Join Naturalist Journeys on a NEW! journey into the heart of West Africa for a Ghana birding and nature safari—Ghana is a must-see destination for any birding and wildlife enthusiast. Ghana also has the most developed infrastructure of any West African country, making it an easy choice for travel. We work with a well-established birding company that supports conservation and they give us an in-depth glimpse into nature and its interface with rural culture. Travel with expert, professional, personable, friendly, and focused local guides—some of the finest in West Africa—and knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated drivers. Peg Abbott, founder of Naturalist Journeys hosts this exciting tour.
Ghana has seven national parks and along the coast, five Ramsar wetland sites. We can expect to see a variety of iconic African mammals and birds alongside a fantastic array of exciting West African Upper Guinea endemic species. We begin in coastal wetlands and lagoons, then move inland through coastal savannah into the rich Upper Guinea Rainforests. Continuing northwards, we pass through broad-leaved Guinea Woodland and open savannah, finally touching the Sahel, a vast arid landscape below the Sahara to the north, on the Burkina Faso border.
Ghana’s biodiversity is notable and presents a contrast to more southern parts of the continent often visited on various safari routes. This Ghana safari is timed to pair well with our Southern Tanzania journey; indeed some of the group will be flying in from Dar Es Salaam.
- Enjoy time in tropical Africa; see birds of the African rainforest, coastal wetlands, savannah and the arid Sahel
- Find unique species of the Guiana-Congo biome, forest-dwelling birds of West and Central African
- At Kakum National Park, walk the span of one of only three canopy walkways in Africa; watch for raptors and forest species at eye-level
- Stay three nights at a comfortable forest lodge at Ankasa Reserve for incredible forest rare birds.
- Visit a Yellow-headed Picathartes nesting site and the local community that supports and is supported by tourism (this species occurs only in the rainforest of tropical west and central Africa)
- At Mole National Park, spend three nights at exquisite Zaina Lodge, known for incredible views
- Take safari drives to see birds and mammals at Ghana’s finest and largest protected area, Mole National Park, including African Elephant, Kob, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Hartebeest, and Roan Antelope
- Have a chance to view and photograph the Egyptian Plover feeding along the White Volta River, a species recently placed in a family of its own.
- As a grand finale, walk slopes to reach the endangered habitat of Highland Upper Guinea Rainforest
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Sat., Oct. 7 : Welcome to Accra!
For those who arrive early, at least a night previous on October 6, we plan to organize an optional cultural day to get a peek at this bustling capital city today. Those flying direct may also opt to just relax at the hotel. Our tour officially starts this evening as we gather for dinner and a chance to get to know our guides and travel companions.
Accommodations at Erata Hotel, Accra (D)
Sun., Oct. 8 : Shai Hills Reserve | First Birding Near Tema
Today is an easy day, allowing us to acclimate to West Africa after our travels. Our local guide and driver meet us for an hour’s drive to our hotel close to the Shai Hills Reserve on the outskirts of Greater Accra. After checking in to our small hotel, we do some local birding, and our guide briefs us on the following days’ activities and answer any questions. Take a dip in the pool, a cold beverage and a relaxing evening meal.
Accommodations at Alexis Hotel, Tema (B,L,D)
Mon., Oct. 9 : Birding Shai Hills Reserve | Winneba Plains | Transfer to Kakum National Park
We depart early and head for the open grassland savannah of Shai Hills Reserve for a good selection of dry grassland birds along with baboons, antelope, and other wildlife. Then it’s on to the Sakamona Lagoon to scope a wide variety of water birds and wetland species. This is a coastal brackish lagoon with open water, floodplains, freshwater marsh, and coastal savannah grassland, and is a designated Ramsar wetland site of international importance.
After a wonderful morning, we set off towards Kakum National Park, stopping for lunch en route. On arrival, check in to relax in our lodge, home for the next three nights while we take time to explore this vast national park, enjoy our evening meal and reviewing our checklist for the day in preparation for an early start in the morning.
Accommodations at Rainforest Hotel, Jukwa (B,L,D)
Bird Highlights: Northern Crombec, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Vieillot’s and Double-toothed Barbets, Mocking Cliff-Chat, Rock Martin, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Violet Turaco, Senegal Parrot, Senegal Batis, Blue-bellied Roller, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Oriole Warbler, Blackcap and Brown Babblers, Copper and Splendid Sunbirds, White Helmetshrike, Croaking and Siffling Cisticolas, African Thrush, Red-necked and Lizard Buzzards, Lanner Falcon, Green Woodhoopoe, Stone Partridge, Black-winged Stilt, Senegal Thick-knee, Common Ringed and Grey Plovers, Spur-Winged Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Collared Pratincole, Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstone, Little Stint, Long-tailed Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Gray, Purple, Striated, and Black Herons, Little, Cattle and Intermediate Egrets.
Tues., Oct. 10 : Kakum National Park & Canopy Walkways
Encompassing 145 square miles of tropical forest, Kakum National Park is unique in no small part because it was established at the initiative of the local people, rather than by the State Department of Wildlife, who are responsible for wildlife preservation in Ghana. It hosts some lush forests, and it is one of only three locations in Africa with a canopy walkway. Hosting one of the densest populations of forest elephants in Ghana, it is also rich in birds and butterflies.
After an early breakfast, we head for the national park, which is a quick 15 minute drive from our lodge. Aiming to arrive at first light, we spend the most critical bird viewing hours 40 meters above the forest floor on the world-famous 1,150-foot-long canopy walkway. With seven platforms large enough to support scopes, we comfortably scour the treetops for birds.
Kakum National Park protects secondary upper Guinea semi-deciduous tropical rainforest. It is a wonderful feeling to be eye to eye with the local birds including the Brown-cheeked Hornbill and Blue Cuckooshrike. Watch the skies for Congo Serpent-Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, and more.
Return late morning to our lodge to refresh and enjoy lunch. During the heat of mid-afternoon, options include birding around the lodge and grounds, resting in air-conditioned rooms or around the pool and bar, or going on a cultural excursion to Cape Coast Castle.
We revisit the canopy walkway in the evening for other key species including Brown-cheeked, Black- and Yellow-casqued Hornbills, Great Blue Turaco, and Fraser’s Eagle-Owl among other specialties. We spend the evening at the lodge’s restaurant and bar, discussing the day’s sightings, adding to our checklist, and enjoying the atmosphere of our surroundings.
