The Gola Forest is the largest area of lowland rain forest remaining in Sierra Leone, and is one of the most important sites for the conservation of threatened wildlife in the country. The Gola Forest is the largest tract of closed canopy, lowland rain forest in Sierra Leone.
It’s a fantastic site to visit for bird enthusiasts in particular and recent bird surveys (Klop et al 2010, Demey 2011) recorded 294 species in the project zone bringing the total to 327, which is among the highest of the Upper Guinean Forests. The birds that occur in the project zone include flagship species such as White-necked Picathartes, Rufous Fishing-Owl, Whitebreasted Guinea fowl and Gola Malimbe.
In addition to birds there are opportunities to see mammals (e.g Upper Guinean Red Colobus, the Western Pied Colobus (pictured) and the Diana Monkey), Small Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians, Butterflies, Freshwater fish and Plants.
In the morning we drive from Freetown to Kenema, departing 7AM. Breaking for lunch in the grounds of the PastoralCenter, Kenema while guide picks up National Park permits. We then drive from Kenema to Lalehun, arriving Lalehun c. 3.30pm. Rest at Lalehun Lodge, soaking up the tranquility of the surrounding forest. Take a late afternoon stroll into the forest, should you desire. In the evening we will be welcomed to Lalehun with the traditional Devil Dance of the Gola people, with dinner.
Option 1 (particularly for keen birdwatchers): -Arise early and enter the forest to observe the many endemic bird species in Gola at dawn. Rest at the lodge for the remainder of the morning, departing after lunch c. 2pm to arrive at the large White-necked Picathartes (Picathartes gymnocephalus) colony (10 nests) in time to observe the birds returning to nest (16km round-trip, c. 5 hrs inc observation time). Dinner at lodge. Option 2: -Depart the lodge c.9am. Enter the forest and walk the to the African Buffalo Field, for the chance to see African Buffalo and duikers. Take in, also, the ancient gravesite of Gola chiefs, and hear the many medicinal uses of the trees and plants. Return to the lodge for lunch and rest through the afternoon (c.12km round trip, 4hrs with observation time). Dinner at lodge.
Rest at the lodge or rise early and enter the forest to observe the many endemic bird species. Take breakfast and depart Lalehun by 9am, journeying back to Freetown with lunch taken at ‘sweet’ Bo.