I had the best time imaginable [in Cameroon]. Occasionally I had to pinch myself to make sure it was all really happening. And Markus enhanced the whole experience with his vast knowledge, unflagging enthusiasm and sweet, yet saucy, disposition. I cannot praise him enough and would tour again with him in a heartbeat. He was a joy to travel with. I also want to commend…your Cameroon ground agent. He was a lot of fun and took very good care of us….made sure that things ran smoothly and kept us well fed. Thanks to Rockjumper and all involved for making it a super fun trip….and the birds weren’t bad either :-).
Our Northern Extension takes us to the seldom-birded northern areas of this incredible country in search of some rare and very special species. Combined with our Rainforest & Rockfowl tour, this promises a thorough coverage of this remarkable region, including seeking out such gems as the incomparable Pennant-winged and Standard-winged Nightjars, rare Saville’s Bustard, splendid Black Crowned Crane, Quail-plover, Bronze-winged Courser, beautiful Yellow-crowned Gonolek, River Prinia, Cricket Longtail, Oriole Warbler, Rock Firefinch and one of the world’s most striking waders, the stunning Egyptian Plover!
Arabian & Saville’s Bustard, Black Crowned Crane, Egyptian Plover, Quail-plover, Bronze-winged Courser, White-throated Francolin, Pennant-winged, Standard-winged & chances for Golden Nightjar, Fox Kestrel, Adamawa Turtle Dove, River Prinia, Cricket Longtail, Oriole Warbler, Rock Firefinch, Little Grey Woodpecker, Sennar & Yellow Penduline Tit, Masked & chances for Emin’s Shrike, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Spotted Thrush-Babbler, Dybowski’s Twinspot
Patas Monkey, Sand Fox, Lion, West African Giraffe, Roan, Topi and many others
broad-leaved woodland, gallery forest, semi-desert, crater lake
moderate to brisk pace
Day 1: Arrival in Douala
For those who arrive the day before the Cameroon birding tour starts or early this morning, we will visit a patch of nearby coastal scrub, gardens and mangroves. The mangroves support Yellow-breasted Apalis, Brown-throated Wattle-eye and a plethora of sunbirds including Green-throated, Olive-bellied, Mangrove, Reichenbach’s and Carmelite. Malachite Kingfisher and Little Bee-eater often feed along the fringe of the shore, while Rufous-vented Paradise Flycatcher, White-chinned Prinia, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Chattering Cisticola and Blue-breasted Kingfisher are also found in and around the gardens. Careful scanning from the shoreline could produce Western Osprey and Royal and Black Terns. If time allows, we will take a drive through the city looking for suitable habitat where Long-legged Pipit can be found.
Day 2: Douala flight to Garoua, then drive to Ngaoundaba Ranch
If flights are available we will fly from Douala to Garoua and then drive to Ngaoundere, otherwise we will proceed on to Yaoundé, from where we will catch an overnight train to Ngaoundaba Ranch (see notes below for details). Our visit to Ngaoundaba Ranch is likely to be one of the highlights of our tour as the birding here is truly remarkable. The area showcases stands of dry broad-leaved woodland, linear patches of verdant gallery forest and a spectacular crater lake. We should arrive at the ranch in the evening as we will spend the afternoon birding a variety of productive wooded habitats on our drive south from Garoua. New birds along the way could include White-crested Helmetshrike, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Fine-spotted and African Grey Woodpeckers, Northern Puffback, spectacular African Blue Flycatcher, aptly-named Beautiful Sunbird, Western Plantain-eater, Senegal Parrot, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Abyssinian Roller, Grey-headed Kingfisher and Red-throated Bee-eater. Ngaoundaba Ranch will serve as the perfect base for the next three nights of our Cameroon birding tour.
Days 3 & 4: Ngaoundaba Ranch
We have two full days of our Cameroon birding tour to explore the ranch’s various habitats for the bounty of specials and endemics that inhabit this birder’s paradise. Some of the star birds we hope to find include the scarce Brown-chested Lapwing, beautiful Red-headed Lovebird, stunning Grey-winged and White-crowned Robin-Chats, the unusual Spotted Thrush-Babbler, the localised and endemic Bamenda Apalis, Red-tailed Leaflove, Oriole Warbler, uncommon Gambaga Flycatcher, striking White-collared Starling, Dybowski’s and Brown Twinspots and Yellow-winged and Red-winged Pytilias. Some of the more widespread species we may see include Red-necked Buzzard, Double-spurred Francolin, White-spotted Flufftail, White-crested and Ross’s Turacos, Red-throated Bee-eater, Double-toothed Barbet, Whinchat, African Spotted Creeper, Blackcap and Brown Babblers, Pygmy and Splendid Sunbirds, White-shouldered Black Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Purple, Lesser Blue-eared and Bronze-tailed Starlings, Baglafecht and Black-necked Weavers, Red-winged Grey Warbler, delicate Grey-headed Oliveback, Black-bellied and Bar-breasted Firefinches and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. At dusk we will commence a night drive to search for Senegal Thick-knee, Black-shouldered and Long-tailed Nightjars and Greyish Eagle-Owl. The star attractions, however, are a chance for Bronze-winged Courser and the spectacular Pennant-winged and Standard-winged Nightjars!
