Kenya Birding Safari (14 days)

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specialAfrica is known for its Big Five Game viewing but low and behold where there’s wildlife there is also a wide variety of birds! A photographers paradise, you visit Nairobi National Park’s bird sanctuary and count how many of the 400 bird species you see. Take a boat ride at Lake Naivasha and visit the Kakamega forest, the only true rain forest remaining in Kenya, rich in bird species nowhere else to be seen in Kenya. A 5 hour drive takes you through the Kenyan highlands and the Great Rift Valley on your way to Maasai Mara. Kenya Birding Safari is for you travelers who want to experience all there is to absorb in the Kenya Wilds.

Photo courtesy of Lars Munch Svendsen

Day 1 – Nairobi
On arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport you are met by your driver and guide who transfer you to Nairobi’s Fairview Hotel where your room awaits you. For the rest of the night, relax and catch up with the time zone. Fairview Hotel, Nairobi

Day 2 – Nairobi National Park
This unique wildlife sanctuary is tucked just 10 kilometers away from the bustling city of Nairobi. After processing our entry with the park authorities we venture into this unique and un-spoilt wildlife haven within sight of the city’s skyline. The park is an ornithological paradise with over 400 bird species recorded.

We spend the day with picnic lunch looking out for Saddle-billed Stork, Secretary Bird, Black-shouldered Kite, Lappet-faced Vulture, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Martial Eagle, Shelly’s & Yellow-necked Spurfowls, African Finfoot, Black-bellied & Hartlaub’s Bustards, Pangani, Rosy-breasted Longclaws, 9 species of Cistocolas, Red-throated Tit, Jackson’s Widowbird, Yellow-billed Oxpecker among others.

The park is also home to four members of the Big Five with the exception of the elephant. Rhino, buffalo, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, lion and plenty of antelopes and gazelles can be seen roaming in the open plains of the park.

At 5PM, we visit the David Sheldrick Orphanage located within the park. Featured in the National Geographic Magazine, this encounter will put you a few feet away from orphaned baby elephants that have been rescued from near death situations. As the elephants are fed large baby bottles of formula you will learn about the detailed nurturing of these orphans that are ultimately returned to the wild.
Return to the Fairview for dinner and overnight stay. (B,L)

Day 3 – Lake Naivasha
At 8AM, depart for a 40 minutes drive to Lake Naivasha for boat ride along the papyrus shore of the Lake. Our sightings will include Little Grebe, Great White Pelican, Long-tailed Cormorant, Great Egret, Purple, Goliath Heron, Hamerkop, Sacred, Hadada Ibis, Greater, Lesser Flamingo, Cape, Red-billed Teal, African Jacana, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Three-banded Plovers, Marsh, Wood and Green Sandpipers.

Thereafter we drive up the escarpment overlooking Lake Naivasha to the quiet and tranquil Malu set within a private conservancy forming part central highlands montane forest made up of ridges and valleys. We arrive for a sumptuous lunch and spend on bird walks within the conservancy that will yield many of the Afro-tropical highland species. We lookout for Chestnut-throated Apalis, Trumpeter Hornbill, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Fine-banded Woodpecker, White-bellied Tit, Tambourine Dove, Hartlaub’s Turaco and Abbot’s Starling. In addition, we may be lucky to get glimpses of colonies of Colobus monkeys as they playfully swing from branch to branch high up the trees. Dinner and overnight at Malu (B,L,D)
Malu Lodge, Naivasha

Day 4 – Lake Nakuru National Park
Today, we drive to the nearby Lake Nakuru National Park, a bird paradise famed for the large flocks of pink colored flamingoes. A day spent in this park with picnic lunch will make us appreciate why it earned it place as a RAMSAR Site* as well as one of the best performing Rhino sanctuaries in Africa. We spend the day birding most of the habitats; the alkaline shores, acacia woodland, grassland, rivers and inlets with marshes that are home to residents as well as migratory species.

*RAMSAR SITES are wetlands selected by the RAMSAR Convention chosen for the list on account of their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology.*

Our sightings will include White-fronted Bee-eater, Arrow-Marked Babbler, Little Rock Thrush, Wailing & Rattling Cisticolas, Rüppell’s Long-tailed Starling, White-shouldered Cliff Chat, Grey-backed Fiscal, Tropical Boubou, Black Cuckoo-shrike, among many others.

