numbers of birds we saw dropped quickly, but our patience netted us Naked-faced Barbet, Western Oriole, and Golden Greenbul early on. A vocal Chocolate-backed Kingfisher refused to show, despite a long, hard, and dedicated search. Another species we failed to lay eyes on was Rufous-sided Broadbill, we heard a displaying bird not far from us but it was deep in an inaccessible valley. We did manage to bag a few more species, from Fraser’s Sunbird to Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher and Red-vented Malimbe. A vocal Blue-billed Malimbe soon joined the party, but its brief showing left us wanting more. We eventually retired for the morning and headed back to our lodge for a lunch break and siesta, following an excellent few hours out.
Black Spinetail is a scarce species and showed well for the group in the Kakum vicinity!
We resumed in the late afternoon, exploring another tract of forest right next to the Kakum National Park. We enjoyed a productive walk along the roadside here, adding a constant stream of new species. A Sabine’s Spinetail flitted overhead, quickly followed by a lone Preuss’s Cliff Swallow, while both Yellow-billed Barbets and Red-rumped Tinkerbirds showed well in the giant canopies. A mixed flock held the likes of busy Rufous-crowned Eremomelas, Green Crombecs and Tit Hylias. We improved our views of Fraser’s Sunbird while also getting our first looks at Western Bearded and Red-tailed Greenbuls. As the sun began to set, we finally got some excellent views of Yellow-billed Turaco, while our views of Blue-headed Wood Dove and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo left much to be desired. A few of us returned after dinner to try for some owls, but a large storm rolled in with heavy winds, which meant we had to be content with having Fraser’s Eagle Owl as heard only. Nonetheless, the light show we had with the lighting in the distance was a sight to behold.
We saw our first Preuss’s Cliff Swallow today – we would later go on to see many more at various colonies over the course of the tour (such as these seen near Bonkro in a few days’ time).
Day 5, 2nd March 2023. Birding Kakum surroundings and transfer to Sekondi
We spent the morning birding in the mixed farm-brush/forest edge habitat near Kakum National Park. It was an extremely birdy walk, and we tallied nearly 100 species in a few hours, which, given the lack of waterbirds, was a great achievement. We spent some time early on prying out a shy Western Nicator, which showed well to all; however, a Western Bluebill wasn’t as cooperative, with only a few in the group managing to see it well. Many iconic African bird families showed well on the walk, with species like Little, White-throated and Rosy Bee-eaters, Vieillot’s and Double-toothed Barbets and African Pied Hornbill all commonly seen. We saw an incredible ten sunbird species, with Johanna’s Sunbird being the main highlight, along with the stunning Buff-throated, Splendid and Superb Sunbirds as well. We spent some time slowly birding rank grassy edges, which gave up a large flock of Black-and-white Mannikins, along with Chestnut-breasted Nigrita, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, and the scarce Black-bellied Seedcracker. A vocal White-spotted Flufftail refused to show despite our best efforts. Following a short break that allowed us to gather our things, we had lunch and checked out, bound for Nsuta Forest. We made quick progress and arrived in good time, allowing us to leisurely check-in to our hotel before setting off for the afternoon birding. Unfortunately, it is a fair drive to get to the Nsuta Forest from the hotel, and it is sad to see just how badly the forest has been destroyed in recent years after opening it to logging. The birding was very slow, though kickstarted into life with a Blue Cuckooshrike that came flying in. A few Red-fronted Parrots were seen inspecting a possible nesting hole, and we enjoyed repeat views of Yellow-billed Turaco. The plaintive bubbling calls of Black-throated Coucal rang out from all around us, but we were unable to lure this species out into the open. While enjoying a flock of African Green Pigeons sitting in the open, we had to scramble to get onto the mixed flock of Chestnut-winged and Copper-tailed Starlings that came flying overhead. A fine Yellow-spotted Barbet rounded off the day, and we returned to the hotel, arriving in time for a late dinner.
Day 6, 3rd March 2023. Birding Nsuta Forest, and transfer to Ankasa
Our morning saw us heading back to the Nsuta Forest and exploring a slightly different section of road to the one we had worked yesterday. As hoped, the morning period was more productive, and we enjoyed many great sightings. A noisy flock of Red-fronted Parrots, perched Piping Hornbills and some flight views of Yellow-billed Turacos were early highlights before we enjoyed looks at the shy Blue-headed Wood Dove. A Red-thighed Sparrowhawk dashed overhead before we latched onto an excellent Black Dwarf Hornbill perched in the open. We soaked up our views of this scarce species while also listening to a Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill calling in the distance before pulling out yet more good species like a bright Yellow-browed Camaroptera and a shy Grey Longbill. A pair of minuscule African Piculets were then picked up right next to the road, and put on a stunning show for us! Nearby, both Blue-breasted Kingfisher and Cassin’s Honeybird were seen in flight over us. We naturally enjoyed views of several more widespread species as well during our morning. Still, before long, we found ourselves back in the bus and heading back to our guesthouse, where we enjoyed lunch before checking out and pressing on to Ankasa. We would be spending three nights at the Ankasa Conservation Area, exploring the excellent forests there, and made good progress on the way. A few stops were made where we enjoyed the likes of African Pygmy Goose and Orange Weaver at a lily-covered pan and numbers of the scarce Hartlaub’s Ducks and Reichenbach’s Sunbirds at a mangrove area. We arrived in the late afternoon at the newly built (and extremely comfortable) lodge right outside the entrance to the Ankasa Conservation Area and settled in for the evening.
Days 7 – 8, 4th – 5th March 2023. Birding Ankasa and Nkulengu Rails
We had two full days of birding the incredible Ankasa Conservation Area. Both daily accounts are discussed below together, as similar routes and birds were seen on both days.
While spectacular, this excellent tract of primary lowland forest is challenging to bird, with many species taking long periods of time to see, if they are seen at all. One of our main highlights was an incredible, displaying Rufous-sided Broadbill, which we watched for ages, close by. We also enjoyed familiarizing ourselves with various forest flycatchers. Dusky-blue Flycatchers frequented the edges, while the interior held the scarce Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher; Cassin’s Flycatchers hung out over the forested rivers; and Blue-headed Crested Flycatchers kept to dark thickets, and we were only able to tease out brief views. Nesting Blue-billed Malimbes proved easy to see and showed well, while Red-vented and Crested Malimbes only gave us quick views. Scanning the canopy gave us several birds, from the colorful African Green Pigeon and fast-moving Black-capped Apalis to the more dull-looking Fraser’s Sunbird and Forest Penduline Tit. Bright Black Bee-eaters were seen several times, including at point-blank range at our comfortable accommodation, as were Grey Parrots. A large flock of Red-billed Dwarf Hornbills eventually gave themselves up, while White-crested Hornbill put in a swift appearance.
A male Rufous-sided Broadbill about to launch into its distinct aerial display. We heard these birds on several occasions and finally found one that showed nicely at Ankasa.
We spent a while working several pairs of the furtive Forest Robins – unfortunately only some of the group managed good looks at these shy birds. Icterine Greenbuls showed well while feeding in the dark thickets, as did the similar Western Bearded and Yellow-bearded Greenbuls, while Grey-headed Bristlebills were seen flittering over the track. Distant views of Red-billed Helmetshrikes left us wanting a bit more while we enjoyed our views of Square-tailed Saw-wing as they flitted over a clearing in the forest. A Blackcap Illadopsis gave us surprisingly excellent views, perching motionless for ages, allowing all of us to soak-up prolonged scope views of this calling bird. White-tailed Alethes proved difficult to see, with only the briefest of views, and White-tailed Ant Thrush showed only marginally better. Raptors were generally sparse, but a vocal Long-tailed Hawk (that frustratingly remained out of sight) was our only notable species.
The evening period brought about our chances for one of Ghana’s lesser-known (and appreciated) specials – Nkulengu Rail. These shy forest rails were a somewhat mythical species for a long time, with only exceptionally random sightings to go around. However, the local guides in Ghana have perfected the art of finding these mega birds. After a few unsuccessful attempts, listening to family groups give out their strange calls in the darkness, our guides expertly found a family group of five birds, giving us incredible views. We also had a few owling attempts but came up empty-handed on all accounts.
A group of Nkulengu Rails – expertly found by our local guides – roosting in the darkness of the Ankasa forests at night; seeing these special birds is quite the experience.
