Bird Watching and Culture Tour in Ghana
Our 9-day Ghana Bird Watching and Culture Tour is a popular blend of some of the country's best birding with an introduction into its fascinating history and culture.
Early mornings and evenings are the critical times we dedicate to the exceptional birdlife that can be found here. Afternoons and some later evenings are dedicated to the many historical sites of interest and to experiencing the rich and vibrant cultural traditions of Ghana.
On this Ghana birdwatching and culture tour we will visit some of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites to be found in the country, and learn about its recent, often dark colonial past. At the same time we will enjoy its diverse natural history and in particular its beautiful birdlife. This tour offers the perfect combination of interests to give you an excellent introduction to a wonderful country, especially if you are limited in time.
Ghana is possibly the safest and most welcoming country in Africa, and on this birdwatching and culture tour you will be benefitting from the expertise of our award-winning guides. These local specialists will open doors and offer experiences that will enable you to see what daily life is like for the people living in this fascinating country. Our guides are experts in not only the culture and history of Ghana but also its nature - birds, butterflies and all the many forms of its diverse wildlife.
In short, this mixed birdwatching and culture tour will introduce you to Ghana's wonderfully welcoming locals, its ancient cultural sites and interesting history, its beautiful beaches, and its exceptional flora and fauna. The Ghanaian world is just waiting to be discovered!
Our first morning in Ghana we collect you at 5.00am at a pre-arranged location in Accra and set off for the open grassland savannah of Shai Hills. Your expert local guide will offer you 'Akwaaba' (welcome) and brief you on all aspects of your tour as you head to Shai Hills Reserve.
On the reserve we will be hoping to see a wide range of species such as Northern Crombec, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Snowy-crowned Robin Chat, African Pigmy Kingfisher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Vielliots and Double-toothed Barbets, White-crowned Cliff Chat, Rock Martin, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Violet Turaco, Senegal Parrot and Senegal Batis.
There's also a chance of Blue-bellied Roller, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Oriole Warbler, Black-cap and Brown Babblers, Copper and Splendid Sunbirds, White-crested Helmet-shrike, Croaking and Short-winged Cisticolas, African Thrush, Red-necked and Lizzard Buzzards, Lanner Falcon, Green Wood-hoopoe and Stone Partridge - all of which gives you an idea of the number of wonderful species on offer here!
After a morning's birdwatching we head for more familiar birding at the Sakamona Lagoon. There are usually an abundance of birds to see here depending on the level of water, including Black-winged Stilt, Senegal Thick-knee, Common Ringed, Grey and Spur-winged Plovers, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Collard Pratincole, Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstone, Little Stint, Long-tailed Cormorant, Squacco, Grey, Purple, Striated and Black Herons, Little, Cattle and Intermediate Egrets.
Next, we set off towards Kakum National Park through the busy city of Accra, stopping for lunch en route before heading to a grassland reserve. There we hope to find Siffling and Shortwinged Cisticolas, Splendid and Copper Sunbirds, Fappet Lark, Red-winged Warbler, Yellowmantled Widowbird, Black-necked Weaver, Black-crowned Tchagra, Plain-backed Pipit, Black-shouldered and Yellow-billed Kites, Western Grey Plantain-eater, Grey Kestrel, Lizard Buzzard, Blue-spotted Wood-dove and Black-bellied Bustard.
At the end of a good day's birding we continue to Jukwa where we can settle into our hotel to relax, reflect and write up the many new species on our bird lists.