Accommodations at Rainforest Hotel, Jukwa (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: Violet-backed Hyliota, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Sharpe’s Apalis, Brown-cheeked Hornbill, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Bioko Batis, Blue Cuckooshrike, Little Green Woodpecker, White-crested Hornbill, Blue-throated Brown, Green, Collared, Johanna’s and Buff-throated Sunbirds, Red-headed and Crested Malimbes, Rosy Bee-eater, White-breasted and Gray-headed Nigrita, Red-fronted and Grey Parrots, Yellowbill, Western Black-headed and Black-winged Orioles, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Splendid, Long-tailed Glossy, and Chestnut-winged Starlings, Preuss’s and Yellow-mantled Weavers, Green Hylia, Golden, Slender-billed, Little, and Grey Greenbuls, African Green-Pigeon, Yellow-billed Turaco, African Emerald Cuckoo, Blue-throated Roller, Yellow-throated, Red-rumped and Speckled Tinkerbirds, Hairy-breasted and Naked-faced Barbets, Ussher’s and Little Flycatchers, Cassin’s Honeyguide, African Pied Hornbill, Congo Serpent-Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Palm-nut Vulture, Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, European Honey and Red-necked Buzzards, Long-tailed Hawk, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Yellow-footed Honeyguide and Black-collared Lovebird, Brown-cheeked, Black- and Yellow-casqued Hornbills, Great Blue Turaco, Brown Nightjar and Fraser’s Eagle-Owl.
Wed., Oct. 11 : Antwikwaa & Kakum National Park
We have another early start as we visit the Antwikwaa section of Kakum National Park, hoping to observe and watch the behavior of some amazing and colorful birds—four species of jewel-like bee-eaters, rollers, spinetails, weavers, sunbirds, and more.
We then go to a river site to scan for the beautiful White-bibbed (White-throated Blue) Swallow, Preuss’s Swallow, Rock Pratincole, White-headed Lapwing, and if we are lucky (which we sometimes are!) the grebe-like African Finfoot, often elusive under overhanging vegetation, may make an appearance. In the afternoon we concentrate our attention on the many forest trails within and surrounding the park, which should prove to be very productive.
Once again, we remain until dark trying for owls and nightjars that we may still wish to see before returning to our accommodation for a delightful dinner and to tally up our checklist.
Accommodations at Rainforest Hotel, Jukwa (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: Little, White-throated, Rosy, and Black Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller, Piping Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, White-spotted Flufftail, Cassin’s Spinetail, Sabine’s Spinetail, Dideric Cuckoo, Melancholy and Buff-spotted Woodpeckers, Vieillot’s Black and Black-necked Weavers, Kemps and Gray Longbills, Western Nicator, Western Bluebill, Olive-bellied, Superb, and Johanna’s Sunbirds, Copper-tailed, Longtailed Glossy, and Violet-backed Starlings, Northern Yellow White-eye, Bronze Mannikin, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Yellow-billed Barbet, Forest Penduline-Tit, Ayre’s Hawk-Eagle, and Ahanta Spurfowl.
Thurs., Oct. 12 : Kakum Forest | Ankasa Reserve
This morning, we concentrate on exploring the farmland scrub, forest edge, and forest trails at Abrafo, a section of forest habitat near to Kakum National Park. Scan for cisticolas, barbets, sunbirds, wattle-eyes, greenbuls, and much more, including sought after species including Long-tailed Hawk, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Congo Serpent-Eagle, and Red-billed Dwarf and Black Dwarf Hornbills.
After lunch we check out of our lodge and set off westwards for a major highlight of our time in Ghana. Our destination is Ankasa Reserve, Ghana’s only wet evergreen rainforest, which is in near pristine condition. An exceptional forest in a remote location, Ankasa protects many rare and sought-after bird and mammal species.
There is a new lodge being built along the river on the boundary of this stunning rainforest; if this has not been completed prior to our tour then we have a choice of where to stay for the next three nights—either a local basic guesthouse 5 minutes’ drive to the forest or camping inside the forest itself. The tents are large with comfortable mattresses, pillows, and bed sheets. There are flushing toilets and cold private shower facilities a one-minute walk from our tents and our cook keeps us well fed three times a day, with cold beers and non-alcoholic beverages available. The camp is supplied with electricity and also has a backup generator if needed. And those who prefer not to camp, a nearby guesthouse is a comfortable alternative.
Arrive in the late afternoon and settle into our lodgings before heading out for early evening birding, where we hope to see Fraser’s and Akun Eagle-Owls, and the legendary Nkulengu Rail, first photographed in the wild in 2011. Spend the evening at either the guesthouse or campsite enjoying good food, cold drinks, and the atmosphere of being at one with nature.
Accommodations at Ankasa Reserve Lodge, Ankasa Reserve (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: Pale Flycatcher, Black-and-white Mannikin, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Lowland Sooty Boubou, Puvel’s Illadopsis, Olive-green Camaroptera, Red-faced and Whistling Cisticolas, Lesser Striped Swallow, Fanti Saw-wing, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Naked-faced and Hairy-breasted Barbets, Fraser’s and Little Green Sunbirds, Bue Malkoha, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Swamp Greenbul, Northern Fiscal, Spotted Greenbul, Finsch’s Flycatcher-Thrush, Yellow-whiskered and Red-tailed Greenbuls, White-crested Hornbill, African Harrier-Hawk, Long-tailed Hawk, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Congo Serpent-Eagle, Red-billed Dwarf and Black Dwarf Hornbills, Fraser’s and Akun Eagle-Owls, and Nkulengu Rail
Fri., Oct. 13 & Sat., Oct. 14 : Birding Ankasa Reserve
Ankasa Reserve’s incredible forest protects so many rare and sought-after species that we dedicate three nights here. At over 500 square kilometers of continuous wet evergreen rainforest, Ankasa is biologically the most diverse rainforest in Ghana and one of the most diverse in West Africa. Protecting over 800 vascular plant species, almost 650 species of butterfly, in addition to Forest Elephant, Bongo, Diana Monkey, Chimpanzee, and several species of Pangolin and the most wanted West African bird species, Ankasa is a must-see destination.
Our guide is up before first light listening for the unmistakable call of the Nkulengu Rail, if he locates this species, he alerts the group before breakfast. Staying so close to a birding location is always a bonus as time is not wasted traveling.
After breakfast we set off venturing deeper into this lush forest with our main goal being the Upper Guinea endemics Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Rufous-winged Illadopsis, and Green-tailed Bristlebill in addition to other key forest species.
