Birdwatching in Kenya and Wildlife Tour
When the word safari is mentioned the general image formed in one's mind will probably be based on a scene from the great plains of East Africa. And indeed, Kenya is generally regarded as the home of the safari, where the concept was first pioneered in the mid to late 1800's. Things have changed since then, but a Wildlife Safari in Kenya still captures that classic ambiance of comfort in the wilderness, of vast open plains teeming with all manner of wild beast, and it's a must for anyone keen on birdwatching and wildlifeviewing.
The scale and diversity is incredible, and with this in mind we have developed a 17-day Bird Watching Kenya itinerary that focuses on both birds and wildlife, taking in some of the best that Kenya has to offer. Getting around in Kenya takes time, and can be quite tiring, so we've tried to keep travel time to a minimum. After a first night in Nairobi we experience the arid wonderland of Samburu, land of majestic Reticulated Giraffes and stylish Doum Palms and home to some unique birds and mammals. From there we visit the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in the shadow of Mount Kenya; explore three of the Rift Valley Lakes (Lakes Nakuru, Bogoria and Baringo) as well as Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake on the planet.
From there we have the highlight of the experience in the famous Masai Mara, Kenya's prime wildlife reserve and part of the massive Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem. We have avoided the prime season to avoid peak-season pricing and higher tourist numbers, and while we aren't in the area during the migration, it will still amount to the experience of a lifetime. This 'easy birding and wildlife' itinerary aims to deliver a decent bird list and incredible mammal viewing combined with comfortable accommodation and a manageable pace. A safari entails a lot of car time, and we use stretched Land-Cruiser game viewers, specially kitted out for photography, with a maximum of five clients and one leader per vehicle to make for the most comfortable experience possible.
Please note: this tour is listed in ZAR (on the Blue Sky Wildlife website only), but will be charged in US Dollars: USD $5 975 per person sharing for a full group of 5 participants; USD$ 6 550 pps for 4 participants; USD $ 7 550 pps for 3 participants; USD $455 single supplement option
Top 6 Highlights:
- *See the Samburu specials – Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, Grevy’s Zebra, Beisa Oryx, Desert Warthog & Vulturine Guineafowl.
- *Marvel at the wildlife dotted across the plains of Ol Pejeta against the backdrop of Mount Kenya.
- *See the Rift Valley lakes of Nakuru, Baringo and Bogoria.
- *Experience forest birding in Kenya’s remnant patch of tropical forest at Kakamega, the eastern limit of many Central African species.
- *Visit Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake (the size of Ireland!).
- *Enjoy extended game drives across the Masai Mara, offering some of Africa’s most epic game viewing.
Alternative Tour Name: Birds and Wildlife of Kenya
Today we'll arrive in Kenya at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where we'll be met by a representative from FACT Safaris, our ground team in Kenya. We'll take a drive through to Town Lodge where we'll have time to unwind before dinner (dinner at own cost) and discuss the exciting safari program to come.
Today we'll have an early start with an 06h00 breakfast and 06h30 departure for Samburu, driving north-west through central Kenya and past Mount Kenya to arrive at Elephant Bedroom Camp in time for lunch. Elephant Bedroom is a charming tented camp overlooking the Ewaso-Nyiro River, located within the park's best game viewing area along the meandering river. Although relatively small at 165 km sq, Samburu connects with Buffalo Springs National Reserve on the southern side of the river as well as a number of community conservancy areas to create a vast wildlife refuge. The area is arid, with a mean annual rainfall of around 350mm, and comprises rocky hills and outcrops, dry scrub and Acacia plains, while the river floodplain is more verdant, with stands of characteristic Doum Palms creating a very scenic backdrop. While Samburu is home to species such as Elephant, Lion and Leopard, the more unique 'Samburu Specials' are arguably the main attraction: Reticulated Giraffe, Grevy's Zebra, Gerenuk, Beisa Oryx, Guenther's Dik-Dik, Somali Ostrich and Vulturine Guineafowl. Samburu offers great general birding as well, and species we'll be looking out for include Ruppel's Vulture, Black-faced Sandgrouse, Somali and White-throated Bee-eaters, Von der Decke's Hornbill, D'Arnaud's Barbet, African Orange-bellied Parrot, Rosy-patched Bush Shrike, Slate-coloured Boubou, Rufous Chatterer, Spotted Palm Thrush, Parrot-billed Sparrow, White-headed Buffalo Weaver, Straw-tailed Whydah and many others. We'll have an afternoon drive on the day of arrival and on our full day will head out with a packed breakfast to explore the reserve, returning again for lunch and a siesta before an afternoon drive.
