The lowland forests of western and central tropical Africa are separated by several potential biogeographic barriers to dispersal for forest adapted vertebrates. The two primary barriers are (1) the Dahomey Gap, a savanna corridor that reaches the coast of southern Ghana, Togo and Benin, and separates the West African rainforest into the Upper (Ghana west to Guinea) and Lower Guinea (Nigeria to Uganda and Angola) forest blocks, and (2) the Lower Niger River, a large delta that separates Western and Eastern Nigeria. Previous studies on terrestrial vertebrates (lizards, mammals and birds) have highlighted a genetic break in the Dahomey Gap/Lower Niger River area although the relative importance of each barrier has not been assessed due to limitations in geographic sampling. We compared the phylogeographic history of two co-distributed sister-species of woodpeckers (Campethera caroli and C. nivosa) using data from three loci representing all inheritance modes. Our analyses revealed that both the Dahomey Gap and possibly the Lower Niger River acted as strong biogeographic barriers for the two woodpecker species, with the Lower Niger River being the first barrier to have formed, leading to three distinct populations of C. nivosa. Our divergence time analyses revealed that both these biogeographic barriers formed during the Pleistocene, supporting the Pleistocene refuge hypothesis, with the Dahomey Gap likely appearing about 0.5 myr BP. No genetic structure was recovered among sampled populations in either the Upper or the Lower Guinea Forest Block for both species, despite the considerable geographic area covered.