Our guide knows where the specialty species are found inside Ankasa and we have the best opportunity to see them. Driving in Land Rover 4x4s enables us to navigate the difficult forest roads ensures us that we get to these sites at the best time of day and permit us to bird remote trails around the pools where African Pitta are occasionally found. As we approach the watering holes located deeper inside the forest, we hope to see Western Crested Guineafowl on the road, while key birds include Hartlaub’s Duck, Dwarf Bittern, African Finfoot, and four species of kingfishers. Forest raptors are always welcome, and we hope to see Long-tailed Hawk and Congo Serpent-Eagle. There are some rare species here and if we are lucky, we may see White-breasted Guineafowl, White-crested Bittern, African Pitta, Gray-throated Rail, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Forest Scrub-Robin, Blue-moustached Bee-eater, Red-chested Owlet, and Akun Eagle-Owl.
We spend each evening enjoying good food and discussing the days birding over refreshments.
Accommodations at Ankasa Reserve Lodge, Ankasa Reserve (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Rufous-winged Illadopsis and Green-tailed Bristlebill in addition to Ansorge’s, Icterine, Red-tailed and Western Bearded- Greenbuls, Pale-breasted and Blackcap Illadopsis, Forest Scrub-Robin, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, White-tailed Alethe, Shining Drongo, Cassin’s Flycatcher, Yellow-spotted Barbet, White-throated Bee-eater, Chestnut-breasted Nigrita, Blue-headed Wood Dove, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Yellow-billed and Great Blue Turacos, Black-capped Apalis, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Tiny Sunbird and Red-fronted Antpecker, African Pitta, Western Crested Guineafowl, Hartlaub’s Duck, Dwarf Bittern, African Finfoot, Shining-blue, White-bellied, Blue-breasted and Dwarf Kingfishers, Long-tailed Hawk and Congo Serpent-Eagle, Crown Eagle, Square-tailed and Fanti Saw-wings, Black- and Yellow-casqued Hornbills, Black Dwarf and Piping Hornbills, White-breasted Guineafowl, White-crested Bittern, Gray-throated Rail, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Forest Scrub-Robin, Blue-moustached Bee-eater, Red-chested Owlet, Akun Eagle Owl
Sun., Oct. 15 : Ankasa Reserve & Brenu Akyinim
During a final morning’s birding at this wonderful location, we walk new forest trails in different parts of the forest and enjoy the exceptional biodiversity of this tropical habitat. Then, we head back for lunch and to freshen up before our departure to this seldom visited location.
Our vehicle loaded, we set off back towards Kakum National Park. During our journey we search for several species not seen in other parts of Ghana. These include Reichenbach’s and Mouse-Brown Sunbirds, White-browed Forest-Flycatcher, Orange Weaver, African Pygmy-Goose, Carmelite Sunbird, and Little Grebe to mention a few.
A visit to Brenu Akyinim and the coastal savannah plains gives us some new species to enjoy. Then we continue back towards Jukwa and a lodge we know to relax and reflect on another great day of exploring.
Accommodations at Rainforest Hotel, Jukwa (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: Reichenbach’s and Brown Sunbirds, White-browed Forest-Flycatcher, Orange Weaver, African Pygmy Goose, Carmelite Sunbird, Little Grebe, Marsh Tchagra, Compact Weaver, Double-spurred Spurfowl, Oriole Warbler, Red-headed Quelea, Black-rumped Waxbill, Yellow-winged Pytilia, Wilsons Indigobird, Wattled Lapwing.
Mon., Oct. 16 : Abrafo Forest & Yellow-headed Picathartes Nesting Site
Today is a special day, with opportunities to experience and support a unique cultural and conservation project as well as to do some superb birding. We check out of our hotel after an early breakfast and set off for Abrafo Forest, looking for species aligned with this habitat.
Following this morning birding, we set off northwards stopping for lunch en route before arriving at a remote village close to a small Upper Guinea Rainforest in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. On arrival we check into our accommodations which were built by our host company and donated to the communities surrounding the forest home famous for its Yellow-headed Picathartes. Along with a restaurant and school this tourism project now offers more than 300 children access to education.
Travel with Naturalist Journeys to Ghana means you are also helping a local organization to protect the Yellow-headed Picathartes forest and all the wonderful wildlife that also call it home, as the project is funded from visits like ours. The project has created employment in the communities and also sponsors 24 community forest committee members from the surrounding villages to patrol and stop illegal hunting and logging activities in the forest reserve. The long-term goal is to get the reserve status, currently slated for timber concessions, converted to land protected as a sustainable eco-tourism project.
There are 12 active Yellow-headed Picathartes nesting sites in this forest, and we visit one of the largest colonies, home to approximately 30 nests, in a typical year 16 of these active. As we set off on the walk through this beautiful forest you can see why it is one of the must-see species in the world—the whole experience adds to this mythical bird’s reputation. The walk takes between 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on fitness levels. As we approach the nesting site, we need to be incredibly quiet as we take our seat on bamboo benches. The overhanging rock face and small cave with mud nests sets the atmosphere as we wait for the birds to come back from foraging for snails, frogs, and insects during the day. It is exciting to watch these legendary prehistoric looking birds hop and jump on the rocks whilst preening themselves just meters from our eyes (no scope needed).
Once we have enjoyed good views, we leave the birds in peace as we set off back through the forest to our accommodation and a wonderful celebratory meal. Staying in this remote local community is a definite highlight of our time together, meeting the locals and relaxing in this perfect setting. Having the facilities to stay here not only benefits the protection of this forest but also allows us to enjoy the other wonderful birds and wildlife that call it home. As always, there is the option to go for night birding before we settle down for the evening.
Accommodations at Picathartes Guesthouse, Bonkro (B,L,D)
Tues., Oct. 17 : Bonkro Forest & Kwabena Sam Forest
Enjoy a more relaxed breakfast this morning, as we are so close to the forest. There are several trails we can enjoy; your guide determines which one we take based on the bird species we have already seen and species we still need. This is the site of the extremely rare and difficult to see Ghana Cuckooshrike. And we keep eyes out for Long-tailed and Tree Pangolin.
We return to camp for a well-deserved afternoon rest or choose to visit the school or head into the village to meet some of the locals. The local tour company’s relationship with these communities is excellent and we have the opportunity to join one of the families to see their cocoa farm or learn the process of gari (a granular flour made from cassava tubers) that is made here. The bar and restaurant are always open, and we regroup to enjoy lunch before heading back out into the forest for afternoon and evening birding.
The nearby Kwabena Sam forest is our final forest location before we head north tomorrow to the drier guinea woodland and savannah habitat. Depending on which nocturnal species we still need we can also stay after dark looking for owls and nightjars.
Spend a final night in this remote community as we enjoy a wonderful evening meal, update the checklist, and relax at the bar and restaurant.
