Tuesday, March 17, 2009

15 Days Bird Watching In Rift Valley Lakes-Masai Mara - Kakamega forest

The Kenya birding safari starts in Nairobi National Park followed by the Rift Valley Lakes which is a mixture of fresh water lakes (Naivasha and Baringo) and salt water lakes (Nakuru and Bogoria). Further west we find the unique Kakamega Forest, a remaining patch of the tropical rain forest . We end the tour birding in Masai Mara, the Africa of everyone's dream: rolling plains, great wildlife and a wide diversity of birds species.

After breakfast we drive to the Nairobi National Park, which despite being only a few kilometers from the city, is a home to big game. In its open grasslands scattered with acacia trees we will see the first game like Gazelles, Zebras, Giraffes and maybe some of the Cats.
On our birding venture we will see Ostrich, Secretary Bird, Crowned Crane, Vulture, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Tawny Eagle and a herd of Buffaloes should provide Red-billed Oxpecker perched on their backs. Black Kite, Marabou Stork, Pied Crow and African Palm Swift are also available in the park.
A walk around the Hippo pools should give us our first sighting of the Nile Crocodiles and the Helmeted Guineafowl. In the Yellow-backed Acacia, look out for Grey Crowned Crane, Red-throated Tit and Chestnut-banded Plover.
Overnight at a hotel in Nairobi.


After breakfast we leave Nairobi via the Nakuru road to the Rift valley. The Nairobi - Nakuru road is on a contour along the rim of the Rift valley and on viewpoints we will be able to see our whole route for the next days.
On the way we take a brief birding stop at the Limuru Swamp to see resident birds species such as Little Grebe, Yellow-billed and Maccoa Duck, Pelicans, Coots, Egrets and Herons. Soaring are Black Kite, Augur Buzzard and Pied Crow.
The Menengai area is very beautiful with cliff walls and steam jets filling the crater with mist. It is only 10 km from the Nakuru National Park and has not been touched by tourism. This is an easy to explain situation as safari evolves around wildlife with other geographical features being relegated to viewpoints that is if they happen to be visible from a highway. Fortunately Menengai Crater is off the highway, so it is spared the viewpoint ritual of convoys of tour buses stopping for the mandatory 10 minutes break of photo taking.
In the afternoon of day 3 we will do a birding walk in the crater where we will enjoy the beautiful contrasts of nature. Rocks that have stood the test of time, natural springs with mirror clear water, lava that reminds us that this is the Rift Valley and baboons trooping around with their babies. Possible sightings here are the Common Stonechat, Yellow-rumped Seedeater, Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting, Yellow Bishop, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Northern Anteater chat, White-fronted Bee-eater and Shallow's Wheatear.

On day 4 Lake Nakuru

We go bird watching in Lake Nakuru, which is famous for its thousands of Lesser Flamingos - the Greater Flamingoes will be easily distinguishable by their height. The Great White and Pink-backed Pelican and Black-winged Stilt are also there.
The lake has a low concentration of salt, so it supports fish that of course attract other water birds.
It is a good place to look for Avocets, Storks, Ibises, Ducks, Cormorants, Herons, and Terns. In the wooded acacias there is a chance to see the White-browed Coucal, Broad-billed Roller, Arrow-marked Babbler and the Narina Trogon.
We go with a picnic lunch, so that we can take a full day for birding and game viewing in the park.

After breakfast we head further north to Lake Baringo which without doubt is a one of the most interesting places for bird watching in Kenya because of the different habitats that are found with-in a small radius. There is the fresh water lake with a slight degree of alkalinity, cliffs, open grasslands as well as scattered bushes.
Over 400 species of birds have been recorded. The woodlands by the lake are alive with White-browed Sparrow-Weavers, Jackson's and Red-billed Hornbills, Bristle-crowned Starlings, and the rare Northern Masked Weavers, there are several Hamerkops along the lakeshore and with luck we should be able to see their nest, which a pair of Grey Kestrels have adopted as a home. There will be time to relax, enjoy the pool, and bird the grounds of the lodge for the resident Spotted Eagle-owls, and Sunbirds such as the Beautiful, Hunter's and the Violet-breasted. Nightjars are common on the lakeshores at night and the Hippos graze freely on the lodge's lawn. Overnight is at lodge.

