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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Cameroon, 29/01/06 to 28/02/06,
We had several trip reports found on the web (Hornbuckle, Mills, Davies, Barnes, Vermeulen…). Book : Birds of Western Africa by Borrow and Demey. Sounds : African Birds Sounds 2 by C. Chappuis.
Flight Bordeaux-Paris-Douala on Air France 776€; Visa 93€ but the embassy didn’t want to deliver them on time and we had to pay 130€ each to a specialised agency in Paris who bought them for us (they had to give a graft).
We prefered to take our time in each site rather than spending hours in the buses, so we visited only a few sites in 1 month compared to other groups :
We had our camping gear, tent, matresses and sleeping bags ; our tent is a very light and good one, a GOLITE Hex 3, to which we add a shelter made for us in Belgium in the same material (www.tafdak.com) to protect the entrance from the rain.
During our stay some birds were nesting or feeding youngs, but at all the sites they were not responsive to the tape. We sadly missed the picathartes, they breed in april and begin to visit the nesting site in march ; for all the sites we were one month too early.
As car rental is very expensive for only 2 persons we travelled by train and bus. Private taxis for a long way are expensive too. We bought 2 return flights at Cameroon Airlines office in Paris from Douala to Ngaoundere, but this line didn’t exist anymore… so we had to go to Yaounde to take the night train to Ngaoundere.
We were well-advised to bring some dehydrated meals as we could only find bread (quickly becoming mouldy), tins of sardines, fruits, rice;
First you have to know that there is a lot corruption in the country but anyway the people were so friendly that we had no problem, they like laughing and are helpful. No hassle at all, and we never felt unsecure.
Arrived at Douala airport we took a porter, he told us to give some money to the custom officers to avoid the searching of the luggage, we refused but he discussed with the officer and we passed quickly. We checked our flight for the next morning at the Cameroon Airlines counter, and learnt that the line was cancelled since 3 months.
Called Hotel Ibis where we had booked and they sent a free minibus to take us. Room 76€.
The 30th we lost the morning at the office of Cameroon Airlines for nothing except a letter confirming that the flight didn’t exist.
We had no choice, we had to go to Yaounde to take the train; as we had to be early to have a cabin in 1st class, we had not enough time to take a bus, we hired a taxi (2h45 at an average of 95km/h) for 80000CFA (122€).
At Yaounde station we asked for a 2 berth cabin, the employee said that there was only 4 berth one, so we bought 2 tickets. We have been waiting 2 hours for the train, just before boarding I asked again for a 2 berth cabin, and we had one… she was only waiting for a few money, but finally we did not pay this time. Once in the train we saw that some cabins were free! The price per person : 28000CFA (42,69€)- wash-bowl, beds not to bad, diner in the cabin for 2500CFA/pers (3,81€), 12 hours with many stops in an exotic atmosphere; arrived at 9:15 am at Ngaoundere, we paid a taxi 20000CFA (30,50€) to the ranch. There is a ATM where you can take money with your credit card in town.
NGAOUNDABA RANCH (31/01 to 6/02)
Booked by email from their website www.ngaoundaba.com ; a nice place where we enjoyed the birding; double room 18000 (27,44€), delicious meals for 70000 (10,67€)(Accept euros). Ask some details to the owners (Corinne Marchand and Pierre Cantarella), they know where to find many birds. Birdwatching is inside the ranch where there are some woods and a lake, and around the ranch on the dirt road, in the fields and along some streams. Not any call of nightjars in the evening but we saw the Standard-winged on the road at 6 :30pm just before dark and flushed the Black-shouldered in the forest along the stream. We saw 144 species of wich Adim’s + Wollynecked Stork, Hadada + Sacred Ibis, Lizard + Red-necked Buzzard, White-spotted Flufftail, Red-headed Lovebird, White-crested Touraco, Western Grey Plantain-eater, Barn-Owl nesting in the lodge, African Scops-Owl, Greyish + Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl around the lake, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Black-shouldered + Standard-winged Nightjar, Red-throated Bee-eater, Blue-bellied Roller, Green Woodhoopoe, Black Scimitarbill, Vieillot’s + Double-thoothed Barbet, Willcock’s Honeyguide, Green-backed + Cardinal + Grey + Brown-backed Woodpecker, Sun Lark, Plain-backed + Tree Pipit, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Leaflove, Grey-winged + White-crowned Robin-Chat (se giffardi), Moustached Grass Warbler, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Bamenda Apalis, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Senegal Eremomela, Oriole Warbler, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Spotted Thrush-Babbler, Blackcap + Brown Babbler, Yellow Penduline Tit, Spotted Creeper, Western Violet-backed + Pygmy + Green-headed + Northern Double-collared + Splendid Sunbird, Red-backed + Emin’s + Fiscal + Woodchat + Yellow-billed Shrike, White-collared + Violet-backed + Wattled Starling, Bronze-tailed + Splendid Glossy Starling, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Dybowski’s Twinspot, Exclamatory Paradise Whydah, Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting…
We missed the Bronze-winged Courser and the Schlegel’s Francolin. We know by Corinne Marchand that 1 month later a group saw the Francolin and had a lot of nightjars even during the day.
