Bird watching in Cameroon

BIRD WATCHING IN CAMEROON

PROPOSED ITINERARY BIRDING TRIP, FOR BIRDING ECOTOURS SOUTH AFRICA CAMEROON ENDEMIC BIRDING

Cameroon is situated in the border area between West and Central Africa. You will find a diversity of biotopes like the mangroves and tropical lowland jungle near the coast, African mountain forests in the North West, savanna plateaus in the Mid North and the dry desert Sahel in the Extreme North. This diversity offers an enormous variety in bird life of more than 900 species in the entire country of which 26 endemic bird species. The Cameroon endemic birding tour focuses on the lowland jungle and the mountain forests in the West of the country where you can find all the species endemic to Cameroon. During this 2 – week trip we will travel through the low land jungle and the mountain woods and get to know the impressive diversity in birds, animals, plants, people and cultures. It goes without saying that the endemic have our prime attention and we will see a great number of unique birds in their natural but very endangered habitat.

Day 1.

Arrival and welcome by Zwinkels Tours Cameroon and transfer to Hotel La Falaise Douala and overnight

Day 2. Limbe (good tarred road)

After breakfast we travel to Limbe, a small seaside resort near the coast at the foot of Mount Cameroon. On the way we make several stops to look for a.o. the African Finfoot. In the afternoon we visit the beautiful Botanical Gardens of Limbe. These gardens were laid out by the Germans who used it as an agricultural experimental/research station. Now it is a peaceful and quiet oasis with impressive trees, a murmuring brook and many birds. Here we specially look for the many sunbirds, like Reichenbachs, Carmelites, and the Brown and Green headed sunbird. We can also find the beautiful Western Bluebill and the Cassin’s Flycatcher and we try to nominate as many Greenbuls as possible. We overnight in the Seme Beach hotel, a comfortable hotel at the beach. Time for a dive in the waters of the Atlantic or a cool drink on the terrace with a view on a colony of Slender billed weavers.

Day 3: Mount Cameroon (good tarred road)

Today the real work starts with a trek on Mount Cameroon, with 4100 m the second highest mountain in Africa and home to an exceptionally rich and unique flora and fauna. Our goal is the unique mountain woods circling the mountain between 1000 and 2000 m. Here we stand a good chance to see some species endemic to the West African Mountain Woods like the Western Montane Greenbul, Cameroon Sunbird, Green Longtail, Oriole Finch and Thickbill Finch. In the shrubs along the path we hear and with some patience we will see the African Hill Babbler and the Evergreen Forest Warbler, both in a variety endemic to Mount Cameroon. At the edge of the forest we have the chance to see the Mountain Saw-wing also unique for this mountain and along the path we can see the Mountain Robi Chat, again a Mount Cameroon sub species. Other endemic species that we might see on Mount Cameroon are Yellow White-eyer (Mountain White eye), Little Oliveback, Yellow breasted boubou. We walk to the where the forest changes into savannah and where we can see Mount Cameroon Speirops, a bird that exclusively belongs to Mount Cameroon. The Mount Cameroon Francolin can only be seen after a 3 day trek at the other side of the mountain and this bird is not likely to be seen during this day. We return to Limbe Beach hotel for overnight

Day 4: Travel day to Korup Park (long day and very bad road)

Very early after breakfast we leave to the Korup Park, with a list of more than 300 bird species, a must on this trip. From Ekondo Titi we travel along a beautiful lowland jungle road to Mundemba, the entry point of the Korup Park. Here we have to organize the entry certificates and we make acquaintance with the compulsory Park guide. We overnight in a basic tourist hotel.

Day 5: Korup Park (hot and damp/slippery conditions and long walks in the park)

Early in the morning we enter the park via a long hanging bridge over the Mana River, one of the few places in Cameroon where you might see the Rock Pratincole. Over the river fly the first hornbills, the best area in the park where you get a good sight of these birds. At the other side of the bridge a completely different world awaits us. The path takes us through a thick forest of undergrowth, trees and creepers full of different scents and sounds or complete stillness. Not much light penetrates to the bottom of this forest and therefore it takes a lot of concentration, patience and luck to spot birds but once we are used to the environment we will hear and see a lot of Greenbuls like Ictarine, Xaviers, Golden, Spotted, Redtailed and Honeyguide Greenbuls. Somewhat higher up the trees we may see different Flycatchers and Wattle-eyes and perhaps even a Rufous-sided Broadbill, Blue throated Roller, Bare-cheeked Trogon and different species Drongo’s and Malimbes. At open spots in the forest we look for the Square tailed Sawwing, Sabine’s and Cassin’s Spinetail and other swallows. Along the small rivulets and brooks the Shining blue and Malachite Kingfishers are hunting. Depending on how late we arrive, we can visit the Picathartes Knoll at twilight. At this mysterious spot in the jungle lies a massive rock where a breeding colony of the perhaps most extraordinary bird of the lowland forest is to be found: the Grey-necked Picathartes. We overnight in basic huts in the Rengo Camp in the middle of the jungle along a small crystal clear river.

