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Ghana Birding Tour

Guided by Michael Mills, this short Birding Africa tour to Ghana affords participants the opportunity to see the spectacular Yellow-headed Picathartes, one of Africa’s most unusual and desirable birds.

We will visit an area with about 30 nests on two consecutive days, because we know how hard it is to fully appreciate this amazing species during a single visit. The birds won’t be breeding, but we expect to see birds coming in to roost in the late afternoon.

Besides seeing Picathartes, we will also have the opportunity to sample a rich variety of forest birds, including several Upper Guinea endemics, in and around the famous Kakum National Park. One of the highlights of the trip will be birding from the canopy walkway in Kakum forest.

The tours start and end in Accra. Our 8 day itinerary in includes the Shai Hills, the Cape Coast, the canopy walkway and Aboabo in the Kakum Forest and the Atewa Forest. Our Atewa Forest extension tour adds to this another 3 days of birding in and around Atewa Forest.

We also offer an 11-day, a 13-day and 16 day tinerary. These include a main forest tour and an shorter optional extension.

Yellow-headed Picathartes (White-necked Rockfowl) on a Ghana birding tour with Birding Africa © Callan Cohen
Yellow-headed Picathartes (White-necked Rockfowl) on a Ghana birding tour with Birding Africa © Callan Cohen

Detailed Itinerary:
Ghana: Picathartes and forest birding
11 day tour

Leader: Michael Mills together with an expert Ghanaian guide
All inclusive tour in air-conditioned vehicle.

Day 1: Our Ghana tour kicks off in the country’s bustling capital city, Accra. We’ll meet you off your plane at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport and transfer you to our comfortable hotel. In the evening, we'll met at 7 pm for dinner, and discuss the bird-filled week that lies ahead.

Day 2: Before first light we make our way to the productive Shai Hills, not far from the Ghanaian capital, for some introductory birding. Here we should find a rich diversity of species in the grassland, woodlands and savannas. These should include many species we won’t stand a chance of seeing later in the trip, once we start to focus on the forests, such as the colourful Violet Turaco and Senegal Parrot, Double-spurred Francolin, Black-billed Wood Dove, comical Western Grey Plaintain-eater, Long-crested Eagle, bright Splendid Sunbird, Piapiac, Senegal Eremomela and perhaps Blue-bellied Roller and Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike. From the Shai Hills we’ll make our way back to Accra and then on towards Cape Coast, where we’ll base ourselves during our visits to the nearby Kakum National Park. En route we’ll stop to bird in the coastal wetlands and grasslands, looking for species such as Short-winged Cisticola, Flappet Lark, Red-winged Warbler, Common Gonolek, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Black-bellied Bustard and African Pygmy Goose. We arrive at Hans Cottage in the evening, our base for the next three nights, with comfortable air-conditioned rooms.

Day 3-4: The famous Kakum National Park, renowned for its spectacular canopy walkway, holds a rich variety of forest birds, including several Upper Guinea endemics. We allow ourselves two full days to immerse in this rich birdlife. The canopy walkway will be the focus of much of our attention, and we hope to enjoy close-up views of canopy species such as Violet-backed Hyliota, Lemon-bellied Crombec, White-breasted Nigrita, Chestnut-breasted Nigrita, White-headed Woodhoopoe, West African Batis, Blue Cuckooshrike, Chestnut-bellied Helmetshrike, Sabine’s Puffback, Sharpe’s Apalis and a handful of spectacular hornbill, including the Upper Guinea endemic Brown-cheeked Hornbill. The potential species list is impressive. It includes scarce species such as Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Preuss’s Golden-backed Weaver, Forest Woodhoopoe and after dark, Brown Nightjar. Understorey species are best tackled from ground level and the rest of our time will be spent scouring the various forest trails, where we aim to find the Upper Guinea endemics White-tailed Alethe, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Finsch’s Flycatcher Thrush and Fire-bellied Woodpecker, alongside a host of more widespread forest species such as Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Forest Robin, Blue-headed Wood Dove, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, and perhaps the skulking Black-throated Coucal or shy Latham’s Forest Francolin. Nights at Hans Cottage.

Day 5-6: An early morning start from Hans Cottage sees us visit the productive northern part of Kakum National Park at Aboabo over the morning, where we continue adding to our list of forest birds and stand a chance to see the diminutive African Piculet. In the afternoon we set off for a remote village and its nearby Yellow-headed Picathartes nest sites, where we hope to watch these remarkable birds coming into roost. Tonight we overnight at a nearby guest house, close enough to the forest to revisit these areas the following day. On the second day we bird again in the northern section of Kakum National Park during the morning, and in the afternoon go for our final dose of Picathartes, before continuing to the town of Kumasi for the evening.

Day 7: The morning will be spent at the nearby Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary, where the forests hold Swamp Palm Bulbul, White-crested Hornbill, Brown Illadopsis, Western Nicator and Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, amongst many others. The afternoon will be spent at Atewa Forest, where additional forest species may include Rufous-winged Illadopsis, Narina Trogon, Dusky Crested Flycatcher and Olivaceous Flycatcher. We overnight at a nearby guest house.

Day 8 (3 January 2010) (this is Day 1 of the Atewa Forest Extension): We'll enjoy our final morning birding at Atewa Forest, where we hope to nail down any of the more common forest species that may have evaded us, and perhaps find some of the rarer forest species such as Nimba Flycatcher or Baumann’s Greenbul. Those of us who are returning home tonight will return to Accra in the afternoon and enjoy a final meal before catching our home-bound flights. Those of us who are joining the Atewa Forest extension stay on for another 3 nights nearby Atewa Forest.

Extension Day 1: This starts the afternoon of day 8 of the main tour at Atewa Forest.

Extension Day 2: Atewa Forest.

Extension Day 3: Atewa Forest.

Extension Day 4: Atewa Forest and return to Accra, with a final meal before catching our home-bound flights.

Practical tour information: Ghana

Focus Yellow-headed Picathartes, one of Africa's most unusual birds. For keen birders.
Photography Many participants on our trips are amateur wildlife photographers. And when we get excellent views of a bird or mammal, some time is usually spent watching and photographing it. However, this is not a photographic tour and once the majority of the people have felt that they have absorbed the animal or bird to their satisfaction, then we move on in search of the next encounter. Thus, while the photographic opportunities are very good, the group will only occasionally wait for somebody who wants to spend even longer getting better photos.
Fitness A moderate level of fitness is required. Most walks will be gentle and across relatively flat terrain.
Timing This tours runs during the dry season, when access to sites is easier and birding is unlikely to be interrupted by rain.
Climate Warm and humid.
Comfort Basic but reasonably comfortable accommodation, mostly with air-conditioning.
Transport Air-conditioned vehicles.
Getting There Please enquire.
Group Size This depends on the particular trip. Please enquire.
Top birds Yellow-headed Picathartes and "Upper Guinea" endemics such as Brown-cheeked Hornbill, Sharpe's Apalis, Grey-headed Bristlebill.
Top mammals The flying squirrel Pelís Anomalure, the strange and primitive primate, Potto, Lesser Spot-nosed Monkey, Loweís Monkey and the very rare Olive Colobus.
Booking Your booking can be secured with a booking form and deposit of GBP 300. You will receive confirmation and our tour information pack with practical information on what to expect and how to prepare for the tour. The balance is due 3 months before the tour. Email us about availability.

About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders. We combine interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, botany and other natural history aspects and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Our guides' knowledge of African birds and birding areas is our greatest strength and together we have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations with the birding community and had a fun time exploring our home continent. †We've even written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit.

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