In addition, the park is rich in big games that include the giraffe, buffalo, waterbuck, eland, hippo, both Black and White Rhino, lion, leopard, Spotted Hyena. Return to Malu for dinner and overnight stay. (B,L,D)

Day 5 & 6 – Lake Nakuru/Lake Baringo
A farewell early morning birding session in Nakuru. After breakfast we drive to yet another bird watchers haven, Lake Baringo. Birding around Lake Baringo conservation area is mostly done on foot and boat rather than from the vehicle. In the next two days with the help of the local guides we hope to see some the specialties such as the Hemprich’s and Jackson’s Hornbills, Northern White-faced Scops Owl, Bristle-crowned Starling, Brown-tailed Rock Chat, Green-winged Pytilia, Red-&-Yellow Barbet, Heuglin’s Courser, Slender-tailed Nightjar while birding along the hotel grounds could yield the Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, African Pigmy Kingfisher, Black-headed Plover. Meals and overnight Island camp. (B,L,D)
Island Camp, Baringo

Day 7 & 8 – Kakamega Forest
After breakfast we leave for Kakamega Forest Reserve, a long (5hrs) but interesting and scenic drive with birding en route. As we climb up the scenic Kerio escarpment, the few stops along the way may produce Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Gambaga Flycatcher, Long-billed Pipit, Boran Cisticola, White-crested Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Western banded Snake Eagle, African Water Rail, Zebra Waxbill among others. We make a lunch stopover in Eldoret town before continuing to Kakamega forest arriving at the lovely Rondo retreat tucked deep into the forest in time for an afternoon cup of tea.

Kakamega forest is the only true rain forest remaining in Kenya and was once a continuation of the Guinea-Congolian rainforest, rich in species nowhere else to be seen in Kenya. During our two days stay we hope to see a good number of the forest species that could include the Blue-headed Bee-Eater, Grey-winged Robin, Yellow Spotted, Yellow-billed Barbet, Shelly’s, Joyful, Toro olive, Cabanis’ Greenbul, African Blue Flycatcher, African Shrike-Flycatcher, Snowy-headed Robin Chat, Common, Jameson’s, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Olive Green Camaroptera, Green, Cooper Sunbird, Mackinnon Shrike, Luhder’s Bush-Shrike, Bocage’s Bush- shrike, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Black-necked, Dark-backed, Vieillot’s Weaver, Red-headed Malimbe, Red-headed Bluebill. Meals and overnight Rondo Retreat. (B,L,D) Rondo Retreat, Kakamega forest

Day 9 & 10 – Kisumu/Lake Victoria
An early morning bird walk session in Kakamega forest, we hope to find a few more localized birds such as the Bar-breasted Firefinch, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Senegal Coucal, White-crested Turaco and the Copper’s Sunbird.

Afternoon drive to the Lake side town of Kisumu and onto the rural village of Osiri on the Lake shore. For the next two days, we’ll be hosted by our colleague Frank and his family in a typical Kenyan rural home stay overlooking Lake Victoria. We undertake birding on the shores of the second largest fresh-water lake in the world. Along the Papyrus vegetation we expect to see some of the specialties like the Papyrus Gonolek, Swamp Flycatcher, Greater Swamp Warbler, White-winged Warbler, Red-chested, Copper Sunbirds, Slender-billed, Northern Brown-throated, Yellow-backed, Jackson’s Golden-backed Weavers, Southern Red Bishop, Black-billed Barbet. We also undertake bird walks around the farms and up to a fish landing beach where we get to interact with local fishermen as they offload their catch. We can as well purchase some of the fresh fish for our dinner. Overnight homestay (B,L,D)

Day 11,12 & 13 – Masai Mara Game Reserve
We depart for the Masai Mara Game Reserve in southwestern Kenya. The 5 hour drive takes us through the Kenyan highlands, the Great Rift Valley, a magnificent natural trench stretching approximately 3,700 miles from Lebanon into East Africa and the plains of Kenya. Masai Mara National Reserve is famous for its vast rolling grasslands dotted with a mixture of acacia trees and the plain game which includes large herds of elephants, zebras, topis, hartebeests, gazelles, Impala’s not forgetting the well-known Mara/ Serengeti Wildebeest’s migration, lions, cheetah, leopard and elephant. JK Mara Camp, Masai Mara

With river, swampy, grassy and forested habitats, the Masai Mara also boasts of a prolific birdlife. During our three nights stay with game drives and bird walks we expect to spot the Long-tailed, Rock Cisticolas, Wattled Plover, Rufous-bellied Heron, Pale Wren Warbler, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Ashy Flycatcher, Grey-rumped, Red-rumped Swallow, White-headed, Lappet-faced, White-headed Vulture, White-naped Raven, Ross Turaco, Black-backed Puffback, Croaking Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Hildebrandt’s Starling, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Black & White Casqued Hornbill, Narina Trogon, Lilac-breasted Roller, Common Wattle-eye, Silverbird, Plain and Long-billed Pipit, Saddle-billed, Woolly-necked Stork, Yellow-fronted Canary, Secretary bird, different species of vultures, bustards and eagles among many others. Meals and overnight JK Mara tented camp. (B,L,D)

Day 14 – Nairobi/Departure Day
A final morning of bird watching and game viewing in the Mara. After breakfast, check out and drive back to Nairobi with en route lunch arriving late afternoon. We have a chance for any last minute shopping, dinner and transfer to the airport for your departing international flight. (B,L)

High Season: January- March & July- December
Low Season: April-June

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