Welcome to Birdquest
Birdquest’s Somaliland & Djibouti birding tour is an exciting journey ‘off-the-beaten-track’ in the Horn of Africa. Somaliland is the former British colony of British Somaliland that was merged, against the will of its people, with Italian-ruled Somalia on decolonization and has since broken free of its troubled neighbour. Djibouti is a small, former French-ruled enclave at the mouth of the Red Sea. Enjoy some splendid eastern African birding, including a fine suite of endemics you either cannot see elsewhere or would have difficulty in doing so, while pioneering a new birdwatching destination. Mega-specialities include Archer’s Buzzard, Little Brown and Heuglin’s Bustards, Archer’s Francolin, Somali Pigeon, Somali, Collared and Lesser Hoopoe Larks, Somali Wheatear, Somali Thrush, Philippa’s Crombec, Somali Starling, Somali Sparrow, Somali Golden-winged Grosbeak and Warsangli Linnet. During our extension to the small country of Djibouti on the coast of the Gulf of Aden we will be looking for a further suite of specialities, including the endemic Djibouti Francolin, Crab-plover, Sooty and White-eyed Gulls, White-cheeked Tern, Somali Bulbul and Arabian Golden Sparrow.
Wednesday 24th October —
Tuesday 6th November 2018
Djibouti Extension: Tuesday 6th November — Saturday 10th November (5 days)
Leader: Mark Beaman
Group Size Limit: 9
Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part, with accommodations ranging from comfortable to basic
Warlords, pirates, chaos and lawlessness are all associated with Somalia. What isn’t widely appreciated is that the territory in the northwest that was once British Somaliland has since 1991 been separated from the rest of Somalia as ‘The Republic of Somaliland’. Although the territory‘s separate status is not yet recognized by the international community, this largely peaceful enclave doesn’t take kindly to being associated with Somalia‘s descent into anarchy. Somaliland is a pro-western Muslim country that is keen to welcome foreigners.
For those adventurous enough to join this unusual and pioneering tour, we have put together a really comprehensive itinerary to both Somaliland and Djibouti to look for the endemics and other restricted-range specialities of the region.
Outside of the towns, Somaliland is almost devoid of people and we can expect to travel through some amazing uninhabited and wilderness scenery with wide open vistas, volcanic desert landscapes, sweeping beaches and fragrant juniper forests as we make our way through this rarely visited country.
From Hargeisa we will visit an area of rocky hills that is home to the rare Beira Antelope. The small herd is monitored and so we stand a good chance of seeing this delightful creature. The dapper, near-endemic Somali Wheatear thrives here and we should also find Somali Bee-eater before continuing driving over a succession of expansive plains where we should look out for our first near-endemic Little Brown Bustards, as well as endemic or restricted-range Somali, Gillett‘s, Lesser Hoopoe, Somali Short-toed and Blanford’s Larks, White-crowned Starling and Somali Sparrow.
While exploring the thorn bush countryside around Burco (or Burao) we will be on the lookout for Philippa’s and Somali Crombecs, Arabian Warbler, Red-naped Bush-shrike and Northern Grosbeak-Canary before continuing into some remote and amazing red-sand country, punctuated with some impressive red termitaria, as we approach the Ethiopian border. This is the known area for finding Collared Lark, and the handsome Heuglin’s Bustard becomes more and more likely as we progress.
Next we shall embark on a long drive across the Ban Cade Plains, where we can resume our bustard and lark quest and perhaps also encounter numbers of Spotted Sandgrouse before reaching the town of Ceerigaabo (or Erigavo).
Our goal in this distant region is the Daallo Forest Reserve that lies in the centre of northern Somaliland on the Golis Range escarpment. It is prime habitat for the endemic Archer’s Buzzard (split from Augur), Somali Thrush, Somali Golden-winged Grosbeak and Warsangli Linnet. Archer’s Francolin (sometimes split from Orange River) also occurs, but can be difficult to locate, while other restricted-range species include Brown-rumped Seedeater.
Returning to Burao, we shall head north, stopping en route to look for Sombre Rock Chat before reaching the port of Berbera where we shall visit some attractive rocky gorges near the town that are home to the localized endemic Somali Pigeon.
This tour will build on the experience gained during our pioneering expeditions to this rarely-visited region and will be a truly unique experience that allows a chance to visit one of the ornithologically least-known destinations in Africa. To ensure the security of foreign guests, it is a requirement in Somaliland that armed tourism police escort us. As most governments do not recognize the state of Somaliland, it is unlikely standard travel insurance will be valid there, so you should seek specialist cover should you wish to take out insurance.
During the optional extension we will explore the tiny but stable country of Djibouti, a former French colony near the mouth of the Red Sea that still has a French military presence. Djibouti is the most important port in the Horn of Africa due to its strategic position at the narrowest part of the Red Sea and at the mouth of the Rift Valley. Despite its small size of approximately 23,200 square kilometres, it has an impressive bird list of over 360 species.
During our extension to this small country, we will be targeting the country‘s only endemic, the Djibouti Francolin, which is found in the Forêt du Day. Additional, restricted-range specialities such as White-eyed Gull, Somali Bulbul and Arabian Golden Sparrows should be easily seen. Other good birds include Sooty Gull, White-cheeked Tern, the stunning Crab-plover (the sole member of its family) and Gambaga Flycatcher.
In recent years there have also been sightings of a yellow-tailed and yellow-breasted form of Green-winged Pytilia that may prove to be a distinct species and of a very ‘different-looking’ sunbird that remains elusive and scientifically undescribed, but which has been named Tôha Sunbird and probably belongs in the genus Chalcomitra. We shall certainly be hoping to find either of these enigmatic birds for ourselves.
Birdquest has operated tours to Somaliland and Djibouti since 2010.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels and guesthouses range from good to basic. Road transport will be by 4x4 (SUV) vehicles and road conditions vary from good to bad.
Walking: The walking effort is easy for the most part, but occasionally moderate.
Climate: Generally hot and dry. It is sometimes humid on the coast. Some rain is possible at this season.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are good.
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £4160, €4910, $5450 Hargeisa/Hargeisa. Djibouti Extension: £1360, €1600, $1780 (ending at Djibouti city).
Price includes all transportation (including the Hargeisa-Djibouti flight), 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: £390, €460, $511. Extension: £120, €141, $157.
Deposit: £500, €600, $650. Extension: £150, €180, $200.
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.
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
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