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Sapo NP, Liberia

Lovely Liberia

£2,850 pp sharing

At a Glance

Dates: January 28th - February 6th, 2024

Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.

Prices: £2,850 pp sharing (with a £200 single supplement)​, excluding flights.

In a sentence: One of Africa's least visited countries when it comes to ecotourism protects some of its rarest species, including pygmy hippo, zebra duiker and more.

Overview

Liberia is rarely on the 'bucket list', even when you speak with experienced African travellers. Overshadowed, perhaps, by the wonderful Tai National Park in Cote d'Ivoire, and robbed of much of its megafauna by rampant poaching, it would be easy to discount Liberia as an area with promise for sunshine holidays, but little else. This is far from the truth. Punctuated by tracts of expansive rainforest, Liberia is dripping with potential. Visitors to areas outside of Monrovia should know that tourism is in its infancy here - camps are extremely basic, game-viewing can be slow and the hiking can be tough. But with the right mindset, and sufficient determination, you could come away with memories to last a lifetime. Sapo National Park has recently opened a 'luxury' ecolodge, offering one of the few opportunities to track pygmy hippo, rare forest duikers and primates from a comfortable base in West Africa.

Itinerary

Day One

Monrovia

On arrival into Monrovia, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and local guide.  You will transfer to your local hotel, about an hour's drive from the airport on the coast, where there will be a pre-tour briefing this evening, with the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day Two

Sapo NP

This morning we leave Monrovia behind for a long and extremely uncomfortable day on the road before arriving at Sapo Ecolodge, on the border of the national park. This ecolodge is brand new, offering cleverly-designed chalets, and is by far the best base from which to explore the park. 

Sapo is one of the last great rainforests of West Africa, and protects some of continent's rarest and most iconic species. This forest is famously home to pygmy hippos, which will be a key target for us during our stay, as well as forest elephant, buffalo and leopard. In truth, these species are rarely seen, although we have an excellent track record in locating pygmy hippos. More common are charismatic forest duikers, including bay duikers, Maxwell's duikers, black duikers, yellow-backed duikers and, most remarkably, Jentink's and zebra duikers. The birdlife here is also superb, with the stunning great blue turacos being common, and rare species such as white-breasted guineafowl, white-crested tiger-heron and even yellow-headed picathartes being recorded here.

After a late dinner prepared by the local team, we hope to head out for a night walk, although this is always dependent on permission from the forest authority. Night walks in this forest can be hugely productive for Johnston's genet, African palm civet, several duiker species and even anomalures, including Pel's anomalure. Walking the forest at night is also a great bet for pygmy hippo, as they make their way from the nearby Sinoe River to swamps inside the park to feed.

Days Three to Eight

Sapo NP

The next six full days are dedicated to exploring the network of forest trails in Sapo National Park. With the help of local guides, we will focus on mega-rare mammals that call the forest home, most notably forest elephant and pygmy hippo. The hiking here is challenging but rewarding. Mornings and afternoons will see us walk as deep as we can into the forest, also pursuing the many superb birding targets that may be seen here. In particular, we target white-crested tiger-heron and African finfoot in the rivers, and long-tailed hawk and Cassin's hawk eagle in the hillside forests.

During our stay, we will also take boat trips onto the Sinoe River, which is a great way to access more remote areas of the forest, and increases our chances of spying pygmy hippo. Night walks will similarly be focussed on this rare mammal, using our expert knowledge of the forest to hone in on this spectacular mammal.

Day Nine

Monrovia

Our final day is spent on the road once more, returning us to our ecolodge near the airport this evening.

Day Ten

Tour End

Today, guests are transferred back to the airport, 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 January 2024, aiming to take advantage of the dry season, when travel is easy and wildlife congregates around watter sources. The tour will run from January 28th to February 6th, 2024.

The cost of this trip is £2,850 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals outside Monrovia, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. There is a single supplement of £200 for this tour. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £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 Lome at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.

British nationals do require a visa to enter Liberia. This can be acquired from the Liberian embassy in London. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Please ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after your departure from Liberia and has at least two blank pages. You will also need to provide documentation confirming you have received a Yellow Fever vaccination, as well as a completed visa application form, a hotel reservation (provided by Pictus Safaris), proof of travel insurance, proof of a return flight, a photocopy of the first two pages of your passport and two recent passport photos.

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in the Liberia in January is hot and very humid, with maximum temperatures of around 32 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 24 degrees Celsius. It rains several times a week, even during the peak of the dry season.

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 issues in any of the areas visited by this tour.

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