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ULTIMATE CAMEROON

The best birding in West Africa

Birdquest's Ultimate Cameroon birding tour is surely not just the best Cameroon tour there is but even 'the ultimate West African birdwatching trip'. There is simply no other birding tour to the region that comes close. Our Ultimate Cameroon tour has the most comprehensive itinerary available and produces more West African specialities than any other tour. A wonderful bonus in Cameroon is an excellent chance of seeing members of three or four monotypic or very small bird families, including the sought-after Grey-necked Rockfowl or Red-headed Picathartes, Quail-Plover (either treated as a monotypic family or placed in buttonquails), Egyptian Plover and Grey-chested Babbler (now placed in the Dapple-throat & Allies family).

Thursday 15th March — Saturday 7th April 2018
(24 days)


Korup Extension: Saturday 7th April — Wednesday 11th April (5 days)

Leader: Pete Morris

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy to moderate walking for the most part, accommodations range from comfortable to simple (partly basic on the extension)

Colourful Abyssinian Rollers are common and easy to see in the far north of the country (Nik Borrow)

Colourful Abyssinian Rollers are common and easy to see in the far north of the country (Nik Borrow)

THE DIRE SECURITY SITUATION IN NORTHERN CAMEROON, WHICH HAS MADE THE AREA VERY DANGEROUS FOR FOREIGN VISITORS, HAS CONTINUED UP TO THE TIME OF WRITING (JANUARY 2017). REPEATED ATTACKS, MURDERS AND KIDNAPPINGS BY BOKO HARAM INSURGENTS FROM NEIGHBOURING NIGERIA OVER RECENT YEARS, AND ARMED HIGHWAY ROBBERY AS A RESULT OF GENERAL LAWLESSNESS, HAVE RENDERED NORTHERN CAMEROON (FROM THE GAROUA REGION NORTH THROUGH THE MAROUA REGION AND WAZA NATIONAL PARK) A DEFINITE 'NO-GO' AREA FOR BIRDERS, WITH NO-TRAVEL WARNINGS IN PLACE FROM THE UK, US AND ALL OTHER MAJOR WESTERN GOVERNMENTS. WE ARE HOPING THE SITUATION WILL IMPROVE ENOUGH TO OPERATE A TOUR IN 2018, BUT WE WILL ONLY OPERATE THIS FABULOUS BIRDQUEST TOUR ONCE THE SECURITY SITUATION IN THE NORTH ALLOWS FOR A SAFE VISIT.

Cameroon, lying a little north of the Equator, straddles the geographical dividing line between West and Central Africa. This marvellous country, immortalized for all wildlife enthusiasts by Gerald Durrell’s memorable account of his zoo collecting expedition ‘The Bafut Beagles’, offers the most exciting birding in West Africa. Nearly 900 species have been recorded from the country, far more than from any other comparable area in West Africa, and at least 25 endemic or near-endemic species (depending on the vagaries of modern taxonomy) grace this impressive total.

Cameroon’s avian treasure house stems directly from a wealth of habitats combined with the long isolation of its southwestern highlands from other upland areas in Africa. The northern panhandle of Cameroon extends deep into the Sahel, the semi-desert zone immediately south of the Sahara, reaching as far as the shores of Lake Chad, while in the south, where the country abuts the Gulf of Guinea and the Congo basin, the climate is equatorial and the natural vegetation is primary rainforest and humid montane forest.

Not only is Cameroon a land of natural diversity, but also a country with a rich cultural tradition dating back many centuries. From the heraldic carved designs of the palaces of the Fons in the Bamenda Highlands to the vivid colours of the dresses of the market traders, the vigorously executed handicrafts and the rhythm of the local music, Cameroon is a constant reminder of the vibrancy of West African culture.

With the richest avifauna of any West African country, Cameroon has become a classic destination and one that any birder who has visited other regions of Africa will be tempted to explore. Our comprehensive journey through this fantastic country has been specifically designed to sample all of its major habitats, and importantly have enough time in them to do really well, so as a direct result it produce more Cameroon and West African specialities than any other bird tour. By the end of our search for Cameroon’s numerous specialities we shall have seen a remarkable series of rarely seen birds and over 600 species in total!

After a brief exploration in the Douala region for Hartlaub’s Duck, we will continue southwards towards the Equatorial Guinea border and pay a visit to Campo Ma’an National Park. The rain forest here will give us a good introduction to widespread forest species but it is here that we will have our best chance of seeing one of the strangest birds that inhabits the entire continent the bizarre Red-headed (or Grey-necked) Picathartes. The site holds more breeding pairs than localities visited in previous years and the closest site to see the birds is an ‘easy’ ten minutes walk from the vehicles. (In contrast to Korup with its 8-kilometre or 5 mile hike to get into the area and camping under a bush shelter!)

