The secluded islands of São Tomé & Príncipe, nestled in the Gulf of Guinea, lie 180 miles off the African coastline, offering a dramatic and pristine backdrop for our exploration. This birding tour is nothing short of extraordinary as we aim to encounter all 29 presently recognised endemic bird species, alongside an additional six species likely to be classified as endemics soon. Among the crown jewels of our list are the Critically Endangered São Tomé Ibis, the tree creeper like Giant Weaver, the sought-after Giant Sunbird, São Tomé Fiscal, São Tomé Grosbeak, and two peculiar species of Speirops.
These are just glimpses of the remarkable highlights awaiting us in this captivating and often overlooked corner of Africa. Join us as we search for these extraordinary endemics in paradise!
On arrival at Aeroporto Internacional de São Tomé e Príncipe, a Sustainable Birding representative will meet you at arrivals and do a quick meet and greet, before transferring you to your hotel an hour down the beautiful coastline at the pretty beach town of Sao Joao dos Angolares. Exploring the birdlife around the hotel gardens in the afternoon presents a delightful introduction to the island’s extraordinary species diversity, allowing you to encounter numerous endemic species within your initial hours. Anticipate ticking off several endemics during this time!
Where you will be staying: Roca Sao Joao
This morning, we’ll be heading to the simply brilliant Monte Carmo Forest. Nestled in the heart of São Tomé, the forest stands as a pristine sanctuary of biodiversity, with an array of endemic species unique to this charming island. This lush forest, cloaked in verdant foliage and adorned with towering trees, captivates with its rich diversity of flora and fauna. As you navigate the verdant trails, you’ll encounter a mosaic of endemic bird species and a symphony of bird calls, while colourful butterflies dance amidst the dappled sunlight.
We’ll spend the next two days exploring Monte Carmo, taking packed lunches with us to maximise our time spent in the forest. Target species on the agenda include Sao Tome Thrush, Sao Tome White-eye, Sao Tome Scops Owl, Sao Tome Prinia, Sao Tome Paradise Flycatcher, Black-capped Speirops, Sao Tome Olive Pigeon, Giant Sunbird Sao Tome, Oriole Giant Weaver, Island Bronze-naped Pigeon, Chestnut-winged Starling, Red-headed Lovebird, Newton’s Sunbird and the Sao Tome Shorttail.
It will be a fantastic couple of days with a whole load of endemics checked-off from our list!
Where you will be staying: Roca Sao Joao
The next morning, we’ll be catching a flight to Príncipe Island, São Tomé’s sister island. Príncipe is a truly gorgeous island, that only can be believed by seeing it. This postcard perfect island offers an incredible mix of natural beauty and tropical charm with lush rainforests and beautiful beaches. The island’s volcanic peaks and breath-taking landscapes paint a stunning backdrop against the Atlantic Ocean.
Over the following two full days, our focus will be adding the endemics with Príncipe in their name, along with others. Our excursions promise unforgettable experiences, including immersive boat trips delving deep into Príncipe’s lush forests. Among the rare species frequently sighted are the Príncipe Speirops, Príncipe Golden Weaver, and Príncipe Starling, along with Principe Thrush, Principe Sunbird, Principe White-eye, Principe Weaver, Sao Tome Spinetail and the Dohrn’s Thrush-Babbler.
We’ll also get to see the island’s impressive seabird colonies, among the most remarkable in Africa, offers flocks of the Black Noddy and Bridled Tern. We will also get to do some night walks which will allow us to see the elusive and highly sought-after endemic—the Príncipe Scops Owl.
We’ll spend four days on this wonderful island getting as many sought-after endemics and specials as possible.
Where you will be staying: Roca Belo Monte
The next morning, we’ll catch a flight back to São Tomé. Upon returning, our journey leads us to the warmer and drier northern region of the island. Along the way, expect sightings such as the Harlequin Quail, Golden-backed Bishop, and White-winged Widowbird before we reach our delightful accommodation.
The remaining two days are dedicated to exploring some of the island’s most thriving birding spots, such as Macambrara and the Bom Successo Botanical Gardens. The potential list of endemics here is incredibly enticing, featuring endemics such as the São Tomé Scops-owl, Sao Tome Oriole, and Sao Tome Paradise-flycatcher. An evening expedition will concentrate on spotting any remaining endemic species, culminating in a delightful final island dinner. The following day, our targets will encompass species like the Sao Tome Green Pigeon, Sao Tome Seedeater, Sao Tome Spinetail, among others.
Each evening, we’ll get to relax at the dreamy Club Santana overlooking the azure waters of the Gulf of Guinea.
Where you will be staying: Club Santana
Today, we will be saying our final goodbyes as we transfer you to Aeroporto Internacional de São Tomé e Príncipe where you catch your flight home.
Slow/Medium – we have tried to keep this tour as slow paced as possible, with enough time at each destination to gain target species.
Easy/Medium – some on-foot birding activities can be quite difficult, especially in the humidity. High winds are always a relief! However, nothing too strenuous or enduring.
The Sustainable Birding Company is a subsidiary of Far and Wild Travel, a tailor-made tour company based in Cumbria, UK. Far and Wild Travel offer sustainable, luxury, tailor-made tour itineraries throughout Africa and around the world.