With 12 of the 15 West African Upper Guinea endemic species occurring in Ghana, its safe, friendly and hassle free environment and the most developed infrastructure of any West African country, Ghana is a must visit for any birding and nature enthusiast. One of the highlights is seeing the White-necked Rockfowl (Yellow-headed Picathartes). From the coastal lagoons, grassland savannah, upper guinea rainforest moving northwards through the broad leaved guinea woodland finally touching the Sahel savannah plains in the far north, Ghana offers a thorough coverage of all the core west African habitats.
DAY 1: Arrival in Ghana and tour briefing
You will be met upon your arrival at the Kotoka International airport in Accra Ghana which is situated on the beautiful “Gold Coast” (Ghana’s former name during its time under British colonial rule) of Western Africa. After clearing immigration, collecting your bags and passing through customs you will enter the main arrival hall where your tour leader/local guide will be waiting to meet you. Our team will take care of you from here and offer you “Akwaaba” (welcome) once you have boarded your air-conditioned vehicle which will be your mode of transport for the duration of your time with us. We make the journey (approximately an hour’s drive depending on traffic) to your hotel which is located near Tema close to Shai Hills Reserve. After checking you in your guide will brief you on the following days activities and answer any questions you may have. Depending on your arrival time, you can enjoy your early evening meal whilst acclimatising yourself to West Africa.
DAY 2: Birding Shai Hills, Sakamona Lagoon and Winneba Plains
On our first morning here in Ghana we head to the open grassland savannah of Shai Hills hoping to see Northern Crombec, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Snowy-crowned Robin Chat, African Pigmy Kingfisher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Vielliots and Double-toothed Barbets, White-crowned Cliff Chat, Rock Martin, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Violet Turaco, Senegal Parrot, Senegal Batis, Blue-bellied Roller, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Oriole Warbler, Black-cap and Brown Babblers, Copper and Splendid Sunbirds, White-crested Helmet-shrike, Croaking and Short-winged Cisticolas, African Thrush, Red-necked and Lizzard Buzzards, Lanner Falcon, Green Wood-hoopoe and Stone Partridge to mention a few species on offer here. After a wonderful morning we head to the Sakamona Lagoon. There are usually an abundance of birds to see here depending on the level of water, we hope to see Black-winged Stilt, Senegal Thick-knee, Common Ringed, Grey and Spur-winged Plovers, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Collared Pratincole, Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstone, Little Stint, Long-tailed Cormorant, Squacco, Grey, Purple, Striated and Black Herons, Little, Cattle and Intermediate Egrets.
We set off towards Kakum National Park through the busy city of Accra stopping for lunch en route before heading to a grassland reserve where we hope to find Siffling and Short-winged Cisticolas, Splendid and Copper Sunbirds, Flappet Lark, Red-winged Warbler, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Black-necked Weaver, Black-crowned Tchagra, Plain-backed Pipit, Black-shouldered and Yellow-billed Kites, Western Grey Plantain-eater, Grey Kestrel, Lizzard Buzzard, Blue-spotted Wood Dove and Black-bellied Bustard to mention just a few. After a wonderful day’s birding we continue to Jukwa and our hotel to relax, reflect and add the many new species to our bird list.
DAY 3: Birding Kakum National Park morning and evening visits to the canopy walkway
After an early breakfast we head for the world famous canopy walkway at Kakum National Park which is approximately 15 minutes’ drive from our lodge. We aim to get to Kakum at first light enabling us to spend the most critical bird viewing hours 40 meters above the forest floor on the canopy walkway. There are 7 platforms, which are large enough to support Telescopes. The 360 km² Kakum National Park protects secondary upper guinea semi deciduous tropical rainforest and it is a wonderful feeling being so close to the canopy of this beautiful forest.
Our main target species during our time on the canopy walkway are Violet-backed Hyliota, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, the upper guinea endemics Sharpe’s Apalis, Brown-cheeked hornbill and Copper-tailed Glossy Starling, Bioko Batis, Blue Cuckooshrike, Little Green Woodpecker and the White-crested Hornbill. Other species we hope to see include Blue-throated, Brown, Green, Collard, Johanna’s and the beautiful Buff-throated Sunbirds, Red-headed and Crested Malimbes, Rosy Bee-eater, White-breasted and Grey- headed Negrofinch, Red-fronted and African Grey Parrots, Yellowbill, Western Blackheaded and Black Winged Orioles, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Splendid Glossy and Forest Chestnut-winged Starlings, Preuss’s Golden-backed and Yellow-mantled Weavers, Green Hylia, Golden, Slender-billed and Little Grey Greenbuls, African Green Pigeon, Yellow-billed Turaco, Emerald Cuckoo, Blue-throated Roller, Yellow-throated, Red-rumped and Speckled Tinkerbirds, Hairy-breasted and Naked-faced Barbets, Usshers and Little Grey Flycatchers, Cassins Honeybird and African Pied Hornbill to mention a few. The raptors we have a chance to see include Congo Serpent Eagle, African Harrier Hawk, Palm Nut Vulture, Cassins Hawk Eagle, European Honey and Red-necked Buzzards. Some of the more difficult but still possible species that could be seen from the canopy include Long-tailed Hawk, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Yellow-footed Honeyguide and Black-collard Lovebird.