We will return to the Sanaga River at Edéa with its exposed sandbanks that are home to good numbers of Grey Pratincole and African Skimmers. As we near the capital Yaoundé we hope to hunt out two Central African speciality greenbuls, Yellow-necked Greenbul and Yellow-throated Nicator.

Next we shall head for northernmost Cameroon, including Waza National Park, where Clapperton’s Francolins scurry away from the roadsides and herds of Topi, Roan Antelope, Kordofan Giraffe and occasionally African Elephant may be found along with the impressive Arabian Bustard. Other specialities in this superb area of arid savanna, bushland and marshes include the strange Quail-plover, the spectacular Black Crowned Crane, Cricket Warbler, River Prinia, Sennar Penduline Tit and if we are lucky Savile’s Bustard and Little Grey Woodpecker. Rocky inselbergs in this region are home to two restricted range firefinches, Rock and (further south) Chad Firefinch and we will be making an effort to find both of them.

From the far north we will gradually move southwards into greener, more wooded terrain. First we will visit Bénoué National Park, where the attractive riverine woodland provides sanctuary for species such as Adamawa Turtle Dove, Violet Turaco, Bearded Barbet, White-cheeked Oliveback and the marvellous Oriole Warbler (or Moho). The sandy riverbeds are home to the exquisite Egyptian Plover and the enormous Pel’s Fishing Owl is sometimes seen along its banks. The dry woodland is home to White-throated Francolin, Dorst’s Cisticola, West African (split from Streaky-headed) Seedeater and Brown-rumped Bunting.

Next we climb onto the verdant Adamawa Plateau with its mosaic of woodland, rivers and grassland. Here we will stay at a ranch overlooking a pretty crater-lake that is one of the few known localities for the rare Bamenda Apalis and where the evening roosting flights of thousands of egrets and starlings (including the localized White-collared Starling) are truly spectacular. Other specialities include Spotted Thrush Babbler and Dybowski’s Twinspot. There is also a chance of Brown-chested Lapwing and the rarely encountered Schlegel’s Francolin.

We will fly back south to Yaoundé and from here we will head northwest until we reach the intensively cultivated Bamenda Highlands in the formerly British sector of the country. Here some endemic birds, including the rare and beautiful Bannerman’s Turaco, Bangwa Forest Warbler, Banded Wattle-eye and Bannerman’s Weaver as well as Cameroon Olive Greenbul, Mountain Robin Chat, Green Longtail, Grey-chested Babbler (now placed with Spot-throat and Dapple-throat in its own family), Yellow-breasted Boubou, Green-breasted Bush-shrike, Cameroon Sunbird, and Shelley’s Oliveback cling to a precarious existence in the remaining patches of forest.

Next we will visit Mount Kupe, an isolated mountain that is home to some of the rarest birds in West Africa, most famously the Mount Kupe Bush-shrike, which in 1998 was also discovered in the nearby Bakossi Mountains. During our stay in the area, during which we will visit the Bakossi Mountains as well as explore Mount Kupe, we shall be on the lookout for this great rarity and we will also encounter many other montane forest specialities whilst doing so. In particular we will be hoping to add Fiery-breasted and Many-coloured to our bush-shrike list and also looking for endemic or near-endemic specialities such as Grey-headed Greenbul, Crossley’s Ground Thrush, White-tailed and Black-capped Woodland Warblers, White-throated Mountain Babbler and Ursula’s Sunbird.

Finally we will explore Mount Cameroon. Rising straight from the ocean to 4070m, this isolated peak (an active volcano) holds many montane specialities, in particular Cameroon Olive Pigeon, Mountain Saw-wing, Cameroon Scrub (split from Evergreen Forest) Warbler and the charming Mount Cameroon Speirops.

During the optional extension, after driving to Mundemba close to the Nigerian border, we will explore the magnificent Korup National Park where well over 300 species have already been recorded. We shall spend three days in the park exploring the forest along well-maintained trails and sleep overnight at a designated campsite. The forest at Korup has been estimated as being more than 60 million years old and we will be very aware of this as we walk beneath enormous trees that reach up to the heavens. The park has become famous for its colonies of Red-headed Picathartes (or Grey-necked Rockfowl) and we have another excellent chance of seeing this enigmatic bird during our visit. We should also be treated to a wide variety of other lowland rainforest species during our stay, including such specialities as the beautiful Bare-cheeked Trogon, the glorious Rachel’s Malimbe and Woodhouse’s (Red-headed) Antpecker. We also stand a good chance of encountering Vermiculated Fishing Owl and Sjöstedt’s Owlet, as well as shy forest kingfishers, leviathan-sized hornbills and an array of greenbuls, secretive illadopsis and alethes.

Join us for the very best tour of the very best country for birds in all of West Africa!