Day 9, 6th March 2023. Birding Ankasa and transfer to Kakum
We had a final morning to spend within the Ankasa Forest and ventured deep into the ponds, where we spent the bulk of our time. We started off well, immediately finding a stunning Western Bronze-naped Pigeon perched up on a dead snag. Red-billed Helmetshrikes then gave off a few calls and showed briefly before continuing on their way. At the ponds, a high-pitched whistle led us to a quietly perched White-bellied Kingfisher, which sadly didn’t hang around for too long. We had to distract ourselves with the nesting Blue-billed Malimbes, along with several West African Wattle-eyes and Swamp Palm Bulbuls which were knocking around as well. Shining Blue Kingfisher was heard several times, but we just couldn’t see it. As it so often happens, we were busy talking about Blue-moustached Bee-eater and how great it would be to get this bird when, as if right on cue, a pair of these supremely stunning birdsflew right in. The pair couldn’t have landed any closer to us, and we spent the next 15 minutes watching them as they preened, bathed, and preened again. Brimming from ear to ear, we made our way back to the lodge. After lunch, we hit the road, heading back to the Kakum area, where we arrived in the early evening. A few short stops were made along the way, and the only birds of interest went to African Pygmy Goose and Allen’s Gallinule at our familiar roadside pond.
Day 10, 7th March 2023. Transfer to Bonkro, and White-necked Rockfowl!
A busy day lay ahead of us as we transited up to the village of Bonkro, from which you can access one of the only reliable White-necked Rockfowl colonies in the world. Formerly known as Yellow-headed Picathartes, this strange-looking bird, along with its sister species (Grey-necked Rockfowl/Red-headed Picathartes), is highly sought-after by world listers as they are in their own taxonomic family. We still had a bit of a drive to get there, and sadly, our morning was marred with heavy rain, which meant we had to bird opportunistically whenever conditions allowed. We squeezed in a successful stop on the Pra River for the unique race of Rock Pratincole and White-bibbed Swallow, while some forest edge habitat produced species like White-crested Hornbill, Naked-faced Barbet, Red-fronted Parrot, and Red-vented Malimbe. A fine European Honey Buzzard gave us good flyby views, and we enjoyed stops at several Preuss’s Cliff Swallow colonies, which provided us with excellent looks. Nearby farm scrub gave us the likes of both Blue-headed and Senegal Coucals, providing for good comparative views of these similar species, amongst others.
It’s safe to say we enjoyed close-up and personal views of the mega White-necked Rockfowl.
We arrived at the wonderfully appointed new guesthouse in the Bonkro village, where we had a short break. Soon, however, we found ourselves heading into the surrounding forest, where we would have our appointment with this most-wanted bird. The forest edge was extremely birdy, and it took a little while for us to work through the throngs of birds. A pair of Purple-throated Cuckooshrikes gave us somewhat distant views, and whilst trying for better views, we stumbled upon a calling Lemon-bellied Crombec, before another small bird morphed into an excellent Forest Penduline Tit. Scanning the bare branches of some of the trees produced both Yellow-mantled and Maxwell’s Black Weavers. We eventually put blinkers on, and headed up to the massive rock, where the White-necked Rockfowl breed and gather to roost. We settled in and waited until the birds arrived. They were a little on the late side, but soon enough, a yellow and white head popped into view, and we all breathed a heavy sigh of relief, having seen another of Africa’s mega birds, White-necked Rockfowl. Just a single bird showed during our time, and it showed wonderfully, hopping along the ground right in front of us, no more than two meters away, before settling on some nearby branches for a long preen. We were thrilled with our views, and after having had our fill, we set off back down the forest track. A few birding stops gave up brief views of Finsch’s Rufous Thrush, and a calling Narina Trogon, but little else. The day wasn’t done just yet, as after an excellent dinner, we headed off to try for some owls nearby. It was slow initially, but after having heard Frasers’s Eagle-Owl calling for ages, we finally found the bird and enjoyed good views! Sadly, we could not repeat the feat with a calling Akun Eagle-Owl, or any of the many Western Tree Hyraxes. A fine Long-tailed Nightjar rounded off a superb day!
After a long search, we finally found the vocal Fraser’s Eagle-Owl outside Bonkro.
Day 11, 8th March 2023. Transfer to Mole National Park
A long day of traveling lay ahead of us, as we transited up to Mole National Park. Shortly after breakfast, a quick birding spell yielded a calling Puvel’s Illadopsis and a fidgety Red-cheeked Wattle-eye. We then settled in for the long drive, with the only other bird of note coming in the form of Grasshopper Buzzards, later in the day once we neared Mole. We arrived in the early evening and called it a day, with two exciting days of birding Ghana’s most famous national park lying ahead.
Days 12 – 13, 9th – 10th March 2023. Birding Mole National Park
Our two full days birding around Mole National Park are covered below as one account due to the similar nature of the days and birds we encountered.
We spent some time walking around the hotel, which proved birdy. Flocks of seedeaters adorned the bare ground, and we carefully sifted through them and found the likes of Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Red-billed Firefinch and Sahel Bush Sparrow. Numbers of indigobirds were present, but in a wide array of juvenile and female-type plumages, and with no calling going on, we were left to ponder their identification. Busy Senegal Eremomelas flitted about the canopies and were joined by the likes of Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Brubru, and Senegal Batis, while Northern Black Flycatcher kept to the lower parts of the trees. Flashy Yellow-crowned Gonoleks gave us great views, and we also marveled at both Beautiful and Pygmy Sunbirds.
We spent some time exploring the network of small pools and waterbodies below the hotel, which proved extremely productive. Oriole Warblers called from the thickets but sadly couldn’t be pried out. We waited at the small pools as they pulled in numbers of seedeaters coming down to drink. Bulky Yellow-mantled Widowbirds dominated the numbers, but careful scanning revealed Northern Red Bishops and Red-billed Queleas. The smaller finches were comprised mostly of Red-billed Firefinches, but we enjoyed separating out the similar Bar-breasted Firefinches. We struck gold with the likes of the Orange-cheeked and Lavender Waxbills also coming down, along with the sought-after Black-faced Firefinch and Red-winged Pytilia. A bright White-crowned Robin-Chat also showed here.
A delightful Black-faced Firefinch was one of many colorful seedeaters coming in to drink at the small pools near our lodge in Mole.
Trips were made out into the plains sections, where we tracked down the likes of the tricky Sun Lark and the scarce Forbes’s Plover without much difficulty. Birding the woodlands was tricky, with long, quiet stretches in between bouts of activity, but after paying our dues, we came up trumps with a number of the expected species. Both Fine-spotted and African Grey Woodpeckers were crowd favorites, and it took some careful searching to find the scarce White-fronted Black Chat and Rufous Cisticola. Colorful Bearded Barbets were spotted perched on the bare branches, and tiny Yellow-fronted Tinkerbirds were also pried out. Black and African Cuckoos showed well, as did White-shouldered Black Tit. Brown-rumped Buntings perched up and sang from exposed perches, as did the beautifully plumaged Grey-headed Kingfisher. After a few flyby views, we finally tracked down Senegal Parrots for some good perched views, along with both Purple and Lesser Blue-eared Starlings. A wide range of other species were found, from orioles and bushshrikes to flycatchers, sunbirds, white-eyes, and many others. We also kept an eye to the skies and added several new raptor species to our burgeoning list. Hooded Vulture and Yellow-billed Kite made up the bulk of the numbers, but we also did well adding Bateleur, White-backed and White-headed Vultures, Black Kite, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Lizard Buzzard, Gabar Goshawk and Lanner Falcon. African Woolly-necked Storks were often seen soaring with the raptors, while other waterbirds were generally a bit scarce, with only common and widespread species being noted. Sadly, a night-time search for Standard-winged Nightjar was fruitless, with only multiple Long-tailed Nightjars and a stunning North African Crested Porcupine showing themselves.
On the mammal front, African Elephants were seen around the waterholes, along with Western Bushbuck, Kob, and even some of the scarce Roan Antelope. Common Warthogs were dime a dozen and some habituated ones even hung around the lodge, along with the ever present (and pesky) Green Monkeys and Olive Baboons. Common Patas Monkeys were seen on the plains.
A scarce White-fronted Black Chat was found in the mixed woodlands of Mole.
Day 14, 11th March 2023. Transfer to Bolgatanga, birding the Tongo Hills en-route
Another long day of driving lay ahead as we transitioned to our northernmost point on this Ghana tour, Bolgatanga. We made a few birding stops along the way, mostly at roadside wetlands and ponds. Several waterbirds like African Jacana, Hamerkop, Squacco Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, and Blue-headed Coucal were all noted. Small seedeaters, including Black-rumped Waxbill, Quailfinch, Northern Red Bishop, Red-billed Firefinch, Sahel Bush Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea, and Black-headed Weaver were seen flitting about the edges, waiting for opportune moments to come and drink. With limited water in these drier parts of the north, many raptors also hang around the water bodies – we found Grasshopper Buzzard and Red-necked Falcon, amongst others. We were also able to finally entice a group of Stone Partridges out into the open, and we started to encounter more arid species such as Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Namaqua Dove, and Long-tailed Glossy Starling.