After a wonderful morning we return to our lodge to freshen up and enjoy our lunch. During the heat of mid-afternoon, you will have the option of birding around our lodges grounds, resting in your airconditioned rooms, around the pool and bar or you could choose to go on a cultural excursion to Cape Coast castle. We re-visit the canopy walkway in the evening where our main targets will be the Brown-cheeked, Black and Yellow-casqued Hornbills, Great Blue Turaco, Brown Nightjar and Fraser’s Eagle-Owl amongst other specials. Our evening will be spent at the lodge’s restaurant and bar discussing the day’s sightings, adding to our checklist and enjoying the atmosphere of our surroundings.
DAY 4: Birding Antwikwaa and Kakum National Park
Another early start as we visit the Antwikwaa section of Kakum National Park, hoping to add some amazing birds to our growing list – Little, White-throated, Rosy and Black Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller, Piping Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, White-spotted Flufftail, Cassin’s Spinetail, Sabine’s Spinetail, Diederik Cuckoo, Melancholy and Buff-spotted Woodpeckers, Vieillot’s Black and Black-necked Weavers, Kemps and Grey Longbills, Western Nicator, Western Bluebill, Olive-bellied, Superb and Johanna’s Sunbirds, Copper-tailed, Glossy and Violet-backed Starlings, Yellow White-eye, Bronze Mannikin, Orange-cheeked Waxbill and the more difficult species include Yellow-billed Barbet, Forest Penduline Tit, Ayre’s Hawk Eagle and Ahanta Francolin to mention a few.
Next we will visit a river site for the beautiful White-bibbed (White-throated Blue) Swallow, Preuss’s Cliff Swallow, Rock Pratincole, White-headed Lapwing, and if we are lucky, African Finfoot may make an appearance. In the afternoon we will focus on the many trails within and surrounding the park, which should prove to be very productive. We hope to find White-tailed Alethe, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Forest Robin, Yellow-billed Turaco, Fire-bellied Woodpecker, Melancholy Woodpecker, and many others. Once again we will remain until dark trying for owls and nightjars that we may still need before returning to our accommodation for dinner.
DAY 5: Birding Kakum Forest and Brenu Akyinim
This morning we will be focussing on the farmland scrub, forest edge and forest trails at Abrafo, a section of forest habitat near to Kakum National Park. We will search for Pale Flycatcher, Black and White Mannikin, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Sooty Boubou, Puvel’s Illadopsis, Olive-green Camaroptera, Red-faced and Whistling Cisticolas, Lesser Striped Swallow, Fanti Saw-wing, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Naked-faced and Hairy-breasted Barbets, Frasers and Little-green Sunbirds, Yellowbill, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Common Fiscal, Spotted Greenbul, Finsch’s Flycatcher Thrush, Yellow-whiskered and Red-tailed Greenbuls, White-crested Hornbill, African Harrier Hawk. The more difficult species include Long-tailed Hawk, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Congo Serpent Eagle, Red-billed and Black Dwarf Hornbills. We return to our hotel to enjoy our lunch, relax around the pool or have a short siesta.
New habitat is in store for us after our relaxing lunch as we check out of our hotel and head for Brenu Akyinim and the coastal savannah plains. There are some special species found in this area and new birds we hope to see include Marsh Tchagra, Compact Weaver, Double-spurred Francolin, Oriole Warbler, Red-headed Quelea, Black-rumped Waxbill and if we are lucky Yellow-winged Pytillia, Wilsons Indigobird and African Wattled Lapwing. We spend our evening at a small guesthouse as we head further west.
