This 13 days birding tour will enable us to find around 600 species and will take us through many spectacular habitats. We’ll experience some fantastic birding and excellent large game viewing, so there will always be something to draw the eye. We’ll have a chance to walk in the forests and drive amongst the many large game animals that the plains of East Africa are famous for.
Kenya has a unique and diverse array of habitat types, ranging from the snow-capped mountains at about 5000 meters above sea level, tropical lowlands, highland forests, vast savannas, and rolling plains and grasslands to the coastal dry forests and the shores of the Indian Ocean. There is a total of 1100+ bird species recorded on the country’s checklist from its 62 Important Bird Areas (IBAs), with 117 of these being migrants from the Eurasian region.
Day 1: Arrival to Nairobi
Day 2 : Drive Nairobi – Naro Moru River Lodge
Day 3: Mount Kenya National park
Day 4: Drive Mount Kenya to Lake Nakuru
Day 5: Lake Nakuru
Day 6: Lake Nakuru to Lake Baringo
Day 7: Day in Lake Baringo
Day 8: Drive Lake Baringo to Kakamega Forest
Day 9: Kakamega Forest
Day 10: Drive Kakamega Forest to Lake Naivasha– Crater Lake Tented Camp
Day 11: Lake Naivasha – Crater Lake Tented Camp
Day 12: Drive Lake Naivasha – Maasai Mara
Day 13: Drive Maasai Mara to Nairobi and Depart
On arrival Nairobi, you are met by representative. Transfer to Boulevard Hotel for overnight. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel
An early walk in the gardens of the hotel provides our first counts of Kenyan birds: Northern Pied Babbler, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Speckled Mousebird, Black Kite, Pied Crow, Olive Thrush. After breakfast we will drive north towards Mt. Kenya stopping at the Karatina Dam, which is a seasonal swamp that is partly covered by reeds and water hyacinth. Some common finds here are African Jacana gracefully trotting on the wide hyacinth leaves, Little Grebe, White-faced Whistling Duck, Black-headed Heron, Sacred and Hadada Ibis, Black Cuckoo-shrike and African Paradise Flycatcher.
We will continue to the Naro Moru River Lodge arriving in time for lunch. Generally the Naro Moru area is very dry but there is a remaining patch of the Mt. Kenya Forest and the lodge is set just on the forest border. The gentle flowing Naro Moru River separates the lodge from the forest and all the cottages are facing the river. Add to this the extensive garden with a lot of flowering plants and you have a birding paradise.
The afternoon walk will be on the river trail looking for such residents as the African Green Pigeon, a range of Sunbirds (we think of the Tacazze, Bronze and the Variable), Rufous Chatterer, Chin-spot Batis, Giant Kingfisher
After birding in the garden we will drive to the Mount Kenya National park to look for the highland species. Interruptions during this drive could come from Long-tailed and Red-collared Widowbirds and Pin-tailed Whydas that are common on the long grass. Leaving the vehicles at the park gate, we will walk in the forest and we will see many species including Hartlaub’s Turaco, Olive and Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Silvery-cheeked and Crowned Hornbill, Rüppell’s Robin-Chat and the Yellow-crowned Canary.
We head west to Lake Nakuru, which is famous for its thousands of Lesser Flamingos – the Greater Flamingoes will be easily distinguishable by their height. The Great White and Pink-backed Pelican and Black-winged Stilt are also there. Dinner and overnight at Flamingo Hill Tented Camp.
The lake has a low concentration of salt, so it supports fish that of course attract other water birds.It is a good place to look for Avocets, Storks, Ibises, Ducks, Cormorants, Herons, and Terns. In the wooded acacias there is a chance to see the White-browed Coucal, Broad-billed Roller, Arrow-marked Babbler and the Narina Trogon. Overnight in Flamingo Hill Tented Camp.