Birdquest has operated tours to Cameroon since 1990.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are mostly of good or medium standard, but some are at the simpler end of the scale (and in need of maintenance) and water and electricity supplies can be erratic. At Nyasoso (Mount Kupe) the accommodation is rather simple, consisting of rooms in one of the village houses, with fairly basic shared bathroom facilities. At Korup we camp for two nights in tents, with washing facilities being the local forest stream. Road transport is by minibus or 4x4 vehicles and the roads range from reasonable to bad.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy to moderate. Occasionally at Mount Kupe and in the Bakossi Mountains the trails are steep and narrow in places and the walking is quite demanding, especially given the high humidity.

Climate: In the north it will be hot (or even very hot) dry and sunny. Overcast conditions can occur, but rain is unlikely. In the southern lowlands it will be hot and very humid with dry and sunny weather interspersed with overcast and rainy spells. In the Bamenda Highlands, on Mount Cameroon and at Mount Kupe it will be decidedly cooler.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good in the north, worthwhile in the south.

These are provisional prices

Tour Price: £5390, €7380, $8520 Douala/Douala. Extension: £850, €1160, $1340.

Price includes all transportation (including Douala-Maroua and Garoua-Yaoundé flights), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.

Single Room Supplement: £506, €693, $799. Extension: £36, €49, $57 (excluding the two camping nights at Korup).

Deposit: £650, €900, $1050. Extension: £100, €150, $150.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.

We have never yet missed the unique Quail-plover on any of our Cameroon tours (Nik Borrow)

We have never yet missed the unique Quail-plover on any of our Cameroon tours (Nik Borrow)

The sight of a male Standard-winged Nightjar sporting its bizarre appendages is a memorable highlight of the tour (Nik Borrow)

The sight of a male Standard-winged Nightjar sporting its bizarre appendages is a memorable highlight of the tour (Nik Borrow)

A sighting of the incredible Red-headed Picathartes is one of the ultimate avian prizes on the tour (Nik Borrow)

A sighting of the incredible Red-headed Picathartes is one of the ultimate avian prizes on the tour (Nik Borrow)

The rare Bannerman’s Turaco is an endangered endemic and the ultimate prize out of the eight species of turaco to be seen on the tour (Nik Borrow)

The rare Bannerman’s Turaco is an endangered endemic and the ultimate prize out of the eight species of turaco to be seen on the tour (Nik Borrow)

The sublime Egyptian Plover or ‘Crocodile Bird’ is always a pleasure to watch and can be found easily in Bénoué NP (Nik Borrow)

The sublime Egyptian Plover or ‘Crocodile Bird’ is always a pleasure to watch and can be found easily in Bénoué NP (Nik Borrow)

Coveys of Clapperton’s Francolins can often be seen scurrying from the sides of the tracks in Waza NP (Nik Borrow)

Coveys of Clapperton’s Francolins can often be seen scurrying from the sides of the tracks in Waza NP (Nik Borrow)

The elusive Schlegel’s Francolin can sometimes be found by walking over the rolling countryside that surrounds the picturesque crater-lake at Ngaoundaba (Nik Borrow)

The elusive Schlegel’s Francolin can sometimes be found by walking over the rolling countryside that surrounds the picturesque crater-lake at Ngaoundaba (Nik Borrow)

Birdquest discovered the first records for Cameroon of the delightful Cricket Warbler in 1995 and it is now a regularly seen highlight of the tour (Nik Borrow)

Birdquest discovered the first records for Cameroon of the delightful Cricket Warbler in 1995 and it is now a regularly seen highlight of the tour (Nik Borrow)

The near-endemic Bamenda Apalis is one of the target birds to find at Ngaoundaba (Nik Borrow)

The near-endemic Bamenda Apalis is one of the target birds to find at Ngaoundaba (Nik Borrow)

Large numbers of Black Crowned Cranes frequent the plains and waterholes of Waza NP (Nik Borrow)

Large numbers of Black Crowned Cranes frequent the plains and waterholes of Waza NP (Nik Borrow)

The secretive Black Dwarf Hornbill is never easy to see in the extensive dark forests of Korup NP (Nik Borrow)

The secretive Black Dwarf Hornbill is never easy to see in the extensive dark forests of Korup NP (Nik Borrow)

Despite its size and far reaching calls the Green-breasted Bush-shrike is a regional endemic that can be difficult to track down (Nik Borrow)

Despite its size and far reaching calls the Green-breasted Bush-shrike is a regional endemic that can be difficult to track down (Nik Borrow)

The exquisitely marked Cameroon Olive Pigeon is a regional endemic (Nik Borrow)

The exquisitely marked Cameroon Olive Pigeon is a regional endemic (Nik Borrow)

The gorgeous White-throated Blue Swallow frequents the waterways  of southern Cameroon (Nik Borrow)

The gorgeous White-throated Blue Swallow frequents the waterways of southern Cameroon (Nik Borrow)

The localized Pale-fronted Negrofinch is often easy to see at Mount Kupé (Nik Borrow)

The localized Pale-fronted Negrofinch is often easy to see at Mount Kupé (Nik Borrow)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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