Moderate 21 Day Kenya Birding Tour

IMPORTANT NOTE/ PLEASE READ

• If you are into both birds and mammals and you are not a hardcore or a twitcher (though you might be world lister)
• If driving 2 hours on rough road just for two Kenyan endemics isn’t worth it
• If you are not into the idea of waking up at 5am with picnic breakfast and picnic lunch to maximize your list.
• If seeing 500 species on this trip is more than enough and not rushing for specialties and localized to see over 650species
• If you are a keen birder but your wife and (or) kids are not and you want to create a family balance of holiday happiness.

Day 1: Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park birding whole day with picnic lunch. The park, only 10km off the cosmopolitan city has one of the greatest avifauna with a record of over 515 species in an area of only 117km².

Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane, ©chege wa kariuki

Birds in the park includes the newly-almost-described Nairobi Pipit, Common Ostrich, Great, Long-tailed Cormorant, African Darter, Great Egret, Saddle Billed Stork, Common, Madagascar Squacco, Black-headed, Grey Heron, African Spoonbill, White-faced Whistling, Knob-billed Ducks, Red-billed Teal, 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, Emerald Spotted Wood, Laughing Doves, Hartlaub’s Turaco, White-bellied Go-away-bird, White-browed Coucal, African Palm Swift, Blue-napped Mousebird, Little & Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Lesser, Greater Honeyguides, Eastern Honeybird, Nubian Woodpecker, White-tailed, Rufous-naped Larks, Wire-tailed, Lesser-Striped Swallows, Rock Martin, Yellow-throated, Pangani, Rosy-breasted Longclaws, Pale, African Grey, Southern Black Flycatchers, Lesser Swamp Warbler, 9 species of Cistocolas, Abyssinian white-eye, Red-throated Tit, Jackson’s Widowbird, Red & Yellow-billed Oxpecker, among others.

The park has big game such as the Cape Buffalo, Burchell’s Zebra, Hippo, Masai Giraffe, Coke’s Hartebeest, Vervet and the Syke’s Monkey, both Black and White Rhino, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Eastern White-bearded Gnu, Black-backed Jackal, Hyena, Grant’s & Eastern Thomson’s Gazelles, Bohor Reedbuck and Southern Bushbuck, Common Warthog among others.  

Overnight at a Thika Hotel

Lion cub

Lion cub, ©chege wa kariuki

 

Day 2: Thika - Mt Kenya Forest

Hinde's Pied Babbler

A Kenyan endemic Hinde’s Pied Babbler @chege wa kariuki

After an early morning breakfast and search for Hinde’s Pied Babbler, Grey-Olive Greenbul, Brown-tailed Scrub Robin, Black-throated Wattle-eye and if lucky enough the African Finfoot. We later leave for highland birding destination on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, looking at many highland forest species such as Africa’s most powerful eagle the African Crowned, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Mosque Swallow, Black Sawwing, Sharpe’s Starling, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Kikuyu White-eye, Eastern & Northern Double-collared Sunbird. Rameron Pigeon, Red-fronted Parrot, White-headed Woodhoopoe, African Emerald Cuckoo, Grey Cuckoo shrike, Waller’s Starling among other highland birds. also It boast many montane species including the Chestnut-throated, Grey, Black-collared, Black-throated Apalis, Montane Oriole, Bar-tailed Trogons, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Yellow-rumped & Mustached Green Tinkerbirds, Scarce Swift, White-browed Crombec. Also the Mountain, Cabanis’s, Yellow-whiskered and Slender-billed Greenbuls, African Hill Babbler, White Starred Robin, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cinnamon Bracken & Brown Woodland Warblers, Hunter’s Cisticola, Black-backed Puffback, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Northern Double Collared Sunbird, Spectacled, Brown-capped Weaver, Grey-headed Negrofinch, Yellow-bellied Waxbill among others.

Overnight at Castle Lodge

Day 3: Mt Kenya Forest

After an early morning breakfast and search for Hinde’s Pied Babbler, we leave for another highland birding destination on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, looking at many highland forest species such as Africa’s most powerful eagle the African Crowned, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Mosque Swallow, Black Sawwing, Sharpe’s Starling, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Kikuyu White-eye, Eastern & Northern Double-collared Sunbird. Rameron Pigeon, Red-fronted Parrot, White-headed Woodhoopoe, African Emerald Cuckoo, Grey Cuckoo shrike, Waller’s Starling among other highland birds.

