16 Days Ultimate Birding Tour

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Day 1: Arrival at JKIA

You will be met by our driver guide and be briefed about the 16 days tour. If time allows then a short urban birding can be arranged and carried out around the National Museums grounds, Nairobi Arboretum, Karura forest or any other birding site in close proximity to your hotel. Later on you will be transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Meal plan: Bed and breakfast

Day 2: Nairobi- Maasai Mara (By Road)

Today we will have an early departure and head to Africa’s most spectacular attractions, Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is renowned for its annual great migration of Wildebeests, high concentration of big cats, Big 5, Small 5 and 450 recorded bird species. We will spend our time on the eastern part of the reserve and look for a number of birds including the Golden-breasted Bunting, Red-headed, Spectacled, Speckle-fronted and Grey-headed Social-Weaver, Kori, White-bellied Bustard, Southern-ground Hornbill, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Magpie Shrike, Sooty Chat and the majestic Secretary Bird.

Accommodation: Mara Sarova Tented camp

Meal plan: Full Board

Day 3/4: Maasai Mara

After our early morning breakfast, we will drive across the plains of rolling grassland dotted with a mixture of acacia woodland, the bushy hills, meandering river courses leading us to the famous Mara River, crossing over to the wetter western part of the reserve where we will spend our two nights. This part would be ideal to watch bigger prides of the black-manned Lions, the elusive Leopard, the graceful Cheetah, hulking Spotted Hyena and the basking Hippos along the rivers. With its varied habitats we hope to see a good number of birds including the Croaking, Black-backed, Trilling Cisticola, Rufous-chested, Grey-rumped Swallow, Yellow-fronted Canary, Fan-tailed, Yellow-shouldered Widowbird, Rufous-bellied Heron, Ross’s Turaco, Wattled Lapwing, Woodland Kingfisher, Black-chested & Brown Snake-eagle, Lappet-faced, Ruppell’s griffon& White-headed Vulture, Red-billed Oxpecker and the Familiar Chat.

Accommodation: Mara Serena Lodge

Meal plan: Full Board

Day 5: Maasai Mara-Kisumu (By Road, 5.5hrs.)

Today we head to the largest fresh water body in the continent, the Lake Victoria. The lake was renamed Lake Victoria after Queen Victoria by the explorer John Hanning Speke, the first Briton to document it. Speke accomplished this in 1858, while on an expedition with Richard Francis Burton to locate the source of the Nile River. We will do birding along the north-eastern shores of the lake and hope to see special birds which include the Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, White-winged, Greater swamp, Lesser swamp Warbler, Blue-headed Coucal, Angola, Wire-tailed Swallow, Black-headed Gonolek, Black-headed and Northern brown-throated Weaver.

Accommodation: Kiboko Bay Resort

Meal plan: Full board

Day 6: Kisumu-Kakamega Forest

After breakfast we will drive westwards and aim to get to Busia grasslands which are seriously threatened by human cultivation. Along the way we hope to see the scarce Rock Prancticole, Blue Swallow, Piapiac, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird and the Red-headed Lovebird. At the grasslands we will look for the Bar-breasted Firefinch, Senegal Coucal, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Black, Black-winged Bishop and White-crested Turaco. Later in the afternoon we will head straight to Kakamega Forest where we will spend three nights at the lodge.

Accommodation: Rondo Retreat Centre

Meal plan: Full Board

Day 7/8: Kakamega Forest

It is Kenya’s only tropical rainforest and is said to be the country’s last remnant of the ancient Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once spanned the continent. The rain forest hosts over 360 species of birds, 380 species of plants, 400 species of butterflies, 7 species of primates. It is clearly a quite haven for nature lovers and more so birdwatchers who are keen to look for this special gem. So most birding is done 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. Here we hope to see a good number of forest species which include the Great Blue Turaco, Black & White-casqued Hornbill, Bocage’s, Ludhers’ Bush-shrike, Jameson’s, Common, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Yellow-spotted, Grey-throated, Yellow-billed Barbet, Toro-olive, Ansorge’s, Shelly’s, Joyful Greenbuls, Grey-headed Negrofinch, Equatorial Akalat, Brown-chested Alethe, Red-headed Malimbe, African Broadbill and Turner’s Eremomela.

Accommodation: Rondo Retreat Centre

Day 9: Kakamega-Baringo via Kerio valley (5 hrs.)

After enjoying our breakfast, we will leave the forest and head to Baringo passing through the Kerio Valley. We will stop briefly and search the scrubby and rocky hillsides for the Brown Parrot, White-crested Helmet Shrike, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, Boran Cisticola and the Crested Francolin.