Animals : Tantalus Monkey, Senegal Galago, Side-striped Jackal, African Palm Civet, Sitatunga, Red-flanked Duiker.
As you can’t buy the train tickets in advance, we had to leave the ranch at 2pm to be sure to have a cabin, the train leaves at 6:30pm. Our taxi driver told us that he can arrange car rentals or transport to the parks of the north, he is recommended by the owner of the ranch : Alim Hamos, tel (237) 981 45 94. But the north is not on our list.
At 8:30 in Yaounde, we took a taxi (30000 CFA) to the CENTRALE VOYAGE bus station (don’t take the buses in front of the train station as they have too many stops on the way to Douala).The luxury bus is only at 12:00 so we took one not so bad at 10:30am (3800CFA) arrived in Douala at 2:00pm. From there, taxi to Hotel Ibis where we left 2 bags with the camping gear, then to Limbe on the coast, we paid 30000 CFA (45,73€).
Once in Limbe, Hotel Miramare (18600CFA/28,35€ aircon) along the coast and a few metres from the entrance of the Botanical Garden. From the hotel we saw Eastern Reef Egret, Whimbrel, Grey Plover.
LIMBE BOTANICAL GARDEN
We were disappointed when we bought our ticket to hear that the price wich normally is 1000CFA was 10000CFA/15,24€ for birdwatchers! And more again if you want to take pictures. We said that we wouldn’t use our binoculars and paid 1000, when we where alone we used them quickly; we did not see a lot during 3 hours, (we missed the specialities) : African Pygmy Kingfisher, White-throated Bee-eater, Little Greenbul, Green Crombec, Grey-crowned Negrofinch, Western Bluebill, Bronze Mannikin…
At 12:00 we left for Buea by taxi (8000 CFA/12,20€), first he took us to the market in Limbe where we changed some euros in a small shop.
MOUNT CAMEROON (9 to 11/02)
Arrived at the office of Mount Cameroon Ecoturism Organisation, www.mountcameroon.org email : email@example.com. Here we were welcome and we booked for the following day for 3 days, 2 nights, on the trail leaving from Bonokanda to Nitele. We had to pay 2 porters because we had to take a lot of water. Guide : 6000 CFA/9,15€ per day Porter : 5000 CFA/7,62€ per day Tourist contribution : 3000 CFA/4,57€ per day Service fee : 2000CFA/3,05€ per day They have tents and sleeping bags to rent too.
The best guide for birds was occupied so we had Peter, very nice but not birdwatcher.
There are some shops close to the office where to buy some food.
We found the guesthouse really too basic so we spent the night at the Capitol Hotel, double at 20000 but negociated by the Mount CEO office at 15000 CFA/22,87€. We prepared our bags for the trek and left some things at the hotel.
At 7am our guide, Peter met us at the hotel and we went by taxi to Bonokanda; the 2 porters were here and when ready we began to climb; first a long walk in some cultivated and second growth areas then in grassy fields with sometimes some patches of forest. With some stops for birdwatching, it took us 9 hours to the camp at 2500m. We met some hunters with dogs; they burn a lot and it was calcined around the camp.
