GHANA – Yellow-headed Picathartes

 

Best time of year - May


Although one of the highlights of the tour is undoubtedly a visit to a nesting site of the iconic Yellow-headed Picathartes - where getting a glimpse of this remarkable bird is an amazing feeling never to be forgotten - this trip through southern Ghana visits some of the best habitats in the country and will be a great all-round birdwatching experience.

It includes a trip to Ankasa where we hope to see one of Africa’s rarest and most sought after owls; the Akun Eagle Owl.

With over 755 species of birds and a wide variety of habitats, Ghana is one of the top birding destinations of West Africa. The country’s habitats range from coastal wetland lagoons and saltpans on the Gold Coast, then, as we venture inland, we pass through broad leaved Guinea woodland, primary Guinea tropical rainforest (where we visit the world famous Kakum canopy walkway) and moving northwards we find Sahelian savannah plains.

This birdwatching tour of Ghana, therefore, gives you a thorough coverage of these core West African habitats, which make for an extremely impressive quality bird tally, a tally that we know will not disappoint!

 

Tour Details

 

Accommodation:

High quality hotels and lodges, all with en-suite facilities

Participants:

Maximum 8

Focus:

Yellow-headed Picathartes and the birds of Ghana

Grading:

Moderate – there will be some walking involved in areas of fairly high humidity. Although none of it will be strenuous a moderate level of fitness is required.

 
            Tour Itinerary

 

Day 1 - Depart London, arrive Accra.

Our local guide will meet us on our arrival at the Kotoka International Airport Accra, which is situated on the beautiful gold coast of Western Africa.

After boarding our air conditioned vehicle, which will be our mode of transport for the duration of the tour, we transfer our hotel, which is situated near Accra. Once we have checked you in, our guide will offer us Akwaaba (welcome) and brief us on all aspects of the trip. We shall then enjoy our evening meal at the hotel restaurant whilst acclimatising ourselves to Africa.

 

Day 2 – Shai Hills Reserve

Our first full day in Ghana. After an early breakfast we visit the nearby Shai Hills reserve, an expanse of savannah, grassland and woodland. The bird viewing here is excellent and we hope to find Grey Hornbill, Violet and Green Turacos, White-crowned Cliff Chat, White-crowned Robin Chat, Rock Martin, Northern Puffback, Rosy and Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, Blue-bellied and Rufous-crowned Rollers, Piapiac, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Blackcap Babbler, Senegal Parrot, Red-headed Lovebird and ,if we are lucky, Barred Owlet amongst other species.

After a productive morning we enjoy our lunch and check out of our hotel before visiting the nearby Sakumono Lagoon where we hope to find Black, Striated, Squacco and Grey Herons, Long-tailed Cormorant, Western Reef Egret, Garganey, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Kittlitz’s Plover, African Spoonbill, Ruddy Turnstone, Black Tern, Senegal Thicknee and Ruff to mention just a few.

After some good birding we head west leaving the busy city of Accra behind. Our destination is Cape Coast where we find the amazing Kakum National Park. En route, we will be stopping at a grassland reserve and lagoon.

Today, we also hope to find Siffling and Short-winged Cisticolas, Splendid and Copper Sunbirds, Flappet Lark, Red-winged Prinia, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Black- necked Weaver, Black-crowned Tchagra, Plain-backed Pipit, Black-shouldered and Yellow-billed Kites, Western Grey Plantain-eater, Grey Kestrel, Lizard Buzzard, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove and Black-bellied Bustard to mention a few.

Around the lagoon, we aim to see Purple Heron, Purple Swamphen,  Spur-winged Lapwing and African Pygmy Goose before our arrival at Rainforest Lodge, our base for the next 3 nights whilst we visit Kakum National Park. We retire to our air-conditioned rooms after our evening meal, checklist and discussing the day’s sightings


Day 3 – Kakum National Park

An early breakfast as we head for the world famous canopy walkway at Kakum National Park, this is approximately a 15 minute drive from our hotel. We aim to get there for first light enabling us to spend the most critical bird viewing hours 40 meters above the forest floor on the canopy walkway, the platforms of which are large enough to support telescopes.

The 360 km² Kakum National Park protects secondary Upper Guinea tropical rainforest and the species we hope to see from the canopy include Sabine’s Puffback, Sharpe’s Apalis, Preuss’s Golden-backed Weaver, Red-headed and Red-vented Malimbes, Buff-thro.ated, Tiny and Little Green Sunbirds, Rosy Bee-eater, Green Hylia, Violet-backed Hyliota, Yellowbill, Little Grey, Usher’s and Shrike Flycatchers, Grey-headed, White-breasted and Chestnut-breasted Negro-finch, Grey Longbill, White-headed and Forest Wood-Hoopoes, Blue Cuckoo Shrike, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Naked-faced, Yellow-spotted and Hairy-breasted Barbets, Red-fronted and African Grey Parrots, Velvet-mantled Drongos and if we are lucky Black-collard Lovebird and Yellow-footed Honeyguide.

