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BIRDS, BEASTS, & FLAMINGOS TOUR A

Tour Description

green-slate

KENYA
PHOTO TOUR
ANY TIME*

Duration:14 days, 13 nights
Group Size:2-4
Anytime Price:$6450
Group Price:$6025
Single Suppl:$800
Est #Species:325-375
Pace:Easy
Difficulty:Easy
* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.

DAY 0 - OVERNIGHT FLIGHT FROM US/CANADA

Travel day from the US/Canada to Nairobi. With a 7-10 hour time difference between the US/Canada and Nairobi, flight will be overnight, arriving early the following morning in London or other connecting city in Europe.

DAY 1 - EUROPE TO NAIROBI

Travel day from connecting city in Europe. Flight duration from London to Nairobi is about 9 hours with a 2-hour time difference. Everyone can expect to arrive in evening, where they'll be met at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and transferred to the hotel located about 30 min away. Those arriving a day earlier may want to relax and time-shift or take one of our available day trips out of Nairobi. Night at Sentrim Boulevard Hotel in Nairobi.

DAY 2 - CASTLE FOREST & MT KENYA

After breakfast depart for Mt Kenya National Park. Stops en route will be aimed at photographing the endemic Hinde's Pied-Babbler and wetland weavers such as Grosbeak Weaver. Lunch will be at Castle Forest Lodge, where the grounds offer good chances to photograph Silvery-cheeked Hornbill and possibly the endemic Abbott's Starling, a rather striking black and white bird restricted to highland forests. Other birds that might be photographed include White-eyed Slaty-Flycatcher, Eastern Double-collared Sunbird, Gray-headed Negrofinch, and Yellow-bellied Waxbill. From there proceed to Mt Kenya National Park, arriving late afternoon for a one-night stay. The lodge is located adjacent to a water hole where game animals visit at dusk. It's possible to see Cape Buffalo, Bushbuck, Common Duiker, and Red Duiker visiting the water hole while Egyptian Mongoose and Genet cats frequently put in an appearance after dark. Night at Serena Mountain Lodge.

DAY 3 - MOUNT KENYA NATIONAL PARK

All day drive an altitudinal transect into the highlands of Mt Kenya, starting in forest and reaching moorland around 10,000 ft. On a clear day the peak will be plainly visible. Stops along the road offer chances to photograph a variety of birds such as Hartlaub's Turaco, Bar-tailed Trogon, White-headed Woodhoopoe, White-headed Barbet, and Golden-breasted Bunting. Several raptors are possible including Martial Eagle and Crowned Hawk-Eagle. At higher elevation the road opens up into moorland where Jackson's Francolin is likely and eventually reaches a strange forest of Giant Heath where a few birds such as Moorland Chat and Malachite Sunbird occur. Night at Naro Moru River Lodge.

DAY 4 - BUFFALO SPRINGS NATIONAL RESERVE

Early morning photograph birds around the lodge grounds. Then transfer to Buffalo Springs National Reserve, arriving mid-day. Buffalo Springs is immediately adjacent to Samburu National Reserve, separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River. Buffalo Springs and Samburu National Reserves are within the tribal lands of the Samburu people, a tribal group closely related to the Masai farther south. The Samburu wear colorful clothing and decorative beads. They're largely herders of camels and goats and may be encountered outside the reserve boundaries. After arrival photograph birds around the tent camp before dark. Night at Ashnil Samburu Tent Camp.

DAY 5 - BUFFALO SPRINGS NATIONAL RESERVE

Buffalo Springs is less arid, less rugged, and more open than adjoining Samburu National Reserve. The habitat is gently rolling lowland plains marked by stands of Doum Palms, a large spring that gives the reserve it's name, and Acacia woodland along the rivers. The day will be devoted to a game drive through the reserve. Specialty birds of the open plains include the blue-necked Somali Ostrich and the strikingly plumaged Vulturine Guineafowl. A visit to the springs for which the park is named should provide opportunities to photograph wetland birds such as African Openbill, Abdim's Stork, Goliath Heron, Hamerkop, Sacred Ibis, and Hadada Ibis. Several mammals found at Buffalo Springs and Samburu are of special interest since they aren't present further south, notably the endangered and quite striking Grevy's Zebra, the strange long-necked Gerenuk antelope, and the beautiful Reticulated Giraffe, a separate subspecies from the more southerly Masai Giraffe. Also likely are chances to photograph Lion and Cheetah, along with large numbers of Elephant that come down to the river to drink. Leopards are regularly encountered in the woodland, especially in early morning and at dusk. Night at Ashnil Samburu Tent Camp.

DAY 6 - SAMBURU NATIONAL RESERVE

Samburu National Reserve features rocky escarpments, hilly terrain, semi-arid grassland, and riverine forest. The entire day will be spent in the reserve, concentrating on birds of riverine forest in the early morning. Specialty birds characteristic of northern and eastern Kenya targeted here include White-headed Mousebird, Northern Red-billed Hornbill, Somali Bee-eater, Bristle-crowned Starling, Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird, Black-capped Social-Weaver, and White-headed Buffalo-Weaver. On the open plains and bushed grassland are Yellow-necked Francolin, Palm-nut Vulture, Hooded Vulture, Martial Eagle, Buff-crested Bustard, Somali Courser, Black-faced Sandgrouse, Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, Golden-breasted Starling, and Golden Pipit. Many mammals will be present as well, mostly the same ones mentioned above but also Beisa Oryx, a beautiful antelope found in the drier parts of the reserve. Night at Ashnil Samburu Tent Camp.

