At a Glance
Dates: February 7th - February 21st, 2023
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £4,350 pp sharing (with a £950 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.
Accra & Kakum NP
On your arrival into Accra's main airport you will be met by a Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to your accommodation near Shai Hills. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the hotel this evening, with the remainder of the day at leisure.
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 Kakum's famous canopy walkway. Excitingly, we have access to this unusual route through the forest canopy outside of opening hours, allowing us to explore the forest at its quietest. With luck, we are likely to encounter a number of primate species including Mona Monkey, Lesser Spot-Nosed Monkey and Olive Colobus. Pel's Anomalure are also relatively easy to see here, making for an entertaining evening's viewing.
Days Three to Five
We have three full days to explore Kakum as we see fit. The canopy walkway can be re-visited, but 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 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 Seven to Eight
We have two 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.
It's not very often guests can spend time in a destination where both picathartes and pangolin are seen regularly, but Bonkro is no orindary place! Whilst today is dominated by driving, we aim to arrive in Bonkro by nightfall. After dinner and a chance to settle into our local hotel, a night walk, with spotlights and a thermal monocular, offer a great chance of spotting black-bellied, white-bellied or even giant pangolin.
Kwabena Sam Forest
A full day allows us to explore this remote and little-visited forest today. With the help of the local community, we stand an excellent chance of spotting pangolin, but the unlikely stars here are undoubtedly the butterflies that occur in remarkable numbers and diversity. s this is the species' stronghold in Ghana. Birders wil also be keen to seek out the near-mythical white-necked picathartes here, a We will again overnight in Bonkro.
An early start today before 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.
Accra and Tour End
After a final morning activity in time permits, we now head for Tamale Airport for a domestic flight back to Accra. On arrival into Accra, a late lunch or early dinner will be served at a local restaurant before you return to the airport for your homeward flights.
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 February 2023, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when pangolin will be least challenging to spot. The tour will run from February 7th to February 21st.
The cost of this trip is £4,350 per person excl. flights, with a £950 single supplement. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Alcoholic drinks are not included. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,750 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 £20 - these must be obtained prior to travel.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Ghana in February is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 33 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 26 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.