9 Days Bird Photography Tour

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Day 1: Nairobi JKIA – Mt Kenya Distance 168 km, time app 3 hours

After arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, you will be met by your guide and driver. From here we will head for the country’s highest summit, our journey to Birding in Mt.Kenya could yield  Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Ruppell’s Robin-Chat, Mountain Yellow Warbler, and Yellow-crowned Canary. As dusk fallsthere is increasing excitement as we wait to see what will come to drink orfeed at the water hole. A Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl often keeps watch and sometimes Montane Nightjars put in an appearance, while frequent mammalian visitors include Guereza Colobus & Syke’s Monkey, White-tailed Mongoose, Spotted Hyena, Blotched Genet (feeding at the ‘genet table’), African Elephant, Bush Pig, Giant Hog, African Buffalo, Bushbuck, Suni and Waterbuck. We’ll spend the early mornings searching for White-starred Robin, Abyssinian Crimson-wing, African Crowned Eagle, African Emerald Cuckoo, and Moustached Green Tinkerbird. A shaded riverside trail may reveal Crowned Hornbill, Mountain Wagtail, and up to eight species of sunbirds, including the stunning Tacazze Sunbird.

Day 2/3: Mt Kenya – Samburu – Buffalo Springs Reserve Distance app 195 km, time about 3.5 hours

After a morning bird walk we will depart for Samburu/Buffalo Springs Game Reserve continuing to do birding on the highlands on the way down. Below the escarpment the habitat changes dramatically and dry acacia bushveld is dominant. The 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 Crombec. Some spectacular birds live in these fine reserves, such as the aptly named Secretary Bird, the bizarre Vulturine Guinea fowl and the huge Kori Bustard, while specialties of the area include the diminutive Somali Bee-eater, the comical White-headed Mousebird,the stunning little Golden Pipit, the fabulous Golden-breasted Starling and the wonderfully-named Donaldson Smith’s Sparrow-weaver. In contrast the lodge gardens form veritable oases, with the added bonus of copious food supplies provided by sympathetic guests! Here we should find Emerald Spotted Wood Dove, African Mourning Dove, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Red-billed Hornbill,Northern Brownbul, Rufous Chatterer, Spotted Morning Thrush, African Bare-eyedThrush, Red-billed and White-headed Buffalo Weavers, Golden Palm andBlack-headed (or Village) Weavers, and Parrot-billed Sparrow.

Day 4: Samburu– Ol Pejeta Conservancy – Sweet Waters Distance 142 km, time app 2 hrs. 45 min

After our early morning breakfast we will embark on our game drive and birding in the Samburu National Reserve while heading towards Ol Pejeta Conservancy. This is a 24,000 acre private Conservancy. It’s home to a variety of wildlifebird species, and flora. It has a waterhole that is floodlit by night thereby providing an exotic game viewing experience. One of the highlights will be a visit to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a charming haven established by the Jane Goodall Institute to provide sanctuary to orphaned chimps, and refuge to over 40 species of black rhinos. Sweet Waters boasts of excellent game viewing experience with the highest ratio of game to area among any other parks orreserves in Kenya. Some of the birds to expect here include Black-winged Plover, Hildebrandt’s Starling, Temminicks Courser, Blue-naped Mousebird, Buff-crested Bustard, Amethyst Sunbird, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Long-billed Pipit, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Taita Fiscal, White-bellied Go Away Bird, Kenya Rufous sparrow, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, D’Anaurd’s Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, White-eyed slaty flycatcher among others.

Day 5: Ol Pejeta Conservancy – Lake Nakuru National Park Distance 156 km, time app 4 hrs.

Early morning birding around Sweet Waters will produce a good number of water birds, grassland and forest edge species. Later on we will depart for Lake Nakuru National Park which is one of the best places in Kenya for seeing Leopard, but even so we will need some luck if we are to come across one during our visit. We will arrive to witness vast flocks of flamingos and other water birds. The surrounding woodland holds Narina Trogon, Red-throated Wryneck, Arrow-marked Babbler, and African Firefinch. Amongst the many other species we should see at the lake itself or in the surrounding area are Little Grebe, Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, the distinctive ‘white-breasted’ form of the Great Cormorant, Long-tailed Cormorant, Little and Great Egrets, Grey Heron, Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill, Cape Teal, African Fish Eagle, Coqui and Hildebrandt’s Francolins, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Kittlitz’s and Blacksmith Plovers, Wood Sandpiper, Grey-headed Gull, Gull-billed, Whiskered and White-winged Terns, Klaas’s and Black Cuckoos, Nyanza and Horus Swifts among others.

Day 6/7/8: Lake Nakuru – Maasai Mara National Reserve ‍Distance 226 km, time app 5.5 hrs.

We will depart early morning after breakfast checking out birds we might have missed the previous day on the way to Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Mara, the northern portion of the magnificent Serengeti system, offers spectacular vistas overflat-topped acacia and grassy plains riddled with ungulates and other animals. 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. For many people, the Mara’s famous Cheetahs are an even bigger draw than the Lions, for their languid grace and extraordinary burst of speed when hunting gazelles is something to behold. We will certainly spend some time tracking down these beautiful cats in their favorite haunts, perhaps coming across one stealing softly through the tawny grass or even watching a hunt. With all the big cat and hyena activity there are plenty of carcasses around to attract gatherings of hissing and squawking vultures. We’ll spend the days in the eastern part of the reserve looking for East Africa’s famous Lions, Leopards, Rhinos, Buffalos, African Elephants, gazelles, and other wildlife. However, birding does not take a back seat, and we should be rewarded with views of many large raptors and vultures that gather at the kills, as well as storks, Kori Bustard, Southern Ground-Hornbill, and other species that suffer from disturbance outside these large protected areas. Other highlights may include Rufous-bellied Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Temminicks Courser, Sooty Chat, and Schalow’s Turaco.

Day 9: Maasai Mara to Nairobi, JKIA ‍Distance 259, time app 5 hrs.

After breakfast we will depart Maasai Mara making our way out of this vast wilderness and reluctantly back to Nairobi in time for your flight.


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