DAY 6: Birding Nsuta Forest and Ankasa Reserve
Nsuta Forest is an excellent forest reserve about an hour’s drive from our guesthouse, this secondary semi deciduous forest protects a plethora of quality species that will enhance our list and overall experience. Species we hope to see today include Olive, Blue-throated, Brown and Little Green Sunbirds, Yellow-spotted, Bristle-nosed, Hairy-breasted and Naked-faced Barbets, Blue-throated Roller, Western Black-headed and Black-winged Orioles, Buff-spotted and Little Green Woodpeckers, Usshers and the much sought after Tessmann’s Flycatchers, Square-tailed Saw-wing, Grays and Crested Malimbes, Green Crombec, Green and Tit Hylia, African Piculet, Emerald and Yellow-throated Cuckoo’s, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill and Great-blue Turaco.
We check out of our guesthouse after enjoying our lunch and set off westwards for what should prove to be a major highlight of your time with us here in Ghana. Our destination is Ankasa Reserve, Ghana’s only wet evergreen rainforest that is in near pristine condition. An exceptional forest in a remote location Ankasa protects many rare and sought after bird and mammal species.
Due to the remote location and near 2 hour travelling distance to any reasonably good standard accommodation, we have established our own camp inside the forest. Our camp leader and his assistants will be waiting to greet us on arrival and we have large tents with comfortable mattresses, pillows and bed sheets for comfort whilst we sleep. In addition there are flushing toilets and cold private shower facilities here and our cook will keep us well fed three times a day with cold beers and non-alcoholic beverages available in addition. We also have electricity and a backup generator if needed. If you have any concerns regarding camping, please inform us and we will discuss alternative arrangements available.
As we arrive in the late afternoon we settle into our camp before heading out for early evening birding where we hope to see Frasers and Akun Eagle Owls. We will also be looking for the legendary Nkulengu Rail. Our evening will be spent at our camp enjoying the atmosphere of being at one with nature.
DAY 7: Birding Ankasa Reserve
We will be up before first light listening for the unmistakable call of the Nkulengu Rail. As we will not be travelling, we start birding early. We set off venturing deeper into this lush forest with our main targets being the upper guinea endemics Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Rufous-winged Illadopsis and Green-tailed Bristlebill in addition to Ansorge’s, Icterine, Red-tailed and Western-bearded Greenbuls, Pale-breasted and Blackcap Illadopsis, Forest Robin, White-tailed Ant Thrush, White-tailed Alethe, Shining Drongo, Cassin’s Flycatcher, Yellow-spotted Barbet, White-throated Bee-eater, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Blue-headed Wood Dove, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Yellow-billed and Great Blue Turacos, Black-capped Apalis, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Tiny Sunbird and Red-fronted Antpecker.
As we walk towards the watering holes located deeper inside the forest we hope to see Crested Guineafowl on the road. Our target birds will include Hartlaubs Duck, Dwarf Bittern, African Finfoot, Shining Blue, White-bellied, Blue-breasted and Dwarf Kingfishers. Forest raptors are always welcome and we hope to see Long-tailed Hawk and Congo Serpent Eagle. We will scan the sky for Crowned Eagle, Square-tailed and Fanti Saw-wings, Black and Yellow Casqued Hornbills in addition to Black Dwarf and Piping Hornbills. There are some very rare species here and if we are very lucky we may see White-breasted Guineafowl, White-crested Tiger Heron, Grey-throated Rail, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Forest Scrub Robin, Red-chested Owlet and Akun Eagle Owl. Our evening is spent at our camp enjoying good food and discussing the day’s birding over a cold refreshing drink.
DAY 8: Birding Ankasa Reserve and Brenu Akyinim
This is our final morning’s birding at this wonderful location, we will be targeting species we may have missed or would like to get better views of. After a full morning’s birding we return to our camp to arrange our bags and enjoy our lunch before we head back towards Kakum National Park.
During our journey we will be targeting several species not seen in other parts of Ghana, these include Reichenbach’s and Brown Sunbirds, Orange Weaver, African Pygmy Goose and Little Grebe to mention a few.
A revisit to Brenu Akyinim around dusk should give us the opportunity to see Greyish Eagle- Owl, Long-tailed and Plain Nightjars before we arrive back at the Rainforest Lodge Hotel for our evening meal and checklist.
DAY 9: Birding Abrafo Forest and Picathartes Nesting Site
Today is special and it is difficult to focus our minds on anything other than the afternoon visit to the Yellow-headed Picathartes nesting site, however we will have to as we have a full mornings birding to enjoy. We check out of our hotel after an early breakfast and set off for Abrafo forest where we will be targeting species we may still require from this habitat. After an excellent morning we set off northwards stopping for lunch en-route before arriving at a remote village close to a small upper guinea rainforest in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
All of the known nesting sites for the Yellow-headed Picathartes are in forest reserves and not protected areas. This location has more nesting sites than any other in Ghana.