Day 5: Ngaoundaba Ranch to Benoue National Park
After some early morning birding at Ngaoundaba, searching for species we may not yet have seen, we will depart on the drive north to Benoue NP. En route we will stop at a productive wetland; this extensive marsh hosts good numbers of waterbirds including Purple and Squacco Herons, African Pygmy Goose and a number of migrant ducks such as Garganey. Here we may also find Yellow-billed Duck (at the very north-western tip of its range), Western Marsh Harrier, African and Lesser Jacanas, Spur-winged Lapwing and Purple Swamphen. The adjacent bush and grassy areas often support Marsh Widowbird, Winding Cisticola, Sedge Warbler and Copper Sunbird. Thereafter we will continue to Benoue National Park situated within the Guinea Savanna belt. The typical habitat consists of low rocky hills covered in open broad-leaved woodland and interspersed with usually dry watercourses. One of the star attractions here is the beautiful Adamawa Turtle Dove and we will make a concerted effort to find this localised species. In the late evening, whilst enjoying a drink at the Benoue River, we will keep a lookout for the crepuscular Bat Hawk that often patrols the area.
Day 6: Benoue National Park
Our bungalows are conveniently situated close to the Benoue River and the superb gallery habitat. The river consists of many isolated hippo pools where a host of birds come to bathe, feed and drink. Species we may see here on our Cameroon birding tour include African Fish Eagle, Swamp Flycatcher, a variety of Kingfishers including Giant, Malachite, African Pygmy, Grey-headed, and the stunning Blue-breasted, Black-faced and Black-bellied Firefinches, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Red-winged and Yellow-winged Pytilias, Dybowski’s and Brown Twinspots and Grey-headed Oliveback. We will spend a fair amount of time along the river investigating the extensive white sandbars as this is the haunt of the fabulous “Crocodile-bird”, the splendid Egyptian Plover! Other species we may find include Saddle-billed Stork, Senegal Thick-knee, White-crowned Lapwing, Green Sandpiper and Grey-rumped Swallow. The wooded streams adjoining the Benoue River hold spectacular birds such as Greater Painted-snipe, Violet and White-crested Turacos (two of Africa’s most beautiful birds!), Broad-billed and Blue-bellied Rollers, the amazing Oriole Warbler, the rare and localised Adamawa Turtle Dove and Black-headed Gonolek. We will also explore the extensive open wooded areas that hold White-throated Francolin, Stone Partridge, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, small flocks of Senegal Parrot, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Rufous and Dorst’s Cisticolas, Red-winged Warbler, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Bearded Barbet, West African Swallow and, if we are extremely fortunate, we may even come across the very rarely-seen Emin’s Shrike. Large mammals that we may see include Hippopotamus, Bushbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Waterbuck, the rare Kanki (Hartebeest), Red-flanked Duiker, Olive Baboon and Guereza Colobus.
Day 7: Benoue NP to Maroua
Today on our Cameroon birding tour, we leave Benoue NP and head north on the long drive to Maroua, which is situated in the Sahel biome. We will keep a lookout for roadside birds, especially the numerous raptors that inhabit this region, for example Booted Eagle, Grasshopper Buzzard and Fox Kestrel, as well as the delightful Northern Carmine Bee-eater. We will spend some time at the Benoue River in Garoua where we hope to find Crested Lark, Quailfinch, White-rumped Seedeater, Sedge and Great Reed Warblers and, if we are lucky, Greater Painted-snipe. Exciting and noteworthy species we may very well encounter between Garoua and Maroua later in the afternoon include Red-pate Cisticola, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, the scarce and rather nomadic Heuglin’s Wheatear, Pygmy Sunbird, White-billed Buffalo Weaver and Speckle-fronted Weaver, Cut-throat Finch, African Silverbill and Green-winged Pytilia.
