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Kenya Birding Tour

With 1100 bird species, including more than 20 endemics and near-endemics, and lots of easy open-country birding and big game, Kenya is simply a must-do birding destination.

Our Kenya tour focusses on what's unique - the endemics and near-endemics - and is split into five convenient snippets if you don't have enough time to do it all at once.

Key habitats taken in on the tour are coastal forests at Arabuko-Sokoke (with Sokoke Scops Owl and Fischer's Turaco), highland grasslands at Aberdares and Kinangop (with Aberdare Cisticola and Sharpe's Longclaw), highland forests at Taita Hills, Aberdares, Gatamaiyu and Mt Kenya (with Taita Apalis, Abbot's Starling and Hartlaub's Turaco), tropical forest at Kakamega (with Turner's Eremomela and Blue-headed Bee-eater), deserts at Marsabit (with Masked Lark, William's Lark and Heuglin's Bustard) and savannas at Tsavo East and Tsavo West, Lake Baringo, Buffalo Springs and Masaai Mara (with a whole host of species).

We time our tour to coincide with the main rains and hence resident bird breeding activity, rather than at a time when more Palaearctic migrants are present. Still, we expect to see well over 600 species in total, and lots of mammals too.

Featured Leader: Michael Mills

Michael recommends: This tour is well suited to world listers and keen birders with a sense of adventure.

Michael Mills grew up in the Kgalagadi Gemsbok and Kruger National Parks and has travelled extensively in Africa, Asia, South America and Antarctica. He obtained a Masters degree in Conservation Biology and continues conducting bird research, particularly in Angola.

Besides birds, he has a strong interest in mammals, particularly in small carnivores and African primates.

Michael leads tours for Birding Africa to Cameroon , Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Madagascar and Angola.


 
The bizarre Vulturine Guineafowl is a resident of Kenya's dry bush country.


ITINERARY: Outline

Lamu extention (start Nairobi, end Malindi)
From Nairobi we start off with a short visit to Lamu Island off the north-east coast, reached by air, to see the recently-described Somali Boubou, and may find Zanzibar Red Bishop, Scaly Babbler and Golden Palm Weaver here too.

Eastern Kenya (start and end Nairobi)
A short air hop across to the mainland at Malindi sees us join up with new arrivals from Nairobi, where our focus will be on the endemic-rich coastal forests of Arabuko-Sokoke. Highlights here will hopefully include Amani Sunbird, Sokoke Pipit, Malindi Pipit, Clarke's Weaver, Fischer's Turaco, Mombasa Woodpecker, East Coast Akalat and Sokoke Scops Owl.

From here we make our way inland to the arid savannas of Tsavo East, where specials may include Grant's Wood Hoopoe, Hartlaub's Bustards, and if we are very lucky, Fire-fronted Bishop.

A short detour into the Taita Hills gives us the opportunity for three highly endangered endemics - Taita Apalis, Taita White-eye and Taita Thrush - holding on in the last forest patches.

Back down to the lowlands of Tsavo West we hope to see Pangani Longclaw, Friedmann's Lark, Hildebrandt's Starling, Tsavo Sunbird, Southern Grosbeak-Canary and Pink-breasted Lark, before completing our eastern loop back to Nairobi.

Central and Western Kenya (start and end Nairobi)
Nairobi is conveniently situated near the central highlands and its endemics, although we start off with a day in the very birdy Nairobi National Park, where highlights may include Red-throated Tit and Rosy-throated Longclaw, before continuing on to Thika for the night. We'll hope to track down the localised endemic Hinde's Babbler before climbing into the highlands of the Aberdare ranges.

In the Aberdares, highlights should include Jackson's Francolin, Aberdare Cisticola and Golden-winged Sunbird, before we cross the Kinangop Plateau, home of Sharpe's Longclaw and Jackson's Widowbird, and drop down to Naivasha.

A short detour to Gatamaiyu Forest may turn up Hartlaub's Turaco and the rare Abbott's Starling, before we continue west to Nakuru (for Grey-crested Helmetshrike) and on to Kakamega Forest (for Turner's Eremomela, Blue-headed Bee-eater and lots of other forest birds).