We eventually arrived at the Tongo Hills in the afternoon, which were our main focal point of birding for the day. These interesting mountains are home to some good birds, and we did extremely well to find our targets: Fox Kestrel, Rock-loving Cisticola, White-crowned Cliff Chat, and Gosling’s Bunting in no time! Bearded Barbets showed well, perched in the tree tops, while gangs of Piapiacs roamed the plains below and bright Abyssinian Rollers perched on the roadside wires. We checked into our comfortable hotel in the late afternoon and settled in for the evening.
Day 15, 12th March 2023. Egyptian Plover and birding the arid north
This was another highly anticipated day of the tour, as we journeyed up to the White Volta River on the Burkina Faso border to search for Egyptian Plover. This unique wader is a monotypic species, and as such, is a highly sought-after species for world birders – not to mention its dapper plumage, adding to the attraction. Before arriving at the White Volta River, we spent some time birding the arid Sahelian plains. A group of Black-headed Lapwings were picked up quickly, and we bettered our views of Abyssinian Roller and Long-tailed Glossy Starling. Others like Northern Red-billed Hornbill, Purple Roller and Greater Blue-eared Starling were also found, while some scrubby thornveld habitat produced further species like charming parties of White-crested Helmetshrikes, small groups of Chestnut-bellied Starlings and a few colonies of White-billed Buffalo Weavers, along with favorites like Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds. We arrived at the river and almost immediately picked up our target – an Egyptian Plover walking along a sandbar on the opposite bank. We enjoyed some distant scope views before wandering further down – looking for a closer individual. Mourning Collared Dove cooed from the riverine trees and showed well, while Northern Carmine Bee-eaters hawked insects from above. A short way down, we picked up several more Egyptian Plovers, this time on our side of the river, and enjoyed superb views of these mega birds as they wandered up and down, largely unperturbed by us.
After having had our fill, we focused our attention on a nearby wetland. Vast numbers of Squacco Herons, numbering well into the hundreds, covered the area, and a few more widespread species, such as Grey Heron, Intermediate Egret, and African Wattled Lapwing were seen. Farther away from the river, a smaller dam in the dry arid scrub was extremely productive. A lone Dark Chanting Goshawk sat sentinel over the dam. At the same time, some careful scanning of the many Spur-winged Lapwings littered on the shoreline revealed a few waders, such as Green and Wood Sandpipers, before we struck gold and found a lovely Greater Pained-snipe. Malachite and Pied Kingfishers moved up and down the reedy edges while the surrounding trees held various seedeaters all coming down to drink. Dainty African Silverbills moved in and were soon replaced by Cut-throat Finches followed by White-rumped Seedeaters. A herd of cows also brought about a flock of Yellow-billed Oxpeckers.
An Egyptian Plover surveys its sandbar on the White Volta River in far northern Ghana.
We had a break over the hot midday period and resumed our birding in the late afternoon, with a visit to the Tono Dam and surrounds. The birding was a little slow, with several more widespread waterbirds present on the massive dam’s edge. We concentrated the bulk of our time and effort on the scrubby woods surrounding the dam. Favorites like Senegal Parrot, Vieillot’s Barbet, Northern Crombec, and Purple Starling were all obvious. Bruce’s Green Pigeons gave us brief flyby views, and we did well to pick up a Common Whitethroat in a large thicket. Exploring some of the grassier regions gave us the localized Black-backed Cisticola, along with Singing Cisticola and Black-rumped Waxbill, before a surprise Small Buttonquail flushed out of the grass. Despite our best efforts, the hoped-for African Green Bee-eaters were nowhere to be seen.
Day 16, 13th March 2023. Travel to Kumasi
Arguably our longest travel day lay ahead as we transitioned away from the dry north back down to the lush, forested southern regions of Ghana. We would be heading to Kumasi today, and the entire day was spent driving, bar a few birding stops, and we arrived at our comfortable hotel in the late afternoon. We enjoyed birds like White-faced Whistling Duck, Senegal Coucal, Western Marsh Harrier, Red-necked Falcon, Winding Cisticola and Quailfinch along the route.
Day 17, 14th March 2023. Birding Bobiri, and transfer to the Atewa Range
Up and out early, we soon rolled into the Bobiri Butterfly Reserve on the outskirts of Kumasi, where we would spend the morning birding. This site is another of Ghana’s birding gems and hosts a wide range of scarce and sought-after forest birds that can be easy to miss in other parts of the country, such as Long-tailed Hawk, Black Dwarf Hornbill, and Preuss’s Weaver. As soon as we hopped off the bus, we found ourselves in a flurry of bird activity. A large shake of some leaves revealed a stunning White-crested Hornbill collecting fruit before two of the scarce Black Dwarf Hornbills flew in and took its place. While we had seen this species earlier on in the trip, the views were distant and backlit – however, the views we were treated to here were sublime, with one of the birds remaining perched for the entire duration of our birding here (~20 minutes). The unique bill snaps of helmetshrikes led us to a party of Red-billed Helmetshrikes that also finally showed well for all. As if that wasn’t enough, a loud piercing call gave away the presence of Long-tailed Hawk, and some careful scanning revealed the bird perched high up in the canopy of a nearby tree. We couldn’t believe our luck! We slowly continued on our way, birding as we went, and enjoyed a productive morning, though nothing quite matched the first portion. Preuss’s Weaver frustrated us by calling out of sight, and we did well bettering our views of a wide range of other sought-after birds like Blue-throated Roller, Blue Cuckooshrike, Sharpe’s Apalis, West African Wattle-eye, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher and Finsch’s Rufous Thrush. The omnipresent Black-throated Coucals continually frustrated us, refusing to be seen.
A scarce Black Dwarf Hornbill refuses to budge whilst we were birding at Bobiri.
Content, we rolled back out of Bobiri and pressed onwards to our next destination, the Atewa Range. Pausing for lunch on the way, we arrived at our hotel in good time, with a bit of time to rest, before venturing out for the afternoon’s birding. We spent the afternoon exploring the scrubby farmland habitat on the edge of the Atewa Range’s forests, and a sharp rain shower livened things up dramatically – though it made the tracks all very wet and muddy. A noisy group of Compact Weavers flitted about alongside other seedeaters like Orange-cheeked Waxbill and Black-and-white Mannikin,while several bright African Pygmy Kingfishers zipped around flashing their bright colors. A flowering tree held several sunbirds, with Collared, Blue-throated Brown, Buff-throated, and Superb Sunbirds all vying for attention. A Western Bluebill played hide and seek with the group before the rain started to set in again, and we called it a day.
Day 18, 15th March 2023. Birding and hiking the Atewa Range forests
This is one of the more challenging days of the tour, as we headed out to hike up the Atewa Range and into the mature forest at the top – which usually takes the bulk of the day. The access road was still very muddy, so we had to park much farther away from the usual beginning point. We passed through the same patch of scrubby habitat we birded in the previous afternoon and enjoyed the Compact Weavers once more, this time along with several Red-headed Queleas. We also tracked down a calling Lowland Sooty Boubou nearby before we progressed onto the regular trail. The entire first section up the hill passes through more disturbed forests and forest edge habitats, and we spent some time in this section as it was incredibly birdy. A highly vocal Puvel’s Illadopsis showed uncharacteristically well and with little effort (for those that don’t know, illadopsises are very shy birds), while the stunning Black Bee-eaters were a regular presence. Yellow-throated Cuckoo piped up and showed off before we spent some time trying to track down the scarce Kemp’s Longbill, which unfortunately refused to come out of its massive thicket.
A Yellow-throated Cuckoo calls from the treetops.
The birding was by all accounts excellent, and wave after wave of new birds came through. We did well to spot a shy Chocolate-backed Kingfisher perched quietly in the leaves, and both Naked-faced and Bristle-nosed Barbets competed for space in the massive dead trees. The sought-after Yellow-footed Honeyguide was found after some concerted effort, and the mega-shy White-tailed Alethe gave us brief views flitting about. Roving parties of Maxwell’s Black Weavers were seen here and there, while a stunning pair of Violet-backed Hyliotas put on a great show. We also enjoyed now familiar forest birds like Tambourine Dove, Yellow-billed Turaco, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Black-winged Oriole, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Red-tailed Greenbul, Red-headed Malimbe, heaps of sunbirds and Chestnut-breasted Nigrita. As we had enjoyed superb views of Blue-moustached Bee-eaters earlier on at Ankasa, we didn’t focus any time and effort on this species as many others do here. Unfortunately for us, the hoped-for Nimba Flycatcher was conspicuous only by its absence. Vocal Cassin’s Hawk-Eagles, several Ayres’s Hawk-Eagles,and African Cuckoo-Hawks were seen in flight over the forest. Tired, we made our way back down the mountain in the mid-afternoon and settled in for a relaxing afternoon with a cold beer or two, celebrating a good day of birding with a bird list of well over 100 species for the day!