Day 8: Maroua to Waza NP
In the early morning we will visit some boulder-strewn hills nearby to search for Stone Partridge, the stunning White-crowned Cliff Chat, White-headed Barbet, Rock-loving Cisticola, Green Bee-eater, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Lavender Waxbill, Gosling’s Bunting and the highly localised Rock Firefinch, which has only been known to occur in Cameroon since 2005. Thereafter we will drive to the “Quail-plover plains” to the north of Mora where we will make a concerted effort to search for the rare and secretive Quail-plover. This enigmatic species is related to the buttonquails and occurs in areas of dry scrub with a covering of fine, wispy grass. If we are lucky on our Cameroon birding tour, one will flush from under our feet and its striking wing pattern will be evident in flight. Other birds that will possibly entertain us are Black-headed Lapwing, stunning Golden Nightjar (rare), Black Scrub Robin, Singing Bush Lark, Common Whitethroat, Red-pate Cisticola, Speckle-fronted Weaver and the striking Cricket Warbler. Raptors abound at this time of the year and we will be looking for the graceful Scissor-tailed Kite, Fox Kestrel and Short-toed Snake Eagle. Other species we may see in the area are White-billed Buffalo Weaver, Chestnut-bellied Starling and Southern Grey Shrike. In the afternoon we will take some time to bird a few areas of Acacia woodland that have on past tours turned up a number of rare sightings, including Little Grey Woodpecker, River Prinia, Sennar Penduline Tit, Masked Shrike, Sudan Golden Sparrow and Yellow-crowned Gonolek.
Day 9: Waza National Park
Waza National Park is situated south of the Lake Chad floodplain and is only accessible at this time of year when the shallow waters recede. This hot, arid area with seasonally flooded pans attracts both African and Palaearctic migrants. The scene at the waterholes is a constant procession of birds arriving and departing, and photographers will have a field day here! Flocks of regal Black Crowned Crane gather en mass alongside Yellow-billed, Abdim’s and Saddle-billed Storks, African Openbill and Great and Little Egrets. Raptors are prolific and we should see Secretarybird, Egyptian, Lappet-faced, Hooded, White-backed and Rüppell’s Vultures, Tawny Eagle, Bateleur, Grasshopper Buzzard and Gabar Goshawk. Migrant ducks and waders abound and species we are likely to see are White-faced Whistling Duck, Red-billed Teal, Garganey, African Wattled Lapwing, Spotted and Common Redshanks, Common Greenshank and Three-banded Plover. Small numbers of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse often fly in to join the fray and quench their thirst. Mourning and African Collared Doves, European Turtle, Namaqua and Vinaceous Doves, Abyssinian Roller, White-throated Bee-eater, Cut-throat Finch and Sahel Paradise Whydah are also possible around the waterholes. Waza is one of the best areas for the elusive Arabian Bustard, often seen striding over the grassland, while also offering us our only chance for the very tricky Savile’s Bustard. Other notable ground-dwelling species we may see are Common Ostrich, White-bellied Bustard, Helmeted Guineafowl, Clapperton’s Francolin and Spotted Thick-knee. Waza National Park is truly a remarkable avian spectacle! Mammals we will be on the lookout for are Lion, African Elephant, Giraffe, Topi, Roan Antelope, Red-fronted Gazelle, Warthog, Common Jackal and Patas Monkey. We will also take the opportunity to venture out after dark in search of mammals and birds on our Cameroon birding tour. This area supports an amazing diversity of small predators and we may be fortunate to see some of these – possible highlights include Golden Jackal, Sand Fox, Caracal, Serval, African Wild Cat, Civet, Honey Badger and Small Spotted Genet. If we are really lucky we may even find Northern White-faced Owl and Bronze-winged Courser.
Day 10: Waza NP to Maroua, fly to Douala and depart
This morning we depart the Waza area and return to Maroua for a flight to Douala. Here the Northern Extension will conclude for those not continuing on the Rainforest & Rockfowl leg of the tour.
What our clients say about tours to Cameroon
- LH, Camerron 2012
A special thanks to you, Markus, you are an excellent guide. Your spotting and identification abilities are astounding to me. Also, you had so many ‘crazy’ things popping up on that trip [Cameroon 2011] and you handled each magnificently. Right after I got back, I started looking at which future tours you will be leading. I certainly hope to cross paths with you again. Also, tell the staff who handled all my questions and got information to me so quickly… hello and you did a wonderful job. Thanks to all of you.GM, Cameroon 2011