Accommodations at Picathartes Guesthouse, Bonkro (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: White-crested and Black Dwarf Hornbill, Gray-headed and Red-tailed Bristlebill, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Fire-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-throated and Thick-billed Cuckoo, Forest Scimitarbill, Blue Cuckooshrike, Sharpe’s Apalis, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Gray-throated Tit-Flycatcher, Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent-Eagle, Ghana Cuckooshrike, White-browed Forest-Flycatcher, Yellow-browed and Olive-green Camaropteras, Western Nicator, Puvel’s Illadopsis, Tit-hylia, Yellow-billed and Hairy-breasted Barbets, Green Crombec, Kemp’s Longbill, Black-capped Apalis, Blue-headed Crested-Flycatcher, West African Wattle-eye, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Black-throated Coucal, and Bronze-naped Pigeon
Wed., Oct. 18 : Bonkro Forest to Mole National Park
After an early breakfast we set off northwards towards Mole National Park. Today is mainly a travel day and we can expect to see different species of birds as we head northwards and the habitat changes to the drier broad-leaved guinea woodland and savannah. Your guides keep an eye open for the many raptors we hope to see during our regular leg stretch stops, including Beaudouin’s Snake- and Long-crested Eagles, Grasshopper Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kite, and Shikra. Enjoy lunch in Kintampo before we continue our journey to Mole, which is Ghana’s largest National Park protecting an area of 4847 square kilometers of habitat, with almost 100 species of mammal and 330+ species of birds.
Our lodge is situated on a 250-meter-high escarpment overlooking the park, offering breathtaking views. It is an amazing feeling to be sitting around the pool on the hotel terrace watching African savannah elephants bathing in the two nearby watering holes inhabited by crocodiles. After our evening meal, we set off for an evening of birding around the Mole Airstrip where we hope to see displaying Standard-winged Nightjar. The airstrip is also productive for owls and we look for Grayish Eagle-Owl and Northern White-faced Owl before we retire for the evening.
Accommodations at Zaina Lodge, Mole National Park (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: Beaudouin’s Snake- and Long-crested Eagles, Grasshopper Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kite, Shikra, Standard-winged Nightjar, Grayish Eagle-Owl, and Northern White-faced Owl
Thurs., Oct. 19 & Fri., Oct 20 : Mole National Park
Mole National Park is a nature lover’s paradise, and we are in for a real treat over the next two days as we immerse ourselves into the exceptional West African birds and mammals found here. We set off after breakfast walking and driving deeper into this national park, with our expert guides directing us to all locations for species we hope to see.
Mammals are in abundance here in Mole and we hope to see Kob, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Hartebeest, and the beautiful Roan Antelope in addition to getting within a few meters on foot to Africa’s largest land mammal, the African Elephant. Green Vervet and Patas Monkeys greet us in the bush as we enjoy our morning walks.
During the heat of the midday sun, enjoy a siesta or relax around the pool after lunch. Set off for afternoon birding around 3:00 PM and stay after dark for nocturnal species. Raptors are common here in Mole and we hope to see Martial, Booted, Long-crested, Tawny, African Fish-, and Wahlberg’s Eagles, and Brown and Short-toed Snake-Eagles to mention a few. Key species of birds not easily seen in other parts of the world include Forbes’s Plover, Pel’s Fishing-Owl, African Spotted Creeper, and Rufous-rumped Lark.
Our evenings are spent at our hotel enjoying the atmosphere of being so close to nature. This is a beautiful lodge to indulge a bit in as our journey comes to an end.
Accommodations at the beautiful Zaina Lodge, Mole National Park (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, Scarlet-chested, Beautiful, Pigmy and Western Violet-backed Sunbirds, Lavender and Orange-cheeked Waxbills, Familiar Chat, White-fronted Black-Chat, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Red-headed Quelea, Red-billed, Bar-breasted and Black-bellied Firefinch, Fine-spotted, African Gray, Golden-tailed and Brown-backed Woodpeckers, Violet-backed, Long-tailed Glossy, Bronze-tailed, Lesser Blue-eared and Greater Blue-eared Starlings, Abyssinian Ground-, African Gray, and Northern Red-billed Hornbills, Stone Partridge, Double-spurred and Ahanta Spurfowl, White-throated Francolin, Senegal Eremomela, Exclamatory Paradise-,Togo Paradise-, and Pin-Tailed Whydahs, Sahel Bush Sparrow, Little, Heuglins Masked-, Village, and Red-headed Weavers, Melodious and Willow Warblers, Brubru, Thick-billed, African, Black, and Great Spotted Cuckoos, Fork-tailed and Square-tailed Drongos, Northern Puffback, White-shouldered Black-Tit, Red-faced, Rufous, and Dorst’s Cisticolas, Hadada Ibis, Wilson’s Indigobird, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Bearded Barbet, Swamp, African Blue, Gray Tit-, European Pied and Gambaga Flycatchers, Giant, Shining-blue, and Gray-headed Kingfishers, Red-throated Bee-eater, Bruce’s Green-Pigeon, Senegal Batis, Snowy-crowned and White-crowned Robin-Chats, Flappet and Sun Larks, Sulpher-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrikes, African Golden Oriole, Oriole Warbler, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Abyssinian, Blue-bellied, Rufous-crowned, and Broad-billed Rollers, Black Scimitarbill, Violet Turaco, Martial, Booted, Long-crested, and Tawny Eagles, White-backed and White-headed Vultures, Lizard Buzzard, Dark Chanting- and Gabar Goshawks, Eurasian Marsh-Harrier, African Fish- and Wahlberg’s Eagles, Brown and Short-toed Snake-Eagles, Osprey, Lanner Falcon, Forbes’s Plover, Pel’s Fishing-Owl, African Spotted Creeper, Rufous-rumped Lark
Sat., Oct. 21 : Egyptian Plover | Travel to Kumasi
After an early breakfast we set off from Mole heading back southwards to Kumasi. But before heading south, we take a detour to see the beautiful Egyptian Plover found along the White Volta River. Due to the importance of this species, which has recently been placed in a family of its own, we dedicate quality time enjoying and photographing it in flight and walking along the sandy banks of the river. During our time here, we look for any other species that occur before setting off to Kumasi.
We then head to Kumasi, where on arrival we check into our hotel to relax in preparation for an early start in the morning.
Accommodations at Royal Basin Resort, Kumasi (B,L,D)
Sun., Oct. 22 : Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary | Atewa Range
We have an early start as we head back into the Upper Guinea Rainforest habitat where so many of Ghana’s sought-after special species are found. Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary protects almost 500 species of butterfly, as well as a trove of birds. This morning we hope to see Tit- and Green Hylias, Black-throated Coucal, both Grey and Red-fronted Parrots, the much sought-after Yellow-footed Honeyguide, and Red-billed Dwarf and Africa’s rarest, Black Dwarf Hornbill, amongst other species.