Accommodation: Tumbili Lodge

Day 10: Baringo

Lake Baringo is the most northern of the Kenyan Rift Valley lakes, after Lake Turkana, located in a remote, hot and dusty area boasting of over 470 recorded bird species. So today birding will mostly be done on foot exploring the dry bushland and cliffs of Baringo in search of some special birds. We hope to find the Fan-tailed Raven, Mocking Cliff Chat, Jackson’s, Hemprich’s Hornbills, Greyish Eagle-owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, African Scops-owl, Slender-tailed, Pearl-spotted Nightjars, Heuglin’s Courser, Bristle-crowned Starling, Pygmy Batis, Northern Red Bishop, Red-fronted Warbler, Mouse-colored Penduline Tit, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, northern Crombec, Eastern violet-backed Sunbird, Green-winged Phytilia and the Brown Babbler.

Accommodation: Tumbili Lodge

Day 11: Baringo- Mt Kenya. (App 7 hrs. Drive)

After breakfast we will drive for about 7 hours with brief stops on the way, passing through fertile farmlands of the central highlands checking in at the Naro Moru River Lodge later in the afternoon. After taking some rest we will make use of the lodge’s nature trail and search for some highland species which include the African Black Duck, Mountain Wagtail, Ruppell’s Robin chat, Eastern double-colored Sunbird, Grey-headed Negrofinch, Grosbeak Weaver, African Emerald Cuckoo, White-starred Robin and Moustached-green Tinkerbird.

Accommodation: Naro Moru River Lodge

Day 12: Mt Kenya

At 5,199 m, Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa and is an ancient extinct volcano. With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. The evolution and ecology of its afro-alpine flora provides an outstanding example of ecological processes. It is indeed an ideal birding site that hosts a good number of the highland forest species which are highly sort after by most twitchers and keen birdwatchers as well. After breakfast we will drive to the park, which is not too far from the lodge, and hope to find the endemic Jackson’s Francolin, Alpine Chat, Mountain, Augur Buzzards, African Crowned Eagle, Montane Oriole, African Hill Babbler, Bar-tailed Trogon, Malachite, Tacazze Sunbirds, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Grey Cuckoo-shrike and the Abyssinian crimson-wing.

Overnight at Naro Moru River Lodge.

Day 13: Mt Kenya –Shaba National Reserve

After breakfast we will leave the cool climate of the central highlands and carry on to Shaba national reserve, to the east of Samburu and Buffalo springs national reserves. The Shaba reserve has dramatic scenery including river-side forests, scattered woodlands and dry grasslands dominated by the Shaba Hill volcano. Shaba was the setting for the book and film Born Free, for the film Out of Africa and for the reality show Survivor: Africa. Bird life is plentiful here and similar to that of the Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. Of particular interest will be the endemic and near-threatened William’s Lark, the nomadic Friedmann’s Lark, Pink-breasted Lark and the Somali courser. Overnight at Sarova Shaba Lodge.

Day 14/15: Samburu Game Reserve

Today we drive westwards to the adjacent Samburu national reserve via the Buffalo Springs. The reserve derives its name from the Samburu people of Kenya who have lived in the area for many years. It is rich in wildlife with an abundance of rare northern specialist species such as the Grevy’s zebra, Somali Ostrich, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk and the Beisa Oryx (also referred to as Samburu Special Five). Birdlife is equally rich here and we expect to see the Somali Ostrich, Vulturine Guineafowl, Chestnut-belied Sandgrouse, Blue-naped, White-headed Mousebird, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, Golden Pipit, Golden-breasted Starling, African grey, Red­-billed, Von der Decken’s Hornbills, Hunter’s, Eastern violet-backed, Black-bellied Sunbirds, Somali Bee-eater, Yellow-vented Eremomela, White-headed Buffalo Weaver and Donaldson-Smith Sparrow Weaver.

Accommodation at Ashnil Samburu camp

Day 16: Samburu- Nairobi

We will check out of the lodge after enjoying our breakfast and leisurely drive back to Nairobi where the tour ends, before being transferred to the airport for your flight back home.


Tour Concerns

Climate: Cool to hot, with some rain likely. Hot and humid on the extension.

Difficulty: Mostly easy. There are some fairly walks at Kakamega Forest, Busia Grasslands, Baringo and Mt Kenya areas, moderately early starts are required, and in some areas long drives will be encountered

Accommodation: We will be based in good to excellent lodges throughout.


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