On day 6 Lake Bogoria

we go birding to the nearby alkaline lake of Bogoria, famous for its thousands of flamingos and beautiful hot springs. As this area is very hot, we go early and return to the Baringo Country Club in time for a late lunch. Afternoon is spent birding leasurely in the garden of the lodge.
Before breakfast on day 7 we will bird the escarpment and surrounding countryside for Hemprich's and Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill, White-crested Turaco, Madagascar Bee-eater, Rufous-crowned Roller, Gabar Goshawk, Cliff Chat and Verreaux's Eagle which feeds on the Rock Hyrax.
Later on the day we make a boat ride over Lake Baringo, always on the lookout for new bird species. We will come close to the Goliath Heron, African Fish Eagle, Malachite Kingfisher, plus swimming hippo and crocodiles.

Kakamega forest, in the heart of an intensively cultivated agricultural area, is a superb remainder of virgin tropical rainforest and is of course the home to a wide range of specialty birds, many which are not found anywhere else in Kenya. The forest is not only home to the rare De Brazza's monkey (only found in Kakamega Forest), but also to the Hammer-headed Fruit Bat, Flying Squirrel, 400 species of butterflies and no less than 330 species of birds.
Yes, birding in a forest has its fair share of difficulties but this is easily forgotten when our count increases with hopeful sightings of the impressive Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, Ross' and the Great Blue Turaco. Other notables are the Grey-headed Negro-finch, Red-headed Bluebill, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Mackinnon’s Shrike and many more.

A scenic transfer through the Nandi Hills and the tea rich area of Kericho takes us back to Nakuru and further south to the Lake Naivasha area.
Lake Naivasha is a fresh water lake without a known outlet. This is very strange considering that the rivers that feed it are salty. The lake has dense vegetation, which in turn supports a variety of birds. The area has a bird count of 350 species.
We reach Lake Naivasha in time for a late lunch where we'll stay for the next two nights. In the afternoon we do a bird walk in the garden of the hotel, which borders the lake. A late afternoon boat ride gives us not only the chance to see numerous Hippos but also a wide variety of fresh water birds. A nocturnal visitor in this lodge is the hippo, whose deep munching we will easily identify from the comfort of our rooms.

Hell's Gate is only a short drive away from the lodge. The first part is open grasslands bordered with steep rock cliffs in which the Rüppell's Griffon Vulture nests. Easy sightings here are the Verreaux's or Black Eagle, Common Ostrich, Black-shouldered Kite, White-fronted Bee-eater, Grassland and Long-billed Pipit, Northern and Schalow's Wheatear, Lilac-breasted Roller...
The narrow gorge has a completely different habitat and hence very different birds: Yellow, Grey and African Pied Wagtail, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, Purple Grenadier, Common Drongo, Superb Starling, Brimstone Canary, Common Waxbill, White-browed Robin-Chat...

DAY 12, 13 & 14: MASAI MARA
We head to the famous Masai Mara National Reserve, which borders Serengeti in Tanzania. Mara is the gem of birding and game viewing in Kenya with 450 species recorded. We will drive through Masai land, home to one of the most fascinating cultures in Africa.
In the vast grasslands we expect to see Elephants; the large Cats - Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah; the herd animals - Zebra, Wildebeest, Thompson's and Grant's Gazelles; and specialties like the Hartebeest and the Topi.

Expected bird species are the highly conspicuous Common Ostrich, the small but still conspicuous Cardinal Quelea, Sooty Chat, Ground Hornbill, Open-billed Stork, Temminck's Courser, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse and Denham's Bustard. Lilac-breasted Rollers are common. If we find a kill, we may see six species of vultures all dining together: Egyptian, Hooded, Griffon, Lappet-faced, White-backed and White-headed.