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Bridge over the Mana River Korup Park

Day 6: Korup Park

Today we spend in the park and via some well passable paths we look for the various lowland birds. Depending on how we feel we can leave early at dusk to the Rengo Rock to see the many Hornbills fly to the fruit trees in the jungle. Alternatively we can trek into the jungle looking for the many small birds in the undergrowth which you can only spot with a lot of patience. This evening we try to spot Night Swallows and Owls around the Rengo Camp. Overnight in the Rengo Camp

Day 7: Korup Park

Today we slowly walk from the park back to civilization. On our way we look out for the vicious Soldier Ants, rapacious ants that cross the jungle in meters wide columns and attack everything that comes in their way: insects, worms, mice, snakes. Various Alethes (Fire crested), Greenbuls, Flycatchers (African Paradis, Sooty, Red bellied Paradise) and other opportunists catch the roused insects and show themselves well. Near the hanging bridge we watch the hornbills for the last time before we drive back to our hotel in Mundemba. Overnight in Mundemba.

Day 8: Travel day to Mount Kupe (long day and very bad road)

Today we will be en route to Mount Kupe where we will arrive in the afternoon. On the way we make many stops near rivers and forest patches where we may see the Black Coucal, Congo Serpent Eagle, Sabine’s Spintail and whatever luck may bring us. We make a lunch stop at Lake Barombi, a crater lake near Kumba and a fine spot to have a refreshing swim or a last time visit to the lowland forest along the shores of the lake. We overnight in a guesthouse in Nyasoso.

Day 9: Excursion Mount Kupe

Mount Kupe comes third on the list of most popular birding destinations in Africa (African Bird Club). The reason is the exceptional density of special and unique bird species on this lonely, forest covered mountain. First price is the Mount Kupe Bush Shrike, a bird only recently discovered in 1949. Only 7 breeding couples exist on Mount Kupe. These birds were also found in the 15 km further away Bakossi Mountains, but nowhere else in Cameroon. Furthermore we can look for other specialties like Mountain Babbler, Bate’s Sunbird, Bar-tailed Trogon and White-tailed Warbler. Overnight in the guesthouse in Nyasoso.

Day 10: Mount Kupe

A full day bird spotting at Mount Kupe overnight in the guesthouse in Nyasoso

Day 11: Excursion Bakossi Mountains (reasonable road in the dry season)

Early in the morning we depart to Bangem, a small village in the Bakossi Mountains, a relatively little explored area where a few years ago the Mount Kupe Bush Shrike was found. The bird population here is comparable to that of Mount Kupe but the area is much less steep and therefore an excellent location to spot the species that we might have missed at Mount Kupe. Overnight in a tourist hotel in Bangem.

2Manengouba crater lake (man lake)

Day 12. Excursion to the Manengouba Crater Lakes

In the morning we drive to the old volcano Manengouba. On top of the volcano in the caldera lies a stretch of grassland with many grassland birds, like Plain backed Pipit, Grassland Pipit, Long legged Pipit. Also migrant birds of prey visit this area. In the caldera lie two crater lakes, both encircled by mountain forest. Next to the savanna species we also find the Mountain Endemics here. We specially look for water birds (Black African duck), Bee eaters (Blue breasted) and Cisticola’s. The view at the top of the caldera is breath taking indeed. In the afternoon we continue our trip to Bamenda and Belo, in the heart of the African Mountain Forest. Overnight in Zwinkels Mountain Lodge Belo.

Day 13. Excursion Bamenda Highlands-Belo (good tarred road and reasonable road in dry season)

Today we walk through a pleasant landscape of forested valleys and grass covered hills. This change in biotope guarantees a wide scale of birds, but our first goal of course is to see the Bannerman’s Turaco and the Banded Wattle-eye, both endemic to this forest area. Unfortunately the mountain forests in this region have recently come under severe pressure from the increasing population and agriculture and some species are threatened to become extinct. All endemic species of the mountain forest however are represented in adequate numbers. At the end of our walk a grotto with hundreds of bats awaits us. Overnight at Zwinkels Mountain Lodge Belo.

