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GABON

Gabon Birding Tours: Our Gabon bird watching holiday explores one of the richest countries in Western Africa for birds. Gabon is one of the most expensive countries for tourism in Africa, thanks to its oil and mineral wealth, but the upside here is fantastic forest and wetland birding in an under-populated country with a fairly good infrastructure and lots of superb habitat remaining. One of Africa’s ultimate birds, the much-wanted African River Martin, breeds here and we will be there to see it, while a host of other great African rainforest and savanna species put the delicious icing on a great birding cake.

Sunday 8th September — Friday 27th September 2019
(20 days)


Leaders: Patrice Christy and a second leader

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and mostly comfortable accommodations

The dapper Forbes's Plover is often found on short grass rather than by muddy pools and is a regular if uncommon visitor to the Lopé National Park (Nik Borrow)

The dapper Forbes's Plover is often found on short grass rather than by muddy pools and is a regular if uncommon visitor to the Lopé National Park (Nik Borrow)

GABON BIRDING TOUR: OVERVIEW

Gabon, a small, unknown and under-birded Western African country sandwiched between Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and the Congo, has a human population of only one and a half million and a remarkable wealth of minerals that has given the country one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa (and probably the highest cost of living on the continent). Even more remarkably these days, it is still 70% covered by pristine, primeval rainforest. The Gabonese jungle belt, the biggest intact forest area in all of Africa and one of the biggest in the world, has the highest diversity of tree and bird species for a given area anywhere in the continent (with over 670 bird species recorded from the country). Just one small region that we will visit in the northeast, the Ivindo Basin, holds more than 430 bird species, mostly forest dwellers, and is probably the richest single forest locality for birds in Africa. Gabon birding tours may still be a rarity, but they visit one of the richest places for birding in Africa.

This then is a special birding tour for those interested in seeing the little-known birds of a seldom-visited corner of west-central Africa.

Our Gabon birding tour starts on the mainland African coast in Gabon, at the modern, ocean-side city of Libreville, from where we shall head eastwards into Gabon’s interior.

In the Ivindo Basin in the northeast we will be birding in some truly magnificent rainforest, protected by the Ipassa Reserve, part of the huge Ivindo National Park, that is home to an extraordinary variety of Western African rainforest bird species, including the diminutive African Piculet, the localized Gosling’s Apalis, the beautiful Rachel’s Malimbe and the rare Yellow-capped Weaver.

Although we will spend much of our time in Gabon in forest habitats, an area in the far southeast of the country near the Congo Highlands holds many grassland species in a mosaic habitat consisting of grassland, stunted heathland and woodland. Here, near the town of Lékoni, we will wander over the plains in search of Finsch’s Francolin, Congo Moor Chat and the localized Black-chinned Weaver, and check the forest edge for Black-headed Bee-eater.

Next we explore the magnificent Lopé National Park. Here the many specialities include Bates’s Nightjar and the localized Dja River Scrub Warbler, whilst overhead we may hear the thrumming of the Lyre-tailed Honeyguide’s display flight and watch this remarkable species as it performs.

Along the meandering Ogooué River (which virtually cuts Gabon in two) we will look out for the handsome Grey Pratincole.

During the wonderful finale to this rewarding tour, we will make our way to Loango National Park on Gabon’s Atlantic coast. This seldom visited area is a real gem, and gives us our best opportunity to see the strange-looking and highly-desired African River Martin. Whilst exploring the rivers and gallery forests we should also come across a number of other inviting species, including the rarely-seen White-crested Tiger Heron, both the rare Vermiculated Fishing Owl and the impressive Pel’s Fishing Owl, Hartlaub’s Duck, the scarce Forbes’s Plover, the superb Rosy Bee-eater, the beautiful Violet-tailed Sunbird and the localized Loango Weaver. The area is also good for mammals, with Forest Elephant, African Forest Buffalo, Hippopotamus, several species of monkeys and even the possibility of Chimpanzee and Western Lowland Gorilla.

By the time we finally return to Libreville we will have seen a superb selection of Western African birds in one of the few countries in the region where pristine wilderness is not just a memory.

Patrice Christy is the leading ornithologist in Gabon and the best qualified and most knowledgeable bird guide for this poorly-known country. Patrice is resident in Gabon and has unrivalled knowledge of both Gabonese bird vocalizations and the sites where the country’s specialities are to be found.

Birdquest has operated birding tours to Gabon since 1995.