Turning back east we make our way to Lake Baringo where Jackson's Hornbill, Northern Brown-throated Weaver and a host of other dryland birds.

And finally we end off with two full days in the Samburu area where specialties include Grant's Wood Hoopoe, Donaldson Smith's Sparrow-Weaver, Friedmann's Lark, White-headed Mousebird, Black-bellied Sunbird and Vulturine Guineafowl.

Marsabit and Mount Kenya extention (start Samburu, end Nairobi)
From here you have the option of flying back to Nairobi, or continuing north to Marsabit, where the lava deserts are home to Masked Lark and William's Lark, Heuglin's Bustard and Somali Sparrow. After a day here we turn back south for Nairobi, pausing at Mt Kenya on the way to look for any highland specials we may have missed, and to have a second shot at Hinde's Babbler.

Masaai Mara extention (start and end Nairobi)
Finally, for those with an appetite for big game, we offer a four-day extension to Masaai Mara, and the chance to see Karamoja Apalis.



Practical tour information

Focus For keen birders and world listers.
Photography Many participants on our trips are amateur wildlife photographers. And when we get excellent views of a bird or mammal, some time is usually spent watching and photographing it. However, this is not a photographic tour and once the majority of the people have felt that they have absorbed the animal or bird to their satisfaction, then we move on in search of the next encounter. Thus, while the photographic opportunities are very good, the group will only occasionally wait for somebody who wants to spend even longer getting better photos.
Fitness Easy walking, mainly along roadsides and near the vehicle.
Timing During the rains, when most resident birds breed.
Climate While we're travelling at the height of the rains, most of Kenya is arid and rain is likely to have a positive impact on bird activity.
Comfort Moderate to basic comfort in small hotels, guest houses and lodges.
Transport A combination of four-wheel-drives and minibuses
Getting There Please enquire. The trips mostly start and end in Nairobi (see itinerary outline above).
Group Size A maximum of 6 participants.
Top birds Lamu extention: Somali Boubou, Zanzibar Red Bishop, Scaly Babbler, Golden Palm Weaver.
Eastern Kenya: Amani Sunbird, Sokoke Pipit, Malindi Pipit, Clarke's Weaver, Fischer's Turaco, Mombasa Woodpecker, East Coast Akalat, Sokoke Scops Owl, Grant's Wood Hoopoe, Hartlaub's Bustard, Fire-fronted Bishop, Taita Apalis, Taita White-eye, Taita Thrush, Pangani Longclaw, Friedmann's Lark, Hildebrandt's Starling, Tsavo Sunbird, Southern Grosbeak- Canary, Pink-breasted Lark.
Central & Western Kenya: Red-throated Tit, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Hinde's Babbler, Jackson's Francolin, Aberdare Cisticola, Golden-winged Sunbird, Sharpe's Longclaw, Jackson's Widowbird, Hartlaub's Turaco, Abbott's Starling, Grey-crested Helmetshrike, Turner's Eremomela, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Jackson's Hornbill, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Grant's Wood Hoopoe, Donaldson Smith's Sparrow-Weaver, Friedmann's Lark, White-headed Mousebird, Black-bellied Sunbird, Vulturine Guineafowl.
Marsabit & Mount Kenya extention: Masked Lark, William's Lark, Heuglin's Bustard, Somali Sparrow, Hinde's Babbler.
Masaai Mara extention: Karamoja Apalis.
Booking Your booking can be secured with a booking form and deposit. You will receive confirmation and our tour information pack with practical information on what to expect and how to prepare for the tour. The balance is due 150 days before the tour. Contact us to enquire about availability.


About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders. We combine interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, botany and other natural history aspects and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Our guides' knowledge of African birds and birding areas is our greatest strength and together we have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations with the birding community and had a fun time exploring our home continent. We've even written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit.

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Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
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[African Tailorbirding CC (CK2003/020710/23) trading as Birding Africa]
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