Experience some of Sierra Leone's natural history locations with us. This sample itinerary is designed to introduce keen nature enthusiasts to the fascinating and still poorly-explored Upper Guinea forest ecoystem. At time of writing (2019) these forests have been far less visited by tourists than other evergreen forests in Africa, so present nature enthusiasts with an exciting opportunity to experience something fresh, with forest-dependent wildlife being the focus of the trip.
Given the nature of the Upper Guinea forest wildlife, this is certainly a trip for travel gourmets, rather than gourmands.
This sample itinerary - which can be tailored as you wish, incorporates Tiwai Island; Tacugama Chimpanzee Centre, Gola Rainforest National Park and Banana Islands. You will be seeking various forest-dependent primates, including monkeys such as the striking Diana monkey; the endangered Upper Guinea colobus (Western red colobus), Sooty mangabey, Campbell's mona monkey, Lesser spot-nosed monkey and also, Western pied and Olive colobus. At night, Thomas' and Demidoff's galagos; West African potto may be seen. Lucky visitors may encounter some Duikers (forest-dwelling antelopes, of which the Zebra, Brook's, Maxwell's, Yellow-backed and extremely scarce Jentink's duiker occur, mostly in Gola) and the tiny Water chevrotain and equally dimimutive Royal antelope, which is the smallest of all the world's antelopes.
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 gliding squirrell. Bats present include Straw-coloured and the utterly bizarre (and conspicuously noisy) Hammerhead Fruit bats; Noack's roundleaf bat and Horseshoe bat. While at Tiwai island, you might see Congo clawless otters and signs of the ultra elusive Pygmy hippo.(While visitors have and do see the Pygmy hippos, this is extremely rare). More likely to be seen are Red river hog, Congo clawless otter and the Common (long-nosed) cusimanse, a curious and social, diurnal mongoose.
(We must emphasise though, that equatorial evergreen forest wildlife is often-times skittish and population densities are low for the most part).
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 there. The most sought-after megatick is of course the White-necked picathartes (rockfowl), for which several nesting caves are known in Gola. 14 of the 15 range-restricted Upper Guinea forest specials can be sought in Sierra Leone, along with other rarities like Turati's boubou, Emerald starling and striking Red-headed and Gola malimbes. Keep a lookout also for the likes of the bizarre White-breasted guineafowl; Stone partridge; Egyptiam plover; Pel's and Rufous fishing owls, Long-tailed and Standard-winged nightjars; Yellow-casqued and Brown-cheeked hornbills, Blue-headed 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, many more feathered gems.
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. Turtle and Sherbro Islands are known nesting sites for Green and Leatherback turtles.