Kenya is a birdwatcher's paradise, and on this tour we can expect to see around 600 species as we make our way from Nairobi National Park to the Masai Mara. Delights include grey crowned crane, lesser flamingo, and endemic gems such as Sharpe's longclaw or Aberdare cisticola. We should also see herds of zebra and wildebeest in the Mara, as well as a variety of other mammals.
All prices are per person and include:
* Services of the naturalist leader
* International and domestic flights
* Most meals
* Guided activities
* Park & Conservancy fees
* Visits to Masai village & Thomson's Falls
➕ Day 1 Depart UK
➕ Day 2 Arrive Nairobi & transfer to Nairobi National Park
On arrival we meet our driver-guide and head for Nairobi National Park, where key species include red-throated tit and rosy-throated longclaw. We also hope to find gazelle, giraffe, and the critically endangered black rhinoceros. At the hippo pools, we look for local gems including dark-capped yellow and African moustached warblers.
Accommodation: Permanent tented camp, Nairobi National Park, 1-night on full board basis
➕ Day 3 Birding in Nairobi National Park; transfer to Mount Kenya
We explore this birding mecca in the early morning, then after breakfast drive to the forested slopes of Mount Kenya, birding as we go. After lunch, we take a guided walk on designated trails around the lodge, to spot local bird specialties such as the red-fronted parrot, white-starred robin, white-headed wood hoopoe, Narina trogon, and Cabanis's greenbul.
In the evening we take a bird walk in the forest around the lodge to seek out nocturnal species.
Accommodation: Safari lodge, Mount Kenya National Park, 2-nights on full board basis
➕ Day 4 Full day birding at Mount Kenya
Today we have a full day searching for birds and wildlife in the montane forest. Mount Kenya and its forests provide great birding opportunities and the region's highlights include threatened species such as the migrant lesser kestrel, Jackson's widowbird, Abbot's starling, Jackson's francolin, Hunter's cisticola, crowned eagle, Sharpe's longclaw, olive ibis, lammergeier, Ayres's hawk-eagle, African grass owl and Cape eagle owl.
Birdwatching at the lodge is excellent, and species recorded here include silvery-cheeked hornbill, olive and eastern bronze-naped pigeons, Hartlaub's turaco, Ruppell's robin-chat, mountain yellow warbler and yellow-crowned canary. The waterhole and salt-lick in front of the lodge attract regular visitors from the forest, such as African buffalo, bushbuck, waterbuck, black-and-white colobus monkey, Sykes' monkey and the occasional bushpig or giant forest hog.
➕ Day 5 Birding in the highlands; transfer to Samburu
After an early breakfast we head north on a spectacular drive to Samburu through grassland and stunning scenery, keeping an eye out for long-tailed and red-collared widowbirds along the roadside. We arrive at our lodge in time for lunch with time for a rest before a late afternoon drive in Samburu National Reserve.
Accommodation: Safari lodge, 3-nights on full board basis
➕ Days 6-7 Explore Samburu, Shaba & Buffalo Springs
We spend two full days in this incredibly rich part of Kenya, exploring Shaba, Buffalo Springs and Samburu National Reserves with early morning and late afternoon game drives. Here the highlights include Grant's wood hoopoe, Donaldson Smith's sparrow-weaver, Friedmann's lark, black-bellied sunbird and vulturine guineafowl.
Together these reserves host over 380 bird species thanks to the combination of the semi-desert habitat and the rich woodlands along the Ewaso Ng'iro River. Birds of the arid northern bush country are augmented by a number of riverine forest species, and a number of raptor nest on the cliffs of Samburu's inselbergs. Mammal life is also prolific, with chances to see olive baboon, vervet, dwarf mongoose, Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe, Kirk's dik-dik, common waterbuck, gerenuk, and the magnificent beisa oryx.
➕ Day 8 Transfer to the Rift Valley; birding at Lake Elementaita
Today's long drive takes us past the northern tip of Aberdare National Park and the spectacular Thompson's Falls, where we stop for lunch. This is an Important Bird Area, where we hope to see slender-billed starling, African snipe, tinkling cisticola and Cape wagtail. Also present are martial and crowned eagle, mountain buzzard, African marsh harrier and golden-winged sunbird. Other species of interest include both lesser and greater flamingoes, the remarkable Jackson's widowbird and grey-crested helmet-shrike.
We continue to Lake Elementaita in the Great Rift Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a RAMSAR site with more than 450 bird species, and stay on the lakeshore. On an evening walk to explore our new surroundings, we look for feral lovebird, avocet, Klaas's cuckoo, glossy ibis, black heron, red-billed teal and black-tailed godwit.
Accommodation: Safari lodge, Nakuru, 2-nights on full board basis
➕ Day 9 Explore Lake Nakuru National Park
Today we spend a full day exploring nearby Lake Nakuru, famous for its vast flocks of flamingos, pelicans, and a wealth of other waterbirds.
Apart from the greater and lesser flamingo, species of interest recorded here include many great white pelicans, black necked and little grebe, as well as rare martial eagle, lesser kestrel and Madagascar squacco heron. In the nearby acacia woodland we look for forest birds such as Narina trogon, red-throated wryneck, greater and scaly-throated honeyguides, arrow-marked babbler and African firefinch.
➕ Day 10 Birding at Lake Naivasha en route to Masai Mara
This morning we take a short drive to Navaisha which has over 400 bird species. The waters of the lake attract many waterbirds including the continent's highest concentration of African fish eagle whilst the lakeshore and forests are also excellent birding territory.
After lunch we continue to Ol Kineyei Conservancy in the world-famous Masai Mara Ecosystem.
Accommodation: Permanent tented camp, Ol Kinyei Conservancy, 2-nights on full board basis
➕ Day 11 Explore Masai Mara
We spend a full day in Masai Mara National Reserve. In March, the Masai Mara is beautiful with wildflowers such as fireball lillies coming into bloom, creating splashes of colour amidst the long grasses. In the forests around the Mara River, warburgia fruit attracts many Sykes' monkeys and African elephant families with their calves in the woodland or marshes. This is also the time of the 'mini' migration, when zebra and wildebeest arrive in large numbers (around 300,000) and cover the plains.
As this is the breeding season for many animals, we can observe a variety of young: warthogs, giraffes, elephants, lions, hyenas, zebras and eland calves among the big herds.
Birding is also amazing with more than 400 bird species recorded, including birds of prey. This is the best time to see the European migrants before they head off on their long journey back north.
➕ Day 12 Birding in Ol Kineyei Conservancy; fly to Nairobi
This morning we go on an early birding walk in the conservancy before breakfast, followed by our last drive looking for birds and wildlife. After lunch we transfer to the airstrip and fly to Nairobi for our final night in Kenya.
Accommodation: Hotel, Nairobi, 1-night on room & breakfast basis
➕ Day 13 Fly back to the UK
We transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to check in for our daytime flight back to the UK.