Itinerary Highlights

  • Various species of Colobus, Mangabeys and other rainforest-dependent monkeys
  • Some 750 species of Butterfly
  • Superb birding, with many West Africa specials being present
  • Learning about Chimp conservation at Tacaguma
  • Night walks for unusual mammals like West African potto and Hammerhead bat

What's Included

  • Flights
  • Accommodation Throughout
  • Travel Guide
  • Transfers
10 nights from £3,355 per person

Helen Kennedy

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.
Explore some of Sierra Leone's most interesting natural history locations with us. This sample itinerary is designed to introduce keen nature enthusiasts to the fascinating and still poorly-understood but highly threatened Upper Guinea forest ecoystem. 
These forests have been far less visited by tourists than other evergreen forests in Africa, so present nature enthusiasts with an  
opportunity to experience something fresh, with forest-dependent species being the focus of the trip. Given the nature of the Upper Guinea forest wildlife and the rudimentary infrastructure at key locations, this is certainly a trip for travel gourmets, rather than gourmands. (As online tour reports serve to indicate, looking for both mammals and birds in Sierra Leone is hard work, but, with the right guiding and organisation in place, people inevitably return satisfied and enthusiastic). 
While Gola Rainforest NP and Tiwai Island are certainly (very) far from what can be called 'luxurious', the sites protect some of the last remaining West African rainforests, inhabited by a slew of fascinating mammals, including the likes of Western chimpanzee, Western red and King colobus monkeys and Diana guenon, as well as tiny Royal antelope, Water chevrotain and the bizarre Hammer-headed bat. There's also the near-mythical Pygmy hippo; the Red river hog and some smaller oddities like Bosman's potto and Lord Derby's anomalure. As these rainforests still receive very few ecotourists to help sustain the responsible tourism initiatives under way, you can be sure that your visit really does make a valuable contribution towards protecting these forests.
A highlight of Sierra Leone's mammal fauna is its diverse primates. This itinerary - which can be tailored to suit individual interests - will enable you the chance to seek various range-restricted and sometimes Endangered species, such as Diana and Lesser spot-nosed guenons; Upper Guinea colobus (Western red colobus), Sooty mangabey, Campbell's mona monkey and also, King, Western pied and Olive colobus monkeys. Night walks may reveal Thomas' and Demidoff's galagos and West African potto are seen just as regularly, especially on Tiwai. 
Lucky visitors may glimpse some Duikers (forest-dwelling antelopes, of which the Zebra, Brook's, Maxwell's, Yellow-backed and mega rare Jentink's duiker occur, mostly in Gola) and the tiny, nocturnal Water chevrotain and equally dimimutive Royal antelope, which is the smallest of all the world's  antelopes. Bear in mind though that all the antelopes have been heavily persecuted for bushmeat so are skittish and scarce. They are best sought during night walks with experienced guides - hard core mammal watchers would do well to bring a thermal scope to assist in locating wildlife.
Rodents and Bats:
A variety of interesting rodents and bats occur in Sierra Leone. Keep a lookout for Gambian; Green, Striped ground and Red-legged sun squirrels. You may also see the very interesting (and quite spectacular) Lord Derby's anomalure (scaly-tailed squirrell), a nocturnal, gliding squirrel which has been recorded in Tiwai close to the accommodation. 
Bats present include Straw-coloured and the utterly bizarre (and conspicuously noisy) Hammerhead Fruit bats; Noack's roundleaf bat and Horseshoe bat.  
Other mammals:
While at Tiwai island, you might see a Congo clawless otters and perhaps even signs of the ultra elusive Pygmy hippo. While visitors have seen the Pygmy hippos, this is extremely rare, with perhaps a 1% success rate. A bit more likely to be glimpsed are Red river hog and the Common (long-nosed) cusimanse, a curious and social, diurnal mongoose. We must reiterate once more that equatorial West African evergreen forest wildlife is mostly very shy and elusive due to hunting; population densities are low and the dense foliage makes observations more challenging.
Birdlife galore:
Keen birders coming to Sierra Leone are in for a treat: the country isn't very different in size to Scotland, yet more than 640 bird species have been recorded. The most sought-after megatick is of course the White-necked picathartes (rockfowl), for which several nesting caves
are known in Gola. (It can also be sought in the hills near Freetown). 14 of the 15 range-restricted Upper Guinea forest specials can be pursued in Sierra Leone, along with other rarities like Turati's boubou, Emerald starling and the very rare Gola malimbe. (Birders keen to try for Emerald starling and other species present in drier habitats can contact us to tailor itineraries).
Keep a lookout also for the likes of Forbe's plover;  Rufous fishing owls, Long-tailed and Standard-winged nightjars; Yellow-casqued, Piping and Brown-cheeked hornbills, White-throated and Black bee-eaters, Shining blue and Blue-breasted kingfishers Yellow-crowned gonolek; Sabine's puffback; iridicsent Splendid, Johanna's and Buff-throated sunbirds and many more feathered gems. 
Reptiles and fish:
While work on the reptile, amphibian and fish inventories is ongoing, some 67 reptiles, 35 amphibians and 99 fish species have been recorded
in the country. Among the reptiles, interesting species include Dwarf crocodiles (mangrove habitat) and Slender-snouted crocs along forest
streams. There are some poisonous snakes about, such as Gaboon vipers which have been recorded from time to time in Tiwai.  Turtle and Sherbro Islands are known nesting sites for Green and Leatherback turtles.  
Other sites in the itinerary:
The itinerary also includes a visit to the very well -run Tacugama Chimpanzee sanctuary and for the marine element, a stay at the Banana Islands makes for a very pleasant and relaxed end to a busy trip.