Today we'll have an early breakfast (or alternatively we'll take a packed breakfast with us) before departing Samburu and crossing over into Buffalo Springs as we make our way back to the main A2 road to Nanuki and on to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The Conservancy is located on the equator between the foot hills of Aberdare Ranges and the highest mountain in the country – Mount Kenya. The 110,000 acre private wilderness of Ol Pajeta boasts an astonishing variety of wildlife including all members of the ‘Big Five’ (The endangered Black and White Rhino, Leopard, Lion, Elephant and Buffalo). The birding is also excellent and species we'll be looking out for include White-bellied and Buff-crested Bustards, Scaly Francolin, Eastern Chanting Goshawk, White-bellied Go-Away Bird, Blue-naped Mousebird, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Spot-flanked Barbet, Black-lored Babbler, Hildebrandt's Starling, Golden-winged Sunbird, Grey-capped Social Weaver and many others. We should arrive in time to settle in before lunch, followed by some down time resting or viewing birds and wildlife at the waterhole in front of the camp. Our afternoon drive will take us out onto the open plains, where herds of game and the backdrop of Mount Kenya make for some classic East African scenery, returning to camp in the evening for time to freshen up before dinner.
Today we'll be up early, leaving camp with a packed breakfast as we head out to explore the conservancy. We'll spend the morning exploring the plains, marveling in the wealth of wildlife, before we have our breakfast and depart for our next stop, Savora Lion Hill Game Lodge situated on the eastern side of Lake Nakuru. Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes, lying at an altitude of 1,754 meters above sea level and surrounded by the 188 sq km Lake Nakuru National Park. The lake can house impressive numbers of Lesser Flamingos, but the numbers do depend on water levels and for the last few years the raised water levels have forced most of them to move to Lake Baringo (our next stop). But the park still provides some excellent birding and wildlife viewing. Birds to look out for include a wide range of water-associated species (both species of Flamingo and Pelican, Storks, Ibises, waders, Ducks, Kingfishers, Cormorants etc) as well as Hildebrant's Francolin, Grey-crested Helmetshrike, Brown-backed Scrub Robin, Ruppel's Robin Chat, Shining Sunbird, Speckle-fronted Weaver and many others, while mammal species include both Rhino's, Lion, Leopard and a range of plains game species. Once again we should arrive in time for lunch followed by an afternoon birding / wildlife excursion.
Today we'll have a short birding session in the lodge gardens before breakfast and departure for our next stop. En route we will visit Lake Bogoria, another one of Kenya's saline Rift Valley lakes, featuring geysers and hot springs along its shoreline as testament to the geological activity below the bed of the Rift Valley. We'll do some birding and game viewing here, with lunch at a lodge before we continue to our accommodation at Lake Baringo. Lake Baringo is one of the northernmost Rift Valley Lakes, with an area of around 130 km sq, lying at al elevation of 970 meters above sea level. Lake Baringo is a freshwater lake, as opposed to the other saline lakes of the Rift Valley, and as such doesn't attract as many Flamingos as Lake Bogoria. But there is still some good birding and wildlife viewing in the park, and after checking in we'll do some casual birding in the lodge gardens to end off the day. On our full day we'll spend our time birding and wildlife viewing, with a boat trip on the lake as one of the highlights of our stay here. Species we'll be looking out for include Fox Kestrel, Fan-tailed Raven, Hemprich's and Jackson's Hornbills, Bristle-crowned Starling, White-billed Buffalo Weaver, Northern Red Bishop, Brown-tailed Rock Chat, Heuglin's Courser and others.
Today we'll leave Lake Baringo with packed breakfasts and make our way up the escarpment and through the Kiero Valley, with birding stops en-route as warranted. We'll have picnic breakfast and lunch stops before arriving at our accommodation in the late afternoon, with some birding in the lodge grounds to end off the day. On our two full days here we will spend most of our time birding in the forest, a remnant patch of equatorial rain forest that shows high levels of endemism in both animals and plants, making it one of Kenya's biodiversity hotspots. Birds we'll be looking out for include Turner's Eremomela, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Grey-chested Illadopsis, Grey-winged and Blue-shouldered Robin Chats, Grey Parrot, Great Blue Turaco (wow!), Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill, Chestnut Wattle-eye and many others. Primates are also well represented, and we could see species such as Blue, Red-tailed and De Brazza's Monkeys, Black-and-White Colobus, Olive Baboon and Potto. We'll be birding on foot for the most part in Kakamega, which, together with the lush surroundings, will make a nice change from the drier reaches of central Kenya, and three nights here will give us ample time to get to grips with the local avifauna.
