19 Days Birdwatching Safari in Kenyafrom
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
Day 1: Nairobi National Park Nairobi
Nairobi National Park is located just 7 KM south of Nairobi city center. It’s the only park in the world located within a capital city. It’s home to a wide assortment of game animals, including a good population of the endangered Black Rhinoceros, big cats such as lion, cheetah, and leopard, zebra, giraffe, and many species of antelope. It’s also an excellent birding locale, with over 500 species recorded within park boundaries. The habitat in the park is mostly open savanna with scattered Acacia bushes. The Athi River on the southern boundary of the park creates riverine habitat that is home to monkeys and forest birds. Some of the bird species to look out for include the Fischer’s Lovebird, Nairobi Pipit, Shelly’s Francolin, Secretary Bird, White-backed Vulture, Kori Bustard, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Moustached Grass-Warbler, Singing Cisticola, Rattling Cisticola, Pectoral-patch Cisticola, Siffling Cisticola, Black-winged Lapwing, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Dark capped Bulbul, Red-eyed, Ring-necked Doves, Marabou Stork, Rufous-naped Lark, the near endemic Northern pied Babbler and Green-backed Honeyguide among others.
Day 2&3: Mt Kenya
After breakfast we leave Nairobi heading to Mt Kenya region but with a brief stop-over in Thika where we will seek to find some special species including the Trumpeter Hornbill, African Goshawk, Grey-olive Greenbul, Collared and Green-headed Sunbird, African Black Duck, Mountain Wagtail, Brown-headed Kingfisher, Brown-backed and Bronze Mannikin, White-headed and Spot-flanked Barbets. We will then try our luck to find our first endemic bird along the way, the Hinde’s Babbler before proceeding to the base of Mt Kenya, passing through fertile farmlands of the central highlands checking in at the lodge for our lunches. Here the species that we will look out for include the magnificent African Crowned Eagle, Great Sparrow-hawk, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Olive and Eastern bronze-naped Pigeon, Montane Nightjar, Fine-banded Woodpecker, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, Thick-billed Seed-eater, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Red-fronted Parrot, White-starred Robin, Hunter’s Cisticola, White-browed Crombec, Cape Robin chat, Waller’s Starling, Kenrick’s Starling, White-bellied Tit, Eastern double-colored Sunbird, Northern double-colored Sunbird, Montane Oriole, Grey-headed Negrofinch, Chin-spot Batis, Brown-capped Weaver, Mountain, Slender-billed and Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, Black-throated, Yellow-crowned Canary, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Chestnut-throated and Grey Apalis.
Day 4, 5 & 6: Shaba—Buffalo Springs-Samburu Game Reserve
Depart early morning and head to Shaba National Reserve for some special birds including an endemic one. These adjoining reserves lie on the edge of the dry zone of northern Kenya and are scenically some of the most attractive reserves in the country. The extensive tracts of grassland, acacia savanna and thorn bush are broken up by strips of lush riverine woodland, whilst in many areas multiple-trunked doum palms further enhance the scenery. This diversity of habitats makes for a very rich avifauna, ranging from the huge Somali Ostrich to tiny Finches. Amongst array of birds here include the endemic Williams lark, Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, Somali Courser, Vulturine Guinea fowl, Donaldson Smith’s Sparrow-weaver, Northern Brownbul, African Bare-eyed Thrush, Palm-nut Vultures, Hooded Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Brown snake-eagle, Bateleur, Verreaux’s Eagle, Pygmy Falcon, Red-necked Falcon, Buff-crested Bustard, African Orange-bellied Parrot, Red-chested Cuckoo, Greater spotted Cuckoo, Diederick Cuckoo, Pick-breasted Lark, Red-winged Lark, Singing Bush Lark, Little Bee-eater, Von der Decken’s Hornbills, Rosy-patched Bush Shrike, Northern Crombec, Golden-breasted Starling, White-headed & Blue-naped Mousebird, Bristle-crowned ,Magpie and Wattled Starlings, Ashy and Desert Cisticola, Cut-throat Finch, Golden palm, Lesser-masked Weaver, Black-capped social Weaver and Pygmy Batis.
