At a Glance
Dates: November 13th - November 30th, 2024
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £4,150 pp sharing (with no single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Ghana has recently emerged as a world-class birding destination, but it's mammal-watching potential is still relatively untapped - that's all about to change!
Ghana is densely-populated and its economy has been on the up for the decades - on the face of it, not an obvious candidate for a country with large populations of mammals. Mole National Park, the country's flagship reserve, underwent a downward spiral in the late 1990s, losing Ghana's last remaining members of a number of savanna species, including Lion. However, a special few forest reserves remained largely untouched and, as such, became unlikely safe havens for species threatened across the continent, including a litany of primates and, most impressively, two species of pangolin. The forests are also home to rare species including Bongo, Forest Elephant and Leopard. And now even Mole, once heavily poached, is returning to its former glory, with thriving populations of antelope, Bush Elephant and even occasional sightings of the once-extirpated Lion.
On your arrival into Accra's main airport you will be met by a Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to your accommodation near Ghana's bustling capital. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the hotel before dinner, with the remainder of your day at leisure after a long inbound flight.
Shai Hills Reserve & Kakum NP
Our first stop today will be the Shai Hills Reserve. Whilst many savanna species do remain here, alongside plenty of primates, much of the mammal diversity has sadly been lost - the exceptions being bats. The extensive cave network here shelters several species of bat including Egyptian tomb bats, and we will be sure to spend some time marvelling at these beautiful and often under-appreciated creature. From the reserve, we then continue on to Kakum.
After settling in to our basic but comfortable accommodation, and if time permits, we will head onto the Winneba Plains, an expanse of coastal grassland that attracts a rich diversity of birdlife, and we hope to spot several 'lifers' today, before returning to our hotel for dinner.
We have a full day to explore Kakum as we see fit. The famous canopy walkway must be visited, and we recommend using as much time as possible to explore the network of forest trails near the park headquarters. With our guide's keen eyes, we stand a good chance of encountering some of Africa's rarest and most-threatened residents, pangolin. Both Long-Tailed Pangolin and Tree Pangolin can be seen here regularly, as well as Demidoff's Galago, Giant Pouched Rat and several duiker and squirrel species. With a huge slice of luck we may even come across Kakum's rarest residents - Bongo, Leopard and Forest Elephant. We plan to undertake an early morning and late afternoon walk, using the middle of the day to relax at our accommodation. After dinner, we will again head out with thermal monoculars and spotlights to seek out the nocturnal creatures that call Kakum home.
This morning, after another visit to Kakum, we head west for approximately four hours towards Ghana's last true expanse of primary forest - Ankasa Forest Reserve. We have all afternoon and evening to explore the reserve on foot - much quieter than Kakum, Ankasa offers an even better chance of pangolin sightings, but also a rich variety of primate and duiker species. Most commonly seen are Red-Flanked Duiker, Black Duiker and Maxwell's Duiker, but Ankasa offers the best chance of any Ghanaian reserve of encounters with large forest species. Bongo, Forest Elephant and Leopard all persist here, with Forest Elephant numbers in particular rebounding impressively in recent years.
Days Five to Seven
We have three full days to explore the depths of Ankasa FR, in pursuit of unusual and striking mammals. Whilst this is a mammal-focussed tour, we should not neglect the impressive birding in this area, with specialties including White-Necked Picathartes. In fact, the birding here is considered to be some of the very best in West Africa, with spectacular species including Hartlaub’s Duck, African Finfoot, white Crested Tiger Heron, Grey-throated Rail, and the White-breasted Guinea-fowl seen more readily here than anywhere else in Ghana.
After a final morning seeking out the birds and mammals of Ankasa, we return to Cape Coast, near Kakum, stopping regularly to bird en route.
This morning we return to the canopy walkway of Kakum and the nearby forest trails, where we hope to locate one of the two main species of pangolin regularly encountered here. After several hours here, we continue on to an area that we hope will provide a true highlight of the tour for many clients - our white-necked picathartes site. This small patch of forest has consistently proven itself to be a reliable site for this, the most highly-prized of African birds, and the afternoon will be spent ensuring the group gets good views of the picathartes as they move around the forest and river system. Following a lengthy visit to this site, we return to our hotel to overnight.
This morning we return to the Picathartes site to ensure the best views possible of this special bird, before we head off on the long drive north to the town of Techiman, where we overnight.
An early start today as we head first to the nearby Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, a sacred forest where the local community have protected a high number of Geoffroy's black-and-white colobus and Lowe's monkeys. Fantastic photographic opportunities abound, before we continue the long drive north to Ghana's flagship reserve, Mole National Park. Once a thriving ecosystem, Mole lost much of its megafauna in the latter part of the twentieth century as a result of poaching, drought and habitat destruction. In recent years, better protection has revived the fortunes of many species here and, arriving before nightfall, we will have the chance to see some of these species on our first night drive. The stars of Mole are undoubtedly the bold Bush Elephant that call this reserve home, although visitors can also expect to see savanna species including Waterbuck, Buffon's Kob, Roan and Oribi. Very lucky visitors may even encounter the few remaining Yellow-Backed Duiker, Lion, Leopard and Spotted Hyena in the reserve.
Days Twelve to Fourteen
Morning, afternoon and evening drives are the order of the day over the next three days, exploring all that Mole has to offer. Aside from the species already mentioned, Bushbuck, Olive Baboon, Patas Monkey, Green Monkey and Western Hartebeest are all likely to be seen and, as always, there is always the chance of a rare glimpse of a larger predator.
This morning, we leave Mole behind with a drive to the banks of the White Volta, where there is a reliable site for the elusive Egyptian plover. From here, we head south to the beautiful Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary, where we overnight.
We spend this morning traversing the small forest at Bobiri, which is known to be an extremely productive area for both white-bellied and black-bellied pangolin, which are protected by the local community. Of course, as the name suggests, Bobiri is also home to spectacular volumes of butterflies, that often have to be seen to be believed. From Bobiri, we head south to the Atiwa Range, a forested mountain range home to an impressive diversity of birdlife, and we will bird the farmland at the base of the range en route to our hotel this evening.
The full day today is spent seeking out the rare birdlife in Atiwa, traversing the hills to locate chocolate-backed kingfisher, chestnut-capped flycatcher, Ahanta francolin and much more. After a full day in the hills, we will return to our accommodation for our final night in Ghana.
Today we return to Accra where the tour ends.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may
occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in November 2024, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when birdwatching and mammal-watching will be at its best. The tour will run from November 13th to November .
The cost of this trip is £4,150 per person excl. flights, with no single supplement. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Alcoholic drinks are not included. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,250 plus any single supplement must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Accra at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Accra after 15.00 on your return, if leaving on the same day that we return to Accra to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Ghana. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Ghana will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Ghana entry visa for UK citizens is £60 - these must be obtained prior to travel.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Ghana in November is hot and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 35 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 21 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
There are no security concerns in any of the areas visited by this tour.