We set off after a productive morning to head further south towards Atewa stopping for lunch en route. We continue on passing through lower farmland bush at Atewa where we stop with hopes to see Black-necked, Maxwell’s Black, Compact, and Grosbeak Weavers, Whistling Cisticola, Black-crowned and Marsh Tchagras, and if we are lucky Baumann’s Greenbul and Bat Hawk. After a full and rewarding day, we check into our nearby guesthouse for the evening to freshen up, reflect, and enjoy our evening meal.
Accommodations at Nelsban Palace Hotel, New Tafo (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: Tit- and Green Hylias, Magpie Mannikin, Narina Trogon, Red-billed Dwarf and Black Dwarf Hornbills, African Grey and Brown-necked Parrots, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Black-throated Coucal, Golden-backed Weaver, African Piculet, Red-chested Owlet, Dusky Tit, Blue-headed Crested-Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Barbet, Gray-headed and Red-tailed Bristlebills, Yellow-footed Honeyguide, Black-necked, Maxwell’s Black, Compact, and Grosbeak Weavers, Whistling Cisticola, Black-crowned and Marsh Tchagras, African Emerald, Klaas’s, Levaillant’s, and Yellow-throated Cuckoos, Black-headed Paradise-Flycatcher, Western Bluebill, Tessmann’s Flycatcher, Baumann’s Greenbul, and Bat Hawk
Mon., Oct. 23 : Atewa Range | Hike in Endangered Rainforest
Atewa is critically endangered highland upper Guinea Rainforest and as it protects so many quality and rare species, we dedicate a full day to birding here. A consistent uphill walk is needed to get to the top of the range and we take a packed lunch with us to minimize walking and maximize birding time.
Sadly, Atewa forest range is under severe threat as the Ghanaian government are considering allowing it to be mined for bauxite. Several NGOs that include our host company are petitioning the government to establish Atewa as a National Park to protect this beautiful habitat for future generations. Atewa protects some rare species of birds and we hope to get good views of Red-fronted Antpecker, Nimba Flycatcher, Crowned Eagle, Brown-chested Alethe, Forest Scrub-Robin, and Lowland Akalat amongst other species.
After another wonderful day of exploring, return to our guesthouse for the evening meal and to reflect on an enjoyable and productive day in the field over a cold drink at the guesthouse restaurant during our checklist.
Accommodations at Nelsban Palace Hotel, New Tafo (B,L,D)
Birding Highlights: Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Blue-moustached Bee-eater, West African (Bioko) Batis, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, African Hobby, Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent-Eagle, Red-rumped, Yellow-rumped and Speckled Tinkerbirds, Little Green, Buff-throated, Blue-throated Brown, Olive-bellied and Collared Sunbirds, African Goshawk, Red-tailed and Green-tailed Bristlebills, Red-headed and Crested Malimbes, Orange-breasted Forest Robin, Little, Gray, White-throated, Icterine, Red-tailed, Western Bearded- and the Upper Guinea endemic Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Many-colored Bushshrike, Western Nicator, Brown Illadopsis and Bronze-naped Pigeon, Red-fronted Antpecker, Nimba Flycatcher, Crowned Eagle, Brown-chested Alethe, Forest Scrub-Robin, and Lowland Akalat
Tues., Oct. 24 : Atewa Range | Departures
Our last morning in the field starts early as we return to the Atewa Range aiming to find species we still would like to see or see better. A full morning is dedicated to enjoying this forest habitat that protects so many rare and sought-after species.
We return to our hotel for lunch, time to freshen up and pack our bags before setting off for Accra. As an amazing end to a wonderful tour, enjoy an early evening meal and final checklist on our arrival in Accra before transferring to the airport for your evening departure. (B,L,D)
Long-tailed Pangolin courtesy of Ashanti African Tours
Ghana Canopy Walk
Shining Blue Kingfisher by Willie de Vries
Mole National Park
Long-tailed Pangolin courtesy of Ashanti African Tours
Nkulengu Rail (Photo credit Lucas Lombardo)
Blue-headed Bee-eater by Lucas Lombardo
Cost of the Journey
Cost of this 18-Day / 17-Night Ghana birding tour is $6390 DBL / $7280 SGL per person. This cost includes accommodations for 17 nights, all meals as specified in the itinerary, professional guide services, transportation during the tour, other park and program entrance fees and miscellaneous program expenses.
Tour cost do not include: transportation from your home city to Accra, optional activities such as the early arrival cultural tour, or items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone charges, gratuities for guides, lodges and drivers, or beverages from the bar.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Please plan to arrive at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport (ACC) at your leisure on October 7, where you will be met on arrival and transferred to our hotel. Please plan departure flights after 9:00 PM on October 24.
Peg Abbott is the owner and lead guide of Naturalist Journeys, LLC. She has been designing, guiding, and organizing natural history tours for more than 25 years, working for the National Audubon Society and other organizations before launching Naturalist Journeys, LLC in 1998. Her work has taken her from Alaska to Africa and Argentina, as well as many other locations around the world. She has conducted research on several bird and mammal species and keeps a close interest in Yellowstone and Mexican wolf reintroduction projects. Her interests include all aspects of natural history and geology. After 20 years in and around the Yellowstone area, Peg relocated in 2003 to the birding mecca of Portal, AZ.
Photo credit: Carol Simon
Other trips with Peg Abbott
Tanzania: Wildlife & Birding Safari FULL - Check out our Kenya Wildlife SafariFebruary 8 - 22, 2024, w/Kenya extension
Lesser Antilles Birding & Nature FULL - Check out Caribbean Endemics of Jamaica January 2024March 7 - 20, 2024
Biodiverse Bhutan: Birds, Mammals & Beyond FULL - Check out Indonesia 2024April 11 - 25, 2024, w/Manas National Park extension
NEW! Wild Japan: Summer In HokkaidoJune 18 - 29, 2024
Crossing the Zambezi: A Zambia & Zimbabwe SafariJuly 27 - August 16, 2024
Indonesia's Best BirdingSeptember 11 - 27, 2024, w/Komodo Dragons & Endemic Birds Flores Island extension
Southern India’s Western Ghats: Global Hotspot for BiodiversityNovember 9 - 22, 2024, w/Andaman Islands extension
- Tanzania: Wildlife & Birding Safari
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Make sure your U.S. passport is valid for at least six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. Your passport should have the required number of blank pages per stamp. If you are from another country, please contact the Tanzania embassy website for guidelines.