The raptors we aim to see include Red-necked Buzzard, Palm Nut Vulture, African Harrier-Hawk, Congo Serpent-Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk and Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle to mention just a few.

 

During the heat of mid afternoon, you will have the option of birding around the forest of our hotel with your guide, resting around the hotel pool and bar or you could choose to go on a cultural excursion to Cape Coast castle, (compliments of Altiplano Tours) and we will attach one of our experienced cultural guides to you for the 1 hour tour.

We re-visit the canopy in the evening when our main targets will be Brown-checked, Black and Yellow-casqued Hornbills, Brown Nightjar and Fraser’s Eagle Owl amongst other specials.

Our evenings will be spent at the hotel restaurant and bar discussing the day’s sightings, adding to our checklist and enjoying the atmosphere of our surroundings.

 

Day 4 – Kakum National Park

This morning we visit the Antwikwaa section of Kakum National Park for early morning birding hoping to see White-throated, Rosy and Black Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller, Piping and White-crested Hornbills, Red and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, Kemps and Grey Longbills, Ussher’s, Black-and-white and Fraser’s Forest Flycatchers, White-spotted Flufftail, Black Sparrowhawk, Cassin’s and Sabine’s Spinetails, Blue-spotted and Tambourine Doves, African Green Pigeon, Bioko’s Batis and maybe Long-tailed Hawk. We enjoy a short excursion for the beautiful White-throated Blue Swallow, Rock Pratincole, and White-headed Lapwing before returning to the hotel for our lunch.

In the afternoon we will be concentrating 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 and Grey-headed Bristlebills, Collared and Olive-bellied Sunbirds, Blue-headed Wood Dove, Black Dwarf and Red-billed Dwarf Hornbills, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Forest Robin, Red-chested Goshawk, Yellow-billed Turaco, Fire-bellied and Gabon Woodpeckers and if we are lucky we may spot Forest Francolin and Spotted Honeyguide as well as many of the Greenbuls Kakum has to offer. We stay back for night birding before returning to our hotel in the evening.

 

Day 5 – Kakum Natuional Park

Another early start this morning as we visit a different section of Kakum National Park hoping to see species we may have missed previously. Our main targets will be Red-billed Helmetshrike, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Forest Penduline Tit, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Western Bluebill, Western Black-winged and Black-headed Orioles, Purple-throated Cuckoo-Shrike, Emerald, Thick-billed and Black Cuckoos and Willcock’s Honeyguide.

We leave after the morning section and set off for Ankasa in the western region of Ghana for what should be a major highlight of our trip. Ankasa is Ghana’s only pristine wet evergreen Upper Guinea rainforest a rarely visited beautiful forest protecting some wonderful species. We arrive in the afternoon check into our accommodation and have lunch before heading to Ankasa for early evening birdwatching, we hope to see one of Africa’s most sought after but rarely seen owls; the Akun Eagle Owl, in addition to this wonderful owl we will try for African Wood and Fraser’s Eagle Owls before returning to our accommodation in preparation for the following morning’s birding.

 

Days 6 & 7 - Ankasa

Early starts as we dedicate day 6 and the morning of day 7 to birdwatching in Ankasa, which protects so many of Ghana’s specials, we hope to find Hartlaub’s Duck, African Finfoot, Crowned Eagle, Great Blue and Yellow-billed Turacos, we also hope to see again the Yellow-casqued, Black-casqued, Red-billed Dwarf and Black Dwarf Hornbills should we miss them at Kakum National Park.

Other highlights are; White-bellied, Shinning and Chocolate-backed Kingfishers, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Purple-throated Cuckoo-Shrike, Black-capped, Pale-breasted, Rufous-winged and Brown Illadopsis, Red and Green-tailed Bristlebills, Yellow-bearded, Western-bearded, Cameroon Sombre and Red-tailed Greenbuls, Blue-headed Wood Dove, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Red-fronted Antpecker and, if we are lucky, during early evening birding on day 6 we may spot Nkulengu Rail.

After a final mornings birding in Ankasa on day 7 we set off back to Cape Coast. We will stop for lunch at Takoradi then head on to Brenu Beach, an area of grassland savannah, for our evening birding en route. Here we hope to find Viellot’s Barbet, Preuss’s Swallow and Marsh Tchagra amongst other species. We then continue to the Rainforest Lodge for our evening meal, checklist and to reflect on a productive day.