After being heard-only for several days, we finally laid eyes on a Chocolate-backed Kingfisher.
Day 19, 16th March 2023. Transfer to Kalakpa
Our birding for the day was largely restricted to the morning – which we spent on the first part of the Atewa Range trail and in the forest edge habitat that was very birdy the previous day. A good range of now familiar bee-eaters, kingfishers, hornbills, barbets, sunbirds, and weavers eased our way into the morning before some subtle notes led us to a Red-cheeked Wattle-eye. We had excellent views of this attractive bird, as not everyone had seen it earlier on, before it melted back into the undergrowth. White-throated Greenbul was another species that had played hide and seek with us previously but finally showed well this morning. Kemp’s Longbill, however, only gave us brief views and left us wanting a little more. Finsch’s Rufous Thrush, Red-vented Malimbe, and Magpie Mannikin were all seen as well as we went along. Before long, our time was up, and we transitioned back to the hotel to collect our things and have an early lunch, before settling in for the drive up to Ho. Ho would be our last destination on the tour and our base for exploring the Kalakpa Reserve. We made good progress, arriving in the late afternoon, and settled in for the evening.
Day 20, 17th March 2023. Birding the Kalakpa Resource Reserve
The morning saw us arriving at the Kalakpa Resource Reserve. Here, we moved into the strange, dense lowland forests that run through this otherwise primarily savanna and woodland-dominated reserve. The peculiar Capuchin Babbler is one of the main specials of the forests here, and indeed, it would be our main target for the morning. It was unfortunately one of those slow days, and we battled for birds all round. We heard Capuchin Babblers off in the distance but frustratingly didn’t get anywhere near seeing them, while the unique race of Brown Illadopsis occurring here likewise frustrated us by being heard only. An Ahanta Spurfowl in the track was a bonus, as were several Guinea Turacos bouncing above us, while another Red-cheeked Wattle-eye showed for the group. A calling Narina Trogon disappeared before we could find it, and we had to console ourselves with Little Grey Greenbul. The surrounding woodland and mixed savanna produced a few Brown-necked Parrot flybys. At the same time, a group of White-crested Helmetshrikes showed well, and both Striped Kingfisher and the delightful Blue-bellied Roller were also enjoyed. We were able to entice a party of Stone Partridges out into the open, but try as we might, the forests were very quiet, and we decided to try again the following morning.
Yellow-crowned Gonoleks were common in scrubby vegetation on the tour.
Our customary midday break and siesta broke the day up, before we returned in the late afternoon for some birding and an owling session on the reserve edges. The afternoon was again very quiet, though a vocal Moustached Grass Warbler with its explosive calls and a bright Splendid Sunbird gave us something to look at. Double-banded Spurfowls scuttled about the roadside edges while comical Western Plantain-eaters jumped about the trees, but little else was out that we hadn’t seen before. Eventually, as night approached, we set about looking for nightjars, and we were more successful finding several Long-tailed Nightjars, along with singletons of both Fiery-necked and Plain Nightjars, while the eerie cries of Benin Tree Hyraxes rang out. We eventually called it a night, and returned to our comfortable hotel for the evening.
Day 21, 18th March 2023. Final Kalakpa birding, and transfer to Accra
This was to be our final full day of the tour, and an early start saw us heading off into the strange forests in the Kalakpa Resource Reserve, searching for our main target, Capuchin Babbler, once more. The area was much birdier today, and a wealth of bird song greeted us. Try as we might, we just could not find any Capuchin Babblers and right as we were out of time, and about to make our way back out of the forest, we finally heard one. It was all in vain, however, as it quickly disappeared before any of us could get views. Bright Forest Robins showed exceptionally well for all of us during the morning, and we were all able to enjoy this species in the scope, which is quite something for this shy bird. The unique local race of Brown Illadopsis was seen to a greater or lesser extent, and we couldn’t believe our good fortune when we lucked onto a roost of three African Wood Owls. Various others like Guinea Turaco, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Grey Longbill, and Blue-breasted Kingfisher were seen as we went along. The woodlands on the forest outskirts also yielded Senegal Batis, Black-crowned Tchagra, Senegal Eremomela, and new species like European Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, and Tree Pipit. Slightly behind schedule, we scrambled out and back to the bus before settling in for the long drive back to Accra. A stop for lunch on the Volta River was pleasant enough, producing Mangrove Sunbird for some, but the bulk of the afternoon was spent fighting the traffic getting back into Accra. RT was departing this evening, so we had to ensure we were back in good time, and all worked out well with us arriving back to our comfortable Accra hotel in good time for a final meal together.
Day 22, 19th March 2023. Birding the University Botanical Gardens and departure
With the first group departures for the day only in the late afternoon, we headed out to the nearby University Botanical Gardens for a few hours of birding in the morning. This was an excellent area to wind down our birding, as we enjoyed our last looks at some iconic species like Violet Turaco and Western Plantain-eater. Green Wood Hoopoes foraged along the trunks of trees and the likes of Brown Babblers, African Thrushes, and Long-tailed Glossy Starlings foraged on the ground. We also enjoyed our last kingfishers, with Woodland, Malachite, and African Pygmy Kingfishers being seen, while a small dam produced a host of Senegal Thick-knees, along with the likes of African Jacana and Striated and Squacco Herons. After a good few hours of birding, we concluded the tour with lunch before going our separate ways.
I would like to thank all the participants who joined this set departure tour for contributing to making this tour the success it was.
Bird List – Following IOC 12.2
Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.
The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.
|Common name||Scientific name|
|Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)|
|White-faced Whistling Duck||Dendrocygna viduata|
|Hartlaub’s Duck||Pteronetta hartlaubii|
|African Pygmy Goose||Nettapus auritus|
|Helmeted Guineafowl||Numida meleagris|
|New World Quail (Odontophoridae)|
|Stone Partridge||Ptilopachus petrosus|
|Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)|
|White-throated Francolin (H)||Campocolinus albogularis|
|Ahanta Spurfowl||Pternistis ahantensis|
|Double-spurred Spurfowl||Pternistis bicalcaratus|
|Black-shouldered Nightjar||Caprimulgus nigriscapularis|
|Plain Nightjar||Caprimulgus inornatus|
|Long-tailed Nightjar||Caprimulgus climacurus|
|Mottled Spinetail||Telacanthura ussheri|
|Black Spinetail||Telacanthura melanopygia|
|Sabine’s Spinetail||Rhaphidura sabini|
|African Palm Swift||Cypsiurus parvus|
|Common Swift||Apus apus|
|Little Swift||Apus affinis|
|Great Blue Turaco (H)||Corythaeola cristata|
|Western Plantain-eater||Crinifer piscator|
|Violet Turaco||Tauraco violaceus|
|Yellow-billed Turaco||Tauraco macrorhynchus|
|Guinea Turaco||Tauraco persa|
|Black-throated Coucal||Centropus leucogaster|
|Senegal Coucal||Centropus senegalensis|
|Blue-headed Coucal||Centropus monachus|
|Blue Malkoha||Ceuthmochares aereus|
|Levaillant’s Cuckoo||Clamator levaillantii|
|Diederik Cuckoo||Chrysococcyx caprius|
|Klaas’s Cuckoo||Chrysococcyx klaas|
|Yellow-throated Cuckoo||Chrysococcyx flavigularis|
|African Emerald Cuckoo||Chrysococcyx cupreus|
|Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo||Cercococcyx olivinus|