DAY 7 - SAMBURU & LAKE NAKURU

After breakfast depart for Lake Nakuru National Park, stopping en route for a side trip up the access road to Aberdares National Park. Birds of particular interest are Malachite Sunbird, usually seen well up the road near the entrance to the national park, Jackson's Francolin, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Gray-backed Fiscal, Hunter's Cisticola, Schalow's Wheatear, Golden-winged Sunbird, and Northern Double-collared Sunbird. Arrive mid-afternoon. Lake Nakuru is an alkaline lake offering one of the great ornithological spectacles of the world. In typical years over a million Lesser and Greater Flamingos line the shore of the lake. Late afternoon will be devoted to a drive through the national park with emphasis on photographing flamingos, various other birds, and big game animals. In addition to flamingos, likely birds are Black Stork, White Stork, Helmeted Guineafowl, Long-crested Eagle, Striped Kingfisher, Common Scimitar-bill, and Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling. Various mammals are present including notably Black Rhinoceros as well as antelope and African Elephant. Night at the luxurious Lake Nakuru Lodge.

DAY 8 - LAKE NAKURU & LAKE NAIVASHA

Morning game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park to again photograph flamingos and other birds in the park. Mid-day transfer to Lake Naivasha, arriving by mid-afternoon. Late afternoon photograph birds around the lodge. Night at Elsamere Centre (George and Joy Adamson's former home) near Lake Naivasha.

DAY 9 - LAKE NAIVASHA NATIONAL PARK

Lake Naivasha is one of two freshwater lakes in the Rift Valley (the other is Lake Baringo). The lake is fringed with Papyrus reedbeds and surrounded by Acacia woodland. Bird photography around the lodge grounds and along some trails near the lodge can be very rewarding. Possible birds that can be photographed include African Hoopoe, Green Woodhoopoe, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, Arrow-marked Babbler, Amethyst Sunbird, and Red-headed Weaver. The Papyrus beds are home to Greater Swamp Warbler and Lesser Swamp Warbler. A mid-day boat trip on Lake Naivasha will be a pleasant interlude and offer excellent chances to photograph African Fish-Eagle and many aquatic birds. An afternoon game drive in the national park offers some good mammal photography. Night at Elsamere Centre.

DAY 10 - ELSAMERE CENTRE & OLOOLOLO ESCARPMENT

Morning photograph birds around Elsamere Centre. Mid-day transfer to Oloololo Escarpment on the western edge of Masai Mara. After arrival, photograph birds along the escarpment near the lodge. Some of the interesting birds likely there are Spot-flanked Barbet, Black-crowned Tchagra, Violet-backed Starling, and Yellow-fronted Canary. A number of mammals are usually present, especially Plains Zebra and Topi. Night at Mara West Tent Camp.

DAY 11 - OLOOLOLO ESCARPMENT & MASAI MARA

Morning drive a dirt road along the Oloololo Escarpment bordering the western plains to photograph birds of dry bush and woodland habitats. Possibilities include Schalow's Turaco, Narina Trogon, Crowned Hornbill, Usambiro Barbet, Spot-flanked Barbet, Rufous-naped Lark, Flappet Lark, Miombo Wren-Warbler, Sooty Chat, and Pied Wheatear.

Afternoon game drive on the western plains where mammals are most abundant. Highlights include photography of Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Topi, Hartebeest, Impala, Thompson's Gazelle, Grant's Gazelle, and Masai Giraffe as well as predators. Sadly, the Lion population has declined 80% during the past 10 years but small numbers can usually be found. Opportunities to photograph Cheetahs should be good as they tend to follow the Wildebeest herds that are present during much of dry season. Spotted Hyenas are more scarce than they once were as well but may be encountered on the western plains. Leopards are more difficult to find and photograph. These are most easily found around dusk in pockets of woodland but are sometimes encountered on the open plains.

In addition to mammals, over 500 species of birds have been recorded in Masai Mara. Part of the time will be spent photographing birds of the open plains, bushland, and wetlands. Of special interest is Jackson's Widowbird, a spectacular lek-breeding endemic that is in full breeding plumage during dry season. Among the many other possibilities are Woolly-necked Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, Marabou Stork, Secretarybird, Temminck's Courser, and Yellow-throated Sandgrouse. Night at Mara West Tented Camp.

DAY 12 - MASAI MARA

This day features a transect across the plains eastward, soon reaching the Mara River where the famed Wildebeest migration and river crossings occur. Timing of the migration has been especially unpredictable in recent years. Large herds of Wildebeest migrate from Tanzania into Kenya usually in late July, ever seeking ungrazed grass for forage. They typically remain in Kenya until October but sometimes leave earlier depending on the rains of that year. It may take some time and patience to actually see a crossing, as the Wildebeest and other animals such as Plains Zebra and Topi are very hesitant to cross the crocodile-infested waters of the Mara River if the water level is high. It's possible to photograph the crossing from a viewing platform constructed on the bank of the river without disturbing the animals. The remainder of the day will feature photography of birds and other mammals while driving eastward to the other side of Masai Mara. Night at Sentrim Mara Tented Camp.

DAY 13 - MASAI MARA & TRANSFER

Morning game drive in Masai Mara. After breakfast depart for Nairobi. En route stop along the road in Masai Land to photograph the quite locally distributed Speckle-fronted Weaver, a bird of arid scrub. Continue to Nairobi, arriving at the international airport for overnight flights before dark. Tour ends at the airport.

DAY 14 - TRAVEL DAY

Overnight flights arrive back in the US or Canada.