There are around 20 nesting sites in this small forest and we will visit one of the largest colonies that has approximately 30 nests. As we set off on the walk through this beautiful forest you can see why it is one of the most sought after species in the world, the total experience adds to this mythical bird’s reputation. The overhanging rock face and small cave with mud nests sets the atmosphere as we wait for the birds to come back from foraging for snails, frogs and insects during the day.
It is hard to contain our excitement as these legendary prehistoric looking birds hop and jump on the rocks whilst preening themselves just meters from our eyes (no telescope needed). Once we have enjoyed good views we leave the birds in peace as we set off back through the forest to our vehicle. On our arrival in Kumasi we check into our hotel, enjoy our evening meal and reflect on one of the best birding days of our life.
DAY 10: Birding Offinso Forest and Mole National Park
After an early breakfast we set off to an interesting forest in a transitional zone between the southern wetter forests and northern drier woodland habitats where we find some quality species. We will have approximately 3 hours birding here and will need to walk as the road is in poor condition. Species possible to see here include Afep and Western Bronze-naped Pigeons, Red-billed Helmet-shrike, Many-coloured, Lagdens and Fiery-breasted Bush-shrikes, Red-thighed and Black Sparrowhawks, Bioko Batis, Green (Guinea) Turaco and Rufous-sided Broadbill. Our main targets will be Blue-moustached Bee-eater, Capuchin Babbler, Yellow-footed Honeyguide and Forest Scrub Robin, however our time will be limited before we set off for Ghana’s premier game viewing park found in the Northern Region.
It is approximately a 5 hour drive from Offinso to Mole National Park and we will be stopping for lunch and several leg stretches en-route. We can expect to see different species of birds as we head northwards as the habitat changes to the drier broad leaved guinea woodland and savannah. We will be keeping an eye out for the many raptors we hope to see during our journey which include Beaudouins Snake and Long-crested Eagles, Grasshopper Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kite and Shikra amongst others.
Mole is Ghana’s largest National Park protecting an area of 4847 square kilometres of habitat, almost 100 species of mammal and 330+ species of birds. Situated on a 250 meter high escarpment overlooking this 4840km² park, it offers breathtaking views. It is an amazing feeling to be sitting around the pool on the hotel terrace watching African savannah elephants bathing in the two nearby watering holes which are inhabited by crocodiles. After our evening meal, we shall set off for an evening of birding around the Mole Airstrip where we hope to see displaying Standard-winged Nightjars. The airstrip is also productive for owls and we will be looking for Grayish Eagle and Northern White-faced Owl before we retire for the evening.
DAY 11 & 12: Birding Mole National Park
Mole is a real nature lover’s paradise and we are in for a real treat over the next 2 full days as we immerse ourselves into the exceptional West African birds and mammals found here at Mole National Park. We will be setting off after breakfast walking and driving deeper into this national park. Species we hope to see will include Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Scarlet-chested, Beautiful, Pigmy and Western Violetbacked Sunbirds, Lavender and Orange-cheeked Waxbills, Familiar Chat, White-fronted Black Chat, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Red-headed Quelea, Red-billed, Bar-breasted and Black-bellied Firefinch, Fine-spotted, Grey, Golden-tailed and Brown-backed Woodpeckers, Violet-backed, Long-tailed Glossy, Bronze-tailed Glossy, Lesser Blue-eared and Greater Blue-eared Starlings, Abyssinian Ground, African Grey and Northern Red-billed Hornbills, Stone Partridge, Double-spurred, White-throated and Ahanta Francolins, Senegal Eremomela, Pin-tailed, Exclamatory Paradise and Togo Paradise Whydas, Bush Petronia, Little, Heuglins Masked, Village and Red-headed Weavers, Melodious and Willow Warblers, Brubru, Thick-billed, Jacobin, African, Black and Great Spotted Cuckoos, Fork-tailed and Square-tailed Drongos, Northern Puffback, White-shouldered Black Tit, Red-faces, Rufous and the difficult Dort’s Cisticolas, Hadeda Ibis and Wilsons Indigobird.