|Black Cuckoo||Cuculus clamosus|
|Red-chested Cuckoo (H)||Cuculus solitarius|
|African Cuckoo||Cuculus gularis|
|Four-banded Sandgrouse||Pterocles quadricinctus|
|Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)|
|Rock Dove||Columba livia|
|Speckled Pigeon||Columba guinea|
|Afep Pigeon (H)||Columba unicincta|
|Western Bronze-naped Pigeon||Columba iriditorques|
|Mourning Collared Dove||Streptopelia decipiens|
|Red-eyed Dove||Streptopelia semitorquata|
|Vinaceous Dove||Streptopelia vinacea|
|Laughing Dove||Spilopelia senegalensis|
|Black-billed Wood Dove||Turtur abyssinicus|
|Blue-spotted Wood Dove||Turtur afer|
|Tambourine Dove||Turtur tympanistria|
|Blue-headed Wood Dove||Turtur brehmeri|
|Namaqua Dove||Oena capensis|
|Bruce’s Green Pigeon||Treron waalia|
|African Green Pigeon||Treron calvus|
|White-spotted Flufftail (H)||Sarothrura pulchra|
|Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)|
|Common Moorhen||Gallinula chloropus|
|Allen’s Gallinule||Porphyrio alleni|
|African Swamphen||Porphyrio madagascariensis|
|Black Crake||Zapornia flavirostra|
|Nkulengu Rail||Himantornis haematopus|
|Little Grebe||Tachybaptus ruficollis|
|Common Buttonquail||Turnix sylvaticus|
|Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)|
|Senegal Thick-knee||Burhinus senegalensis|
|Spur-winged Lapwing||Vanellus spinosus|
|Black-headed Lapwing||Vanellus tectus|
|African Wattled Lapwing||Vanellus senegallus|
|Grey Plover||Pluvialis squatarola|
|Common Ringed Plover||Charadrius hiaticula|
|Forbes’s Plover||Charadrius forbesi|
|Egyptian Plover (Pluvianidae)|
|Egyptian Plover||Pluvianus aegyptius|
|Greater Painted-snipe||Rostratula benghalensis|
|African Jacana||Actophilornis africanus|
|Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)|
|Eurasian Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus|
|Bar-tailed Godwit||Limosa lapponica|
|Ruddy Turnstone||Arenaria interpres|
|Curlew Sandpiper||Calidris ferruginea|
|Common Sandpiper||Actitis hypoleucos|
|Green Sandpiper||Tringa ochropus|
|Wood Sandpiper||Tringa glareola|
|Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia|
|Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)|
|Rock Pratincole||Glareola nuchalis|
|Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)|
|West African Crested Tern||Thalasseus albididorsalis|
|Sandwich Tern||Thalasseus sandvicensis|
|Common Tern||Sterna hirundo|
|Black Tern||Chlidonias niger|
|Woolly-necked Stork||Ciconia episcopus|
|Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)|
|Reed Cormorant||Microcarbo africanus|
|Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)|
|Hadada Ibis||Bostrychia hagedash|
|Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)|
|Striated Heron||Butorides striata|
|Squacco Heron||Ardeola ralloides|
|Western Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis|
|Grey Heron||Ardea cinerea|
|Black-headed Heron||Ardea melanocephala|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba|
|Intermediate Egret||Ardea intermedia|
|Little Egret||Egretta garzetta|
|Western Reef Heron||Egretta gularis|
|Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)|
|Black-winged Kite||Elanus caeruleus|
|African Harrier-Hawk||Polyboroides typus|
|Palm-nut Vulture||Gypohierax angolensis|
|European Honey Buzzard||Pernis apivorus|
|African Cuckoo-Hawk||Aviceda cuculoides|
|Hooded Vulture – CR||Necrosyrtes monachus|
|White-backed Vulture – CR||Gyps africanus|
|White-headed Vulture – CR||Trigonoceps occipitalis|
|Congo Serpent Eagle (H)||Dryotriorchis spectabilis|
|Bateleur – EN||Terathopius ecaudatus|
|Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle||Hieraaetus ayresii|
|Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle||Aquila africana|
|Lizard Buzzard||Kaupifalco monogrammicus|
|Gabar Goshawk||Micronisus gabar|
|Dark Chanting Goshawk||Melierax metabates|
|Long-tailed Hawk||Urotriorchis macrourus|
|Red-chested Goshawk||Accipiter toussenelii|
|Red-thighed Sparrowhawk||Accipiter erythropus|
|Ovambo Sparrowhawk||Accipiter ovampensis|
|Western Marsh Harrier||Circus aeruginosus|
|Black Kite||Milvus migrans|
|Yellow-billed Kite||Milvus aegyptius|
|African Fish Eagle||Haliaeetus vocifer|
|Grasshopper Buzzard||Butastur rufipennis|
|Red-necked Buzzard||Buteo auguralis|
|Pearl-spotted Owlet (H)||Glaucidium perlatum|
|Red-chested Owlet (H)||Glaucidium tephronotum|
|African Scops Owl (H)||Otus senegalensis|
|Fraser’s Eagle-Owl||Bubo poensis|
|Akun Eagle-Owl (H)||Bubo leucostictus|
|African Wood Owl||Strix woodfordii|
|Narina Trogon (H)||Apaloderma narina|
|Wood Hoopoes (Phoeniculidae)|
|Green Wood Hoopoe||Phoeniculus purpureus|
|Northern Red-billed Hornbill||Tockus erythrorhynchus|
|African Pied Hornbill||Lophoceros fasciatus|
|African Grey Hornbill||Lophoceros nasutus|
|Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill||Lophoceros camurus|
|Piping Hornbill||Bycanistes fistulator|
|Brown-cheeked Hornbill – VU||Bycanistes cylindricus|
|Black-casqued Hornbill (H)||Ceratogymna atrata|
|Yellow-casqued Hornbill – VU||Ceratogymna elata|
|Black Dwarf Hornbill||Horizocerus hartlaubi|
|White-crested Hornbill||Horizocerus albocristatus|
|Purple Roller||Coracias naevius|
|Abyssinian Roller||Coracias abyssinicus|
|Blue-bellied Roller||Coracias cyanogaster|
|Blue-throated Roller||Eurystomus gularis|
|Broad-billed Roller||Eurystomus glaucurus|
|Chocolate-backed Kingfisher||Halcyon badia|
|Grey-headed Kingfisher||Halcyon leucocephala|
|Striped Kingfisher||Halcyon chelicuti|
|Blue-breasted Kingfisher||Halcyon malimbica|
|Woodland Kingfisher||Halcyon senegalensis|
|African Dwarf Kingfisher (H)||Ispidina lecontei|
|African Pygmy Kingfisher||Ispidina picta|
|White-bellied Kingfisher||Corythornis leucogaster|
|Malachite Kingfisher||Corythornis cristatus|
|Shining-blue Kingfisher||Alcedo quadribrachys|
|Pied Kingfisher||Ceryle rudis|
|Blue-moustached Bee-eater||Merops mentalis|
|Black Bee-eater||Merops gularis|
|Little Bee-eater||Merops pusillus|
|Red-throated Bee-eater||Merops bulocki|
|White-throated Bee-eater||Merops albicollis|
|European Bee-eater||Merops apiaster|
|Rosy Bee-eater||Merops malimbicus|
|Northern Carmine Bee-eater||Merops nubicus|
|African Barbets (Lybiidae)|
|Bristle-nosed Barbet||Gymnobucco peli|
|Naked-faced Barbet||Gymnobucco calvus|
|Speckled Tinkerbird||Pogoniulus scolopaceus|
|Red-rumped Tinkerbird||Pogoniulus atroflavus|
|Yellow-throated Tinkerbird||Pogoniulus subsulphureus|
|Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird||Pogoniulus bilineatus|
|Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird||Pogoniulus chrysoconus|
|Yellow-spotted Barbet||Buccanodon duchaillui|
|Hairy-breasted Barbet||Tricholaema hirsuta|
|Vieillot’s Barbet||Lybius vieilloti|
|Double-toothed Barbet||Lybius bidentatus|
|Bearded Barbet||Lybius dubius|
|Yellow-billed Barbet||Trachyphonus purpuratus|
|Cassin’s Honeybird||Prodotiscus insignis|
|Yellow-footed Honeyguide||Melignomon eisentrauti|
|Lesser Honeyguide||Indicator minor|
|Spotted Honeyguide||Indicator maculatus|
|Greater Honeyguide||Indicator indicator|
|African Piculet||Sasia africana|
|Buff-spotted Woodpecker||Pardipicus nivosus|
|Brown-eared Woodpecker||Pardipicus caroli|
|Fine-spotted Woodpecker||Campethera punctuligera|
|Fire-bellied Woodpecker||Chloropicus pyrrhogaster|
|Cardinal Woodpecker||Dendropicos fuscescens|
|African Grey Woodpecker||Dendropicos goertae|
|Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)|
|Common Kestrel||Falco tinnunculus|
|Fox Kestrel||Falco alopex|
|Grey Kestrel||Falco ardosiaceus|
|Red-necked Falcon||Falco chicquera|
|Lanner Falcon||Falco biarmicus|
|African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)|
|Grey Parrot – EN||Psittacus erithacus|
|Red-fronted Parrot||Poicephalus gulielmi|
|Brown-necked Parrot||Poicephalus fuscicollis|
|Senegal Parrot||Poicephalus senegalus|
|Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)|
|Rose-ringed Parakeet||Psittacula krameri|
|African & Green Broadbills (Calyptomenidae)|
|Rufous-sided Broadbill||Smithornis rufolateralis|
|Wattle-eyes, Batises (Platysteiridae)|
|Senegal Batis||Batis senegalensis|
