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Sierra Leone & Liberia

This tour covers all accessible specialties of these two remote West African countries and in full comfort with no camping or long hikes! Birding in Liberia includes Mount Nimba with Black-headed Rufous Warbler, Sierra Leone Prinia, Gola Malimbe and Nimba Flycatcher as main targets. Tiwai Island and Gola North includes Rufous Fishing Owl, African Pitta, White-necked Picathartes, Turati's Boubou, Emerald Starling, Dybowski's Twinspot and many more.

Next dates

19 January - 2 February 2025

Tour length: 15 days

Group size limit: 6

Leaders:

Julien Mazenauer and a local leader

Guaranteed departure

Day 1: The tour starts this evening at Monrovia, capital of Liberia, where we will overnight.

Day 2: We will leave early this morning and drive all the way to Mount Nimba. There will be some stops along the way to stretch our legs, with the stunning Crimson Seedcracker being a possibility. We will spend the next six nights in a hotel in the Mount Nimba area to make the best of this fantastic yet under-visited site!

Day 3-4-5-6: We will have four full days in the Mount Nimba area, mostly birding different elevations of the mountain itself. Past mining activites have given access to the summit, where we will be looking for the Endangered Sierra Leone Prinia, as well as “Black-capped” Grey-winged Robin-Chat and Western Square-tailed Drongo, but also many more widespread species like Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Yellow-casqued Hornbill (surprisingly common here!), Guinea and Yellow-billed Turaco, White-spotted Flufftail, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher, Red-tailed Leaflove, Western Bearded Greenbul, Ussher’s Flycatcher, White-tailed Alethe and more.

Lower down, we will be on the lookout for the rarely seen Nimba Flycatcher, Rufous-winged Illadopsis, the most-wanted Black-headed Rufous Warbler, Sharpe’s Apalis, Kemp’s Longbill, Buff-throated Sunbird, but also Ahanta Spurfowl, the localized Blue-moustached Bee-eater, Little Green Woodpecker, Willcock’s Honeyguide, Fiery-breasted Bushshrike, Finsch’s Rufous Thrush, West African Wattle-eye, Grey-headed Bristlebill, amongst others.

We will also visit a lowland Community Forest where we stand excellent chances to find the mythical Gola Malimbe, plus Rufous-sided Broadbill, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Red-fronted Antpecker, Lowland Sooty Boubou, Yellow-bearded Greenbul and many more.

Day 7: After breakfast, we will start the long journey towards Sierra Leone. We will cross the land border with Sierra Leone and make our way to Tiwai Island for a three-night stay.

Day 8-9: We will have two full days birding the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, exploring the Moa River with canoes and birding the pristine lowland forest in the surrounds, looking for White-breasted Guineafowl, Olive Ibis, Rufous Fishing Owl, White-crested Tiger Heron, “Western” African Pitta (taxonomy is still not resolved!) and Brown Nightjar, to name just some of the most-wanted specialties. Other birds might well include Western Crested Guineafowl, Hartlaub’s Duck, Rock Pratincole, Egyptian Plover, the ultimate “Western” White-crested and Yellow-casqued Hornbill, Spotted Honeyguide, White-browed Forest Flycatcher, and Yellow-mantled Weaver.

Tiwai Island is also a great place for mammals, with Chimpanzee, Diana Monkey or the ultra-rare Pygmy Hippopotamus all recorded! While we probably don’t stand a realistic chance at finding the latter, we should see a nice variety of monkeys.

Day 10: Today we will drive to the Gola Rainforest Park for a three-night stay.

Day 11-12: We will have two full days to make Gola justice. Lowland West African rainforest offers some of the toughest birding on Earth so we will have to work hard to find the specialties calling this habitat home! A vast array of birds are possible, including Latham’s Francolin, Afep Pigeon, Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, Timneh Parrot, Fire-bellied Woodpecker, Puvel’s Illadopsis, “Grey-hooded” Capuchin Babbler, the scarce “Western” Lagden’s Bushshrike,”Western” Yellow-bellied and Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Dusky Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Green-tailed Bristlebill and Copper-tailed Starling, amongst commoner species. And of course, we will also visit a White-necked Picathartes cave on  one evening!

No long walks or camping required at this site, since we should have already seen Gola Malimbe in Liberia!

Day 13: Today we drive west to Bumbuna for a two-night stay. Birding a bit on the way and might well produce Forbes’s Plover, the localised Black-backed Cisticola or even the rare Dybowski’s Twinspot!

Day 14: We will have a full day birding the open country surrounding Bumbuna, a pleasant relief after all the difficult forest birding of previous days! Some stunning specialties occur in this region, and we’ll mostly be looking for the mega Emerald Starling, Turati’s Boubou, West African Swallow, Yellow-winged Pytilia (the host of Togo Paradise Wydah, which also occurs in the area), Cameroon and perhaps Jambandu Indigobirds, amongst more widespread savannah species like Stone Partridge, Grasshopper Buzzard, Senegal Eremomela, Cabanis’s Bunting or Zebra Waxbill.

Day 15: After some final birding, we will drive to Lungi International Airport, where the tour ends this afternoon.

Tour details

Cost: $ 5,900
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 400

Please note our small group size limit, which we believe is essential for maximising success with target birds on this tour which involves a fair amount of difficult West African forest! We will also be using an accredited local ground agent with local guides.

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels during the whole stay, no camping.

Walking difficulty: Mostly easy to moderate roadside or trail-based birding.

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.