Mammals are in abundance here in Mole and we hope to see Kob, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Hartebeest and the beautiful Roan Antelope in addition to getting within a few meters on foot to Africa’s largest land mammal the African Elephant. Green Vervet and Patas Monkeys will greet us in the bush as we enjoy our morning walks. During the heat of the midday sun we can enjoy a siesta or relax around the pool after our lunch. We set off for afternoon birding around 3pm and stay till after dark for nocturnal species. Birds we hope to see include Yellow-breasted Apalis, Bearded Barbet, Swamp, African Blue, Lead Coloured, Pied and difficult to see Gambaga Flycatchers, Giant, Shining Blue and Grey-headed Kingfishers, Red-throated Bee-eater, Bruces Green Pigeon, Senegal Batis, Snowy-crowned and White-crowned Robin Chats, Flappet and Sun Larks, Sulpher-breasted and Grey-headed Bush-shrikes, African Golden Oriole, Oriole Warbler, Cinnamon-breasted Rock-bunting, Abyssinian, Blue-bellied, Rufous-crowned and Broad-billed Rollers, Black Scimitarbill, Violet Turaco and raptors are common here in Mole and we hope to see Martial, Booted, Long-crested and Tawny Eagles, White-backed, White-headed Vultures, Lizzard Buzzard, Gabar and Dant Chanting Goshawks, Western Marsh Harrier, African Fish and Wahlbergs Eagles, Brown and Short-toed Snake Eagles, Osprey and Lanner Falcon to mention a few.
During our time here we obviously have our main target species of difficult birds not easily seen in other parts of the world and these include Forbes Plover, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Spotted Creeper and Rufous-rumped Lark. The species above are only some that can be seen during out time here. Our evening will be spent at our hotel enjoying the atmosphere of being so close to nature.
DAY 13: Birding Mole National Park and Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary
During our final morning’s birding at Mole, we aim to pick up species we have not seen yet and to also get better views of birds we only had glimpses of previously. Birds we could add before leaving Mole include Woodchat Shrike, Northern Red Bishop, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Senegal Parrot, Black-billed Wood and Vinaceous Doves, Woolly-necked, Saddle-billed and Black Storks, Yellow-throated Leaflove and Red-headed Lovebird to mention a few before we set off to Kumasi. Depending on which species we may still require it is possible to revisit the Offinso Forest or alternatively Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary for evening birding when arriving in Kumasi.
DAY 14: Birding Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary and Atewa Range
This morning we have another early start as we head back into the Upper Guinea Rainforest habitat where so many of Ghana’s sought after special species are found. This morning we hope to see Tit and Green Hylias, Magpie Mannakin, Narina’s Trogon, Red-billed Dwarf and Black Dwarf Hornbills, African Grey and Brown-necked Parrots, Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike, Black-throated Coucal, Golden-backed Weaver, African Piculet, Red-chested Owlet, Dusky Tit, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Barbet, Grey-headed and Red-tailed Bristlebills and the much sought after Yellow-footed Honeyguide amongst other species.
We set off after a productive morning heading further south towards Atewa stopping for lunch en-route. After some rest and relaxation we set of for the lower farmland bush at Atewa where we hope to see Black-necked, Maxwells Black, Compact and Grosbeak Weavers, Whistling Cisticola, Black-crowned and Marsh Tchagras, Emerald, Klaas’s, Levaillant’s and Yellow-throated Cuckoos, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Western Bluebill, Tessmann’s Flycatcher and if we are lucky Baumann’s Greenbul and Bat Hawk before we check into our nearby guesthouse for the evening to relax, reflect and enjoy our evening meal.
DAY 15: Birding Atewa Range and Departure
Atewa is a critically endangered highland upper guinea rainforest and as it protects so many quality and rare species we will dedicate the entire morning birding here. It is quite a consistent hill walk to get to the top of the range and with this in mind we will take a packed lunch (or decide to have a late lunch) with us to minimise the walking and also maximise our time here.
Target birds here will include Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike, Blue-moustached (Headed) Bee-eater, Bioko Batis, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, African Hobby, Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Red-rumped, Yellow-rumped and Speckled Tinkerbirds, Little Green, Buff-throated, Blue-throated Brown, Olive-bellied and Collard Sunbirds, African Goshawk, Red-tailed and Green-tailed Bristlebills, Red-headed and Crested Malimbes, Forest Robin, Little, Little Grey, White-throated, Icterine, Red-tailed, Westernbearded and the upper guinea endemic Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Many-coloured Bushshrike, Western Nicator, Brown Illadopsis and Western Bronze-naped Pigeon. There are some really special rare species here that are very difficult to see and if we are lucky we may get a glimpse of Red-fronted Antpecker, Nimba Flycatcher, Crowned Eagle, Brown-chested Alethe, Forest Scrub Robin and Lowland Akalat amongst others.
An amazing end to a wonderful tour, as we head back to our Guesthouse to rearrange our bags and freshen up. We enjoy an early evening meal and final checklist before transferring you to the airport for your departure after a wonderful Ghana birding and wildlife tour.