Today we'll have a last birding session at Kakamega before breakfast and departure for Kisumu, Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world (covering almost 60 000 sq km!). We are staying at Impala Eco Lodge, situated on a large bay on the far eastern side of the lake. We should arrive in time for lunch and some relaxation, with some casual birding along the lake shore to end off the day.
Today we'll once again start off with some casual morning birding before breakfast and departure for the highlight of the tour, the famous Masai Mara. Think open plains dotted with all manner of plains game, endless horizons, epic vistas in every direction, unparalleled predator sightings - this is classic East Africa! The Mara, as it's known as , covers some 1 510 sq km, but is part of the much greater Serengeti / Masai Mara ecosystem, one of Africa's greatest wildlife havens, totaling some 25 000 sq km of open plains, rocky outcrops, woodland groves and unparalleled large mammal biomass. Mammal species include the classic African species such Elephant, Lion, Buffalo, Black Rhino (with some luck), Cheetah, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Hippopotamus, Masai Giraffe, Plains Zebra, Defassa Waterbuck, Impala, Thompson's and Grant's Gazelles, Eland, Topi, Wildebeest, Kongoni and others (an impressive array of species in impressive numbers!), The birding is also very good and species we'll be looking out for include Martial Eagle, Ruppel's Vulture, Augur Buzzard, Grey Kestrel, Grey Crowned Crane, Kori and White-bellied Bustards, Ross's and Schalow's Turacos, Bare-faced Go-Away Bird, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, White-browed Coucal, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Spot-flanked, White-headed and Double-toothed Barbets, African Gray Woodpecker, Sooty Chat, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, White-bellied Tit, Bronze Sunbird, Jackson's and Yellow-mantled Widowbirds, and many others. Our time in the Mara is divided between two camps, the first being Mara Serena Safari Lodge, situated in an area known as the Mara Triangle, on a ridge overlooking the Mara River. In order to make the most of our time here, on our full day we'll take packed meals with us to allow us to spend as much time as needed out in the reserve - it's a huge place so having packed meals allows us to range far and wide in search of wildlife.
More of the magical Mara today as we have a last activity before breakfast followed by a game viewing transfer through to Entim Camp, a superb tented camp overlooking the Mara River and a fitting last port-of-call on our Kenya safari. We should arrive in time for lunch, followed by an afternoon safari, and on our full day we'll once again take packed meals and range across the Mara for the day, taking in the majesty of one of Africa's greatest reserves. In the evening we'll have a final dinner to wrap up this wonderful birding and wildlife experience.
Today we'll head out for a last morning on the plains before we rendezvous with our charter flight for the hop back to Nairobi. For those departing today there will be a transfer through to the main airport, while for those overnighting in Nairobi we'll get a transfer through to the Four Points Sheraton to relax for the rest of the day (accommodation not included in the tour).
During the safari we’ll be looking for these species plus many more: Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk, Reticulated Giraffe, Masai Giraffe, Grant’s Gazelle, Thompson’s Gazelle, Grevy’s Zebra, Plains Zebra, African Elephant, African Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, Olive Baboon, Kirk’s Dik-dik, Lelwel, Topi, Eland, Impala. Somali Ostrich, Vulturine Guineafowl, Jackson’s Francolin, Moorland Francolin, Great Blue Turaco, Black-billed Turaco, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, Hueglin’s Bustard, Hartlaub’s Bustard, Blue Malkoha, Blue-headed Coucal, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Grey Crowned Crane, Quail Plover, African Skimmer, Saddle-billed Stork, Secretarybird, Scissor-tailed Kite, Egyptin Vulture, Ruppel’s Vulture, Eastern Chanting Goshawk, Grasshopper Buzzard, Red-chested Owlet, Bar-tailed Trogon, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Von Der Decken’s Hornbill, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Somali Bee-eater, Double-toothed Barbet, Fox Kestrel, Grey Parrot, African Orange-bellied Parrot, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Rosy-patched Bush Shrike, Papyrus Gonolek, African Blue Flycatcher. To mention a few…
What is included?