In addition we will encounter numerous raptors such as Bateleur, Martial and Tawny Eagles, as well as Pale Chanting Goshawk, Augur Buzzards and Black-chested Snake Eagles. Along the Mara River we'll watch for African Finfoot, Schalow's and Ross' Turaco, Crested Guineafowl, Woodland Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Barbet, Black-billed Weaver, Violet-backed Starling, and perhaps with luck, Pel's Fishing Owl. Any tapping noise on the trees may be indicative of the relatively uncommon Woodpeckers (Golden-tailed and Fine-banded). Hopefully we will be lucky enough to see some of the more difficult to see mammals such as Bat-eared Fox, Hunting Dog, Serval and the delightful Banded Mongoose.

DAY 15: Maasai Mara – Nairobi

Heading north to Narok, we stop to browse in the bustling, vibrant Maasai markets to buy curios and handicrafts before continuing to Nairobi where our safari ends.

13 days birding safari

13 Days - Nairobi - Amboseli - Tsavo West - Taita Hills - Arabuko Sokoke Forest - Mida Creek - Sabaki River Mouth - Tsavo East - Kibwezi Forest - Chyulu Hills - Nairobi

Day 01: Nairobi - Amboseli
After an early morning breakfast, proceed with your safari by road to Amboseli National Park. The park and surrounding game reserve cover 1260 sq miles and is mostly arid woodland with a series of swamps and lakes that provides a year round water supply for wildlife. The snowcapped peak of Kilimanjaro rising above a saucer of clouds, dominates every aspect of Amboseli and forms a backdrop to an impressive display of wildlife with its population of lion, huge hard of elephant, buffalo e.t.c. With a game drive en-route you'll arrive to your lodge for lunch. Afternoon game drive, dinner & overnight at camp/ lodge.

Day 02: Amboseli
After breakfast it will be the perfect time for photographing the humbling and magnificent Mt. Kilimanjaro the highest peak in Africa. With picnic lunch you depart your lodge for a full day birding section with our eagle eyed birding guide. Please take this opportunity to add a new species in your birding list. Dinner and overnight at Lodge.

Day 03: Amboseli - Tsavo
After early morning breakfast, commence your safari by road with our driver/guide through the North Great Road to the legendary land of man-eaters - Tsavo National Park. A diverse and vast park which is one of the largest game sanctuaries in the World when we combine Tsavo west and Tsavo East covering an area of more than 20,000 sq km. This wilderness supports a large number of games including elephants, rhino, lion, huge herd of buffalo etc. Enjoy your lunch at Kilanguni Lodge, which is magnificently set at the heart of the park with views of the Chyulu Hills and the snowcapped Mt. Kilimanjaro. Each room has a private verandah overlooking the waterhole and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Dinner & overnight at Kilanguni Serena Lodge .

Day 04: Tsavo - Taita Hills Forest
After an early morning breakfast, we proceed with our safari by road to Taita Hills Forest. Taita Hills Forest has an area of 400 ha, at an Altitude of between 1350-2228m. It lies south -eastern Kenya south and west of Voi town, and rising abruptly above the semi-arid plain of Tsavo west National Park. Taita Hill share some botanical affinities are located 120 km distant. Geologically, the hills are the northern most outpost of the ancient Eastern mountains of Tanzania and Malawi. Dry bushland runs up the flanks of the hills, giving away rather abruptly near the top to small holder cultivation or remnant patches of moist forest. Special Species that we focus here will include the Taita Falcon, Taita Thrush, Taita white eye, Bar throated Apalis. All meals, dinner & overnight lodge.

Day 05 - 07: Taita Hills Forest - Arabuko - sokoke forest
After an early morning breakfast, proceed with our safari to Arabuko-sokoke forest. Has an area of 41,600 ha at an altitude of 0-21m above the sea level. It was proclaimed a crown forest in 1932 and gazetted 1943 covering an area of 2,700 ha added in 1968. Arabuko-sokoke has three types habitats namely; Mixed forest 7,000 ha, Brachystegia woodland 7,700 ha on white, very infertile soil and Cynometra forest 11,300 ha with a canopy height of 7-8 m. Here we target species likes Sokoke scopes owl, Clarke's Weaver, Amani sunbird, Ant-eater thrush, Eastern Nicator, Mombasa woodpecker among other globally threaten species that only occurs in this forest. All meals, dinner and overnight will be served at a lodge/ beach club.