|West African Batis||Batis occulta|
|West African Wattle-eye||Platysteira hormophora|
|Brown-throated Wattle-eye||Platysteira cyanea|
|Red-cheeked Wattle-eye||Platysteira blissetti|
|Grey-headed Bushshrike (H)||Malaconotus blanchoti|
|Orange-breasted Bushshrike||Chlorophoneus sulfureopectus|
|Marsh Tchagra (H)||Bocagia minuta|
|Brown-crowned Tchagra||Tchagra australis|
|Black-crowned Tchagra||Tchagra senegalus|
|Sabine’s Puffback||Dryoscopus sabini|
|Northern Puffback||Dryoscopus gambensis|
|Lowland Sooty Boubou||Laniarius leucorhynchus|
|Yellow-crowned Gonolek||Laniarius barbarus|
|Vangas & Allies (Vangidae)|
|White-crested Helmetshrike||Prionops plumatus|
|Red-billed Helmetshrike||Prionops caniceps|
|African Shrike-flycatcher||Megabyas flammulatus|
|Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher||Bias musicus|
|Purple-throated Cuckooshrike||Campephaga quiscalina|
|Blue Cuckooshrike||Cyanograucalus azureus|
|Yellow-billed Shrike||Corvinella corvina|
|Northern Fiscal||Lanius humeralis|
|Figbirds, Old World Orioles, Piopios (Oriolidae)|
|Western Oriole||Oriolus brachyrynchus|
|Black-winged Oriole||Oriolus nigripennis|
|African Golden Oriole||Oriolus auratus|
|Fanti Drongo||Dicrurus atactus|
|Glossy-backed Drongo||Dicrurus divaricatus|
|Shining Drongo||Dicrurus atripennis|
|Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher (H)||Trochocercus nitens|
|Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher||Terpsiphone rufiventer|
|African Paradise Flycatcher||Terpsiphone viridis|
|Crows, Jays (Corvidae)|
|Pied Crow||Corvus albus|
|White-necked Rockfowl – VU||Picathartes gymnocephalus|
|Fairy Flycatchers (Stenostiridae)|
|African Blue Flycatcher||Elminia longicauda|
|Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)|
|White-shouldered Black Tit||Melaniparus guineensis|
|Penduline Tits (Remizidae)|
|Forest Penduline Tit||Anthoscopus flavifrons|
|Western Nicator||Nicator chloris|
|Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark||Eremopterix leucotis|
|Sun Lark||Galerida modesta|
|Slender-billed Greenbul||Stelgidillas gracilirostris|
|Golden Greenbul||Calyptocichla serinus|
|Red-tailed Bristlebill (H)||Bleda syndactylus|
|Green-tailed Bristlebill (H)||Bleda eximius|
|Grey-headed Bristlebill||Bleda canicapillus|
|Yellow-throated Leaflove||Atimastillas flavicollis|
|Spotted Greenbul||Ixonotus guttatus|
|Swamp Palm Bulbul||Thescelocichla leucopleura|
|Simple Greenbul||Chlorocichla simplex|
|Honeyguide Greenbul (H)||Baeopogon indicator|
|Western Bearded Greenbul||Criniger barbatus|
|Red-tailed Greenbul||Criniger calurus|
|Yellow-bearded Greenbul – VU||Criniger olivaceus|
|Little Greenbul||Eurillas virens|
|Yellow-whiskered Greenbul||Eurillas latirostris|
|Plain Greenbul||Eurillas curvirostris|
|Little Grey Greenbul||Eurillas gracilis|
|Ansorge’s Greenbul||Eurillas ansorgei|
|White-throated Greenbul||Phyllastrephus albigularis|
|Icterine Greenbul||Phyllastrephus icterinus|
|Common Bulbul||Pycnonotus barbatus|
|Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)|
|Square-tailed Saw-wing||Psalidoprocne nitens|
|Fanti Saw-wing||Psalidoprocne obscura|
|Wire-tailed Swallow||Hirundo smithii|
|White-bibbed Swallow||Hirundo nigrita|
|Barn Swallow||Hirundo rustica|
|Red-chested Swallow||Hirundo lucida|
|Ethiopian Swallow||Hirundo aethiopica|
|Red-breasted Swallow||Cecropis semirufa|
|Mosque Swallow||Cecropis senegalensis|
|Lesser Striped Swallow||Cecropis abyssinica|
|West African Swallow||Cecropis domicella|
|Preuss’s Cliff Swallow||Petrochelidon preussi|
|Crombecs, African Warblers (Macrosphenidae)|
|Moustached Grass Warbler||Melocichla mentalis|
|Kemp’s Longbill||Macrosphenus kempi|
|Grey Longbill||Macrosphenus concolor|
|Northern Crombec||Sylvietta brachyura|
|Green Crombec||Sylvietta virens|
|Lemon-bellied Crombec||Sylvietta denti|
|Yellow Flycatchers (Erythrocercidae)|
|Chestnut-capped Flycatcher||Erythrocercus mccallii|
|Green Hylia||Hylia prasina|
|Tit Hylia||Pholidornis rushiae|
|Leaf Warblers (Phylloscopidae)|
|Wood Warbler||Phylloscopus sibilatrix|
|Willow Warbler||Phylloscopus trochilus|
|Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)|
|Western Olivaceous Warbler||Iduna opaca|
|Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)|
|Red-faced Cisticola||Cisticola erythrops|
|Singing Cisticola||Cisticola cantans|
|Whistling Cisticola||Cisticola lateralis|
|Rock-loving Cisticola||Cisticola emini|
|Winding Cisticola||Cisticola marginatus|
|Short-winged Cisticola||Cisticola brachypterus|
|Rufous Cisticola||Cisticola rufus|
|Zitting Cisticola||Cisticola juncidis|
|Black-backed Cisticola||Cisticola eximius|
|Tawny-flanked Prinia||Prinia subflava|
|Red-winged Prinia||Prinia erythroptera|
|Yellow-breasted Apalis||Apalis flavida|
|Black-capped Apalis||Apalis nigriceps|
|Sharpe’s Apalis||Apalis sharpii|
|Oriole Warbler (H)||Hypergerus atriceps|
|Grey-backed Camaroptera||Camaroptera brevicaudata|
|Yellow-browed Camaroptera||Camaroptera superciliaris|
|Olive-green Camaroptera||Camaroptera chloronota|
|Senegal Eremomela||Eremomela pusilla|
|Rufous-crowned Eremomela||Eremomela badiceps|
|Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)|
|Garden Warbler||Sylvia borin|
|Common Whitethroat||Curruca communis|
|Northern Yellow White-eye||Zosterops senegalensis|
|Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)|
|Brown Illadopsis||Illadopsis fulvescens|
|Pale-breasted Illadopsis (H)||Illadopsis rufipennis|
|Blackcap Illadopsis||Illadopsis cleaveri|
|Puvel’s Illadopsis||Illadopsis puveli|
|Laughingthrushes & Allies (Leiothrichidae)|
|Capuchin Babbler (H)||Turdoides atripennis|
|Brown Babbler||Turdoides plebejus|
|Blackcap Babbler (H)||Turdoides reinwardtii|
|Violet-backed Hyliota||Hyliota violacea|
|African Spotted Creeper (H)||Salpornis salvadori|
|Starlings, Rhabdornises (Sturnidae)|
|Copper-tailed Starling||Hylopsar cupreocauda|
|Greater Blue-eared Starling||Lamprotornis chalybaeus|
|Lesser Blue-eared Starling||Lamprotornis chloropterus|
|Splendid Starling||Lamprotornis splendidus|
|Purple Starling||Lamprotornis purpureus|
|Long-tailed Glossy Starling||Lamprotornis caudatus|
|Chestnut-bellied Starling||Lamprotornis pulcher|
|Violet-backed Starling||Cinnyricinclus leucogaster|
|Chestnut-winged Starling||Onychognathus fulgidus|
|Narrow-tailed Starling||Poeoptera lugubris|
|Yellow-billed Oxpecker||Buphagus africanus|
|Finsch’s Rufous Thrush||Stizorhina finschi|
|White-tailed Ant Thrush||Neocossyphus poensis|
|African Thrush||Turdus pelios|
|Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)|
|White-tailed Alethe||Alethe diademata|
|Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher||Fraseria ocreata|
|Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher (H)||Myioparus griseigularis|
|Grey Tit-Flycatcher||Myioparus plumbeus|
|Northern Black Flycatcher||Melaenornis edolioides|
|Spotted Flycatcher||Muscicapa striata|
|Ashy Flycatcher||Muscicapa caerulescens|
|Swamp Flycatcher||Muscicapa aquatica|
|Cassin’s Flycatcher||Muscicapa cassini|
|Little Grey Flycatcher||Muscicapa epulata|
|Dusky-blue Flycatcher||Muscicapa comitata|
|Tessmann’s Flycatcher (H)||Muscicapa tessmanni|
|Ussher’s Flycatcher||Muscicapa ussheri|
|Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat (H)||Cossypha niveicapilla|
|White-crowned Robin-Chat||Cossypha albicapillus|
|Forest Robin||Stiphrornis erythrothorax|
|European Pied Flycatcher||Ficedula hypoleuca|
|White-crowned Cliff Chat||Thamnolaea coronata|
|White-fronted Black Chat||Oenanthe albifrons|
|Fraser’s Sunbird||Deleornis fraseri|
|Little Green Sunbird||Anthreptes seimundi|
|Yellow-chinned Sunbird||Anthreptes rectirostris|
|Collared Sunbird||Hedydipna collaris|
|Pygmy Sunbird||Hedydipna platura|
|Reichenbach’s Sunbird||Anabathmis reichenbachii|
|Green-headed Sunbird||Cyanomitra verticalis|
|Blue-throated Brown Sunbird||Cyanomitra cyanolaema|
|Olive Sunbird||Cyanomitra olivacea|
|Buff-throated Sunbird||Chalcomitra adelberti|
|Scarlet-chested Sunbird||Chalcomitra senegalensis|
|Olive-bellied Sunbird||Cinnyris chloropygius|
|Tiny Sunbird||Cinnyris minullus|
|Beautiful Sunbird||Cinnyris pulchellus|
|Splendid Sunbird||Cinnyris coccinigastrus|