- All accommodation or lodgings based on double occupancy
- Single occupancy available at extra cost (single supplement)
- All meals (except lunches and dinners on first and last days)
- Entrance fees to all National Parks, Provincial Reserves and other sites / attractions on the specified itinerary
- Ground transport in 4x4 photographic converted Land Cruiser
- Charter flight from Masai Mara to Nairobi on the last day
- Bottled water in vehicle whilst travelling
- Personalised bird / mammal checklists and itinerary
What is not included?
- Travel and medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation)
- All airfares unless otherwise indicated
- Excess baggage charges
- Visa fees (if applicable)
- All drinks
- Optional excursions where applicable
- Tips and Gratuities
- Items of a personal nature (incl. laundry and telephone charges)
A deposit will secure your place on the tour, with full payment due 8 weeks before the tour starts. Terms and Conditions apply, we'll give you all the info during the inquiry process.
In 2020 we are celebrating our 30th year of running birding and wildlife safaris in Africa. So we have plenty of experience in the game, and pride ourselves in creating incredible wildlife holiday experiences for our clients from across the globe. We offer quality wildlife experiences through set-departure and custom safaris, guided by fun and experienced birding and wildlife guides. Like our motto says, "you'll want to return to Africa with us time and time again!" See more on our website.
This tour carries a dual focus, with both birds and mammals as the core focus, so it will suit anyone with an interest in natural history, as well as birders (of all levels of skill) and photographers.
On days we aren't moving location or camp, we usually meet up for a cup of tea / coffee before heading out on a long morning activity, often taking a packed breakfast with us to maximise our time in the field, such as in Samburu and the Masai Mara. At some locations we may have an early breakfast before departure, or alternatively have a morning activity before a late breakfast. We will factor in down time to allow for some rest and relaxation and enjoyment of the camp environment, and will keep the overall pace manageable.
There generally aren't any age limits on the tours, so children are welcome. However, given the nature of the tours (long periods spent in vehicles looking for birds / animals, and not always finding our target species, despite the effort put in), our set-departures probably aren't suitable for children. For families we'd rather recommend a custom-safari, where you can dictate the pace and level of interest, and include more child-friendly accommodation venues. Speak to one of our consultants for advice.
In general credit cards are widely accepted, though Diner's Club is the exception (Visa and Master are better options). It is a good idea to have some US Dollars on hand for smaller purchases or times when card machines may not be working, and to have small-denomination notes on hand for tipping porters etc. Speak to one of our consultants for more info.
Most certainly! We usually recommend coming in a day early to acclimatize and reduce the risk of missing out a day or two due to flight delays or other travel problems, and we are happy to arrange this accommodation for you. And if you would like to extend your time in the country, our consultants are happy to help with suggestions and bookings.
We send out more detailed packing lists as part of every safari info pack, but basically you'll need comfortable clothing, preferably in neutral colors. In general clothes dry quite quickly for self-washing, and most private places have laundry services, so it's not necessary to over pack. We do recommend some warm gear for all safaris, just in case of cooler weather coming through, and especially for safaris entailing open-vehicle drives. Even at 20 degrees Celsius it can start getting a little chilly on a moving vehicle when you are exposed to the wind. Hats and sunglasses are essential. A torch / flashlight is also essential, and we strongly recommend socks and closed shoes after dark. Adapters - make sure you have the right adapters to be able to charge your devices.
Unless otherwise stated, our set-departures do not require any advanced degree of fitness, as most of the activities are vehicle-based. Where there is any walking involved this is normally an optional activity so you are welcome to sit it out, and for the most part birding walks are slow and involve frequent stops, more like strolls than hikes.
In general yes - when using restaurants you are able to order whatever item on the menu suits you. When using lodges doing their own catering then advanced warning will usually enable them to cater for your needs. Please indicate any special needs to us well in advance. Note that the food is very good in general on our trips so you don't need to indicate that you are vegetarian just because you are worried about what meat may be served - for the most part it's beef, pork, lamb and chicken, though game meat may be available as an option. Speak to our consultants if you have any specific questions.
Generally warm to hot and humid, with afternoon thunderstorms occurring regularly.
Medium to medium-plus; some long travelling days and some full days out on safari.
Mammal viewing: Outstanding! Unbeatable for multitudes of plains game and predator action. Birding in brief: Excellent, many of the East African specials to be seen.
It's good to high, comprising private guest houses, lodges and mobile safari camps.