Day 08: Arabuko sokoke forest - Mida creek
After breakfast, it will be the perfect time for photographing the humbling and magnificent Mangrove forest (the magical trees) of Mida creek. Mida creek has an area of 26100 ha and stretches for almost 40 km along the seashores and it's a fascinating world of cultures to discover, lying at 0-10 m above the sea level. Area comprises a complex of marine and tidal habitats on Kenya's north coast, stretching from just south of Malindi town southwards to beyond the entrance of Mida creek. Habitats include inter-tidal rock, sand and mud, fringing reefs and coral gardens; beds of sea grass; coral cliffs, platforms and islets; sandbeaches; and mangrove forests. The sand dunes are great workout to build leg muscles and the tiny sand granules are fantastic as they massage every nerve of your foot - it's natural reflexology. Our species of focus will include among others the Crab plover, Terek sandpiper, Mangrove kingfisher, Greater Sandplover, Eurasian Oystercatcher among others. All meals, dinner and overnight will be served at lodge/beach club.

Day 9: Mida Creek- Sabaki River Mouth
After breakfast we drive further north to Sabaki river mouth. It Comprise the sandbanks, mudbanks, dunes and fresh water pools and marshes at the mouth of the Sabaki, Kenya's second longest river 5km north of Malindi town. The state and size of the estuary vary seasonally depending on river flows. Just north and south of the river mouth are grassy dunes that conceal permanent or temporary pools of fresh water. Here we anticipate species like the Sooty gull, Zanzibar red bishop, Greater snipe, Malindi pipit, Broad billed sandpiper, Whimbrel among other Coastal species. All meals, dinner and overnight will be served at lodge/beach club.

Day 10: Sabaki- Tsavo East National Park
After an early breakfast, Our safari will be destined for Tsavo East National Park with Vast savanna, it lies low in semi-arid country at the Eastern edge of the inland plateau, north of the main Mombasa - Nairobi road and railway much of the park is level, open country, with scattered rock outcrops. Birdlife is abundant and beautiful, with some 400 species to be seen, 48species of wildlife and several reptile species are found in the park, including, crocodiles, common in the Athi and Tsavo rivers, whose rocky confluence lies just north of Voi town. All meals and overnight will be served at lodge.

Day 11: Tsavo East National Park - Kibwezi forest

Day 12: Kibwezi forest - Chyulu hills forest
After an early morning breakfast, we leave for Chyulu hills forest situated 190km south -east of Nairobi and 30km south west of Kibwezi are relatively recent volcanic origin and the range is composed of ash cones and craters. This hills hold no permanent surface water, but rainfall percolating through the porous rock feed many permanent fresh water source in the surrounding plains, notably Mzima springs and the Tsavo and Galana rivers. Hills are relatively undisturbed and shelter indigenous vegetation and wildlife. All meals dinner and overnight will be served at lodge.

Day 13: Chyulu hills forest - Nairobi
After our early morning breakfast we bid fare well to Hunter's lodge and leave for Nairobi arriving in time for lunch at Pampa Grill . Later early in the evening, a complimentary dinner will be hosted by our company at the world famous CARNIVORE RESTAURANT considered "Africa's greatest eating experience" (if you love barbecue it doesn't get better than this), thereafter you will be transferred to the airport in time for your International departure flight.

7 Days birdwatching safari

Day 1: Nairobi – Lake Baringo
Pick up from your hotel and drive through Limuru tea farms, descending to the floor of the Great Rift Valley with a brief stop at the viewpoint. Mt. Longonot (which is of volcanic origin) and Lake Naivasha can be seen from far. Enroute to Lake Baringo . This is one of the fresh waters lakes in the rift valley and a bird watchers paradise –it has over 460 recorded bird species and a number of hippos. Check in and in lunch at Lake Baringo county club of which the rooms have plenty of information on the areas bird life or campsite. A resident ornithologist leads walks before breakfast and in the evenings. Dinner and overnight at lodge/ campsite.