Some birds seen : Palmnut Vulture, Red-necked Buzzard, Mountain Saw-wing, Cameroon Pipit, Little Grey Greenbul, Mountain Robin-chat, Chubb’s Cisticola, Green Longtail, Grey Apalis, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Black-billed + Vieillot’s Black + Dark-backed Weaver, Yellow Bishop, Thick-billed Seedeater… heard Scaly Francolin.
We put our tent and Peter and the guys slept in the abandonned house around the fire.
The day after, I (Noelle) had a pain to my knee, so we couldn’t go far to some better forest, anyway we walked to some patches further on, we flushed perhaps 2 Mount Cameroon Francolin but couldn’t see them, Peter and some hunters met here said that it was probably them. Some birds seen during this day : Western Green Tinkerbird, White-bellied Robin-chat, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Mount Cameroon Speirops, Yellow-breasted Boubou, Brown-capped Weaver, Shelley’s Oliveback, Oriole Finch…
After a windy night, a nice sunny day again, we packed and began our descent stopping several times but it was particularly birdy above the village where we arrived at 2pm; Harrier Hawk, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Bate’s Swift, Gabon Woodpecker, White-tailed Flycatcher, Banded Prinia, Cameroon Sunbird…
Both the guide and the porters were discreet and friendly.
Animals : Preuss’s Red Colobus.
We left Buea the the following day, by taxi (500 CFA) to the bus station at Miles
17. At 11am we left for Kumba in a minibus (1500CFA/2,29€ and 500CFA for the luggage) on a potholed road. At 1:30pm at the bus station in Kumba, taxi (400CFA) to another site from where the cars to Mundemba leave. They count 7 seats per car (old Toyota normally made for 5 persons) and leave when it is full. We were with 2 other passengers, so we paid 4 seats at 5500CFA/8,38€ and we leaved quickly. 3 hours 15 minutes on a dusty track at a subsonic speed with 5 controls where the driver had to give a graft. Between Elkondo Titi there is some good forest but we couldn’t stop… ! We saw Blue-headed Coucal, Long-legged Pipit and African Pied Hornbill.
KORUP NATIONAL PARK (13 to 18/02)
We stayed at the Hotel Bosema in a good new room 70000CFA/10,67€ at the entrance of Mundemba and close to a stream with African Pygmy + Malachite Kingfisher, Little Bee-eater, Rufous-breasted + Lesser-striped + Preuss’s Cliff Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Chattering Cisticola, Willow Warbler, Village Weaver, Black-and-white Mannikin, Pin-tailed Whydah.
At the office in Mundemba we booked 1 guide (Joseph) and 1 porter/cook (Charles). Joseph is a very good birdwatcher and knows the birds sounds, and Charles is a very pleasant person, we were glad to be with them during these 5 days. Entrance : 5000CFA/7,62€ per day Guide : 4000CFA/6,10€ per day and per night Porter : 2000CFA/3,05€ per day and per night Camping : 3000CFA/4,57€ per night per person Transport to the park and back (2x8km) : 8000CFA/12,20€
We left at 10:30 am; we crossed the bridge and arrived in a beautiful forest; there are several camps in the park, we spent 2 nights at Rengo Camp after an easy walk with Forest Francolin, Xavier’s Greenbul. At the camp we heard and saw in flight Vermiculated Fishing-owl, heard Nkulengu Rail and African Wood Owl. We prefered to put our tent rather than sleeping in the old cabins with holes in the mosquito nests; the river is the bathroom. At 40 minutes from the camp is the big rock where the Redheaded Picathartes nests in april. We have been waiting here more than 2 hours for 2 days without success. Rain the second evening. In this area White-spotted Flufftail, Grey Parrot, Blue-headed Ground-dove, Rufous-sided Broadbill (one of the few birds who answered to the tape), Fire-crested Alethe, Forest Robin, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Red-bellied Flycatcher, Crested + Blue-billed Malimbe…
After Rengo Camp we walked to Chimpanzee Camp for the next 2 nights, it rained and the forest was very dark and quiet. Rachel’s Malimbe nesting on the trail to the river-bathroom. Heavy rain the first evening. The following day the birding was good, we followed Elephant trail and stopped at the Ledge wich is a rock overlooking the forest. Some birds seen : Harrier Hawk, Great Blue Turaco, Mottled Spinetail, White-crested + Piping + White-thighed Hornbill, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Blue Cuckooshrike, Eastern Bearded + Little + Icterine Greenbul, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Yellow-throated Nicator, Brown-chested Alethe, Blackcap Illadopsis, Dusky-crested Flycatcher, Chestnut + Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye, Shining Drongo, Olive Sunbird, Cassin’s + Red-headed Malimbe, Woodhouse’s Antpecker… Here too there is a big rock for Picathartes with 2 nests but we missed them again.