Accommodation - Rainforest Lodge (Jukwa)
An early breakfast as we head for the world-famous canopy walkway at Kakum National Park which is approximately 15 minutes’ drive from our lodge. We aim to get to Kakum for first light enabling us to spend the most critical bird viewing hours 40 meters above the forest floor on the canopy walkway, which 7 platforms are large enough to support Telescopes. The 360 km² Kakum National Park protects secondary upper guinea semi deciduous tropical rainforest and it is a wonderful feeling being so close to the canopy of this beautiful forest.Our main target species during our time on the canopy walkway are Violet-backed Hyliota, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, the upper guinea endemics Sharpes Apalis, Brown-cheeked Hornbill and copper-tailed Glossy Starling, Bioko Batis, Blue Cuckooshrike, Little Green Woodpecker and the White-crested Hornbill. Other species we hope to see include Bluethroated Brown, Green, Collard, Johanna’s and the beautiful Buff-throated Sunbirds, Redheaded and Crested Malimbes, Rosy Bee-eater, White-breasted and Grey-crowned Negrofinch, Red-fronted and African Grey Parrots, Yellowbill, Western Black-headed and Black Winged Orioles, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Splendid Glossy and Forest Chestnutwinged Starlings, Preuss’s Golden-backed and Yellow-mantled Weavers, Green Hylia, Golden, Slender-billed and Little Grey Greenbuls, African Green Pigeon, Yellow-billed Turaco, Emerald Cuckoo, Blue-throated Roller, Yellow-throated, Red-rumped and Speckled Tinkerbirds, Hairy-breasted and Naked-faced Barbets, Usshers and Little Grey Flycatchers, Cassins Honeybird and African Pied Hornbill to mention a few. The raptors we have a chance to see include, Congo Serpent Eagle, African Harrier Hawk, Palm Nut Vulture, Cassins Hawk Eagle, European Honey and Red-necked Buzzards. Some of the more difficult but still possible species from the canopy include Long-tailed Hawk, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Yellow-footed
Honeyguide and Black-collard Lovebird. After a wonderful morning we return to our lodge to freshen up and enjoy our lunch. During the heat of mid-afternoon, you will have the option of birding around our lodges grounds, resting in your air-conditioned rooms, around the pool and bar or you could choose to go on a cultural excursion to Cape Coast castle, compliments of Ashanti African Tours. We re-visit the canopy walkway in the evening when our main targets will be the Brown-cheeked, Black and Yellow-casqued Hornbills, Great Blue Turaco, Brown Nightjar and Fraser’s eagle owl amongst other specials. Our evening will be spent at the lodges restaurant and bar discussing the day’s sightings, adding to our checklist and enjoying the atmosphere of
Accommodation- Rainforest Lodge (Jukwa)
Another early start as we visit the Antwikwaa section of Kakum National Park, hoping to add some amazing birds to our growing list – Little, White-throated, Rosy and Black Bee-eaters, Bluethroated Roller, Piping Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, White-spotted Flufftail, Cassin’s Spinetail, Sabine’s Spinetail, Didric Cuckoo, Melancholy and Buff-spotted Woodpeckers, Vieillot’s Black and Black-necked Weavers, Kemps and Grey Longbills, Western Nicator, Western Bluebill, Olive-bellied, Superb and Johanna’s Sunbirds, Copper-tailed Glossy and Violet-backed Starlings, Yellow White-eye, Bronze Mannikin, Orange-cheeked Waxbill and the more difficult species include Yellow-billed Barbet, Forest Penduline Tit, Ayre’s Hawk Eagle and Ahanta Francolin to mention a few. We then go to a river site for the beautiful White-bibbed (White-throated Blue) Swallow, Preuss’s Cliff Swallow, Rock Pratincole, White-headed Lapwing, and if we are lucky which we sometimes are African Finfoot may make an appearance.
After our full morning birding we return to our accommodation for lunch and then set off on an afternoon of history as we visit Cape Coast. Our afternoon is dedicated to visiting the nearby Cape Coast castle which has been designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The castle is a thought-provoking monument to a harrowing period in the region’s history. Quality time will be spent in the afternoon on an emotional journey touring this castle which held more enslaved Africans captive than any other in West Africa, viewing the dungeons and the infamous “Door of no return”. There is a historical museum inside, which explains the entire history of the castle and Cape Coast itself, as well as a souvenir shop selling literature on all of Ghana’s forts and castles, as well as the cultural history and traditions of Ghana. After a wonderful but thoughtprovoking time here, we set off on a walking tour of Cape Coast town before returning to our accommodation for the evening.