Depart from London on the daytime Brussels Airlines flight (06h50) via Brussels to Freetown. On arrival into Lungi Airport late this afternoon (16h50), you will be welcomed by our local representatives and transferred on the Sea Coach Express boat (30 minutes) across the mouth of Freetown Estuary, where you stay at The Home Suites for the night, with breakfast included.
After breakfast you will head for Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary where you will spend the night. Learn about the inspirational work being done by Bala and his team who now take care of more than 100 Chimps which have been confiscated from trappers or which were often-times cruelly kept as pets. Your guide can also take you for a forest walk in the trails here, especially rewarding for keen birders. (More than 100 species are known to occur in the forest around here). Overnight in the comfortably Augusta Lodge with breakfast.
Staying at   Tacugama Lodge
A visit to this 12km2 tropical rain-forest-clad island in the Moa River near the Liberian border, is one of Sierra Leone’s nature tourism highlights. Depart after breakfast, with a lunch stop in the town of Bo. Arrive at Tiwai Island in the mid afternoon, with time to rest at camp/ the research centre, which is reached by means of a boat transfer from Kambama. Enjoy a late afternoon/early evening boat trip up the Moa River in a motorised boat. From here, take in spectacular views of Tiwai Island and the neighbouring mainland, keeping a lookout for the various species of forest-dwelling monkeys up in the trees and some of the 135 species of birds. You may see the occasional crocodile - more than one species inhabits the area. Dinner will be provided by the camp staff Nocturnal excursions can be arranged. During these, you can seek the likes of West African potto, Prince Demidoff's galago and Lord Derby's anomalure. Birders tend to focus efforts on Rufous fishing owl; Barred owl and Brown nightjar here.
In the morning, when diurnal evergreen forest wildlife is at its most active, enjoy a guided walk in the forest of Tiwai Island. During this walk you can seek some of the resident primates (11 species occur here, notably the monkeys referred to in the tour introduction - most commonly encountered are Western red, Olive and Western pied aka King colobus; Diana and Lesser spot-nosed guenons while Campbell's monkeys and Sooty mangabey are also regularly seen, the latter by the camp. You can seek some of the 135 species of birds on the species list (these include the vocal Nkulengo rail, Blue-breasted kingfisher (pictured) and Grey-crowned nigrita and enjoy watching colourful butterflies: most of the approx.750 species of butterfly recorded for Sierra Leone, are found in Tiwai and Gola. Departing after an early lunch, take the boat back to the 'mainland' to learn something of the fascinating culture and heritage of the rural villages of Kambama and nearby Nianiahun (20 min drive). You will be shown including sites of traditional sacrifice, meeting points for the rituals of the village elders, birth ceremonial sites and the ‘blood stream’ hiding place for the knives and weapons of ancient warriors. In the evening, make a guided stroll into the forest to watch for nocturnal primates and birds. Enjoy a simple but tasty dinner cooked by camp staff and overnight in the camp. (You can make a second night walk this evening).
Staying at   Tiwai Island
Take another early morning forest walk to seek more of Tiwai's wildlife and birdlife. After your walk, head to Gola Rainforest via Bo. Arriving in Kenema, stop for lunch in the grounds of the Pastoral Center while your guide collects the National Park permits. Drive from Kenema to Lalehun, arriving Lalehun mid afternoon. Enjoy the tranquility and atmosphere of the beautiful surrounding forest. You can take a late afternoon stroll into the rainforest with your guide. In the evening, you will be welcomed at Lalehun with a performance of the traditional 'Devil Dance' practised by the Gola people, with dinner.
There are two options for today: Option 1 is especially suitable for keen birdwatchers: - An early start into the rainforest to seek and observe some of the many birds of Gola during the dawn chorus. Rest at the lodge for the remainder of the morning. After lunch, revisit the rainforest at about 14h00 to arrive one of the White-necked Picathartes (rockfowl) colonies (about 10 nests) in time to observe the birds returning to nest. (This excursion involves a 16km round-trip, about 5 hrs including observation time). Return to the basic lodge for dinner and overnight stay. Option 2: general natural history and culture: - Depart the lodge after breakfast to the rainforest, walk to the 'African Buffalo Field', where there is a chance to see African buffalo and some Duikers. You will see ancient gravesites of Gola chiefs, and learn of the many medicinal uses of the indigenous trees and plants. Return to the lodge for a late lunch. The excursion entails a 12km roundtrip; 4hrs with observation time. Dinner and overnight at the simple lodge.
Another early start: after a rainforest walk for the dawn chorus, depart Gola Forest National Park back to Freetown via Bo, where you can make a lunch stop. After arrival back at Freetown this afternoon, head to Kent Village on the peninsula for the motorised boat transfer to Banana Island, to explore this tranquil piece of 'paradise'. Banana Islands are comprised of Dublin and Ricketts islands, that are linked by a stone causeway. The third, Mes-Meheux is uninhabited. You will be going to Dublin, with its rural gardens, tropical fruit trees and a mryiad colourful butterflies. You will be welcomed by the friendly resident community and taken sightseeing. Optional activities available icluding hiking; snorkeling or a scenic boat trip around the island.
Staying at   Bafa Resort
After breakfast, depart Banana Island for Tokeh making a stop along the way by Bureh Beach where you meet the residents and enjoy a seafood lunch. Then depart to Tokeh Beach, a small coastal village on the Western Area Peninsula which boasts one of the country's most beautiful beaches The sweeping, sand beach is backed by high, green mountains. Explore the area or spend your time on the beach or pool area. Overnight in The Place, with breakfast.
You have the day to relax and enjoy Tokeh Beach - or your guide can take you for a tour around the Western Peninsula area if you prefer.
Travel back to the coast to Freetown for some last minute shopping and a transfer back to Lungi Airport to check in 3 hours ahead of the Brussels Airlines flight departing around 6pm back to London via Brussels.

