Sierra Leone Natural History Explorer
Campbell's monkey  
Upper guinea (western red) colobus  
White-necked picathartes (rockfowl), a megatick for visiting birders  
Diana monkey  
Guinea turacou  
Western red (Upper guinea) colobus, Endangered  
Hartlaub's duck  
Diana monkey  
Common cusimanse, a mongoose species found in Tiwai  
Gola rainforest  
Guests on the Moa River trip to Tiwai Island  
The ultra- elusive, Endangered and near-mythical Pygmy hippo  
Western bush viper  
Crested malimbe  
Baby Western red colobus  
African potto can be seen during night walks on Tiwai  
Maxwell's duiker, sometimes seen on Tiwai (John Cools)  
Lesser spot-nosed monkey  
Noisy hammerhead bats are commonly encountered at Tiwai  
Red river hog is present but elusive, especially on Tiwai  
Very lucky visitors have seen a White-bellied tree pangolin at night.  
Male long-tailed nightjar  
The near-endemic Emerald starling  
Dwarf crocodile  
Black-casqued hornbill  
Water chevrotain (c) Dérozier Violette  
The White-crested hornbill likes to follow monkeys or cusimanses.  
Royal antelope  
African grey parrots in flight  
Standard-winged nightjar, male  
Birdwatching excursion in the protected area at Tacugama  
10 day tour
Including flights
Prices from

Tour Highlights

  • Various species of Colobus, Mangabeys and other monkeys on Tiwai Island
  • Some 750 species of Butterfly
  • Superb birding, especially in Gola with megaticks including White-necked picathartes
  • Learning about Chimp conservation at Tacaguma
  • Night walks for unusual species incuding bizarre Hammerhead bats
I'm enquiring about: Sierra Leone Natural History Explorer

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I'm enquiring about: Sierra Leone Natural History Explorer

Sierra Leone Natural History Explorer

Sierra Leone

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.

Read more about this tour

Day 1
Day 1
Fly to Freetown
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.
Accommodation: The Home Suites Boutique Hotel
Day 2
Day 2
Freetown - Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
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.
Accommodation: Tacugama Lodge
Day 3
Day 3
Tacugama to Tiwai Island
A visit to this 12km2 tropical rain-forest-clad island in the Moa River near the Liberian border, is one of Sierra Leone’s wildlife 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 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, enjoy spectacular views of Tiwai Island and the neighbouring mainland, keeping a lookout for the various species of forest-dwelling monkeys jumping between 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 statt.
Nocturnal excursions can be arranged. During these, you can seek the likes of African dwarf crocodile, Rufous fishing owl and Thomas's galago. (Other nocturnal species that have been recorded, include Western tree hyrax and even White-bellied pangolin, which is exceedingly endangered these days as all pangolins are.
Accommodation: Tiwai Island
Day 4
Day 4
Tiwai Island
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 several monkeys referred to in the tour introduction - most commonly encountered are Western red, Olive and Western pied colobus, Diana monkey and Lesser spot-nosed monkeys. Campbell's monkeys and Sooty mangabeys are also regularly seen, the latter by the camp).
You can seek some of the 135 species of birds on the species list and enjoy watching colourful butterflies, of which more than 600 species occur.
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).
Accommodation: Tiwai Island
Day 5
Day 5
Tiway Island to Gola Rainforest National Park
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 traditiona l 'Devil Dance' practised by the Gola people, with dinner.
Day 6
Day 6
Gola Rainforest National Park
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.
Day 7
Day 7
Gola Rainforest National Park - Freetown - Banana Islands
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.
Accommodation: Bafa Resort
Day 8
Day 8
Banana Island - Freetown (Tokeh Beach)
fter 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.
Accommodation: The Place Resort
Day 9
To Freetown and depart
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.
Day 10
Arrival in London (or selected other UK airports)
Arrive back into London this morning.

Pricing Information & Dates

10 day tour, from £2525 per person
Price Includes:
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
Price Includes
Return international flights (Brussels Airlines) from London to Freetown via Brussels
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
Any meals not listed
Visa fees
Personal items (travel insurance, tips, laundry, phone calls)
Price 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.

Tour Route Map

  1.   Freetown
  2.   Tiwai Island
  3.   Gola Rainforest National Park
  4.   Banana Islands

Accommodation on this Tour

Bafa Resort
Bafa Resort
Banana Islands, Sierra Leone
Bafa Resort Bafa resort on the Banana Islands has introduced the concept of ‘‘Glamping’ to Sierra Leone and comes highly recommended by those who have visited it.  To the......
Tacugama Lodge
Tacugama Lodge
Tacugama Sanctuary, Sierra Leone
The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary is an inspirational place to visit and if you'd like to spend the night in the rainforest. Its 4 thatched, eco-bungalows offering simple accommodation (Augusta Lodge)
The Home Suites Boutique Hotel
The Home Suites Boutique Hotel
Freetown, Sierra Leone
The Home Suites Boutique Hotel Now our accommodation of choice in Aberdeen, Freetown, The Home Suites Boutique Hotel offers very comfortable rooms of various categories, along with stylish decor,......
The Place Resort
The Place Resort
Peninsula Beaches, Sierra Leone
The Place Resort The Place is a 50-chalet seaside resort, set in 15 acres of tropical gardens on the unspoiled, pretty white sands of Tokeh Beach. Forest-clad mountains back hotel, creating a very......
Tiwai Island
Tiwai Island
Tiwai Island, Sierra Leone
Tiwai Island Accommodation at Tiwai comes in two forms: (May 2019 update is that some maintenance is needed): 1. There is a basic lodge with three double rooms and 4 single rooms. There are......

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