Overnight at Castle Lodge

Black-collared Apalis

Black-collared Apalis, ©chege wa kariuki

Day 4: Mt Kenya Forest – Samburu National Reserve

Birding at the lodge and picking up some missing species before leaving for Samburu National Reserve, a very different habitat of arid country hence very different arrays of birds such as Bateleur, Palm-nut Vulture, African Hawk-eagle, Pygmy Falcon, Martial Eagle. A very comical looking bird is Vulturine Guineafowl, Buff-crested and White-bellied Bustards, Black-faced, Chestnut-bellied & Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouses, Rosy-patched Bushshrike,African Orange-bellied Parrot, African Scops-owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Von der Decken’s Hornbill, Red-and-yellow Barbet, Bearded Woodpecker, Somali Bee-eater, Rufous-crowned Roller, Pink-breasted Lark, African Bare-eyed Thrush, Hunter’s & Black-bellied Sunbirds, Golden-breasted, Hilderbrant’s & Fischer’s Starlings, Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow-weaver, Cut-throat & Somali Bunting also a special trip to one corner of the reserve in search of another Kenyan Endemic the William’s Lark.

Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver

Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow-Weaver ©chege wa kariuki

A wide set of mammals thrive in the 3 reserves including Reticulated Giraffe, endangered Gravy’s Zebra, Dwarf Mongoose, Kirk’s & Gunther’s Dikdik, Common Waterbuck, Gerenuk and the war-like horned Beisa Oryx, African Elephant, Lion, Leopard & Cheetah. We’ll spend some time trying to spot and if lucky a Naked Mole Rat throwing soil from his tunnel.

Overnight at Ashnil Tented Camp

Day 5: Samburu National Reserve

Very early morning cup of tea or coffee and a snack and leaving the camp before the sunrise with picnic breakfast for morning game drive. Somali Ostrich, Lappet-faced Vulture, Rüppell’s Griffon, Eastern Chanting-goshawk, Pygmy Falcon, Somali Courser, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, White-headed Mousebird, Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Fischer’s and Chestnut-headed Sparrow-larks, Yellow-vented Eremomela, Spotted Morning-thrush, Mariqua Sunbird, Taita Fiscal, Golden Palm Weaver, Black-capped Social-weaver and African Silverbill  

        

Overnight at Samburu Ashnil Tented Camp

Day 6: Samburu National Reserve

Morning and afrternoon birding and game drive the reserve.

Overnight at Samburu Ashnil Tented Camp

Day 7: Samburu National Reserve – Naro Moru

Early morning game and bird drive through the park before transfer to Naro Moru birding enroute. Visit the afternoon visit the vast & pristine montane forests and alpine habitats of Mount Kenya National Park in search of Alpine Chat, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Jackson’s Francolin all seen above 3000m. Other birds includes the Tacazze Sunbird, Black-headed Waxbill, Abyssinian Crimsonwing and Dusky Turtle Dove among others.

Overnight at Naro Moru River Lodge

Day 8: Naro Moru – Lake Nakuru National Park

After an early morning, breakfast and a short bird walk on the lodge compound. This may as well be a morning with sunbirds, which may include Collared, Northern Double-collared, Variable, Bronze, Tacazze, Green-headed, Amerthyst & Scarlet-chested. Other birds around the area may include Narina Trogon, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, Chinspot Batis, African Black-headed Oriole and Black-crowned Tchagra. In the evening, we might be lucky to locate the African Wood Owl and Montane Nightjar.

African Fish Eagle

African Fish Eagle ©chege wa kariuki

Later transfer to Lake Nakuru National Park stopping at a large cliff wall that is a roosting spot for the highly-sought-after Mackinder’s Eagle-Owl. Also possible are Little Rock Thrush, Red-winged Starling, Pale Flycatcher and Long-billed Pipit.

Overnight at Lake Nakuru Lodge

Day 9: Lake Nakuru National Park

Spend the whole morning and afternoon birding in Lake Nakuru National Park is regarded as the “the greatest ornithological spectacle in the world” with both Lesser and Greater Flamingoes sometimes exceeding 100s of thousands of individuals, however in the recent years you hardly see many thousands individual birds but still it’s a place far worth the birding experience. The alkaline habitat, acacia woodland, grassland, rivers and inlets with marshes holds residents as well as migratory species.

