At a Glance
Dates: December 1st - December 9th, 2024
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £4,050 pp sharing (with a £450 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Offering some of the most accessible and visually-stunning endemics anywhere on earth, the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are a must-visit for any serious birder.
There is surely nothing as tantalising for a birder than the promise of a rarely-seen endemic. What makes São Tomé and Príncipe so special are that these islands, situated in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa, are home to dozens of elusive, beautiful and varied endemic species. From sunbirds and kingfishers to speirops and scops-owls, even the most hard-to-please birder is sure to be blown away by this itinerary.
On your arrival into São Tomé, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris tour leader and local guide, before being transferred to your excellent local hotel. There is a pre-tour briefing in the hotel this evening, with the rest of the day set aside for rest and relaxation after your flight.
Days Two to Three
Our birding adventure begins in earnest at dawn this morning, and the next two full days will be spent exploring the forested slopes of Monte Carmo on foot. The trails here are well-established, if often a bit slippery underfoot, and offer unparalleled access into the habitat of several island endemics. Each morning we hike the trails at a leisurely pace, listening carefully for calls and scanning the canopy for movement - possible species here include Sao Tome grosbeak, Newton's fiscal, giant sunbird and dwarf olive ibis. After a packed lunch, we continue our search each afternoon before returning to our comfortable hotel accommodation by vehicle.
Early today we head back to the airport for a short flight to the small island of Príncipe, where we will transfer to our very comfortable hotel. We will enjoy lunch here before heading off to seek out a number of Príncipe endemics, including Príncipe kingfisher, Príncipe speirops and Príncipe sunbird. Don't be surprised to encounter several of these endemics in our hotel's garden before our birding has even gotten seriously underway! Our evening will be spent relaxing in our hotel after a day of travelling and excellent birding.
Days Five to Six
Principe is truly a birding paradise, and it is a real privilege to have two full days to explore the island. Our planned excursions include a boat trip deep into the forested wilderness of the island, seeking out rarities and endemics including Principe kingfisher, Principe golden weaver and Principe sunbird. We will also pay a visit to a spectacular seabird colony, one of the largest in Africa, where we will see black noddy, bridled tern and sooty tern. On our return to our lovely accommodation each evening, we will head out in search of what, for many, is a highlight of the trip - the famed Principe scops-owl. Once considered almost impossible to see, we now have a superb success rate in locating this wonderful species.
Northern Sao Tome
This morning we return to São Tomé on a late morning flight. After lunch in our hotel, we will head to the more arid and open habitats on the north of the main island, where the birdlife is slightly less diverse than in the dense forest, but by no means less interesting. Here, white-winged widowbird, golden-backed bishop and harlequin quail are all possible before we reach our charming accommodation this evening.
Our last full day of birding takes through several areas that offer truly prolific birding. Our first stop is known as Macambrara, and it holds visible populations of Sao Tome scops owl, Sao Tome oriole and Sao Tome green pigeon - we will likely spend much of our morning here. Our afternoon will see us continue on to the Bom Successo Botanical Gardens and the fringes of Obo National Park, both of which will be targeted to ensure we mop up any endemics that may have eluded us so far. Our last evening will be spent enjoying the wonderful food and hospitality at our hotel.
Guests are today transferred to the airport for their homeward flights after a final morning of birding.
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 December 2024, aiming to take advantage of the excellent weather and plethora of birdwatching opportunities. The tour will run from December 1st to December 9th.
The cost of this trip is £4,050 per person excl. flights, with a £450 single supplement. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Premium drinks are not included. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,215 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 São Tomé at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.
British nationals do not require a visa to enter São Tomé and Príncipe. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in São Tomé and Príncipe in December is warm and humid, with maximum temperatures of around 29 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 22 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.