Accommodation - Rainforest Lodge (Jukwa)
This morning we will be concentrating our time on the farmland scrub, forest edge and forest trails at Abrafo a section of forest habitat near to Kakum National Park. Our guides are always focused on getting our clients good views of all species and this morning is no different as we search for Pale Flycatcher, Black and White Mannikin, Brown-crowned Tchagra, 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, Frasers and Little-green Sunbirds, Yellowbill, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Common Fiscal, Spotted Greenbul, Finsch’s Flycatcher Thrush, Yellow-whiskered and Red-tailed Greenbuls, White-crested Hornbill, African Harrier Hawk and the more sought after difficult species include Long-tailed Hawk, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Chocolatebacked Kingfisher, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Congo Serpent Eagle, Red-billed and Black Dwarf
We stop for lunch at Han’s Cottage Botel near Kakum, Han’s is built over a lake containing Nile crocodiles and set in a beautiful location surrounded by tropical guinea rainforest. It is an original and comfortable establishment, which is teeming with bird life and an excellent place to enjoy lunch before setting off for Elmina. During our time in Elmina town we will visit the castle of St. George in Elmina. This is the oldest extant colonial building in sub Saharan Africa dating from 1482. This castle is steeped in history and played a prominent part during the tragic transatlantic enslaved African trade era. There is an informative museum inside which concentrates on local history and it is designated a world heritage site by UNESCO. A walking tour of the fishing town of Elmina is a must prior to returning to our accommodation. Visiting the traditional boat builders and fish market will enable us to get a feel of how life is here for the locals.
Accommodation – Rainforest Lodge (Jukwa)
Today is special and it is difficult to focus our minds on anything other than the afternoon visit to the Yellow-headed Picathartes nesting site, however we will have to as we have a full mornings birding to enjoy. We check out of our hotel after an early breakfast and set off for Abrafo forest where we will be targeting species we may still require from this habitat. After an excellent
morning 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. All the known nesting sites for the Yellow-headed Picathartes are in forest reserves and not protected areas. This location has more nesting sites than any other in Ghana and we are proud to be actively involved
in protecting this habitat from illegal hunting and logging activities. Ashanti African Tours are currently sponsoring 24 community forest committee members from the surrounding villages to patrol and stop illegal hunting and logging activities. It is imperative we show the local surrounding communities of the benefits of protecting this species and endangered habitat, as such we are currently building an 8-classroom school facility, reception centre and future plans include accommodation for nature lovers with all proceeds going directly to a community fund. There has been a dramatic reduction in tree felling and our groups seem to be enjoying better views than ever of more birds when visiting the Yellow-headed Picathartes nesting site.
There are around 20 nesting sites in this small forest and we will visit one of the largest colony’s that has approximately 30 nests. As we set off on the walk through this beautiful forest you can see why it is one of the most sought-after species in the world, the total experience adds to this mythical bird’s reputation. As we arrive at the nesting site we need to be very quiet as we take our seats on bamboo benches we have purposely made for your comfort. 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 hard to contain your excitement as these legendary prehistoric looking birds hop and jump on the rocks whilst preening themselves just meters from our eyes (no telescope needed). Once we have enjoyed good views we leave the birds in peace as we set off back through the forest to our vehicle. On our arrival in Kumasi we check into our hotel, enjoy our evening meal and reflect on one of the best birding days of
Accommodation - Royal Basin Hotel (Kumasi)
A well-deserved relaxing breakfast this morning after our early morning birding adventures of the previous few days. A day of culture and history awaits us as we set off on our city tour of Kumasi heading to the Manhyia Palace, home of the Asantehene King of the Ashanti’s and ruler of the powerful Asanteman Kingdom. The Palace Museum offers a fascinating excursion through the history of this powerful tribe and is extremely informative on the well documented Ashanti history and culture. Our tour gives us a firsthand insight into the legacies of the Ashanti’s and enables us to understand their culture during our time in this region. We continue to visit the National Cultural Centre.
The cultural center is in one of the oldest suburbs of Kumasi near Bantama. There is a wonderful craft market here and during our leisurely tour we can visit the Prempeh II Jubilee museum which offers an excellent overview of Ashanti history and houses some wonderful ancient artifacts. A short distance from the palace is Kejetia market which is reported to be the largest outdoor market in West Africa. Visiting here gives us a wonderful opportunity to experience everyday life for the people in this great city and pick up a few bargain souvenirs. The market is a labyrinth of stalls nestled closely together, and a hive of activity. Some stall holders sleep here in the evenings as trade rarely stops. Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant which sells an excellent selection
of local and continental dishes.