Day 7: Sweet waters - Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta Conservancy conserves 90,000 acres of savanna rangeland. Situated between the critically important Aberdares Range and Mount Kenya, the key habitats found include open Themeda grasslands, riverine vegetation along the Ngobit and Ewaso ‘Ngiro rivers and extensive stands of Acacia drepanolobium all of which provide habitats for a wide range of bird species, including resident species and an ever-increasing number of migrants, nomads and visitors. Seeing the iridescent starlings alongside the majestic Kori Bustard or hearing the iconic call of the African Fish Eagle are some of the great bird experiences to be had. One of the highlights will be a visit to the Chimpanzee sanctuary, a charming haven stablished by the Jane Goodall Institute to provide sanctuary to orphaned chimps, and refuge to over 40 species of Black Rhinos. Some of the birds to expect here includes Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Taita Fiscal, Plain-backed Pipit, Long-billed Pipit, Grassland Pipit, Long-tailed Widowbird, Red-colored Widowbird, Red-winged Starling, Cape Rook, Black-winged Plover, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Buff-crested Bustard, D’Anaurd’s Barbet, Temminicks Courser and Nubian Woodpecker.
Day 8: Lake Nakuru National Park
After an early morning bird walk around the lodge’s compound, we will depart for Lake Nakuru but make a brief stop en route to look out for the magnificent Mackinder’s Eagle-owl on a rocky escarpment among other fantastic species. Surrounded by attractive ‘fever trees and arid hills peppered with impressive euphorbias, the lake often holds spectacular concentrations of Lesser Flamingos and small numbers of Greater Flamingos. It has become world famous for these birds, who visit the lake to feed on the blue-green algae that forms on the lake bed. They move back and forth, feeding and occasionally and spectacularly taking to flight, filling the sky over the lake with color. Among the many other bird species we expect to see include the Mocking Cliff chat, Grey-headed Gull, Zitting Cisticola, Winding Cisticola, Red-faced Cisticola, White-fronted Bee-eater, Broad-billed Roller, Green Wood Hoopoe, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Schalow’s Wheatear, Arrow-marked Babbler, Mottled Swifts, Horus swift, Nyanza Swift, Little rock Thrush, White-browed Robin chat, African Harrier-hawk, Long crested Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Coqui Francolin, Hildebrandt’s Francolin, Greater Honeyguide, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl and the rare Grey-crested Helmet shrike if we are lucky.
Day 9 and 10: Lake Baringo
Situated in dry, rocky country clothed in acacia woodland Lake Baringo is the southern-most extent of several desert and arid-country species, so it’s a place to see many specialty birds we won’t see elsewhere not present elsewhere on the tour. During our stay we will explore the lake shore, the surrounding woodland and the sheer cliffs that rise up suddenly to the west of the lake, and also some drier country away from the lake itself. Specialties here include the Slender-tailed Nightjar, the rare Star-spotted Nightjar, the Greyish Eagle-owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Heuglin’s Courser, Bristle-crowned Starling, African Scops Owl, White-faced Scops Owl, Hemprich’s Hornbill, Jackson’s Hornbill, Allen’s Gallinule, Beautiful Sunbird, Pygmy Kingfisher, Green-winged Phytilia and the Brown-tailed Rock Chat.
Day 11, 12, and 13: Kakamega Forest Reserve
We will depart early morning heading to Kakamega but make a stop along the way for some special birds which include the Ross’s Turaco, White-crested Turaco, Meyer’s Parrot, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Yellow-spotted Petronia, Golden-breasted Bunting and Green-backed Eremomela. Arrive mid-afternoon, giving us some time to relax or go birding before dark. Kakamega Forest is the only true rainforest remaining in Kenya and is a superb place to go birding. It was once an extension of the vast Guinea-Congolian rainforest and is rich in species found nowhere else in Kenya. Most birding is along the main road through the reserve and along various side roads and well-used paths, though there is a good network of trails behind the lodge that is home to many species of the forest interior. Some of the specialties here include Uganda Woodland Warbler, Chapin’s Flycatcher, the globally endangered Turner’s Eremomela, Black-faced Rufous-Warbler, the majestic Great Blue Turaco, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Grey-green Bushshrike, Pink-footed Puffback, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, White-spotted Flufftail, Bar-tailed Trogon, Equatorial Akalat, Black and White casqued Hornbill, Square-tailed Drongo, Grey-headed Negrofinch, African Broadbill, African Blue Flycatcher, Snowy-headed Robin-chat, Makinnon’s Fiscal, Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye, Brown-throated Wattle-eye and Jameson’s Wattle-eye.