Day 2: Lake Baringo
After breakfast, take a 1-hour bird watching trip by boat to the island to view more birds and hippos. On the Island you can organize short excursions at an extra cost to see the njemp village (local tribe) and dancing, or a local snake farm. After proceed to the nearby Lake Bogoria 1 hour away. Lake Bogoria is a shallow soda lake hosting thousands of pink flamingos, a large number of other birds and the lesser kudu. Scalding hot springs and geysers at the southern end of the lake spurt and steam their alkaline waters. The flamingos feeding in the bluish water presents a rare scenic beauty. Dinner and overnight at a lodge/lampsite

Day 3: Lake Baringo – Kakamega
After breakfast, drive to Kakamega national reserve. This is the country's only tropical rain forest and formed part of the dense rain forest that stretched from West Africa, across central Africa and in to the highland areas East and West of the great rift valley. The forest is world renowned as home to several hundred species of birds including rare snake eating birds, insects, monkey and other mammals as well as countless exotic tree species. Dinner and overnight at lodge/campsite.

Day 4: Kakamega
After breakfast, spend a full day in the Kakamega national reserve with bird walks accompanied by game wardens and our driver/guides. Dinner and overnight at a lodge/campsite.

Day 5: Kakamega –Nakuru
Drive to lake Nakuru national park after an early breakfast arriving at the Lake Nakuru lodge in time for lunch. The park is a home to stunning flocks of lesser and a great flamingos, which literally turn the lakeshores in to a magnificent pink stretch. The bird life here is world renown and over 400 birds species can be seen like, white pelicans and the marabou stork, all water birds that breed in the lakes alkaline waters. You may also spot white rhino, rare Rothschild giraffe, and other plain game. Dinner and overnight at a lodge/campsite.

Day 6: Nakuru – Naivasha
A pre breakfast bird spotting drive in the park and around the lake before returning to the lodge for breakfast. Drive to hells gate national park with brief stop at the Lake Elementaita viewpoint. The park is famous for its natural steaming geysers and a haven for birdwatchers. The walking/ hiking in the park gives one a sense of freedom, open vultures, verreaus eagles, augur buzzards and thousands of swifts. Over 120 species have been recorded here. Lunch at Lake Naivasha country club and the afternoon is spent at leisure either to explore the rich, bird filled gardens or an optional boat ride to crescent Island (at an extra cost). Dinner and overnight at lodge/campsite.

Day 7: Naivasha – Nairobi
After a leisurely breakfast drive back to Nairobi and drop off at your hotel or drop off at JKI Airport to catch your flight back home.

10 Days Meru National Park, Samburu, Lake Nakuru , Lake Baringo , Lake Naivasha.

Hope to see birds in the following habitats: forest, grassland, wetland,barren land. over 450 bird species are available.

Day 1. Meru National Park
Depart Nairobi past Central highlands i.e Embu/Meru towns to Meru National Park . Afternoon bird watching. Dinner and overnight at a lodge or campsite.

Day 2 . Meru National Park
Full day bird watching, all meals and overnight at a lodge or campsite.

Day 3. Samburu National Reserve
Depart Meru National park for Samburu arriving in time for lunch. Afternoon Bird watching. Dinner and overnight at a lodge or campsite are well prepared for you. Welcome

Day 4. Samburu National Reserve
Full day bird watching. All meals and over night at a lodge or campsite.

Day 5 . Lake Nakuru
Depart Samburu after breakfast for lake Nakuru National park . Lunch and afternoon bird watching.

Day 6. Lake Baringo
Early morning bird watching before departing for lake Baringo in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight at a lodge or campsite.

Day 7. Lake Baringo - Full day bird watching. All meals and overnight at a lodge or campsite.

Day 8- Breakfast at lake Baringo and depart for lake Naivasha to arrive in time for lunch. Afternoon bird watching. Dinner and overnight at a lodge or campsite.

Day 9. Lake Naivasha- Full day bird watching.
All meals and overnight at a lodge or campsite

Day 10. Nairobi
After breakfast return to Nairobi .Enjoy dinner at carnivore restaurant and the overnight stay at Nairobi hotel.

