Ghana - The Complete Tour

Sunday 23rd October – Saturday 12th November 2016


Yellow-headed Picathartes by Nick BraySituated in the heart of West Africa along the tropical Gulf of Guinea, Ghana is an important birding destination as it holds 12 of the 15 West African Upper Guinea endemic species. Not only is the birding amazing but it is a safe, friendly and hassle free environment, has an excellent infrastructure and this English-speaking country is sure to delight the visiting birder. It is firmly established on the world birding map due to the presence of the Holy Grail of West African birding - Yellow-headed Picathartes. We will pay a special visit to the roosting site of this enigmatic species and will hopefully get good views as it is easier to see here than anywhere else in the world! Our comprehensive coverage of this fabulous country visits all of the best birding sites and we shall visit a surprising variety of habitats including coastal lagoons, Upper Guinea tropical rainforest, primary forest, open savannah of the Sahel and scrubland in search of as many species as we can possibly find. In fact there have been around 760 species recorded in this small country and there are a number of truly outstanding birds such as Nkulengu Rail, Akun Eagle-Owl, Red-chested Owlet, Yellow-footed Honeyguide, Forest Wood-Hoopoe, Western Forest Robin, Red-billed Helmet-Shrike and many, many others. 

We begin our adventure at some bird-filled lagoons along the Gold Coast before heading to Kakum National Park and its justifiably famous canopy walkway that allows unparallelled views of many tricky forest species that would otherwise give just fleeting glimpses high overhead. In fact our intensive coverage of Kakum allows us to visit several areas that are not on the regular birding tour. One of the major tour highlights is our exploration of Ankasa Forest, a seldom visited reserve with a mouth-watering selection of regional endemics such as Green-tailed Bristlebill and Rufous-winged Illadopsis, along with African Finfoot and Hartlaub's Duck as well. Then, after visiting the picathartes colony we'll head inland to Mole National Park where African Elephants are often seen from our hotel balcony! Avian attractions are many and varied but with the possibility of Pel's Fishing Owl then a visit here is a must! Next on the agenda is the monotypic Egyptian Plover, here at one of its more regular haunts before we head back towards the coast. The final stage of our tour will see us visit Bobiri Forest Reserve, the Atewa Plains and Shai Hills before ending our extensive journey across this delightfully bird-filled country.   



Targets:

  • Hartlaub's Duck
  • Latham's Forest Francolin
  • African Cuckoo-Hawk
  • Congo Serpent-eagle
  • Long-tailed Hawk
  • Red-thighed Sparrowhawk
  • Fox Kestrel
  • White-spotted Flufftail
  • Nkulengu Rail
  • Egyptian Plover
  • Forbes's Plover
  • Rock Pratincole
  • Grey Parrot
  • Yellow-billed Turaco
  • Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo
  • Pel's Fishing-Owl
  • Akun Eagle-Owl
  • Fraser's Eagle-Owl
  • Red-chested Owlet
  • Brown Nightjar
  • Chocolate-backed Kingfisher
  • White-bellied Kingfisher
  • Black Bee-eater
  • Rosy Bee-eater
  • Black Dwarf Hornbill
  • Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill
  • Hairy-breasted Barbet
  • Yellow-footed Honeyguide
  • African Piculet
  • Fire-bellied Woodpecker
  • Rufous-sided Broabill
  • Red-cheeked Wattle-Eye
  • Many-coloured Bush-Shrike
  • Purple-throated Cuckooshrike
  • Yellow-headed Picathartes
  • Ansorge's Greenbul
  • Green-tailed Bristlebill
  • White-bibbed Swallow
  • Kemp's Longbill
  • Oriole Warbler
  • Western Forest Robin
  • Red-fronted Antpecker
  • Crested Malimbe
  • Black-bellied Seedcracker

Day 1    UK - Accra  - 23rd October
After a direct international flight from the UK (only six and a half hours) we will arrive at Accra in the evening, and transfer to a nearby hotel for the night. Overnight in Accra.