Birds may include Little Grebe, Great White Pelican, Black-winged Stilt, Gull-billed, Whiskered Tern, Grey-headed Gull, Cape, Red-billed Teal, Three-banded Plover, Little Stint, Long-crested, Tawny Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Augur Buzzard, White-fronted Bee-eater, Lilac-breasted Roller, Rock Martin, Arrow-Marked Babbler, Little Rock Thrush, Wailing, Rattling Cisticola, Rüppell’s Long-tailed Starling, Rüppell’s Robin Chat, White-shouldered Cliff Chat, African Grey Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Common, Grey-backed Fiscal, Tropical Boubou, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu among many others.

In addition, the park is rich in big games that includes the Rothschild Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, waterbuck, Common Eland, hippo, both Black and White Rhino, Lion, leopard, Spotted Hyena

Overnight at Lake Nakuru Lodge

Woodland Kingfisher

Woodland Kingfisher, ©chege wa kariuki

Day 10: Lake Nakuru National Park- Lake Baringo

Early morning breakfast and birding in the park before leaving for Lake Baringo arriving for late at our lodge. Birding around Lake Baringo Conservation Area is interesting by the fact that we spend most of the day outside the car. Birding in the afternoon around the lake.

Overnight at Soi Safari Lodge

Spotted Eagle-Owl

Spotted Eagle-Owl, ©chege wa kariuki

Day 11: Lake Baringo Conservation Area

Birding around the lakes many habitats including the cliffs and the shores. If lucky with the help of the local guides we hope to see some the specialties such as the Northern White-faced & African Scops Owls, Greyish Eagle-owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Three-banded (Heuglin’s) Courser, Slender-tailed Nightjar.

Some good chunk of our time will be spent also at the campground that is rich in birds. Other birds may include: Bristle-crowned Starling, Brown-tailed Rock Chat, Hemprich’s, Jackson’s Hornbills, Green-winged Pytilia, Red & Yellow Barbet, African Pigmy Kingfisher, Black-headed Plover, Black-throated Barbet, Somali Tit, Little, Golden-backed, Northern Masked, Lesser Masked & Black-headed Weavers, Northern Red Bishop, Red-fronted Warbler, Lanner Falcon, Verreaux’s Eagle, Blue-naped Mousebird, Red-fronted Barbet, Pygmy Batis, Northern Crombec and Cardinal Quelea among many other species.

Overnight at Soi Safari Lodge

Shining Sunbird

Shining Sunbird, ©chege wa kariuki

Day 12: Lake Baringo- Kitale

Heuglin's Courser

Heuglin’s Courser, ©chege wa kariuki

Take a boat ride and explore the lake for water birds such as Long-tailed Cormorant, Common Squacco, Green-backed, Purple, Goliath Heron, Yellow-billed Stork, African Darter, Knob-billed Duck and later after breakfast go birdwatching along the cliffs for more species as we head for Kitale. Picnic lunch

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, ©chege wa kariuki

We spend the late afternoon in the smallest national park in Kenya, 2km² in size we’ll walk around birding through the well-structured boardwalks above the swampy marshes with reeds and other wetland vegetation. Birds include the African Paradise Flycatcher, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Double-toothed Barbet, Fine-banded Woodpecker, Angolan Swallow, Grey Apalis, Northern Puffback, Black-billed, Brown-capped Weaver, Black-crowned Waxbill, Black & White Mannikin.

Overnight at Barnley’s House.

Day 13: Kongelai Escarpment

We drive down the Kongelai Escarpment where we expect local specialties such as the Yellow-billed Shrike, Lesser Blue-eared Starling, White-crested Turaco, Chestnut-crowned sparrow-weaver, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Golden-breasted Bunting, Double-toothed Barbet, Northern Brownbul, Brown Snake, Martial Eagle, Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater, Brown Parrot, Black-winged Red Bishop, Stripe-breasted Seedeater, and White-crested Helmet-shrike. Also the Hartlaub’s Marsh Widowbird among many other interesting species.

 

Overnight at Barnley’s House.

Day 14: Kitale – Kakamega Forest Reserve

Blue-headed Bee-eater

Blue-headed Bee-eater, ©chege wa kariuki

After breakfast, we leave for Kakamega Forest Reserve. Lunch at Rondo Retreat Centre. Afternoon birding in the quite -often very productive forest trails.