Bird watching in Kenya 5 Days - Nairobi - L. Naivasha - L.Nakuru - Maasai Mara

Day 01: Nairobi - Lake Naivasha

After breakfast we depart from our Nairobi hotel for a scenic drive through the Great North road to Lake Naivasha. Stop en-route at the view points of the Great Rift Valley for stunning views arriving Lake Naivasha by mid-morning for bird walk before time for lunch at Lake Naivasha Lodge. Lake Naivasha being close to Lake Nakuru and 65 miles from Nairobi, is a freshwater Lake. It was declared a bird sanctuary in 1967 and also supports pastoral industries of wine and flowers. During our full day field trip to Lake Naivasha, we study the birds of the region such as herons, fish eagles, ospreys, black crakes, and lily-trotters. Dominated by the shadow of Mt. Longonot, few lakes in the world have a more commanding or spectacular setting than Naivasha.We also have an excursion to the Elsa mere Center. Activities include reliving the experience of Joy Adamson and Elsa while viewing "Born Free." Lake Naivasha being on the Rift floor is home to an incredible variety of species. Over 450 species have been recorded here. Dinner and overnight stay at Lake Naivasha Lodge or similar.

Day 02: Lake Naivasha -Lake Nakuru
This morning we leave Naivasha and head for Lake Nakuru Park, regarded by avid birders' as the greatest World ornithological spectacle on the Earth. The park is famous for its millions of pink flamingoes lining on the lake shore, arriving by mid morning at Lake Nakuru for a game drive en route before checking-in at Lake Nakuru Lodge for Lunch. Afternoon game drive followed by a walk along the shores which will also allow us to see the many wild animals in the park and especially the park is the Sanctuary to the Black Rhino, White Rhino and the Rothschild Giraffe. Here we'll have the chance to look out at some of the common species like the Lesser and Greater Flamingoes, African fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Green Wood Hoopoes, Cliff Chat, Great White and Pink Backed Pelicans plus other intra- African Migrants. Dinner and Overnight stay today will be at Lake Nakuru Lodge or similar.

Day 03: Lake Nakuru - Masai Mara
after breakfast, drive across the floor of the Great Rift Valley the longest rift in the crust of the Earth to Masai Mara Game Reserve the unspoiled Savannah. Masai Mara is actually the northern portion of the Great Plains ecosystem in the neighbouring Tanzania called Serengeti. It is a home to the "big five" lion, buffalo, rhino, leopard and elephant as well cheetah, zebra, giraffe and vast herds of plain antelope and numerous and other wildlife. Our accommodation for the nights will be at one of the excellent lodge Mara Sopa Lodge. Sopa is a Masai word meaning welcome and indeed this is a tradition which has been well adopted by the lodge to all guest. Set in the Oloolaimutia valley the lodge blends in perfectly with its surrounding hillside landscape. After lunch and some time to relax and perhaps take a dip in the pool, you will depart with your driver guide for an afternoon game drive in search of the big five. As sun starts to edge dip into the horizon, it will be perfect time to photograph the beautiful Mara rolling plains. Don't forget this is the right time to spot the shy leopard. Dinner & overnight at the lodge.

Day 04: Masai Mara
A full day in the Mara, the extensive grasslands are a strong hold to the threatened, migratory Corncrake and the near threatened Jackson's widowbird. The bush and woodlands around the reserve also hold some unique bird species, more than 450 bird species have been recorded in the Mara, including 12 species of cisticola and birds of prey. Large numbers of palaerctic migrants winter in the area including Caspian plovers and white storks. Other local and unusual birds in the Mara include Rock Cisticola, Rufous Bellied Heron, Denham's Bustard, Black Coucal, Red Tailed chat, Pale Wren Warbler, Tabora Cisticola, Yellow Bellied Hyliota, Green-capped Eremomela and Magpie Shrike. All meals, dinner and Overnight stay will be at Sarova Mara Camp or similar.

05: Masai Mara - Nairobi - Fly
After breakfast, we drive back to Nairobi arriving in time for lunch at Toona Tree Restaurant where you can enjoy some good Italian food, Check-in to day room at Nairobi hotel. Farewell dinner Later early in the evening, will be hosted by our company at the world famous Carnivore Restaurant considered "Africa's greatest eating experience" (if you love barbecue it doesn't get better than this), and home to the "Simba Saloon" one of the cities most popular night clubs. Thereafter you will be transferred to the airport in time for your International departure flight

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