Our next stop is the Okomfo Anokye sword found at the Okomfo Anokye teaching hospital in Kumasi. Okomfo Anokye was a powerful priest born in 1600 in the Eastern Region of Ghana who helped the then Ashanti King Osei Tutu I to defeat the powerful Denkyera tribe. After defeating the Denkyera, legend has it the Golden Stool of Ashanti descended from the sky and landed on
Okomfo Anokye’s lap, which he gave to the Ashanti King. He then planted a sword into the ground as a symbol of unity between the Ashanti’s and Nzema tribes. The sword is still there to this day and has defied all human strength to pull it out.
Prior to returning to our accommodation we visit the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology which was established by Ghana’s founding President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in 1952. It is the leading university in the sub region for research into science and technology with students from all over West Africa studying here. Our evening we have the option of heading into the city to experience Kumasi night life where we can enjoy our evening meal and a live highlife band. If you are not feeling up to a late night you can choose to relax at your accommodation.
Accommodation – Royal Basin Hotel (Kumasi)
A morning visit to the last material remains of the great Asante Empire as we visit the traditional Asante buildings that are now recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. There are 10 active shrines within the buildings which are made from bamboo, timber and mud and thatched roofs. The walls are designed with motifs that have traditional symbolic meanings attached to ancient Adinkra symbols that we will learn more about later today. This is also where Nana Yaa Asantewaa, possibly the most important women in Ashanti history comes from, a great female warrior who led the Ashanti’s in the 1901 war against the British. Nana Yaa Asantewaa was also the Queen Mother of Ejisu Besease and we will visit the local spiritual shrine where she used to fortify herself before going into battle.
We continue our journey through Ashanti history by visiting the traditional villages of Adanwomasie and Ntonso. Our first stop is Adanwomasie, the birth place of Ghana’s rich colorful Kente cloth. Adanwomasi produces some of Ghana’s finest Kente cloth, many designs of cloth are woven here, and some are exclusive only to this region. Quality time is dedicated here as we walk through the community, interacting with the locals whose families have been weaving kente for generations playing an important role in the history of this beautiful cloth. During our time here, we learn about the history behind the many designs and see skilled weavers outside their homes still using traditional looms that have not changed in design for centuries. Former US President Bill Clinton has had a design named after him called the “Clinton Kente” as Ghanaians were so impressed with the respect he showed our nation during his state visit to Ghana when he was in office. An ideal time to purchase quality kente cloth at very low prices before we set
off for Ntunso.
The ancient village of Ntunso, is where adinkra cloth and symbols originate. These traditional symbols all have meanings and are carved from calabash shells. The adinkra symbols are then printed onto traditional cloth using natural dyes made from the bark of certain local trees. Adinkra cloth has been adorned by the Ashanti’s for more than 4 centuries and pre-dates kente
cloth. Even today most Ashanti’s will wear adinkra cloth for funerals, festivals and other important occasions. During our time here, we can make our own strip of adinkra cloth using symbols with personal significance. After lunch we visit the village of Sokoban Krofrom where traditional brass casting has been the main source of income for the community for generations. A wide selection of items ranging from beads and jewelry to traditional statues are made here. The methods used to produce these wonderful brass works has not changed and during our time here we see a demonstration of the skilled process. After visiting some of the stores selling a wonderful selection in the village we return to our accommodation for our meal and to relax with the remainder of the evening being free leisure time.