|Johanna’s Sunbird||Cinnyris johannae|
|Superb Sunbird||Cinnyris superbus|
|Copper Sunbird||Cinnyris cupreus|
|Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)|
|Sahel Bush Sparrow||Gymnoris dentata|
|Northern Grey-headed Sparrow||Passer griseus|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus|
|Weavers, Widowbirds (Ploceidae)|
|White-billed Buffalo Weaver||Bubalornis albirostris|
|Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver||Plocepasser superciliosus|
|Thick-billed Weaver||Amblyospiza albifrons|
|Little Weaver||Ploceus luteolus|
|Black-necked Weaver||Ploceus nigricollis|
|Orange Weaver||Ploceus aurantius|
|Vitelline Masked Weaver||Ploceus vitellinus|
|Village Weaver||Ploceus cucullatus|
|Vieillot’s Black Weaver||Ploceus nigerrimus|
|Black-headed Weaver||Ploceus melanocephalus|
|Yellow-mantled Weaver||Ploceus tricolor|
|Maxwell’s Black Weaver||Ploceus albinucha|
|Compact Weaver||Ploceus superciliosus|
|Preuss’s Weaver (H)||Ploceus preussi|
|Red-vented Malimbe||Malimbus scutatus|
|Blue-billed Malimbe||Malimbus nitens|
|Red-headed Malimbe||Malimbus rubricollis|
|Crested Malimbe||Malimbus malimbicus|
|Red-headed Quelea||Quelea erythrops|
|Red-billed Quelea||Quelea quelea|
|Black-winged Red Bishop||Euplectes hordeaceus|
|Northern Red Bishop||Euplectes franciscanus|
|Yellow-mantled Widowbird||Euplectes macroura|
|Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)|
|Bronze Mannikin||Spermestes cucullata|
|Magpie Mannikin||Spermestes fringilloides|
|Black-and-white Mannikin||Spermestes bicolor|
|African Silverbill||Euodice cantans|
|White-breasted Nigrita||Nigrita fusconotus|
|Chestnut-breasted Nigrita||Nigrita bicolor|
|Grey-headed Nigrita||Nigrita canicapillus|
|Lavender Waxbill||Glaucestrilda caerulescens|
|Orange-cheeked Waxbill||Estrilda melpoda|
|Black-rumped Waxbill||Estrilda troglodytes|
|Cut-throat Finch||Amadina fasciata|
|Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu||Uraeginthus bengalus|
|Western Bluebill||Spermophaga haematina|
|Black-bellied Seedcracker||Pyrenestes ostrinus|
|Red-winged Pytilia||Pytilia phoenicoptera|
|Red-billed Firefinch||Lagonosticta senegala|
|African Firefinch||Lagonosticta rubricata|
|Bar-breasted Firefinch||Lagonosticta rufopicta|
|Black-faced Firefinch||Lagonosticta larvata|
|Indigobirds, Whydahs (Viduidae)|
|Pin-tailed Whydah||Vidua macroura|
|Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)|
|African Pied Wagtail||Motacilla aguimp|
|Plain-backed Pipit||Anthus leucophrys|
|Tree Pipit||Anthus trivialis|
|Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)|
|White-rumped Seedeater||Crithagra leucopygia|
|Yellow-fronted Canary||Crithagra mozambica|
|Gosling’s Bunting||Emberiza goslingi|
|Brown-rumped Bunting||Emberiza affinis|
Mammals ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.
The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened.
|Common name||Scientific name|
|Western Tree Hyrax (H)||Dendrohyrax dorsalis|
|Benin Tree Hyrax (H)||Dendrohyrax interfluvialis|
|African Elephant – EN||Loxodonta africana|
|Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)|
|African Savanna Hare||Lepus victoriae|
|Old World Porcupine (Hystricidae)|
|North African Crested Porcupine||Hystrix cristata|
|Cane Rats (Thryonomyidae)|
|Greater Cane Rat||Thryonomys swinderianus|
|Squirrels and Relatives (Sciuridae)|
|Striped Ground Squirrel||Euxerus erythropus|
|Small Sun Squirrel – DD||Heliosciurus punctatus|
|Isabelline Red-legged Sun Squirrel (H)||Heliosciurus rufobrachium|
|African Giant Squirrel||Protoxerus stangeri|
|Fire-footed Rope Squirrel (H)||Funisciurus pyrropus|
|Green Bush Squirrel||Paraxerus poensis|
|Demidoff’s Dwarf Galago (H)||Galagoides demidoff|
|Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)|
|Olive Baboon||Papio anubis|
|Common Patas Monkey||Erythrocebus patas|
|Green Monkey||Chlorocebus sabaeus|
|African Straw-coloured Fruit-bat||Eidolon helvum|
|Hogs and Pigs (Suidae)|
|Common Warthog||Phacochoerus africanus|
|Western Bushbuck||Tragelaphus scriptus|
|Roan Antelope||Hippotragus equinus|
DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT
This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.
Ghana: Upper Guinea Forest to the Sahel
Ghana is arguably the best and most accessible country from which to access West Africa. Many highly sought-after species can be found here, and virtually nowhere else, and indeed makes this an exciting birding tour. This tour begins and ends in the capital city, Accra (on the Ghanaian coastline). The bulk of the birding takes places in forests, with almost all birding on the tour being on our feet, out walking. Forest birding can be difficult with quick views of most birds in a dark environment skulking, or high against the canopy flitting about. Some time is also spent in more arid open wooded environments farther north in the country which generally allows for easier birding. Photography opportunities are usually very poor in the forests, though are better in the more open northern regions.
It needs to be stressed that this is a challenging tour, with oppressive heat and humidity, which takes a toll. Travel is also slow in this rural African country, and there are several long travel days with little birding possible.
PASSPORT AND VISA
Your passport must be valid for a period of at least six months after the date of your arrival in Ghana. Please make sure that there is at least one full empty page available in your passport. Please make sure that you also bring a photocopy of your passport, to be kept in a different location from your passport, in case of loss. Most non-African countries require a visa which needs to be arranged in advance, while most African countries are either exempt or can obtain a visa on arrival. Please make sure you find out accordingly, and well in advance of your tour.
Birding Ecotours can assist in providing documentation to confirm your participation on the tour, in support of your visa application. The onus is on you, as a client, to secure your visa to travel here.
We require (see Birding Tours Terms and Conditions – Birding Ecotours) that you purchase trip cancellation insurance in case you have to cancel due to illness just prior to the tour departure date, to protect yourself against accidents, illness, loss of valuables, luggage etc. and travel interruptions or delays of all kinds. Allianz Travel and Generali Global Assistance are two options to consider.
Please carefully read the Center for Disease Control (CDC) information for travelers to Ghana (or your government’s equivalent health travel advice for Ghana). Below we have mentioned a couple of specific items but first and foremost kindly be advised by the updated information at the above link.
Required immunizations for travel to Ghana: yellow fever vaccine.
It is recommended that you are up to date with all routine vaccines, such as polio and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR). Additionally, it is also recommended getting vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, meningitis, rabies and typhoid. Please keep in mind that if you have not had any of these, one should make sure that you have been inoculated at least six weeks prior to your trip to take full effect.
We strongly recommend anti-malaria drugs for travel to Ghana. Note that as per the CDC, Chloroquine prophylaxes are not effective here. The following are recommended chemoprophylaxis: atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine and tafenoquine. Please consult with your doctor.
Mosquito repellant, long trousers/jeans and long-sleeved shirts, particularly at night when malaria (Anopheles) mosquitos bite, are advised, in addition to the drugs.
Please make sure that you are covered with medical insurance in case of an emergency while on these trips. Without insurance the cost of medical care can be extremely high.
Please notify us at the time of registering for the tour of any medical conditions you think we should know about (including allergies, heart conditions, epilepsy, etc.). This will greatly help us to cater to your needs.
