The first thing you need to do when planning a birding trip to Ghana or anywhere is to identify your main goals. Since I am a parrot nut, I was targeting habitats where I was likely to see parrots that are known to live in Ghana and of course any birds that also live in the same habitats. Ghana has an extremely impressive bird list!
African Grey Parrot – best chance was Kakum National Park.
Brown-necked Parrot – has been reported in Kakum.
Senegal Parrot – good population in Shai Hills Reserve.
Red-headed Lovebird – can be found anywhere along the east coast of Ghana or in the north.
Red-fronted Parrot (Jardines) – has been seen in Kakum and in villages north of Kakum.
Black-collared Lovebird – seen in the far west of Ghana.
Everyone needs a tourist visa to Ghana and you cannot get it on arrival. You will have to get it in advance from the Ghanaian Consulate in your country.
Since we were on a tight budget and needed to go to places accessible by public transport with taxis to exact locations I chose two of Ghana’s national parks – Kakum and Shai Hills. Group birding tours will usually hit all of the parks highlighted on the map above but organize tours were way out of our budget.
I kept costs down by using IHG Rewards points to stay at the Holiday Inn, Accra. From there, we took a taxi out to Shai Hills for a day trip. We used local minibuses called “Tro-tros” to get from Accra to Cape Coast and another one that took us to Kakum where I had booked the Rainforest Lodge on Booking.com using the American AAdvantage portal. We used public transport to get from the lodge to the park each day. At both parks, we hired official guides from the ticket office.
During our stay at Kakum, I met a guide from Ashanti African Tours who was very helpful even though he was escorting an organized birding group. He gave me the best tip on where to see African Grey Parrots. I went to their office in Cape Coast hoping to use them for the day trip to Shai Hills but they don’t keep guides in Accra, they base themselves in Cape Coast. They also gave me a good tip on where to find the Red-headed Lovebirds near Accra (although the birds proved to be very shy). I do recommend them if you want to be more organized than we were!
Ghana is a great place to SEE birds but not so great for photography. The birds are more timid than in South Africa or even Madagascar and the terrain is much more jungly so most of the time we just got fleeting glimpses of the birds. I couldn’t get a parrot perched to save my soul! Plenty of “Video game birds” which is what I call those birds who fly swiftly overhead and I have to try to shoot quickly with my camera. It’s like playing “Space Invaders”, hence the name!