Day 8 Kakum National Park

Early start as we head towards Aboabo on the North West boarder of Kakum National Park. We arrive early to make the most of our time here, Aboabo is in our view the most productive section of Kakum National Park; the birdlife here never disappoints. We take a packed lunch with us which will allow us to dedicate the whole morning trying to add more species to our rapidly growing lists. We hope to see African Piculet, Black-cap Apalis, Black-throated Coucal, Red-vented and Crested Malimbes, Yellow-throated and Black Cuckoos, White-spotted Flufftail, Bristle-nosed and Spotted Barbets, Western Nicator, Kemp’s Longbill, Grey and Brown-necked Parrots, Chestnut-capped, Red-bellied Paradise and, if we are lucky, as we sometimes are, the much sought after Tessman’s Flycatcher amongst other species. After enjoying our packed lunch we set off for a remote village.

On our arrival we trek into a nearby forest which our destination will be a nesting site for one of the most sought after birds in the world, the prehistoric looking Yellow-headed Picathartes. There are around 30 nests at this location and catching a glimpse of this remarkable bird is an amazing feeling. Once everyone has enjoyed good views we set off for Kumasi the Capital of the Ashanti region. On arrival we check into our hotel and enjoy a cold drink over our evening meal whilst reflecting on one of the most memorable birding days of our lives.

 

Day 9 – Bobiri Forest Reserve

We wake early to visit Bobiri Forest Reserve which is actually a butterfly sanctuary. Upon our arrival, we will search this lush forest for Swamp Palm Bulbul, Tit Hylia, Afep and Bronze-naped Pigeons, Yellow-footed Honeyguide, Green-headed Sunbird, Red-billed Dwarf, Brown-cheeked and White-crested Hornbills, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Brown Illadopsis, Western Nicator, Forest Francolin, Little Green Woodpecker, Narina Trogon, Blue-throated Roller, Golden Greenbul, and some of the many raptors present include, Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, African Cuckoo Hawk, Long-tailed Hawk to mention just a few.

After lunch we set off for Atewa and bird the lower portion of the range in the afternoon which should prove to be very productive. Here we hope to see Blue-headed Coucal, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Compact and Grosbeak Weavers, Dideric Cuckoo, Western Bluebill, Rufous-winged Illadopsis, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye and if we are lucky as we sometimes are Baumann’s Greenbul. We set off to our nearby guesthouse, enjoy our evening meal and discuss the day’s sightings after our checklist.

 

Day 10 – Atewa Range

An early start this morning as we dedicate the early part of the day at the Atewa Range, this is the main site in Ghana where we can see the Blue-headed Bee-eater.

Other specialities include the endangered Rufous-winged Illadopsis, Many-coloured Bush Shrike, Forest Scrub Robin, Narina Trogon, Western Bronze-napped Pigeon, Forest Robin, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Fraser’s, Johanna’s and Tiny Sunbirds and Shining Drongo amongst others.

After a final morning’s visit to the Atewa range we freshen up, take lunch and set off for Kalakpa Reserve in the Volta region of Ghana; on our arrival we check into our hotel and, if time permits, we set off for evening birding at Kalakpa with our main target species being Black-shouldered Nightjar and African Scops Owl.


Day 11 – Kalapka Reserve

We dedicate the whole day birding at Kalakpa Reserve which protects open savannah and forest species; our main targets will be Yellow-throated, Green and Thick-billed Cuckoos, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Puvel’s Illadopsis, Capuchin Babbler, Leaflove, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat, Pied-winged Swallow and Guinea Turaco amongst others. We return to our hotel for lunch before heading back to the reserve for night birding. After a wonderful day we set off back to our hotel and enjoy our final evening in Ghana over a cool drink at our hotel restaurant.

 

Day 12 – Kalapka Reserve and depart Accra

A final morning visit to Kalakpa trying to add more species to our lists before return to our hotel for lunch, freshen up and re-arrange our bags before setting off for Accra Airport. Depending on our flight departure time, we will visit a nearby local restaurant to relax and enjoy an early evening meal before departure and flight home after an unforgettable 12 day rainforest and savannah birdwatching tour of Ghana.

 

Day 13 – Arrive London

Morning arrival in London

 

Included in the price:

Accommodation: high standard of accommodation within the area of birding

All meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks

Morning pre-birding tea, coffee or hot chocolate with biscuits

Mineral water: unlimited and available to every participant for the duration of the tour

Transportation around Ghana in air conditioned vehicles

Driver

Fuel

Park entrance fees

Guide fees: fully escorted by Ghana’s finest professional and expert birdwatching and wildlife guides

Professional care and attention

 

Not included in the price:

International flights

Travel Insurance

Ghana entry visas

Soft and Alcoholic drinks (except mineral water which is included)

Laundry

 

Items of purely personal nature