Helen Kennedy

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.

Pricing Information & Dates

10 nights from £3,355 per person

Helen Kennedy

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.

Price Includes

  • Return International Flights as per the itinerary
  • All airport taxes and security charges
  • Accommodation and meals as specified
  • Transfers as specified
  • Activities and excursions as specified
  • All entrace fees on sightseeing tours as specified
Return international flights (Brussels Airlines) from London to Freetown via Brussels or Paris CDG Air taxes Services of your dedicated, experienced, professional, English-speaking guide and of your driver throughout All transfers and private 4-Wheel drive transportation Local guide fees and park permits; entry fees Excursions and activities as outlined Motorised boat transfers as per itinerary Accommodation with meals as indicated

Price Excludes

  • Travel Insurance
  • Any meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Optional excursions
Any meals not listed Visa fees Personal items (travel insurance, tips, laundry, phone calls)

Pricing Notes

* Airfares are based on low season published fares, so subject to availability until tickets have been issued. * If you prefer to use another carrier, or would like us to amend/modify the itinerary, please let us know - we will be pleased to assist.

Why Choose Us?

Passionate travel experts

  • We've been leading wildlife travel since our first South Africa tours over 25 years ago
  • Our Travel Specialists have lived in their specialist area for years
  • We work with local guides to immerse you deeper in our diverse range of experiences

Personal & tailor-made

  • You'll speak to your own expert who'll share their first-hand knowledge
  • We'll make your itinerary seamless with 24/7 emergency contact available
  • Your Travel Specialist will listen to ensure you have the best chance of seeing the wildlife you love

Responsible by nature

  • We take care to actively contribute to the conservation of environments we visit
  • For select countries, we make a charitable donation on your behalf when you make your booking
  • We've partnered with conservation experts and NGOs to curate responsible tours
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