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Bannerman’s Turaco

Day 14: Belo-Lake Awing, and return to Douala (good tarred road and reasonable road in dry season)

On our last day we visit the forest once more. This time we go to the shores of a small crater lake in the neighborhood of Bamenda, Lake Awing. All the endemic mountain birds can be found here and we stand a good chance to complete our list of endemics here. In the afternoon we return, with some necessary stop on the way, to Douala.In the evening departure of our flight to……

Extension 1: to the North of Cameroon Or Day 14: Belo -Yaounde-Ngaoundere (good tarred road)

departure to Yaounde to take the evening train to Ngaoundere. Overnight on the train.

Day 15. Ngaoundere-Ngaoundaba (good road)

Arrival in Ngaoundere in the morning and departure to Ngaoundaba. Ngaoundaba Ranch is a former hunting lodge set on the rim of a dormant volcano. After some rest we’ll spend time in the afternoon birding some of the habitats here. Overnight at Ngaoundaba Ranch.

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Ngaoundaba Ranch

Day 16: Ngaoundaba

Entire day around the crater lake and surroundings birding all habitats including gallery forest, marshland, a crater lake, and open woodland. In the gallery forest we hope to see Ross’s Turaco, Gray-winged Robin Chat, Spotted Thrush Babbler, Puvel’s Illadopsis, and the charismatic Oriole Warbler, while forest edge and marsh could produce Marsh Tchagra, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, and Dybowski’s and Brown Twinspots. In the open woodlands we’ll look for Schlegel’s Francolin and Brown-chested Lapwing, and we can also expect to find White-collared Starling, White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Black-necked Weaver, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, and Black-capped Babbler. Night at Ngaoundaba Ranch.

Day 17-18: Ngaoundaba- Benoue national Park (good partly tarred road)

After a morning’s birding close to the ranch, we’ll drive to Benoue National Park, birding in the savanna woodlands along the way, where we expect to see Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Lesser Blue-eared Starling, Senegal Parrot, and Black-bellied Firefinch.Our base for the next day will be Campement du Buffle Noir. We’ll bird in the riparian forest and miombo-like woodlands, where we can expect to find Adamawa Turtle Dove, Gray Pratincole, the striking Egyptian Plover, Emin’s Shrike, White-crested and Violet Turacos, Bearded Barbet, Grasshopper Buzzard, Stone Partridge, Abyssinian and Blue-bellied Rollers, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Senegal Eremomela, and White-throated Francolin. 2 overnights in Campement de Buffle Noir Benoue Park.

Day 19: Benoue Park-Ngaoundere-Yaounde (good partly tarred road)

In the afternoon we’ll return to Ngaoundere to take the train again to Yaounde. Overnight on the train.

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Benoue Park

Day 20 Yaoundé

Arrival in Yaounde in the morning and transfer from Yaounde to Douala with some stops on the way, a.o. a stop at the Sanaga River at Edea, where we should find Gray Pratincole and African. Skimmer. Arrival Douala in the afternoon and transfer to the airport for departure flight to……..

Extension 2 : 3 days on Mount Cameroon to look for the Mount Cameroon Francolin Mount Cameroon ( Participants need to be very fit as steep climbing is involved.)

For much of the year western Africa’s loftiest mountain (4,095 m) is concealed under a dense blanket of cloud. Rising steeply from the Atlantic Ocean, warm, moist air is trapped along the seaward slopes, each year pouring more than 10 m of rain onto its well-leached soils. The northern slopes are the driest and most accessible, harbouring a number of endemics restricted to the mountain: Mount Cameroon Francolin, Mount Cameroon Speirops and Mountain Saw-wing (the latter also on Bioko), and a total of 18 EBA endemics.

The biodiversity of Mount Cameroon has recently come under severe pressure from agriculture, excessive burning and hunting. Once the lower slopes of the mountain were covered in a swathe of dense forest, which continued into the lowlands. Now agriculture is pushing higher up the mountain, forcing the forest into a narrower and more degraded belt. Still, productive forests holding most of the endemics can be found away from Buea, particularly on the north-west slope, in some places spanning an altitudinal range of 900-1,600 m. Here, Mount Cameroon Francolin still skulks in the primary forest undergrowth, only occasionally coming to the forest edge. Ten years ago a lucky few could see them on the very rough track to the radio mast above Buea, but now they are only to be reliably found on the less-intensely hunted north-western slopes, where they are still difficult to observe. It is not easy to visit this remote area – one needs to hire a guide, hike a long way and camp in the forest – but the sight of one of these rare birds stalking through the forest undergrowth is an unforgettable experience.

(includes 1 night in Douala and 3 days 2 nights on Mnt Cameroon).

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Mount Cameroon

All itineraries may be changed by us if necessary.Prices are subject to the number of PAX and can be given on request. Please contact Marcelle Zwinkels in the Netherlands (mzwinkels@yahoo.com)


Information Bird watching in Cameroon

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