Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 Day 8

Species list

Text only

 



 



     Introduction

Ghana in Africa map
We had visited Ghana 2 years previously, covering the “coastal strip” of the Gold Coast and part of the Ashanti region for a week. The birding and the experience of the country in general were superb, so we decided on another week back in the country, this time focusing on the North. Much of the birding in the South is forest birding, at locations such as Kakum and Bobiri, although it is not quite as difficult or time consuming as some forest birding elsewhere in the world. The habitat in the North offers more open bush, with a chance to see a different mix of species, and also many more mammals than further down. Some, if not many, groups take more time and cover both areas in one. This would give a great blend of species and habitats, as well as an impressive 300-400 list, but the downside is the distance that would often need to be covered. This would in effect traverse the whole of the country, from the coast to the far North-eastern birder with Burkina Faso. Many of the roads are in good condition, although you need to expect a multitude of potholes, and very rough tracks in some places. The far North-east, when based at Bolgatanga for sites such as Tono Dam are good examples of this, and reaching them on a morning or late afternoon can take an hour or two.

The vanAs last time, we employed the services of Kalu Afasi (or the World Famous Kalu as we renamed him following his appearance in the Big Year). We found him previously on the Birdingpaltours website (birdingpaltours.com), and he was excellent. He organised everything including vehicle, driver, accommodation, food, drink, park fees, etc. No Ghanaian Cedis are necessary, apart from the odd tip you get tripped on in local washrooms, etc). Apart from when he is leading a tour, which is understandable, he is good at replying to emails, and will adjust the itinerary to both suit yourselves, and also the prevailing conditions and presence of the birds. For our tour, he was in the Northern area for a few days beforehand, and had also scouted out new sites some months previously. Previously we had been driven round in an open back Nissan truck 4x4 with 4 seats, but had found our rear seats too confining for longer drives, so he listened and hired a 7 seater van this time. Loads of room! With the concentration on the North, the best plan was to land at Accra (early evening for us), kip there overnight, and then take an internal flight to Tamale, the main airport for the locations we were to cover. Two airlines are available – Starbow and South African Airways. Both seem to run a morning service, so we plumped for Starbow, booking in ourselves on their website from the UK, and paying the princely sum of £60 each for a 7am flight landing at 8.10am. Straight out of the wonderful little airport, into the awaiting van with Kalu and Jonathan the driver, and we were roadside birding on the way to our first accommodation by morning. No return journey was booked – we made our way down via birding sites through the week.

 

Kalu in Mole

Kalu Afasi, your local Birdingpal guide (from Birdingpaltours website)

Kalu Afasi is a highly experienced tour guide and has led tours for many companies in Ghana. His love of birds and his identification skills of the birds of West African are exceptional, as is his knowledge of where to find them.

Kalu was taught the science and art of birdwatching by a Danish birdwatcher by name Jens Byskov. After receiving his first lesson from Jens, Kalu attached himself to David Daramani, who himself has birded in Ghana for close to 40 years. His youthfulness and sense of humour makes him the best.

(image to the left shows his perfect fieldcraft in avoiding the sweat bees of Mole!!!)

kalu_afasi@yahoo.com


     Accommodation

The two main places we stayed were Bolgatanga in the North, and within Mole National Park. Other hotels were purely functional, but Kalu tries to arrange for air conditioning and food on site. The Accra hotel we used for the first and last nights had the added convenience of WiFi and a shower which had a decent force and hot water.

Hotel Ex-Tee Crystal, Bolgatanga

Bolgatanga seems to be the optimum place to stay for the north-easternmost sites, since the border with Burkina Faso isn’t much further. It is set just back from the main road through the town, with a little open land surrounding it, although there is only limited bird life here. The rooms are certainly a step up from basic, with electricity sockets in each, and free wifi. We also had a functioning air conditioning unit which was more than workable. We were promised request breakfast to go for 6am both mornings, and while the pack containing bacon, veg, boiled egg and bread was more than adequate, it predictably came well after 6.

Ex-tee Crystal Hotel
Mole Hotel

Mole Hotel

Up until recently, this was probably the only option for accommodation at Mole – Kalu had even had a phone call the day before checking if we were still coming, presumably in case they had more late bookings. The location in the park is excellent, situated high above part of the park and looking down on a large pool (usually occupied by Elephant, Kob, and Baboons) surrounded by the typical bush of the park. The reception and restaurant sit next to a pool, but this is backed by the edge of the bush and trees leading down the hill – some good birds were found here during our post lunch breaks. The rooms are again comfortable, with reasonable air conditioning. The water was probably more off than on, hence the extra buckets of clean water on standby in the bathroom, with the shower no more than a trickle. No WiFi this time though. While there is an electric fence around the front car park and reception, this doesn’t enclose the whole of the hotel, so no surprise at the through traffic of Baboons, Green Monkeys, Wart-hogs, and the occasional Bushbuck. The food is okay here, but the two downsides are the cost (£10 for a pizza) and the amount of time it takes to come. A useful tip is to order the food before going out on a trip. That being said the portions are huge – we found a pizza was enough for 2 on an evening, and sharing sandwiches on a lunchtime also good planning.

 

     Identification guides

I have had the Birds of Western Africa by Borrow and Demey (Helm field guides) for some time, and used this. It needs sifting through for the likely species, since it by definition covers a large area. The map areas for each bird concerning their distribution in Ghana is thus small, and while usually quite accurate, can’t always be totally relied on accuracy when compiling s list of likely birds. A much better bet is the Helm Guide to the Birds of Ghana, which is much more accurate having maps dedicated to the country, and slightly more embellished descriptions.

     Tips


    The plugs for electricity are the UK 3 pin type

    Biting insects weren’t too much of a problem in the far North, and little more of a nuisance in the South. The Mole sweat bees are a different matter. They come out to pester late afternoon and can be persistent around the head. They don’t sting but they, along with other attendant flies etc, are a nuisance. 50% deet seemed to keep them at bay

    Drinking water should be by the bottle, especially when the first tap we used offered brown coloured liquid. Kalu supplied plenty of this

    We did our birding up to about 11am and started again 4pm plus. During other parts of the day, it was very hot (low 30’sC) and the birds didn’t come out to play

    Police checks are a nuisance – get used to them because they are a plague. Although they aren’t usually checking for our type of vehicle, carrying your passport is useful (we were asked once)

     

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 Day 8

Species list

Text only