- Obtain your VISA for Ghana. For information about obtaining a visa, which is required, visit the Embassy of Ghana website.
Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Ghana and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. Yellow Fever vaccination is required. Locate and bring your Yellow Fever vaccination certificate, or if you have not been vaccinated, or do not have proof, obtain that vaccination. Obtain a prescription to prevent Malaria. See the “Health and Inoculations” section below.
- Make your international flight reservations to Accra’s Kotoka International Airport (ACC). Please wait to make reservations until you have received notice from Naturalist Journeys that the tour is confirmed, then send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office email@example.com.
Arrival into Accra
Plan to arrive in Accra at Kotoka International Airport (DAR) in time for a welcome dinner. Most flights from the USA originate one or two days earlier. If you would like to arrive early, please inform the Naturalist Journeys office - we can help you book additional nights at our hotel (additional cost). And please ask to be connected with our travel agent if you would like help booking your flights; we’ll pay her ticketing fee.
NOTE ON TANZANIA SOUTH TOUR: If you plan to pair this tour with Naturalist Journeys’ Tanzania South tour, plan to overnight in Dar es Salaam on October 5 and fly to Accra on October 6.
Our in-country operator for Ghana is Ashanti African Tours, a highly respected nature and birding company in the region. Their representatives will meet all incoming flights to Kotoka International Airport. If you plan to arrive before the tour start date, your flight will be met as well.
If you know you will be delayed, it will be helpful if you can contact Ashanti by email, text, WhatsApp or cell phone, or your USA guide Peg Abbott. Note that Peg will also be in transit, so the most efficient contact will be Ashanti. Airport greeters can track flights for changes so do not worry if you don’t have time to send a message. Once our office has flight details for the full group, we will send a list so you can see if any other group members are on your flight.
When you arrive in Accra, you will first pass through immigration. You will be given immigration forms to fill out on the plane or on arrival. Be sure to have your VISA and passport available. You will then collect your baggage at the baggage carousel indicated for your flight, and pass through customs where baggage is X-rayed. Masks are recommended in the Airport Terminal.
Once OUTSIDE of immigration and customs, look for the Ashanti African Tours representative who will be holding a sign with Naturalist Journeys Group or your name on it. If you do not see someone, wait a few minutes as traffic can cause delays around the airport, then contact Ashanti. They are VERY RELIABLE and barring some unforeseen situation, they will be there! If your cell does not work in Tanzania, ask airport personnel for assistance.
There should be an ATM at the airport to change money if you wish to do so (see MONEY section below).
Departure from Accra
Please plan your departing flight from Accra after 9 PM on the last day of the tour. If you need an additional night’s hotel room because your flight departs the next day, the Naturalist Journeys office can assist with that booking. Transfers to the airport will be provided for all flights.
Passports, Visas & Documents
Your Passport: You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for at least six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. Please check the expiration date! You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassy of Ghcan website for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Ghana.html
Visa Required: While we make recommendations, conditions and timing for visa application changes frequently and compliance is the traveler's responsibility. Please check online for current regulations and to fully understand when to apply, as visas have a specific validity period. All visas and fees are subject to change.
An Ordinary/Tourist Visa is required for U.S. travelers to Ghana, and must be completed online at www.ghanaembassydc.org. Following are details you may need for the application:
Ghana - in-country partner is:
- Ashanti African Tours, Cape Coast, Ghana
- +233 (0) 24528 9736
The first night hotel is:
- Erata Hotel
- Ouagadougou Ave, Accra, Ghana
- Tel: (+233) 544-336761 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit the website, www.ghanaembassydc.org , click on APPLICATIONS, and click on Visa Application to complete the form.
- After completing the visa application, download and print the application.
- Mail the passport with the printed copy of the visa application, one (1) current passport size photographs and all the required supporting documents to the Embassy.
Your package should be mailed to either one of the following addresses (regular or expedited service)
- Embassy of Ghana
- Consular Section (Expedited)
- 3512 International Dr. NW
- Washington, DC 20008
- Embassy of Ghana
- Consular Section (Regular)
- 3512 International Dr. NW
- Washington, DC 20008
NOTE: Visas will not be issued in passports which will expire in less than six (6) months.
Passport and Visa application fees are non-refundable whether your application is approved or not.
Return Mail Postage
- All applicants must pay for the return postage service online.
- Payment for return postage is made online using debit or credit card. click to.
- Applicants’ details must be used even if payment is being made by a third party.
- Self-addressed prepaid return envelopes or prepaid FedEx return envelopes are not accepted.
- Applicants are strongly advised to secure a visa before purchasing a ticket
- All incomplete/missing documents will be returned to applicants at their own expense.
- Print online payment receipt and add to your application before mailing
- You may also use an expedited service, handy if you need your passport back quickly. When mailing your passport to the expediter be sure to send it certified or in some trackable manner such as FedEx.
We recommend leaving a color photocopy of the photo page of your passport at home, and carrying another copy of this with you on tour in your luggage. These copies can greatly expedite getting a new passport if necessary – though we hope everyone will keep their passport close at all times.
General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!
Going to Africa requires a level of medical caution. You will need medication to prevent malaria. Several vaccines are recommended; many of which will last for years and enable you to be prepared for other journeys as well. The Center for Disease Control recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) as well as COVID vaccinations before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. It is always best to seek advice from your doctor well in advance, as some vaccines require multiple doses.
We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and medications for common ailments, as well as an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. You should bring an adequate supply of all prescription drugs you use, and in addition, a list of your medications’ generic names as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while there. It is a good idea to pack any drugs you take regularly in your carry-on luggage, and keep them in their original, labeled containers.
We also recommend that you bring an up-to-date record of known allergies or chronic medical problems so that emergency treatment, if necessary, can be carried out without endangering your health. The roads can be very dusty, which may trigger allergies or breathing difficulties. If you are susceptible, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication. If you have severe allergies, talk to your doctor about carrying an EPIPEN and notify your guides.
As of January 27, 2023, all fully vaccinated travelers entering or transiting Ghana are exempt from testing, though any passenger may be randomly selected and offered a COVID-19 test on arrival at no cost.
Non-vaccinated passengers are required to take a PCR test within 48 hours of embarkation to Ghana, and validate the test result at https://trustedtravel.panabios.org or www.globalhaven.org/. They will also be required to take a mandatory COVID-19 test on arrival.
Please check the Ghana Airport COVID information website before departure for any changes to these requirements.
Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for all travelers. Mefloquine (Lariam), atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone), or doxycycline may be given. We have observed that some travelers react strongly to Malarone with feeling dizzy or nauseous, others exhibit no symptoms so you may want to try this out at home or bring an alternate medication – talk with your physician.
All travelers above nine (9) months coming into or transiting through Ghana are required to have been vaccinated against Yellow Fever at least ten (10) days from the proposed date of departure. Where already vaccinated, travelers must provide evidence/proof (International Certificate of Vaccination) indicating the duration of a vaccination status of not more than ten (10) years before entering Ghana.
The best choice of vaccines for your trip depends on many individual factors, including your precise travel plans. Vaccines commonly recommended for travelers to Africa include those against Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Meningitis.
Important and useful information can be found on the Center for Disease Control (USA) website.
Weather & Climate
In Ghana, the climate is tropical, with a dry season in winter and a rainy season in summer due to the African monsoon. Temperatures will be warm to hot and very humid with typical day time temperatures fluctuating between low-70’ to low-90’s°F. It will be drier and hotter in the north, and more humid in the south, particularly around Accra. The temperature can drop at night, especially in the north, but not usually below 88°F. Rain is likely during the trip.
Annoyances & Hazards
Mosquitoes, ticks and sand flies pose a medical concern, with African tick-bite fever, chikungunya, dengue and Leismaniasis present. A supply of insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET is essential. There can also be poisonous snakes and other insects, though encountering them is rare. Do listen carefully to any advice given by your local guide. And remember, the sun is strong so dress accordingly and bring protection from sunburn.
Food & Drinks
A wide variety of food will be available, with choices to accommodate most dietary requirements. You will find good variety, often buffet-style at the larger lodges and family-style at our tented camps.
In general, the recommendation in Ghana is to drink only boiled, filtered, chemically disinfected, or bottled water and eat only peeled or cooked fruits and vegetables. The CDC does NOT consider tap water in Ghana safe to drink. However, after decades of serving tourists, all the lodges now purify their kitchen water, so you can have ice and filtered water with meals. And there should be several locations where you can enjoy carefully prepared salad greens. For your safari tents and rooms there should be bottled water, and we carry bottled water in the vans. We follow our guide’s advice if we need clarification at any location (or be more cautious if you wish, but not less so). For everyone, a round of antibiotics such as Cipro (or whatever your doctor recommends) is good to have with you should you have stomach ailment or distress. When trying any fresh foods, eat sparingly and see how it goes. If you start to have problems, medicate right away rather than wait for the issues to clear up – catching these problems early is key.
We urge you to use only bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. We will also bring purification filters you can use to refill bottles when possible, to cut down on use of plastics. Water bottles with filters are great for travel - a Water-to-Go water purification filter bottle will remove 99.9% of contaminates, bacteria, and viruses and is sold on Amazon for about $40. Another option is a Steri Pen that uses UV to purify in seconds. Your guide will bring one and can share, but you may feel most confident by having your own.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Our larger lodges have a pool so pack a bathing suit if you enjoy a swim. Casual clothing is acceptable at all lodges, including at meals. A covered shoe with some tread should suffice for shorter walks and around the lodges. Sandals are fine for the vehicles. If you tend to get sunburned, sandals that can accommodate light socks are a smart choice. The lodges will do your laundry at a nominal charge.
Please, pack light, with the goal of bringing one soft-sided duffel bag and one carry-on bag. And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!
U.S. dollars are accepted in larger cities and your hotels and lodges should take them; however, we do recommend obtaining local currency for most purchases and tips as those working in the tourism service industry are required to accept only cedi as payment. You will need cash in villages if you would like to buy handicrafts.
Credit cards are not as commonly accepted in rural areas. and credit card fraud is an ongoing risk in Ghana, so it is advised to use your cards primarily at ATMs from major banks in big cities or airports. Even if you do not intend on using a credit card during your trip, we still recommend you bring one or two as backup. If possible, have more than one card available, in more than one brand (Visa and less frequently Mastercard are accepted, American Express much less often) as not every shop will accept every card. Please advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling to Tanzania to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges.
The Ghanaian Cedi (GHS) is the basic unit of currency in Tanzania. One cedi is divided into one hundred pesewas (Gp). If you choose to get local currency, it is easiest through an ATM. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com or your bank. When using an ATM to withdraw cash, keep in mind there are often transaction fees for withdrawals. Check the fee schedule with your bank before departure, and be sure you know your PIN number. Hotels and lodges may also change money. Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted and can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you that you bring them.
Many people ask how much money to plan to bring for spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, carvings, beads, textiles, artwork, drinks before or with dinner, maps, and natural history books.
Tipping throughout the tour is at your discretion. Some guidelines follow. At larger (mostly city) hotels, tip maids and bar service as you would at home. At eco-lodges, there is typically a staff tip box in a public area; the going rate per person is $6-$10 a day, which is shared among staff for maid service, and general staff service at the lodges. Gratuities for group meals are already included. Your Naturalist Journeys host will take care of smaller tips such field trip services by boat drivers, night drive outings, single activities. Your additional tip is encouraged for birding tour guides and drivers who are with you for several days or the full trip; $10-$15 per day per guest is standard for guide service, and half that for a driver. If you have more than one local guide at a location, they will share the daily amount. We encourage tipping for the local teams hosting you; anything extra for your Naturalist Journeys host is at your discretion.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
You can make international calls from most of our lodges, except the very remote tented camps. Our guides also carry a cell phone and, if necessary, for a short call, will help you if you cannot call from the lodge. The country code for the USA is “1.”
Note that throughout Africa, reliable mobile service is mostly available in the larger cities or towns. If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Options include activating international roaming, purchasing a local SIM card at the airport (newer phones may not accept SIM cards), or simply turning off cellular service and relying on Wi-Fi to make calls and access the internet. Consider downloading smart phone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls via Wi-Fi. Renting an international phone may also be an option.
Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions in more remote locations and is not available in more remote safari camps. If you plan to bring a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.
If you plan NOT to use your cell phone, we highly recommend that you turn off your cellular data. This will ensure that you do not incur international roaming charges. Another technique is to put your phone in airplane mode when not connected to WIFI, you can still use it for photos and the battery will last longer too.
Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it is an emergency.
Electricity in Ghana is 230 Volts and the frequency is 50 Hz. If you travel to Tanzania with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. Most modern appliances now convert for you but check that your cord is labeled to do so.