Day 2    Accra - Winniba Lagoon - Jukwa
As the vast majority of international flights arrive in Ghana late in the evening, we take a relaxed breakfast on our firstLesser Black-winged Lapwing - Nick Bray morning allowing us time to acclimatize to Western Africa and also recharge our batteries after travelling the previous day. We will check out of our hotel at 9am enabling us to miss the worst of the famous Accra rush hour traffic as we head west towards Winniba Lagoon. Set in a beautiful location we hope to see a good selection of shorebirds and terns such as Royal, Black and Caspian Terns, White-fronted Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Tern, Grey Plover, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel, Wood Sandpiper, Eurasian Curlew, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Stint, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Common Redshank and Common Greenshank amongst other species.

We will then set off for Jukwa and the Rainforest Lodge, which will be our accommodation for the next 3 nights as we visit Kakum National Park. After checking-in we will set off for some late afternoon/early evening birding around the farmland scrub of Jukwa where we hope to see Red-headed Quelea, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Bar-breasted Fire-finch, Village and Compact Weavers, Splendid and Copper Sunbirds and Red-faced and Whistling Cisticolas amongst other species. We will visit a small forest close to our lodge and try for the Fraser's Eagle Owl and Long-tailed Nightjar before returning for our evening meal. We will spend the next 3 nights at Rainforest Lodge, Jukwa.

Day 3     Kakum National Park
Canopy WalkwayFollowing an early breakfast we will head to the world famous canopy walkway at Kakum National Park which is approximately 15 minutes drive from our lodge. We aim to get to Kakum for first light enabling us to spend the most critical bird viewing hours 40 meters above the forest floor on the canopy walkway, which has 7 platforms 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 Sharpes Apalis, Brown-cheeked Hornbill and Copper-tailed Glossy Starling, Bioko Batis, Blue Cuckooshrike, Little Green Woodpecker and White-crested Hornbill. Other species we hope to see include Blue-throated Brown, Green, Collared, Johanna’s and the beautiful Buff-throated Sunbirds, Red-headed and Crested Malimbes, Rosy Bee-eater, White-breasted and Grey-crowned Negrofinch, Red-fronted and African Grey Parrots, Yellowbill, Western Black-headed 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, Ussher's and Little Grey Flycatchers,Cassins Hawk-Eagle - Nick Bray Cassin's Honeybird and African Pied Hornbill to mention a few. We could also see some good raptors such as Congo Serpent-Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Palm-nut Vulture, Cassin's Hawk-Eagle and Red-necked Buzzard. Some of the more difficult but still possible species 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 the lodge grounds, resting in your air conditioned rooms, around the pool and bar or you could choose to go on a cultural excursion to Cape Coast castle. We will then re-visit the canopy walkway in the evening when our main targets will be 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 and enjoying the atmosphere of our surroundings. 
Night at Rainforest Lodge, Jukwa.

Day  4    Kakum National Park
Another early start as we visit the Antwikwaa section of Kakum National Park, hoping to add some amazing birds to ourBlack Dwarf Hornbill - Nick Bray growing list and possibilities include Little, White-throated, Rosy and Black Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller, Piping Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, White-spotted Flufftail, Cassin’ s and Sabine’ s Spinetails, Diederik Cuckoo, Melancholy and Buff-spotted Woodpeckers, Vieillot’s Black and Black-necked Weavers, Kemp's 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. If we are very lucky we could find some of the scarcer species such as Yellow-billed Barbet, Forest Penduline-Tit, Ayre’s Hawk-Eagle and Ahanta Francolin to mention a few.

We then go to 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, an African Finfoot may make an appearance. In the afternoon we will concentrate our attention 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 and Melancholy Woodpeckers, and so many others. Once again we will remain until dark trying for any owls and nightjars that we may still need before returning to our accommodation for dinner. Night at Rainforest Lodge, Jukwa.