Overnight at Rondo Retreat Centre.

Day 15: Kakamega Forest

This 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. Spending a few days here we hope to see a good number of these 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.

Overnight at Rondo Retreat Centre.

Red-tailed Bristlebill

Red-tailed Bristlebill, ©chege wa kariuki

Day 16: Kakamega Forest– Kisumu (Lake Victoria)

After early morning breakfast, we head on the west in search of the localized Rock Pratincole along the river while birding the whole morning on the villages, farmland, and the Busia Grasslands. We hope to find a few more localized birds such as the Bar-breasted Firefinch, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Senegal Coucal, White-crested Turaco, Copper’s Sunbird, among others. Arriving in Kisumu later in the late afternoon.

Overnight at Milimani Beach Resort

Day 17: Kisumu (Lake Victoria)- Masai Mara National Reserve

A morning birding on the shores of the second largest fresh-water lake in the world. Along with the Papyrus vegetation at the Dunga Beach (an old fishing village/jet) with the expectation to see some of the specialties like the Papyrus Gonolek, Swamp Flycatcher, Greater Swamp Warbler, White-winged Warbler, other birds include Hamerkop, Little Egret, Yellow-billed Stork, Pied Kingfisher, White-winged, Whiskered Terns, African Skimmer, Red-chested, Copper Sunbirds, Shikra, African Thrush, Black-headed Gonolek, Slender-billed, Northern Brown-throated, Yellow-backed, Jackson’s Golden-backed Weavers, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Black-billed Barbet.

Lion

Lion, ©chege wa kariuki

After this we leave for the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve, a plain of rolling grassland 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. We’ll stay on the western part of the reserve along the Olololoo Escarpments blended by river, swampy, grassy and forested habitats. Specialties include the Long-tailed, Rock Cisticolas, Wattled Plover, Rufous-bellied Heron, Pale Wren Warbler. Also 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 among many others.

Overnight at Mara West Tented Camp

Day 18: Masai Mara National Reserve.

We’ll take a bird walk along the escarpment in search of the Red-tailed Chat, Long-tailed, Rock Cisticola while a bonus of the Mwanza Flat-headed Agama

Lunch at the camp later in the afternoon heading for with an en-route game drive arriving late in the evening.

Overnight at Mara West Tented Camp.

Day 19: Masai Mara National Reserve

Today we en-route game drive the entire reserve looking for bird specialties of the eastern parts of Mara.

Overnight at MatiraTented Camp.

Day 20: Masai Mara National Reserve- Naivasha

After an early morning breakfast transfer to Nairobi en route game drive in Masai Mara National Reserve on our way to Naivasha while searching for more bird species especially the Magpie Shrike and others on the eastern part of the reserve. Picnic lunch along the way.

 

Lake Naivasha, one of the two fresh water lakes along the rift valley.  

Overnight at Elsamere Centre

(the former house of George and Joy Adamson of the Born Free, Living Free, To Walk with the Lions films etc)

 

Overnight at Elsamere Centre

Day 21: Lake Naivasha – Nairobi

After an early morning breakfast take a boat ride on the lake giving us opportunities for close shots of some waterfowls such as Great White Pelican, Goliath, BlackHerons, among the Grey-headed, Black-headed Gulls, Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns, Giant, Pied & Malachite Kingfishers, African Fish Eagles among many other. Later transfer to Nairobi. Early dinner before transfer to the airport for your outbound flight.

The Cost is Inclusive of:

  • Transport with exclusive use of the safari van as from the 1st day to departure day as per itinerary.
  • Pick up and drop off on arrival and departure at the airport.
  • Accommodation in lodges as per the itinerary with all three meals a day
  • Services of a knowledgeable bird guide
  • Boat ride at Lakes Naivasha and Baringo
  • Parks, reserve, and conservation areas entry fee
  • Emergency evacuation
  • Drinking water available from the van cool box
  • other pre-tour information

The Cost is Exclusive of:

  • Medical and travel insurance including luggage.
  • Beverages
  • Items of personal nature such as telephone, laundry, gifts among others
  • Visa, airport tax
  • Tipping of Safari driver guide, lodge porters, waiters, etc
  • Other extras such as balloon Safari, Masai Village visit

Keep In Touch

Birdwatching East Africa
Karibaribi Farm House, Mang’u Rd
P.O. Box 7968-01000, Thika, KENYA
+254 722 329 570.