Yellow-headed Picathartes (Photo credit Lucas Lombardo)

Ghana | Ashanti African Tours | 17 Day Ghana Birding and Nature Tour

With 12 of the 15 West African Upper Guinea endemic species occurring in Ghana; its safe, friendly and hassle-free environment and the most developed infrastructure of any West African country, Ghana is a must-visit for any birding and nature enthusiast.

Our 100% record of seeing the White-necked Rockfowl (Yellow-headed Picathartes) and Egyptian Plover (recently made a family of its own) ensures a spectacular trip awaits our potential tour participants. From the coastal lagoons, to grassland savannah, the Upper Guinea Rainforest and moving northwards through the broadleaf Guinea woodland, finally touching the Sahel savannah plains in the far north, Ghana offers a thorough coverage of all the core West African habitats.

Our expert local tour leaders are of an international standard, know all the birds by song/call and more importantly where to find them. This incredible English-speaking country has over 760 bird species and our guides are experts not only in birds, but also mammals, butterflies (Ghana has over 1000 species), flora and the culture and history of this welcoming former British colony. In addition to having Africa’s finest birding and nature tour leaders, we are a company focused on ethical and responsible travel.

Top Five Birds

  1. Yellow-headed Picathartes (White-necked Rockfowl)
  2. Egyptian Plover
  3. Blue-moustached Bee-eater
  4. Violet-backed Hyliota
  5. Akun Eagle Owl

Ethics

At Terra Incognita we support tours that do good in the world. They must help to conserve the environment, support local people, and educate their guests. Here’s what Mark Williams from Ashanti African Tours said to us…

What conservation activities do you support through the tour, and your wider operations?

Ashanti African Tours have established an eco-tourism project at 3 communities surrounding an area of endangered Upper Guinea Rainforest in Ghana. The forest protects habitat where the Yellow-headed Picathartes is found and other endangered bird and mammal species. We established a community fund where anyone who visits the forest pays an entrance and guide fee that goes 100% back to the community fund. Our company have also built a reception center and school for this community giving access to education to over 200 children who previously never went to school. Also we are almost finished building 5 chalet accommodations for tourist to stay in when visiting the forest, all of these initiatives have been funded by our company as a large percentage of our projects are donated by us. All proceeds from renting the accommodation, entrance and guide fees go 100% back to the community fund which encourages them to stop illegal logging and hunting activities here. Our company have also registered a non-for-profit NGO Rainforest Rescue Ghana.

“Our company are Ghana based and registered employing over 30 locals with 12 of them full time expert birding and nature tour guides for our tours. I feel we most definitely meet all the criteria you have set out as we are very much focused on Ethical Travel and have a passion for benefiting the communities and environment we visit during our tours in a positive way. To date our company over a 12 year period have donated over $120,000.00 USD from our profits to our community development and habitat conservation projects which aim at connecting communities with the conservation of their environment.

I am happy to report we have to date built 2 schools for Nursery and Primary school level children giving over 400 children access to education they formerly did not have in the areas we visit during our tours. Our company have also established an eco-tourism project protecting endangered Upper Guinea Rainforest habitat where we find the mythical bird species Yellow-headed Picathartes, this forest was under severe pressure from illegal logging and hunting activities. I am happy to report these activities have now stopped, our project has built a reception center where visitors pay for local guides to take them into the forest and also entrance fees with all the monies going back into a community fund we have established. In addition we are almost finished building 5 twin bed chalets for tourists to rent during their time at this location and again 100% of the monies generated will go back into the community fund. This encourages the locals to stop and prevent illegal logging and hunting in this small patch of forest.

How does the tour support local people?

Our company have to date built 2 schools in areas we visit during our birding tours, giving over 400 children access to education. We have also created a community based eco-tourism project at one of the locations we visit raising money for 3 villages. Part of the project is to educate locals in environmentally friendly farming methods and teach them new areas to farm in that encourage protection of local habitat like honey farming and bee keeping, snail farming and others.

What type of environmental education activities do you incorporate into your tour?

We discuss the issues we face in Ghana and how we are trying to combat them through our projects. Our aim is to also incorporate environmental studies in the schools we have built which is not currently the case in Ghana schools. Finally we plan to start outreach programmes teaching communities the benefits of conserving their environment for future generations.

Review

What stood out for me about Ashanti African Tours was the quality of the guide & driver, their strength in depth (brilliant organisation through their office, which is in Cape Coast, Ghana – and as shown by them getting a replacement vehicle and driver for us by 7am one morning when our 4×4 was found to have a fuel leak when Kojo our usual driver did his 5.45am check; Kojo & 4×4 back as usual 24 hours later!), amazing local knowledge, and knowing that you were part of a Ghanaian company, supporting Ghanaian businesses and communities, and ensuring that prospects were improved for people & wildlife together, especially at the Picathartes site.

On the tour every day was memorable, so it was the sheer welter of amazing experiences which is my standout recollection of this brilliant 17 days. Of course I enjoyed my birding friend standing in a driver ant column, and having to wade through seasonal flooding in his trainers when I had wellies, but outstanding views & exciting moments with Dwarf Crocodile, West African Crocodile, Rock Python, Elephant, Pel’s Anomalure, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Yellow & Black-casqued Hornbills, Dwarf Bittern, Long-tailed Hawk, Red-fronted Antpecker, Thick-billed Honeyguide, Tessman’s Flycatcher, Sooty Boubou, Akun Eagle-owl & Pearl-spotted Owlet (and so many more) all make me glow with happiness at the memories. A certain Yellow-headed Picathartes didn’t disappoint either…

For people considering the trip I’d say Go! The diversity of Ghana’s wildlife is wonderful, and by going with Ashanti African Tours you’ll be in the very best hands. They have incredible local bird guides like James Ntakor – the sharpest eyes, best ears and most talented birder I’ve ever been in the field with, whilst our driver, Kojo Frimpong was also great. We learnt so much by going around with locals, getting an insight into customs, the way of life and social & environmental pressures. The commitment to ecotourism is outstanding, through support of wardening (Egyptian Plover), school provision (at two great sites) and much more. You’ll get an incredible bird list, getting brilliant views of many stunning forest, wetland and savannah species, whilst supporting the company’s own conservation and education work, and investing in Ghana’s National Park network. I could go back there again and again. Julian Branscombe, Ghana (17 days) – birding July/Aug 2017.

• Experience of the tour = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to conservation = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to local communities = 5/5
• The education the tour = 5/5

Images

Contact

Tour Operator | Ashanti African Tours
Contact Name | Mark Williams
Contact Email | [email protected]
Website | http://ashantiafricantours.com/
Tour | http://ashantiafricantours.com/ghana-birding-nature-tours/

Featured image: Yellow-headed Picathartes (Photo credit Lucas Lombardo).

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