Day 5    Kakum Abrafu - Brenu Akyinim
White-spotted Flufftail - Nick BrayThis morning we will be concentrating our time on the farmland scrub, forest edge and forest trails at Abrafo, a section of forest habitat near Kakum National Park. Possibilities this morning include 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, Fraser's 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 and White-crested Hornbill. Amongst the more sought-after and difficult species present thee are Long-tailed Hawk, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Congo Serpent-Eagle, and both Red-billed and Black Dwarf Hornbills. Bird activity is severely reduced during the middle of the day, so with this in mind we will return to our hotel for lunch, relax around the pool or have a short siesta. 

New habitat is in store for us this afternoon 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, Wilson's Indigobird and African Wattled Lapwing. Our next two evenings will be spent at a small guesthouse at Sekondi as we head further west.

Day 6    Nsuta Forest
Nsuta is about an hours drive from our guesthouse and this excellent secondary semi-deciduous forest protects aCrested Malimbe - Ashanti Tours plethora of quality species and we hope to see species such as 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, Ussher's and the much sought-after Tessmann’s Flycatchers, Square-tailed Saw-wing, Gray's and Crested Malimbes, Green Crombec, Green and Tit Hylia, African Piculet, Emerald and Yellow-throated Cuckoos, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill and Great-blue Turaco. 

Lunch will either be taken back at our guesthouse or we may decide to take a packed lunch to maximise our time in this location. The more difficult secies we will be aiming for during our time here include Black-throated Coucal, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Red-fronted Antpecker, White-tailed Alethe, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Black Spinetail and Spot-breasted Ibis amongst others. Nsuta is excellent for nocturnal birds and we hope to see rare forest species such as Brown Nightjar, Akun Eagle Owl, and if we are very lucky, Rufous Fishing-Owl. 
We shall spend a second night at a small guesthouse at Sekondi.

Days 7 - 8     Nsuta Forest - Ankasa Reserve
White-bellied Kingfisher - Ashanti ToursWe can spend the morning in Nsuta Forest aiming to pick up any species we may have missed the previous day and after lunch back at the guesthouse we will set off westwards for what should prove to be a major highlight of the tour. Our destination is the excellent remote Ankasa Reserve, Ghana’s only wet evergreen rainforest that is in near pristine condition, and which 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 decided to stay at a tented camp inside the forest. The camp leader and his assistants will be waiting to greet us on arrival and we will stay in large tents that come complete with comfortable mattresses, pillows and bed sheets. In addition there are flushing toilets and cold private shower facilities and our cook will keep us well fed three times a day & supplied with cold beers and non-alcoholic beverages as well. We also have electricity and a backup generator if needed. As we arrive in the late afternoon we will take some time to settle into our camp before heading out for early evening birding where we hope to see Fraser's and Akun Eagle-Owls, and Sandy Scops-Owl. Our evening will be spent at camp enjoying the atmosphere of being 'at one' with nature. 

It’s wonderful actually staying at a birding location and not having to waste time travelling. So on our first morning hereRufous-sided Broadbill - Nick Bray we will set off deeper into this lush forest with our main targets being the Upper Guinea endemics such as Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Rufous-winged Illadopsis and Green-tailed Bristlebill, as well as Ansorge’s, Icterine, Red-tailed and Western-bearded Greenbuls, Pale-breasted and Blackcap Illadopsis, Forest Robin, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, White-tailed Alethe, Shinning 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 Turaco’s, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, 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 Hartlaub's Duck, Dwarf Bittern, African Finfoot, Shining Blue, White-bellied, Blue-breasted and Dwarf Kingfishers. Forest raptors are always welcome and we have further chances of seeing Long-tailed Hawk and Congo Serpent-Eagle, whilst Crowned Eagle is always a possibility. 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 even Akun Eagle-Owl. Our last evening will be spent at our camp enjoying good food and discussing the days birding over a cold refreshing drink. 