Day 14: Kisumu
After having our breakfast we will head to Kisumu which is a city on the north-eastern shores of Lake Victoria where our ‘Lunatic Train’ railway line construction stopped, in 1901. Some of the specialties expected to find here include the Papyrus Gonolek, Black-headed Gonolek, White-winged warbler, Greater swamp Warbler, Swamp Flycatcher, Copper Sunbird, Red-chested Sunbird, Northern brown-throated Weaver, Jackson’s Golden-backed Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Black-winged Bishop, Black-billed Barbet, Water Thicknee, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird and the elusive Marsh Owl, if we are lucky enough.
Day 15, 16 and 17: Maasai Mara National Reserve
Today we leave Kisumu and head south, explore the famous Maasai Mara, Kenya’s richest wildlife reserve which at any time of year offers a wonderful wildlife spectacle. These great grasslands are a natural northwards extension of the Serengeti plains and as we near the Mara we shall see the first herds of antelopes. This is probably the best place in Kenya for seeing carnivores and we can expect to enjoy some marvelously close encounters with Lions, perhaps watching a pride snoozing under some bushes whilst the cubs play amongst the Lionesses. The reserve is well known for its spectacular Serengeti-Mara Wildebeest migration that occur between late June and early September each year. Other mammals of interest include the large herds of Elephants, towering Maasai Giraffe, graceful Cheetahs, elusive and shy Leopard, hulking Spotted Hyena and the basking Hippos along the rivers. Birdlife here is equally rich and some of the highlights include Usambiro Barbet, Long-tailed Cisticola, Rock-loving Cisticola, Croaking Cisticola, Familiar Chat, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, White-naped Raven, Rufous-bellied Heron, Yellow-fronted Canary, Wattled Plover, Pale Wren Warbler, Black-backed Puffback, Coqui Francolin, Red-necked Francolin, Woodland Kingfisher, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Grey Kestrel, Brown Snake-eagle, Black-chested Snake-eagle, Dark chanting Goshawk, Greater Kestrel, Lappet-faced Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Ruppell’s griffon Vulture, Rufous-chested Swallow, Hildebrandt’s Starling, Violet-backed Starling, Red-billed Oxpecker, Yellow-billed Oxpecker and the Southern ground Hornbill.
Day 18: Lake Naivasha-Kinangop Plateau
Today after breakfast we head eastwards to Lake Naivasha a fresh water lake outside the town of Naivasha, Nakuru County. The lake has a surface area of 139 km², and is surrounded by a swamp which covers an area of 64 square km, but this can vary largely depending on rainfall. It is situated at an altitude of 1,884 meters (6,180 ft.).The lake has an average depth of 6 m (20 ft.), with the deepest area being at Crescent Island, at a maximum depth of 30 m (100 ft.) The lake is home to a variety of types of wildlife including over 400 different species of bird and a sizeable population of hippos. The fish community in the lake has been highly variable over time, influenced by changes in climate, fishing effort and the introduction of invasive species. Some of the birds we will look out for include the Goliath Heron, Purple Heron, Great white Pelican, Pink-backed Pelican, Lesser Moorhen, Giant Kingfisher, Southern Pochard and African marsh Harrier.
Day 19: Nairobi-JKIA
On this last day we will depart for the airport JKIA but make some few stops along the way including Kinangop grasslands in search of the endemic Sharpe’s Longclaw whose population is declining rapidly due to its habitat lose. Next stop will be at a small wetland along the way and we hope to see the elusive Maccoa Duck, White-backed Duck, Whiskered Tern, White-faced whistling Duck and Fulvous whistling Duck among others.
End of safari, transfer to airport-JKIA.