We provide unlimited bottled water in the tour vehicles, and you are welcome to take water from the vehicle for evenings when not provided in the hotel rooms. More expensive bottled water at restaurants is excluded from the tour cost and is for your account, but (again) you can take water from our tour vehicle whenever you want.
The bulk of our breakfasts and lunches will be enjoyed at our hotels and lodges throughout the tour (including roadside restaurants for some lunches). Very occasionally, packed breakfasts and packed lunches will be required as well (but this is infrequent). Dinners are always held at our hotels or lodges.
Kindly note that breakfasts are usually held early in the morning (before sunrise and our birding; between 05h00-06h00). There are generally big gaps between meals (6+ hours), and bringing various snacks (such as cereal bars, trail mix etc.) is recommended.
As always, please do inform us if you have any food allergies or other dietary requirements. Kindly note, that we cannot guarantee these can be accommodated throughout the tour. Ghana is a rural African country that has extremely limited availability (or none at all) of specialist foods (such as for gluten intolerance etc.). If you have special requirements/allergies, we kindly ask if you can bring along appropriate/replacement foods, as it is often impossible to purchase in the country.
A special note needs to be made that meals are often prepared on the ‘spicier’ side, regardless of requests to have no/mild spice. Meals are generally not very exciting, consisting of largely rice, a limited sampling of vegetables, chicken or fish.
CURRENCY AND MONEY
The Ghanaian cedi (GH₵) is the official currency, and it is suggested to ensure you have sufficient cash in local currency to cover expenses such as drinks, tips, and for other items of a personal nature (such as gifts). Credit cards are not widely accepted for payment.
You will only be able to exchange currency at the airport upon your arrival in Ghana however if you need to withdraw money this can be done at the airport upon your arrival or when we pass through larger towns during the tours. Visa and Mastercard are accepted for drawing cash from ATMs. Note: US and Canadian dollars, pound sterling and euros cannot be used for purchases.
Conditions will be hot and very humid throughout the tour. The forested coastal regions (from the coast until Kumasi) experience high temperatures (nearing 400C/1000F) with high and oppressive humidity. In the northern regions (Mole NP and Bolgatanga) we can expect high temperatures (nearing 450C/1100F) with low humidity. As always, it is good practice to ensure you have some warmer clothes, as some folks may feel the need for a jersey/jacket in the evenings, and a raincoat. Although we visit during the dry season, unseasonal rain is not impossible.
Please be aware that the high heat and humidity make this tour challenging.
The standard voltage is 240 V. If you intend to recharge video batteries etc. in your hotel room you will need an international adapter. Note that in Ghana, the power plug sockets generally make use of either Type D, or Type G (see link).
All of our hotels/lodges will have access to electricity throughout the day/night, and many have backup generators, in case of power failures or power outages. Remember, this is rural Africa, and sometimes the electricity does go out.
A good torch will also be useful if you fancy joining us for a night walk or drive. If you intend to do any trips, you’d be advised to bring at least one good torch, preferably with a strong beam. All the places we will stay at will have electrical outlets for chargers and laptops.
Most of the hotels and lodges we stay at have access to Wi-Fi internet, and cell signal. Kindly note that in many places, the Wi-Fi is not accessible from your rooms, but only the main reception area/dining area.
Please note that our lodgings at Ankasa and Bonkro have extremely limited cell service (virtually non-existent), and no Wi-Fi.
LENGTH OF DRIVES
Kindly note that this tour takes place in a third-world country, and roads are often narrow, potholed and very busy. Do not expect highways and quick travel between destinations. Unfortunately, this does mean we will spend quite a bit of time in the vehicles, travelling to and from birding sites, and transiting between destinations. Additionally, there are a few days with particularly long drives (more than half the day) – such as transitioning up to Mole National Park and Bolgatanga.
Air-conditioning is available in our tour vehicles.
Some roads can be dusty so please consider bringing a scarf (or other measures) in case you are birding along an unpaved road and a car goes past putting up dust.
There is a lot of walking needed on this tour. Almost all our birding sites require birding from foot, as opposed to from vehicles, and will require us being on our feet for several hours at a time. Much of our birding is done in forests, and we do have to venture off trail (into the forest/bush) to track down certain species regularly. The high heat and humidity generally make walking a challenge.
Participants should be able to manage these conditions, and most importantly be comfortable on their feet for many hours at a time.
Note that the Kakum Canopy Walkway is high above the ground, and requires one to navigate many very steep stairs to get to the top. The full day hike up the Atewa Range is also very challenging (probably the most challenging day of the trip) with a steep dirt-track ascent required for the entire journey up (at least four miles (six kilometers) each way).
PACE OF TOUR
This is a very intense tour, with long days required virtually every day.
We will generally start the days off early, with a pre-dawn breakfast, before spending the full morning birding – as we try to maximize the morning coolness, before the heat sets in. We usually return to our hotels/lodges for a lunch-break (and a short siesta during the oppressive midday heat). We then typically resume in the mid/late afternoons, but note that the afternoons are usually hot. Kindly be aware that due to the rural nature of Ghana, most of our birding sites require some driving to reach from our hotels/lodging.
Several nocturnal trips are also undertaken to search for various nightjars, owls and other exciting nocturnal creatures.
It is possible to opt out of some activities, should you not feel up for it, but this generally won’t be possible on the days where we transit between accommodations.
Please note that the accommodation used on this tour ranges from ‘standard’ to ‘basic’ (and below the standard we use on virtually all our other tours, especially those we use on our southern/East African tours). Despite this, en-suite bathroom facilities are available throughout the tour. Ankasa Reserve Lodge is an exception, as this is an upmarket, high-quality lodge.
Kindly be aware that two new establishments; Ankasa Reserve Lodge and Picathartes Guesthouse (in Bonkro) have limited rooms, and depending on total participants and the structure of single versus sharing clients, participants may need to share rooms. These two new lodges are necessary as they cut out a significant amount of what would otherwise be extra driving time.
WHAT TO BRING
Clothing Casual and informal dress is fine in the hotels. Loose lightweight, breathable field clothing works best, with a warm fleece or jacket for cooler weather. As mentioned before, it is good practice to bring some warmer clothing, certainly a minimum of a warm fleece and a rain jacket. Rain is always a possibility, so an umbrella and or rain gear is always useful to have.
* Note that cotton clothing is suggested (versus the quick-dry nylon clothing) due to cotton being more breathable in the high heat and humidity expected.
Laundry can be done at all establishments throughout the tour (at your expense) – but please note that a lead time of at least one day is needed (it is therefore impossible to get laundry done if we stay at a hotel/lodge for only a single night – but is possible if we have two nights or longer).
Sunglasses, sunhat and sunscreen (rated SPF 30 or higher) are essential. A pair of trousers or a long skirt, and a long-sleeved shirt should be included to help protect against forest vegetation and the sun. Swimwear can be brought as there are swimming pools at some of the lodges.
We would recommend lightweight walking boots for when out on foot, and bringing a second pair is often useful. Please ensure that whatever footwear you bring, that it is comfortable, as much time is spent on your feet on this tour. You might like to consider sandals/Tevas as well, for use around the hotels/lodges.
Do not forget – BINOCULARS, prescription drugs (also bring the generic names for these drugs), toiletries, prescription glasses (and a spare pair), insect repellant, camera, flashlight, batteries (for electronic equipment and chargers for the re-chargeable batteries), plug adaptors, alarm clock, mosquito repellant, money pouch, field guide(s), a soft-sided duffle-style luggage bag is recommended (hard-sided luggage is not always ideal), daypack/backpack, and your favorite road snacks!
Key documents and cash – Passports, your travel or health insurance cards (you can send us copies to file in case of emergency), credit cards – Visa and Mastercard are best – see above, US dollars, euro or pounds can be exchanged for local currency at the airport as you arrive into the country (if you prefer not to simply draw from ATMs), cash for drinks, gifts, tips, items of a personal nature etc.
Luggage – Due to restricted space in the vehicles, please pack as lightly as possible. A medium-sized, soft-sided duffle bag (not the hard-sided cases) works best for packing in the vehicles. This allows us to better fit the bags. Please bring a daypack to keep items that you wish to use or need on a daily basis. Additionally, we make use of a domestic flight to transfer back to Accra, and there is usually a limit imposed of one check-in bag, weighing ~40 pounds (20 kilograms) per person.
‘Thank you for organizing this trip for me, thank you for your patience during these troubled times. I will return for sure, to Ghana and maybe to neighboring countries. I’d love to see the very difficult Black-collared Lovebird. Or the Timneh Parrot (Psittacus erithacus timneh). And when I return, I’d love to stay a bit longer in Bonkro. I simply adore that place, the comfort of the lodging, the birding location, the peace and quiet. It was by far the best lodging (and food) of the whole trip. And, of course the out-of-this-world-bird, the Picathartes.
Thank you all for a very successful and fun trip.’