Day 9    Ankasa - Brenu Akyinim 
After a full morning's birding searching for any species we still need, we will return to our camp to arrange our bags and enjoy our lunch before heading back towards Kakum National Park. During our journey we will be targeting several species not seen in other parts of Ghana, such as Reichenbach’s and Brown Sunbirds, Orange Weaver and African Pygmy Goose to mention a few. A revisit to Brenu Akyinim around dusk should give us the opportunity to see Greyish Eagle-Owl, and both Long-tailed and Plain Nightjars before we arrive back at the Rainforest Lodge Hotel for our evening meal and checklist. 

Day 10   Abrafo Forest - Yellow-headed Picathartes Site 
Yellow-headed Picathartes - Nick BrayToday is very special and it is difficult to focus our minds onYellow-headed Picathartes - Nick Bray 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 will 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 and our ground agents are actively involved in protecting this habitat from illegal hunting and logging activities and are currently sponsoring 24 community forest committee members from the surrounding villages to patrol and stop illegal hunting and logging activities. It is imperative that the local communities are shown the benefits of protecting this species and endangered habitat, and as such there is a school and reception centre currently being built as a direct result of our ground agents funding from visiting birders. There has subsequently been a dramatic reduction in tree felling and birding groups seem to be enjoying better views than ever of more birds when visiting the Yellow-headed Picathartes nesting site. 

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, and the total experience adds to this mythical birds reputation. As we arrive at the nesting site we need to be very quiet as we take our seats on bamboo benches that have been purposely built. 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 and insects during the day. It is hard to contain your 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 and set off back through the forest to our waiting vehicle. On arrival in Kumasi we check in to our hotel for a 2 night stay. 

Day 11    Offinso Forest - Bobiri ReserveFrasers Eagle Owl - Ashanti Tours 
After an early breakfast we set off to Offinso Forest in a transitional zone between the southern wetter forests and northern drier woodland habitats where we find some quality species. During a full morning's birding here we hope to see Afep and Western Bronze-naped Pigeons, Red-billed Helmet-shrike, Many-coloured, Lagden's and Fiery-breasted Bush-shrikes, Red-thighed and Black Sparrowhawks, Bioko Batis, Green (Guinea) Turaco and Rufous-sided Broadbill. Our other main targets will be Blue-moustached Bee-eater, Capuchin Babbler, Yellow-footed Honeyguide and Forest Scrub-Robin to mention a few.

We will return to our hotel for lunch and a short siesta or even a swim if you prefer before heading to Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary for some early evening birding. Our main targets here will be the more difficult to see species and we have a chance of African Wood Owl, Akun and Fraser's Eagle-Owls, Plain, Long-tailed and Brown Nightjars, Latham’s (Forest) and Ahanta Francolin, and if we are lucky, an endangered Long-tailed Pangolin before returning to our hotel at Kumasi for rest and relaxation. 

Day 12    Offinso Forest - Mole National Park 
A final morning’s visit to Offinso Forest after a more relaxed breakfast and we aim to see species we may have missed here yesterday and that only occur in this habitat before we set off for Ghana’s premier game viewing park found in the Northern Region. It is approximately a 5 hours’ 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. This journey can be very good for raptors that could include Beaudouin's 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-Owl and Northern White-faced Scops-Owl before we retire for the evening. Night at Mole NP.

Days 13 - 14    Mole National Park 
Exclamatory Paradise Whydah by Nick BrayMole 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 to be found here. We will be setting off after breakfast, walking and driving deeper into this national park searching for species such as Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Scarlet-chested, Beautiful, Pygmy and Western Violet-backed 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-faced, Rufous and the difficult Dort’s Cisticolas, Hadada 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 close views of Africa’s largest land mammal - the African Elephant, whilst both Green Vervet and Patas Monkeys will greet us in the bush as we enjoy our walks. 