GABON BIRDING TOUR: GENERAL INFORMATION

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges in Gabon are mostly of good or even very good standard. At Ipassa Reserve we stay at the simple research station, where some rooms have shared bathroom facilities. Road transport is by small coach and 4x4s. Road conditions vary from good to poor.

Walking: The walking effort during our Gabon birding tour is mostly easy.

Climate: The weather in Gabon will be hot (and often humid), with dry and sunny weather interspersed with overcast and rainy spells.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Gabon tour are worthwhile.

Can be taken together with: SÃO TOMÉ & PRÍNCIPE

GABON BIRDING TOUR: TOUR PRICE INFORMATION

Gabon Birding Tour Prices: Prices in Gabon are very high, but there are reasons for this. In the first place some accommodations in Gabon are surprisingly expensive, as is transport for tourism purposes. Prices are driven upwards here by there being only a very limited infrastructure of hotels and lodges, and imported vehicles are very costly. Secondly, and even more importantly, there are only a very limited number of local agents that specialize in eco-tourism, so they can determine price levels.

Tour Price: £7990, €9030, $11020 Libreville/Libreville. Single Room Supplement: £665, €751, $916. Deposit: £1000, €1200, $1400.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Base prices for this tour are in Euros. The exchange rates used are: £1 = €1.130 and €1 = $1.220.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Quailfinches can be seen on the rolling grasslands in la Lopé National Park although it is usually not so easy to see them on the ground (Nik Borrow)

Quailfinches can be seen on the rolling grasslands in la Lopé National Park although it is usually not so easy to see them on the ground (Nik Borrow)

The view over the Ivindo River from Ipassa Reserve (Nik Borrow)

The view over the Ivindo River from Ipassa Reserve (Nik Borrow)

We shall be on the lookout for the unobtrusive Congo Serpent Eagle as we travel around Gabon (Nik Borrow)

We shall be on the lookout for the unobtrusive Congo Serpent Eagle as we travel around Gabon (Nik Borrow)

A sighting of a Sjöstedt’s Owlet is possible in Ipassa Reserve (Nik Borrow)

A sighting of a Sjöstedt’s Owlet is possible in Ipassa Reserve (Nik Borrow)

White-crested Hornbills are spectacular forest dwelling species often encountered following troops of monkeys (Nik Borrow)

White-crested Hornbills are spectacular forest dwelling species often encountered following troops of monkeys (Nik Borrow)

Stunning Black-bellied Seedcrackers favour the weedy roadside verges and can often be seen hurtling across the roads (Nik Borrow)

Stunning Black-bellied Seedcrackers favour the weedy roadside verges and can often be seen hurtling across the roads (Nik Borrow)

Perrin’s Bush-shrike was a recent addition to the Gabonese list and is one of a number of specialties to be looked for at Lékoni (Nik Borrow)

Perrin’s Bush-shrike was a recent addition to the Gabonese list and is one of a number of specialties to be looked for at Lékoni (Nik Borrow)

The glorious Black-headed Bee-eater is a somewhat sluggish species that all too easily blends in to the forest edge habitat that is its home (Nik Borrow)

The glorious Black-headed Bee-eater is a somewhat sluggish species that all too easily blends in to the forest edge habitat that is its home (Nik Borrow)

Blue-breasted Bee-eaters are common and easy to see at Lopé and frequent the open grasslands around the hotel (Nik Borrow)

Blue-breasted Bee-eaters are common and easy to see at Lopé and frequent the open grasslands around the hotel (Nik Borrow)

The piebald Congo Moorchat is a conspicuous species of the open grasslands at Lékoni (Nik Borrow)

The piebald Congo Moorchat is a conspicuous species of the open grasslands at Lékoni (Nik Borrow)

We should have little trouble seeing the Long-legged Pipit as it runs across the lawns outside our hotel at Lopé (Nik Borrow)

We should have little trouble seeing the Long-legged Pipit as it runs across the lawns outside our hotel at Lopé (Nik Borrow)

The restricted range Gosling’s Apalis can be found along the waterways of interior Gabon (Nik Borrow)

The restricted range Gosling’s Apalis can be found along the waterways of interior Gabon (Nik Borrow)

An enjoyable boat trip along the waterways leads us into good habitat for the rare and localized Loango Weaver (Nik Borrow)

An enjoyable boat trip along the waterways leads us into good habitat for the rare and localized Loango Weaver (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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