Accommodation – In Kumasi
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. This morning we hope to see Tit and Green Hylias, Magpie Mannakin, Narina’s Trogon, Red-billed Dwarf and Black Dwarf Hornbills, African Grey and Brown-necked Parrots, Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike, Black-throated Coucal, Goldenbacked
Weaver, African Piculet, Red-chested Owlet, Dusky Tit, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Barbet, Grey-headed and Red-tailed Bristlebills and the much sought after Yellowfooted Honeyguide amongst other species.We set off after a productive morning heading further south towards Atewa stopping for lunch en-route. After some rest and relaxation we set of for the lower farmland bush at Atewa where we hope to see Black-necked, Maxwells Black, Compact and Grosbeak Weavers, Whistling
Cisticola, Black-crowned and Marsh Tchagras, Emerald, Klaas’s, Levaillants and Yellow-throated Cuckoos, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Western Bluebill, Tessmann’s Flycatcher and if we are lucky Baumann’s Greenbul and Bat Hawk before we check into our nearby guesthouse for the evening to relax, reflect and enjoy our evening meal.
Accommodation- Nelsban Palace Hotel (New Tafo)
Atewa is critically endangered highland upper guinea rainforest and as it protects so many quality and rare species we will dedicate a full days birding here. It is quite a consistent hill walk to get to the top of the range and we will take a packed lunch with us to minimize the walking and also maximize our time here. Target birds here will include Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Purple-throated
Cuckoo-shrike, Blue-moustached (Headed) Bee-eater, 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 Collard Sunbirds, African Goshawk, Red-tailed and Green-tailed Bristlebills, Red-headed and Crested Malimbes, Forest Robin, Little, Little Grey, White-throated, Icterine, Red-tailed, Westernbearded and the upper guinea endemic Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Many-coloured Bushshrike, Western Nicator, Brown Illadopsis and Western Bronze-naped Pigeon. There are some really
special rare species here that are very difficult to see and if we are lucky as we sometimes are we may get a glimpse of Red-fronted Antpecker, Nimba Flycatcher, Crowned Eagle, Brownchested Alethe, Forest Scrub Robin and Lowland Akalat amongst others. After a wonderful day birding we return to our guesthouse to freshen up before returning you to your pre-arranged location in Accra after a wonderful 9-day Ghana Birding, Culture and History Tour.
Transfer to Accra
What is included?
- Accommodation-This will be pre-determined prior to your booking and will depend on your budget. We offer the choice from High-standard to mid-range and budget options for all our tours. Our standard small group set departure scheduled tours will use mid-range accommodation. Our day tours do not include accommodation, we will collect and drop you
- at a pre-arranged location.
- Food- Our high-standard and mid-range tours all include breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition we have fruit when available on all our vehicles. Our budget tours are on a bed and breakfast basis and do not include lunch and dinner within the tour price and our day tours include lunch only.
- Mineral water- Unlimited mineral water is available to every participant for the duration of your time with us on all our tours.
- Transportation- In a fully air-conditioned vehicle for the duration of your tour, vehicle type will depend on the group size and all our vehicles are comprehensively insured. Our budget tours use well maintained and comprehensively insured non-air-conditioned vehicles.
- Driver- All our drivers are highly experienced and employed on a full-time basis by our company, their focus is on your safety and comfort. On the occasions we may need to rent vehicles and drivers from outside our company, these are well known to us and are of the highest quality with your safety and comfort as their priority.
- Fuel- All fuel is included in the tour price.
- Entrance fees- All entrance and excursion fees are included in the tour price for our high standards and mid-range tours. Our budget tours do not include entrance and excursion fees as such you would need to pay these at the various sites directly if you book onto one of our budget tours.
- Guide fees- All guide fees are included in the price for all our tours. In addition, we tip site guides and hotel staff at all the locations and accommodations we use and visit.
- Additional services- Our company offers 24/7 professional, care, attention and office support to all our clients.
What is not included?
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Soft and alcoholic drinks
There are always other options when travelling, however we are currently the only expert birding and wildlife tour company operating legally here in Ghana. Ashanti African Tours are registered with the Ghana Tourism Authority (a legal requirement) our operating licence number is T-04/CR/16, our company and vehicles are comprehensively insured, our guides are registered in addition to our services and tour leaders being of the highest standard. In addition to the above we practice ethical and responsible travel which can be seen through our conservation and community development projects. We were also proudly awarded “Tour Operator of the Year 2014 and 2016” by the Ghana Tourism Authority to go alongside our current “West African Tour Operator of the Year Award”.