During the heat of the midday sun we can enjoy a siesta or relax around the pool after our lunch beforel setting off for our afternoon birding sessions around 3pm andKlaass Cuckoo by Nick Bray staying after dark for nocturnal species. Other birds we hope to see include Yellow-breasted Apalis, Bearded Barbet, Swamp, African Blue, Lead Coloured, Pied and the difficult to see Gambaga Flycatchers, Giant, Shinning 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 Bunting, Abyssinian, Blue-bellied, Rufous-crowned and Broad-billed Rollers, Black Scimitarbill and Violet Turaco. Raptors are usually quite conspicuous here and include Martial, Booted, Long-crested and Tawny Eagles, White-backed and White-headed Vultures, Lizard Buzzard, Gabar and Dark Chanting Goshawks, Western Marsh Harrier, African Fish-Eagle, Wahlberg's 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's Plover, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Spotted Creeper and Rufous-rumped Lark amongst others. Our evenings will be spent at our hotel enjoying the atmosphere of being so close to nature. Nights at Mole NP.

Day 15    Mole National Park - Tongo Hills 
A final morning's birding at Mole where we aim to pick up species still needed 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 towards Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region of Ghana.

We will have the option en-route to Bolgatanga of visiting the nearby Larabanga mud and stick Mosque. Built in traditional Sudanese style and dating from the 14th century the Mosque apparently houses one of the original copies of the Koran. As we continue on our journey the landscape changes from the broad-leaved Guinea woodland of the Northern Region to more open savannah as we head further northwards. After lunch at a hotel in Tamale, capital of the Northern Region of Ghana, we continue to the beautiful Tongo Hills where we will be targeting species only found in this unique habitat of natural boulders and inselbergs. Birds we hope to see here include Rock-loving Cisticola, Brown-rumped Bunting, White-crowned Cliff-Chat and Fox Kestrel amongst other species possible. After an excellent evenings birding we continue the short journey into Bolgatanga and check into our guesthouse for the evening where we will reflect after our evening meal on another productive day. We will spend the next 2 nights at Bolgatanga.

Day 16    Volta River - Egyptian Plover site - Tono Dam 
Egyptian Plover by Nick BrayToday provides another major highlight of our tour as we set off early in the morning for a river location to see the beautiful Egyptian Plover, which has recently been made a family of its own. Our ground agents pay villagers in the area to protect and monitor this species to ensure its continued breeding success as locals will destroy the nests and take the eggs. This has also ensured a 100% record of seeing this species. It’s a beautiful part of Ghana and as you look across the White Volta River you can see Togo and Burkina Faso in the distance. Other species we hope to see during our time here include, Chestnut-bellied and Purple Glossy Starlings, African Mourning Dove, Buffalo Weaver, Zebra Waxbill, and if we are lucky Yellow-winged Pytillia amongst other species before we set off back towards our hotel for our lunch and short siesta.

Our afternoon will be dedicated to birding at the Tono Dam close to the border of Burkina Faso where we hope to see Black-rumped Waxbill, Little Bee-eater, Senegal, Spotted and Water Thick-knee, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Spur-winged Goose, African Wattled and Spur-winged Lapwings, Namaqua Dove, Four-banded Sandgrouse, African Silverbill, Yellow Penduline Tit and Cut-throat Finch. If we are very lucky, then we could see Black- bellied or even an Arabian Bustard, whilst finding a Bronze-winged Courser would definitely be something to remember! Night at Bolgatanga. 

Day 17    Bolgatanga - Kumasi 
Today is mainly dedicated to being a travel day as we retrace our journey back southwards to Kumasi. Depending on which species we may still require it is possible to revisit the Tongo Hills before departing the Upper East Region or alternatively Bobiri Reserve for evening birding when arriving in Kumasi. Night at Kumasi again.

Day 18    Bobiri Reserve - Atewa Plains 
An early start as we head back into the Upper Guinea Rainforest habitat where so many of Ghana’s sought-afterGreen Hylia - Nick Bray special species are found. This morning we hope to see Tit and Green Hylias, Magpie Mannakin, Narina 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.

