Day 1 ARRIVAL IN SÃO TOMÉ (15th March)
.We will be met upon our arrival at the international airport in Sao Tome. After clearing immigration, collecting our bags and passing through customs we will enter the main arrival hall where our tour leader & local guide will be waiting to meet us. From here it's a relatively short transfer to our accommodation. Once we have checked in our guide will brief us on the following day’s activities and answer any questions we may have. Depending on our arrival time, we can enjoy our early evening meal at this fabulous location whilst acclimatizing ourselves to West Africa. Night at Roca St Joao Guest House.
Days 2 - 3 MONTE CARMO
We will have early starts over these next 2 days as we aim to see the most difficult to find Island endemics at the renowned Monte Carmo Forest. An early breakfast is essential before we set off to fuel ourselves in preparation for some difficult walking on trails that can be slippery and a little challenging as we ascend Monte Carmo. Packed lunches will be arranged by our team over the next few days as we will return to our vehicles just before dark ensuring we dedicate the most critical hours birding at this forest location protecting so many endemic species.
Due to the Islands most sought-after and difficult to find species are located here, we visit this location early during our itinerary in the unlikely event we may need to revisit before our departure.. We dedicate 2 full days to birding at this remote forest location from the lowland forest to the higher reaches of Monte Carmo. Our main targets in this forest would all be endemic species. They include; Sao Tome (Dwarf) Olive Ibis, Sao Tome Short-tail (Bocage’s Longbill), Giant Sunbird, Sao Tome Grosbeak and Sao Tome (Newton’s) Fiscal. Other species we hope to see include Sao Tome Weaver, Sao Tome Oriole, Sao Tome Paradise Flycatcher, Newton’s Sunbird, Sao Tome Scops Owl, Sao Tome Chestnut-winged Starling, Lemon (Forest) Dove, Sao Tome Prinia, Red-headed Lovebird, Sao Tome Speirops, Giant Weaver and Sao Tome Seedeater. Birding can be slow in Sao Tome Forests, however most of the species are endemic and extremely rewarding when seen well. After challenging but enjoyable birding on both days, we return to our guesthouse that is owned by Sao Tome's most famous chef and as you can guess the food is amazing. Nights at Roca St Joao Guest House
Day 4 FLIGHT TO PRINCIPE
After an early breakfast we will transfer to the airport to take our flight to the beautiful island of Principe where we will be staying for the next 3 nights. En-route to the airport we will be stopping at Rio Grande. Here we hope to see Sao Tome Kingfisher, Giant Sunbird, Common Moorhen, Little Egret, Striated Heron and other species. The luggage allowance for the flight to Principe is 15kg per person and every additional kilo is charged at €5.00 Euros due to the size of the plane, we can arrange storage for any bags you would like to remain in Sao Tome. The island of Príncipe is the smallest of the two main islands in the country, with a population of about 8,000 people and stunning pristine forest area called Obo Natural Park. The main population on the island are based in the capital Santo António. On arrival we transfer to our accommodation, check-in, enjoy lunch and relax before heading out for afternoon birding. Our afternoon will be dedicated to birding the areas around our hotel and nearby bush and forest fringes aiming to see our first endemics on this Island. Our evening is spent relaxing at this beautiful location, enjoying our evening meal, and discussing the day’s activities and tomorrow’s adventures. Night at Mira Rio Guest House.
Days 5 - 6 PRINCIPE ISLAND
.An early start and breakfast before we take a boat trip to a remote part of Obo National Park getting deeper into this pristine forest habitat in search for the Islands endemics. Here we hope to find Principe Drongo, Principe Kingfisher, Principe Speirops, Principe Golden Weaver, Principe Sunbird, Principe Glossy Starling, Dohrn’s Thrush Babbler and Sao Tome Spinetail. Other species we might see include Grey Parrot, Blue-Breasted Kingfisher, African Green Pigeon, Western Olive Sunbird, Western Reef Heron, Yellow-billed Kite, African Palm and Little Swift. As we are dedicating a full day in this habitat, we enjoy a packed lunch and short rest before afternoon birding. After a wonderful productive day in nature, we head back to our boat and return to our accommodation. In the evening we will head to a different part of the Island where our local guides have recently discovered Principe Scops Owl. Quality time will be dedicated looking for this species.
We will have another early start on our second full day as we take a boat trip to a different part of the Islands, as we visit one of the most important seabird colonies in this part of Africa with a visit to Bone de Jokey and Tinhosas. Here we will be looking for more Island endemics in addition to European Storm Petrel, White-tailed Tropicbird, Brown Bobby, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Tern, Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, Black and Common Noddy amongst many other species. A visit to Bone de Jockey enables us to see the (Bone) Principe Seedeater which has a heavier, longer and broader bill than the one on Principe mainland. After a wonderful morning and early afternoon's birding, we head back to Principe. Once again if we did not see it yesterday, our evening will be dedicated to searching the Islands Forest for Principe Scops Owl before returning to our accommodation to relax and enjoy our evening meal. Nights at Mira Rio Guest House.
Day 7 FLY TO SAO TOME - BIRDING NORTH OF ISLAND
We will spend approximately an hours birding the surrounding habitat before breakfast and hope to find any species we may want better views of or photos. We return to our hotel to have breakfast before transferring to the airport for our morning flight back to Sao Tome. On arrival back on the main Island we head to the Northern habitat which is the hotter drier part of Sao Tome. Here we aim to see more seabirds that include Curlew Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Little Egret amongst others and in the bush and forest we find Harlequin Quail, Fire-crowned Bishop, Golden-backed Bishop, White-winged Widowbird, and some of the more common endemics. Another another wonderful day’s birding is behind us we transfer to Monte Café which will be our base for the final part of our tour. Our accommodation has outstanding views from the hills across to the capital Sao Tome and is surrounded by secondary forest habitat with good birding in our grounds. On arrival we enjoy our evening meal at the excellent restaurant connected to the hotel. Night at Almada Negreiros Guest House
Day 8 MACAMBRARA - BOTANICAL GARDENS - OBO NATIONAL PARK
Choosing to stay so close to our next birding location enables us to have a more relaxed breakfast with less travel to the birding sites. After breakfast we visit an are called Macambrara which is the most productive birding area around Bom Successo and Obo National Park. Our target species here include Sao Tome Scops Owl, Southern Masked Weaver, Sao Tome Paradise Flycatcher, Sao Tome Oriole, Sao Tome Speirops, Newton’s Sunbird, Common Waxbill, Sao Tome Green Pigeon, Gulf of Guinea Thrush, Sao Tome Spinetail, Sao Tome Seedeater and Bronze Mannikin amongst other species. After productive birding, we enjoy a short excursion to one of the beautiful waterfalls in Sao Tome before returning to our guest house for lunch. Afternoon and early evening excursions to the Botanical Gardens and Obo National Park should enable us to see all our desired endemics. The evening will be spent at the excellent restaurant and bar of our guest house, enjoying the stunning views and good food, discussing the day’s sightings and adding to our checklist. Night at Almada Negreiros Guest House.
Day 9 MACAMBRARA - OBO NATIONAL PARK - END OF TOUR - (23rd March)
This morning our birding is flexible based on which species we would still need to see better. After a full morning birding we return to our guest house to enjoy lunch, freshen up and re-arrange our bags in preparation for our evening flight home. A late check out has been arranged and we head into town for our final checklist and meal prior to transferring to the airport after a wonderful Sao Tome and Principe Birding and Nature Tour.