After breakfast we head further north to Lake Baringo. This is a fresh water lake with a slight degree of alkalinity. The climate is dry and the cliffs around house a variety of bird life. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded. The woodlands by the lake are alive with White-browed Sparrow-Weavers, Jackson’s and Red-billed Hornbills, Bristle-crowned Starlings, and the rare Northern Masked Weavers, there are several Hamerkops along the lakeshore and with luck we should be able to see their nest, which a pair of Grey Kestrels have adopted as a home.
There will be time to relax, enjoy the pool, and bird the grounds of the lodge for the resident Spotted Eagle-owls, and Sunbirds such as the Beautiful, Hunter’s and the Violet-backed. Nightjars are common on the lakeshores at night and the Hippos graze freely on the lodge’s lawn. Overnight is at Lake Baringo Country Club.
Before breakfast, we will bird the escarpment and surrounding countryside for Hemprich’s and Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill, White-crested Turaco, Madagascar Bee-eater, Rufous-crowned Roller, Gabar Goshawk, Cliff Chat and Verreaux’s Eagle which feeds on the Rock Hyrax.
Later on the day we make a boat ride over Lake Baringo, always on the lookout for new bird species. We will come close to the Goliath Heron, African Fish Eagle, Malachite Kingfisher, plus swimming hippo and crocodiles. Dinner and overnight at Rondo Retreat.
We aim to reach Kakamega Forest for a late lunch. This forest, in the heart of an intensively cultivated agricultural area, is a superb remainder of virgin tropical rainforest and is of course the home to a wide range of specialty birds, many which are not found anywhere else in Kenya. The forest is not only home to the rare De Brazza’s monkey (only found in Kakamega Forest), but also to the Hammer-headed Fruit Bat, Flying Squirrel, 400 species of butterflies and no less than 330 species of birds. Overnight at Rondo Retreat.
Yes, birding in a forest has its fair share of difficulties but this is easily forgotten when our count increases with hopeful sightings of the impressive Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, Ross’ and the Great Blue Turaco. Other notables are the Grey-headed Negro-finch, Red-headed Bluebill, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Mackinnon’s Shrike and many more. Overnight in the Rondo Retreat in the forest.
A scenic transfer through the Nandi Hills and the tea rich area of Kericho takes us back to Nakuru and further south to the Lake Naivasha area.We reach Crater Lake in time for a late lunch where we’ll stay for the next two nights. In the afternoon we do a bird walk in the Crater Lake game sanctuary. Dinner and overnight is in the luxury tented camp of Crater Lake. Here each tent is furnished with a giant four-poster bed, dressing room and an en suite bathroom with hot shower.
To have the best sightings of the bird life in Lake Naivasha, Crescent Island is the place of choice. It is a lagoon from where we should be able to see Grey-capped Warbler, Spectacled Weaver, Brimstone Canary and Red-billed Firefinch. There are also a lot of fish eaters. Both the Long-tailed and Great Cormorant together with the Fish Eagle and the Pied Kingfisher are common here.
We head to the famous Masai Mara National Reserve, which borders Serengeti in Tanzania. Mara is the gem of game viewing and bird watching in Kenya with 450 species recorded. We will drive through Masai land, home to one of the most fascinating cultures in Africa.In the vast grasslands we expect to see Elephants; the large Cats – Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah; the herd animals – Zebra, Wildebeest, Thompson’s and Grant’s Gazelles; and specialties like the Hartebeest and the Topi.
Expected bird species are the highly conspicuous Common Ostrich, the small but still conspicuous Cardinal Quelea, Sooty Chat, Ground Hornbill, Open-billed Stork, Temminck’s Courser, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse and Denham’s Bustard. Lilac-breasted Rollers are common. If we find a kill, we may see six species of vultures all dining together: Egyptian, Hooded, Griffon, Lappet-faced, White-backed and White-headed. It will be a double reward should a Hyena or a Jackal join in the scramble for the kill.
In addition we will encounter numerous raptors such as Bateleur, Martial and Tawny Eagles, as well as Pale Chanting Goshawk, Augur Buzzards and Black-chested Snake Eagles. Dinner and overnight Mara Simba Lodge.
After early morning game drive and breakfast, transfer back to Nairobi in time for lunch. Later transfer to the airport for your homebound flight.