The last night was spent at Ibene Irene Camp wich is closed to the park entrance and the Mana river where we saw the Rock Pratincole, White-throated Blue Swallow, Pied + Yellow-crested Hornbill, White-browed Forest Flycatcher. From the camp Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, White-throated Bee-eater. In the area 2 Blue-throated Bee-eater whose nest in the ground was invaded by ants probably eating the youngs; we were sad for them roosting around with the food in the bill. Not far from the camp Black Guineafowl around midday.
Animals : Red-tailed Monkey, Red-capped Mangabey, Mona Monkey, Crowned Monkey, Putty-nosed Monkey, Flying Mouse or Anomalure, Red Duiker.
We left this beautiful park with regrets, even if birdwatching was not always productive we liked this place.
Back to the hotel Bosema where the driver came to meet us to know if we were still leaving the next morning as we told him one week earlier (We asked him to find 2 other persons to share the car and we paid 4 seats)
The 19th we left at 8:40 am to Kumba, from where we took a taxi and paid 5 seats at 1500CFA to Tombel, 45mn. In Tombel we paid 6 seats at 1000CFA until Nyasoso where we arrive at 2:20pm at the Women’s Center, welcome by Mara.
MOUNT KUPE (19 to 26/02)
There are 3 small bedrooms at the Women’s Centre with attached bathroom at 3000CFA/4,57€ per person. Here you are in the centre of the village with a good atmosphere, and close to the High School from where the trails go to the farmbush and the mountain. Mara prepares excellent diners;
Quickly the persons of the ecoturism office came to meet us, Victor and Hoffman, and we talk with them about guide and porters. We booked for the following day a guide to go on Max trail and back, then for 3 days/2 nights camping on the Max Trail with a guide and a cook and porters bringing water 2 times. The fifth day with a guide on Nature trail and Shrike trail and back; the last day we wanted to go alone in the farmbush and on the road, happy to be at last alone for birdwatching, and we had to fight a bit for that… they tried to make us pay a fee for this day but we refused as we were not in a protected area, prefering to leave a donation to the organisation.
Entrance fee : 3000CFA/4,57€ per person per day Guide : 5000CFA/7,62€ per day Porter and cook : don’t remember
Check before if they expect you to buy the food for the guide and the cook. We went with Godlove and Francis, very friendly but not expert in birds. They had no sleeping bags and it was cold and wet in the mountain, the last day we gave them our own sleeping bags as our trip was ending and they where happy. We invited them for a beer at the lively bar with loud music, the villagers are very nice.
Our microphone wire broke down and that was a problem as we heard several times in the garden during the night an owlet whose song was different than our recordings, we put Sjosdtet’s Owlet without response ; or was it an animal? If somebody can hear and identify it we would like to know what it was. We heard some Buff-spotted Flufftail too during the night in the village.
The Max trail is rather steep in some places and we stopped several times at different altitudes, generally it was quiet and it was a chance to have a good wave sometimes. At 1250m we heard and saw the Crossley’s Ground-thrush, it has been the only important speciality that we saw… It took us 4 hours until the camp. Other birds : Red-breasted Goshawk, Levaillant’s + Red-chested Cuckoo, Green + Yellow-billed Turaco, Bar-tailed + Bare-cheeked Trogon, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Elliot’s + Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Grey Cuckooshrike, Cameroon Olive + Cameroon Montane + Grey-headed Greenbul, Forest Robin, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Black-capped Woodland Warbler, White-tailed Warbler, White-bellied Flycatcher, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Chestnut Wattle-eye, White-throated Mountain-babbler, Olive + Cameroon Sunbird, Oriole Finch, Pink-footed Puffback, Shining Drongo, Dark-backed Weaver…
Below the camp we heard Green-headed or Monteiro’s Bushrike (they have the same call), we tried to see him during more than 1 hour in the canopy, he was still calling but sadly missed it. Close to the camp the Grey-headed Broadbill was often calling but never came!