Outlets in Ghana generally accept 2 types of plugs:
- Three round pins arranged in a triangle, Type D
- Two parallel flat pins with ground pin, Type G
If your appliance plug has a different shape, you may need a plug adapter. More information can be found at www.power-plugs-sockets.com Note: If you want to charge your laptop for the plane trip home, and have a layover in Europe or South Africa, you will need a European plug adapter as well.
At our remote lodges, a generator supplies electricity, and it may only run during limited hours. You might want to bring 2 batteries for items like cameras, so you can use one while the other is charging. Throughout the night, a continuous electricity supply is not always guaranteed.
Ghana is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and Daylight Savings Time is not observed. A great website for someone to check before calling you is www.timeanddate.com.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!
Pace & Protocols +
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role
Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global Rescue, World Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please Pack Light!
Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on a luggage tag on the handle. And please pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds – if it can be less, wonderful! Be sure to place your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips – this also makes an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.
In Ghana, the climate is tropical. Temperatures will be warm to hot and very humid with typical day time temperatures fluctuating between low-70’ to low-90’s°F. It will be drier and hotter in the north, and more humid in the south, particularly around Accra. The temperature can drop at night, especially in the north, but not usually below 88F. Rain is likely during the trip. Check your favorite weather website, such as www.climatestotravel.com, close to departure for the most accurate predictions.
Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, by all means bring shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy. Dust is very common, so a bandana or loose-fitting scarf can be useful to cover your mouth or to drape over your camera as you travel. On safari we SIT a lot, so bring comfortable pants – we suggest loose-fitting LIGHTWEIGHT pants or sweatpants, especially on those hot days.
Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green while on safari, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors. I
It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.
Clothing & Gear
- Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
- Lightweight long-sleeved shirts – 2 or 3
- Safari shorts / skirts or sundress (optional)
- T-shirts or equivalent (remember you may buy some there!)
- Personal underclothing (consider items that dry quickly if you plan to do laundry)
- Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
- Comfortable walking/hiking shoes with thorn-proof tread (such as tennis shoes) or lightweight hiking boots.
- Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel days (optional)
- Lightweight raincoat or poncho
- Lightweight windbreaker and lightweight jacket; fleece fabric is ideal
- Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
- Bathing suit (some of the lodges have pools)
- Hat with broad brim – a safari style hat with a tie-down is great for vehicle time
- Bandana (optional
- Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets
- Belt, if needed, for pants
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
- Passport, and a photocopy of your passport ID page to be kept in a separate location
- Health cards with vaccinations, accompanying your passport.
- Money pouch or some place to carry your money, credit cards, and passport
- Small daypack/tote bag to carry/organize gear while in the vehicles
- Walking stick (optional but recommended if you regularly use one or if you plan to hike)
- Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored (optional)
- Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries (important – cabins/tents may be a distance from where we eat)
- Alarm clock, or plan to use your phone
- Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
- Sunglasses with neck strap (really important with long days of bright sun)
- Insect repellent (containing DEET)
- Antibacterial hand-cleaning soap in small bottle; individually wrapped moist towelettes also come in handy.
- Toiletry articles
- Earplugs (optional)
- Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining or dusty. Binoculars are your window to seeing the wildlife you came to see; we suggest that you not skimp on your binoculars or bring an old pair you have not used in a long time. Test them out at home and if it’s time to upgrade, the trip is a great excuse.)
- Camera and extra batteries, battery charger, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies, and instruction manual (optional, but important if you have problems). Many people bring a second camera body or backup camera - consider this if photography is one of the activities you look forward to. THINK DUST, and bring a lightweight camera “dry bag”, and consider an airbrush and tools to clean sensors (a soft chamois cloth). VIDEO is a great option for Africa; you get the sound, animal behavior, wonderful!
- Electrical converter and adapter plugs. If you have multiple items that need charging, consider bringing a lightweight small power strip.
- Rechargeable power bank (optional)
- Portable, rechargeable hand-held fan (optional)
- Water bottle – one with built-in filter is ideal (can easily be bought in the airport and refilled daily)
- Pocket knife (make sure this is in your CHECKED luggage) (optional)
- Small sewing kit
- Journal and pen or tablet/laptop (optional). If you bring a laptop, have a good way to carry it, and to keep it safe from the dust.
- Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
- Steri-Pen or other UV water treatment device to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Aid Items
- Anti-malarial drugs
- Emergency prescriptions. We recommend you ask your doctor about carrying a prescription for stomach and respiratory illness, just in case. Cipro is often recommended and works quickly – it can mean saving several days of functioning on your vacation.
- Personal medication
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van, drives, etc.
- Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments, cuts, and scrapes
- Insurance information
- Copy of eyeglass prescription, medical prescriptions, Covid-19 vaccination record, and any medical alerts
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
- Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Antibacterial soap in small container for quick handwashing
- Anti-itch cream or talc for feet (optional)
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Ghana and West Africa in general; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Merlin Birding App and Ghana Bird Pack. The Cornell Lab. (Once you download the Merlin App to your phone, open the app, choose the “Bird Packs” option and download the pack for Ghana.)
History & Culture
Memoirs & Literature
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Ghana – Encyclopedic Overview
Fast Facts - Ghana
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Overview of Birding in Ghana
Checklist to the birds of Ghana
African Bird Club
White-Necked Rockfowl (aka Yellow Headed Picathartes)
Mammals of Ghana
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
Conservation of Yellow-headed Picathartes in Bonkro
Shai Hills Reserve
Kakum National Park
Mole National Park
Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary
Atewa Range Forest Reserve
Geology & Geography
Geology of Ghana
Geography of Ghana
Environmental Impact of Illegal Gold Mining
History & Culture
Brief History of Ghana
Languages of Ghana
Ghana Culture and Food
Helpful Travel Websites
Kotoka International Airport (ACC)
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information - Ghana
National Passport Information Center
Homeland Security Real ID Act
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Center for Disease Control (CDC) - Ghana
Canada Travel Advice and Advisories – Ghana
Travel Health Pro (UK) – Ghana
Foreign Exchange Rates
Electricity and Plugs - Ghana
Date, Time, and Holidays - Ghana
Photo credits: Thumbnails: African Pygmy Kingfisher (NJ Stock), Swallow-tailed Bee-eater (NJ Stock), Squacco Heron (NJ Stock), Green Wood Hoopoe (NJ Stock), Saddle-billed Stork (NJ Stock), Abyssinian Roller (NJ Stock), Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill (NJ Stock), Black Bee-eaters (NJ Stock) Banners: Ghana Crocodile (NJ Stock), Naked-faced Barbet (NJ Stock), Violet Turaco (NJ Stock), Elephant (NJ Stock), Egyptian Plover (NJ Stock), White-necked Rockfowl (NJ Stock)