We fly London Heathrow to Accra. We arrive in the evening and transfer to an excellent beach hotel for a good night's sleep.
DAYS 2 - 4 : KAKUM NP
We set off reasonably early and head along the Cape Coast, birding en-route and reaching our main destination the Kakum Forest NP, in the afternoon. Kakum Forest is a fantastic reserve crammed full of many great birds many of which can be tough to see. However we have exclusive access (on two mornings and one evening) to the canopy walkway suspended some 30 metres above the forest floor, offering the best chance of the great species that live here. Specialities that we hope for include the gentle giants of the forest with both Yellow-casqued and Black-casqued Hornbills and maybe even endemic Brown-cheeked Hornbill. Fantastic White-crested Hornbill, with its unmistakable long tail will be high on many people's target lists , as will beautiful Long-tailed Hawk. Yellow-billed Turacos will flash crimson wings as they fly below us, Rosy Bee-Eaters will hawk above the clearings, the amazing Blue Cuckoo-Shrike should give itself away by its song and colourful Malimbes will entertain us in the vine tangles. The distinctive song of Sharpe’s Apalis should lead us to this endemic, and we may see stunning Fire-bellied Woodpecker too. The possibilities are endless from the walkway, with very rare species such as Congo Serpent Eagle being seen on occasions as well as common but no less stunning species including Blue-throated Roller. Monkeys can also be seen from the walkway with both Lesser Spot-nosed Monkey and even Black and White Colobus! An experience to remember!
Other key species on the numerous forest trails include highly elusive Kemp’s Longbill, Forest Robin, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, White-tailed Alethe and numerous skulking birds including Little Grey Greenbul, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul, Icterine Greenbul and Golden Greenbul to name but a few! Also the hulking and notoriously skulking Green-tailed Bristlebill is high on the list of targets. An evening visit to Kakum during our stay will hopefully allow us to find some of the nocturnal specialities of the park, including highly sought after Brown Nightjar and beautiful Fraser's Eagle Owl. Nocturnal mammals are also possible, including elusive Pel's Anomalure, a species of Giant Squirrel.
We also visit the Cape Coast and other fragmented forest areas during our four-day stay in the Kakum area, where we hope to increase our species further. Other highlights are sure to include some commoner species, including Grey Kestrel, Woodland Kingfisher, Piping Hornbill, Lesser Striped Swallow, Common Gonolek and White-throated Bee-Eater as well as highly prized species such as stunning Black Bee-Eater, near endemic Buff-throated Sunbird, Fraser's Forest Flycatcher and Red-thighed Sparrowhawk.
DAY 5: ASSIN FOSU
After a final morning in Kakum, we head for a "must see" species and perhaps the most desired bird species of any trip to Ghana - the fantastic Yellow-headed Picathartes. However, beforehand we stop at a river en-route to search for some key birds, namely Rock Pratincole, White-throated Blue Swallow and with luck the African Finfoot.
After lunch we make our way to a small village and begin our walk into the forest where a breeding colony of Yellow-headed Picathartes can be found. We shall spend time searching the vines and forest floor for these unique and amazingly shy birds before leaving them as they return to their nests inside caves to roost before dark. Overnight in Assin Fossu.
Day 6: ABOABO & BOBIRI
In the morning we visit the Aboabo section of the Kakum NP, an open forest with some remnant large trees. The forest road is a superb birding site where we hope to find some quality species. Noisy groups of Red-billed Helmetshrikes are possible along with Hairy-breasted Barbet or stunning Yellow-billed Barbet. Hornbills are a speciality here too, and we try to obtain good views of White-crested Hornbill in more open areas of forest with easier viewing. However, it is elusive Black Dwarf Hornbill that is the real prize, along with its cousin Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill. This is a good place to see unmistakable Long-tailed Hawk with its outrageously long tail, and Tit-Hylia, one of Africa’s smallest birds! Other species include: Blue-headed Wood-dove, Levaillant’s, Klaas’s and African Emerald Cuckoo, Yellowbill, Yellow-spotted, Naked-faced and Hairy-breasted Barbets, Speckled Tinkerbird, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Red-tailed and Icterine Greenbuls. Grey-headed Bristlebill, Western Nicator, Finsch’s Flycatcher-thrush and much more!
Dependent on time, during the late afternoon we may visit Bobiri Forest, famous for its abundance of butterflies as well as quality birds. This is an excellent area during the late afternoon as the temperature cools. The list of birds here is similar to that of Aboabo and Kakum, but it is always good to maximise your chances of such quality species such as Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Narina Trogon, Red-billed Dwarf-Hornbill and Red-thighed Sparrowhawk. Night in Kumasi.