Once we have finished here we will  head further south towards Atewa, stopping for lunch en-route. After some rest and relaxation we set of for the lower farmland bush country 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, Levaillants 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 at New Tafo for the evening.

Day 19    Atewa Range 
Atewa is a critically endangered highland Upper Guinea rainforest and as such it protects so many quality and rare species and we will dedicate the entire day birding here.Red Billed Helmet-Shrike copyright Mike Nelson 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 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, Western-bearded 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 and 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 or Lowland Akalat amongst others. After a wonderful day we return to our guesthouse for a good evening meal and reflect on another productive day over a cold drink at the guesthouses restaurant. Night at New Tafo again.

Day 20    Atewa Range - Shai Hills Reserve 
Another early start as we set off back towards the Atewa Range. This morning we will be concentrating on any possible species in this habitat that we still need for our lists or that we would like better or second views of. We return to our guesthouse for lunch before we set off after a productive morning heading further south towards Tema. We pass through the beautiful Akwepim range during our journey, and as we descend these mountains a visit to the Shai Hills Reserve is most welcome for a leg stretch and more quality birding. As we will be here in the late afternoon and early evening our focus will be on the more difficult to see species that include Swamp and Freckled Nightjars, Northern White-faced and African Scops-Owls in addition to the much sought-after African Barred Owlet before heading off on the short journey to our hotel at Tema for the night. 

Day 21    Shai Hills Reserve - Sakumono Lagoon - End of Tour 
Black-bellied Bustard - Nick BrayOur final day in Ghana will be at a more relaxed pace as we head for the open grassland savannah of Shai Hills hoping to see Northern Crombec, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Vielliot's 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, Blackcap 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 stop for lunch at our hotel before heading for more familiar birding at the Sakumono Lagoon. There are usually an abundance of birds to see here depending on the level of water, and we could see a variety of shorebirds such as Black-winged Stilt, Senegal Thick-knee, Common Ringed, Kittlitz's, Grey and Spur-winged Plovers, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Collard Pratincole, Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers, Ruff, Ruddy Turnstone and Little Stint. Other birds usually present include Long-tailed Cormorant, Squacco, Grey, Purple, Striated and Black Herons, Little, Cattle and Intermediate Egrets, Western Reef and Black-headed Herons, Royal, Black and Caspian Terns, Sandwich, and if we are lucky Roseate Terns. This should prove to be a fitting finale as we head back to our hotel to rearrange our bags, freshen up and have our final evening meal before transferring to the airport and the conclusion of a wonderful Ghana birding and wildlife tour. 

 

Leaders:  Nick Bray and local guides. 

Ground Price:  £3350 - Accra/Accra

Airfare: £630.00 (Approx) - UK/UK

Zoothera tour prices explained

Single supplement: £375                    

Deposit:   £500.00

Group size:   Minimum for tour to go ahead 4 and maximum 8 with 2 leaders.Yellow-billed Turaco - Ashanti Tours

Included in cost:  Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals, water, all entrance fees, ground transport throughout in a/c coach and 4x4 (at Atewa), and services of leaders.

Not included:  International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, visa fee, and items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: Our accommodations ranges from good to basic but all are in close proximity to the birding areas to be visited. All room are en-suite and generally 2 twin beds with air conditioning. Whilst camping for 2 nights at Ankasa we will have use of large tents with comfortable mattresses, pillows and bed sheets, In addition there are flushing toilets and cold private shower facilities here and our cook will keep us well fed three times a day, plus we can enjoy cold beers and non-alcoholic beverages. There's also electricity and a backup generator if needed.

Tour Code:  This is a long birding tour with early mornings and evening birding essential to make the best of our birding opportunities and to ensure we see as many species as possible. We will have long days in the field and if the weather is hot we will try to make time to rest during the middle of the day at our hotel. The weather can be unsettled at this time of year, so be prepared for the occasional shower. 

  


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Previous Tour Report: 2009,   2012,   2015

View some photos from Nick's recce (Sept 2015) - Ghana 2015.

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