As we didn’t see or hear the Mount Kupe Bushrike on Max trail, we went the 24th on Shrike trail climbing above the nature trail and the water tank. Very steep, but many branches to hang up, we climbed until some big rocks in a gully and have been waiting for 2 hours, we gave up. We saw Icterine + Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird. Grey-headed Broadbill calling, but never answered to the tape…
On the Nature trail we spent 2 hours on the top of the cave, overhanging the forest : African Pied Hornbill, Emerald Cuckoo, African Piculet, Honeyguide Greenbul, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Black-capped Apalis, Splendid Sunbird, Pale-fronted Negrofinch…
The road after the village, the bushes and cultivations around the school, the school grounds were very productive : Black Kite, Palmnut Vulture, Black Sparrowhawk, Long-crested Eagle, Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, African Green Pigeon, Tambourine Dove, African + Klaas’s Cuckoo, Speckled Mousebird, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Black Beeeater, Piping Hornbill, Naked-faced + Yellow-billed Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Slender-billed Greenbul, Forest Swallow, Ethiopian + Barn Swallow, Mountain Wagtail, Snowy-crowned Robin-chat, Whinchat, African Thrush, Greater Swamp Warbler, Chattering Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, Black-collared Apalis, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Green Hylia, Cassin’s + Yellow-footed Flycatcher, Bate’s Paradise Flycatcher, Shrike Flycatcher, Black-and-white Flycatcher, Forest White-eye, Forest Penduline Tit, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Mackinnon’s Shrike, Pink-footed Puffback, Narrow-tailed Starling, Splendid Glossy Starling, Village Weaver, White-breasted Negrofinch, Orange-cheeked Waxbill…
Animals : Red-cheeked Rope Squirrel, Pygmy Squirrel, heard Galagos (Demidoff’s?).
The 26th we left at 10:15 am by taxi paying 6 seats to Tombel. At Tombel we paid 4 seats at 500CFA to Loum. At Loum we have been waiting around 1 hour that a minibus coming from the north to Douala stopped, they were all crowded. At last we had one, 1500CFA/2,29€, trip of 1:30 hour. At Douala we took a taxi 1000CFA to the Bus Jacko where we bought our tickets to Edea (1000CFA/1,52€, 1 hour). Arrived at 3:45 in Edea bus station, went to Hostellerie de la Sanaga with 2 taxi-motobikes (500CFA each). We asked to one of the drivers to hire his motorbike for the following day, negociated 18000CFA/22,90€, the lad was happy…
SANAGA RIVER (27/02)
At the Hostellerie La Sanaga we paid 25000CFA the double (accept euros), facing the river. At 7am our motorbike arrived, and we were free to go along the river and stop where we wanted. We took the dirt road left after the bridge (going back to Douala), and stopped at the sandbanks. Passed Dizangue the road left the river, there was a lake but we saw nothing, it was hot; then it was rubber plantations. Birds seen : Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Woolly-necked Stork, Black Kite, Palmnut Vulture, European Marsh Harrier, Grey Pratincole, White-fronted Plover, Little Stint, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, African Skimmer, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Senegal Coucal, Woodland + Giant + Pied Kingfisher, Black + Little Bee-eater, Piping + White-thighed Hornbill, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Preuss’s Ciff Swallow, White-throated Blue Swallow, Yellow + African Pied Wagtail, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Pied Crow, Slender-billed Weaver, Vieillot’s Black + Village Weaver…
People found very funny to see 2 whites on a motorbike !
The last day we went back to Douala to the Hotel La Falaise (different from Residence La Falaise) 22000CFA/33,54€, cheaper than Hotel Ibis and good enough for resting and take a shower before leaving to the airport in the evening.
Birds seen : 322 species (144 lifers)
Expense in 30 days for 2 : 2293€ (without flights)