Days 7 -9: MOLE NP
We set off from Kumasi fairly early as we make the long journey north to Mole National Park. It will be mostly a day of travel, but it worth it as we leave the Upper Guinea Forests behind us and enter the Guinea Savannah Belt. As the habitat begins to change we will begin to encounter many different birds such as Grasshopper Buzzard, the exceptionally beautiful Blue-bellied Roller, dazzling Scarlet-chested Sunbird and classic wooded savannah species Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird and White Helmetshrike. We hope to arrive at the park by the early evening where our Hotel is situated in a prime position, nestled on top of an escarpment overlooking a waterhole. This shall be our base for the next three nights.
Mole has so many quality species and our first morning shall be an exciting one! Of course it is not just birds that are found in Mole, it is famous for its Elephants, that we see just metres from our rooms overlooking the waterhole. Other mammals we should see from our viewpoint include Common Bushbuck, Kob, Defassa Waterbuck and Common Warthog. The lodge itself is a superb place to begin birding. We will check any puddles for drinking Seedeaters, and will hopefully find a good mix of species. These may include: Lavender Waxbill, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Red-billed and Bar-breasted Firefinche, Pin-tailed and Long-tailed Paradise Whydahs, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow and Yellowfronted Canary. Later in the morning we venture out below the rocky escarpment to find family groups of Stone Partridge, Double-spurred Francolin White-fronted Black Chat and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.
There are many targets in the near vicinity of the lodge and we shall try to find some of the specialities of the area. No doubt the giant and prehistoric looking Abyssinian Ground Hornbill shall be at the top of many people's wish lists as well as highly desireable Oriole Warbler, stunning Long-tailed Glossy Starling and Red-billed Hornbill. Dependent on the rainfall and the amount of standing water, we may be lucky and find one of the best prizes in the whole of Mole, the simply cracking Pel's Fishing Owl that sometimes roost in the trees close to the waterhole.
During the next three days we spend time exploring the different areas within the Mole NP searching out savannah specialities, many of which are very colourful, like lime-and-yellow Bruce’s Green Pigeon or the stunning Violet Turaco. Other species in the park include: Rose-ringed Parakeet, Blue-breasted and Grey-headed Kingfishers, Red-throated and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, Abyssinian, Purple, Broad-billed and Blue-bellied Rollers, Bearded Barbet, Violet-backed, Green-headed, Pygmy, Beautiful and Splendid Sunbirds, Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrikes,Greater Blue-eared, Lesser Blue-eared and Purple Glossy Starlings.
Target species in these woodlands include Vinaceous Dove, Green Wood Hoopoe, Black Scimitarbill, Greater and Lesser Honeyguides, Fine-spotted, Grey and Brown-backed Woodpeckers, Fanti Saw-wing, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Leaflove, African Thrush, Senegal Eremomela, Northern Crombec, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Northern Black, African Blue, European, Pied and Swamp Flycatchers, White-crowned Robin-Chat, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Senegal Batis, Blackcap and Brown Babblers, White-winged Black Tit, Spotted Creeper, African Golden Oriole, Northern Puffback, Yellow-billed Shrike, Brubru, Red-headed Weaver, Black-faced and Black-bellied Firefinches and Brown-rumped and Cabanis’s Buntings.
Raptors are a real treat and you are literally spolt for choice with many possibilities. Regularly encountered species include White-backed, White-headed and Hooded Vultures, Short-toed, Beaudoin's and Brown Snake Eagles, Bateleur, Lizard Buzzard, Wahlberg’s and Martial Eagles, Ayres’s and African Hawk-Eagles, Lanner Falcon and African Hobby.
Finally, we spend at least one night searching for some of the nocturnal species that can be found in the park. Greyish Eagle Owls are often in the near vicinity of the hotel as is Freckled Nightjar. However, the real start of the show will hopefully be the performance from a male Standard-winged Nightjar as it dances down the Mole airstrip!Note: as this region becomes very hot during the day, there will be opportunities to relax around the hotel during the hottest part of the day and make use of the swimming pool!
We shall have one last early morning birding session in Mole before we take the long journey south back to Kumasi. Night Kumasi
Day 11: SAKUMONO LAGOON
We make our journey back to the coast where we spend our last afternoon in Ghana exploring Sakumono Lagoon for a nice selection of water birds including Black Heron, African Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Marsh Harrier and African Wattled Lapwing to name just a few. We shall be on high alert for vagrants too as in recent years this wetland has become a hotspot for nearctic waders with Pectoral Sandpiper and American Golden Plover being recorded in the last few years. Terns fly in to roost in large flocks containing Royal Terns and the odd surprise, whilst Yellow-throated Longclaw can be found in the accompanying grasslands.
We then drive back to Accra where we have day rooms to freshen up and take a shower in time for dinner, and prepare for an evening transfer back to Accra airport for our flight.
We arrive back in London Heathrow on the morning of Tuesday 21 January.
Note: This is a flexible itinerary which may be adjusted to allow for changes in arrival and departure times, weather conditions and other related factors.