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HOTSPOTS BIRDING SAFARI

Tour Description

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KENYA
BIRDING TOUR
ANY TIME*

Duration:15 days, 14 nights
Group Size:2-6
Anytime Price:$6050
Group Price:$5650
Single Suppl:$800
Est #Species:475-525
Pace:Easy/Moderate
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 OR 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 Boulevard Hotel in Nairobi.

DAY 2 - CASTLE FOREST & NARO MORU

After breakfast depart for Mt Kenya National Park on the slopes of Mt Kenya. Birding stops en route will be aimed at finding the endemic Hinde's Pied-Babbler and wetland weavers such as Grosbeak Weaver. Lunch will be at Castle Forest Lodge, where the grounds are a good place for the endemic Kenrick's Starling and Abbott's Starling, the latter a rather striking black and white bird restricted to highland forests. Few birding tours stop at this out-of-the-way site even though it's one of the best places to find these endemics. Other birds there include Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, White-eyed Slaty-Flycatcher, Eastern Double-collared Sunbird, Thick-billed Seedeater, 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, Red Duiker visiting the water hole while Egyptian Mongoose and Genet frequently put in an appearance after dark. Night at Serena Mountain Lodge.

DAY 3 - MT KENYA & BUFFALO SPRINGS

Morning bird roadsides within Mt Kenya National Park where good habitat offers many possibilities, including Mountain Buzzard, Hartlaub's Turaco,Red-fronted Parrot, Black-backed Puffback, Gray Cuckooshrike, African Hill Babbler, Tacazze Sunbird, and Golden-breasted Bunting. Also possible is Syke's Monkey. After early lunch transfer to Buffalo Springs National Reserve in the more arid north, arriving mid-afternoon in time for some exploration of the reserve.

Buffalo Springs is 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 remainder of the afternoon will be devoted to visiting the springs for which the park is named. Wetland birds usually present include African Openbill, Abdim's Stork, Goliath Heron, Hamerkop, Sacred Ibis, and Hadada Ibis. Mammal watching should be very good and offers the possibility of Lion and Cheetah as well as various mammals not 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. Along the river large numbers of Elephant come down to drink, and Leopards are regularly encountered in the woodland, especially in early morning and at dusk. Night at Ashnil Samburu Tent Camp.

DAY 4 - SAMBURU NATIONAL RESERVE

Samburu National Reserve is more arid than adjacent Buffalo Springs. It 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 Long-billed Crombec, Somali Bee-eater, Bristle-crowned Starling, Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird, Black-capped Social-Weaver, and White-headed Buffalo-Weaver. On the open plains birds of special interest include the blue-necked Somali Ostrich and the strikingly plumaged Vulturine Guineafowl as well as Fan-tailed Raven, Somali Short-toed Lark, Brown-tailed Apalis (a likely future split from Yellow-breasted Apalis), Black-bellied Starling, Bristle-crowned Starling, Golden Palm Weaver, and Red-rumped Waxbill. Also likely on the open plains in 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, Gray Wren-Warbler, 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 5 - ABERDARES TRANSECT & LAKE NAKURU

Depart early for Lake Nakuru, taking some back roads and driving up the access road into the foothills of the Aberdare Mountains. Of particular interest is Malachite Sunbird, usually seen well up the road near the entrance to the national park. On the way there a likely possibility is Long-tailed Widowbird in full breeding plumage on the Kinangop Plateau. Other birds usually present along the access road are Jackson's Francolin, Black Goshawk, Nyanza Swift, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Gray-backed Fiscal, Brown Woodland-Warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Hunter's Cisticola, Schalow's Wheatear, Golden-winged Sunbird, and Northern Double-collared Sunbird.

Arrive at Lake Nakuru in 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. The afternoon will be devoted to a birding and game drive through the park. The habitat is Acacia woodland, grassland, rivers, and marshes. 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 plus a variety of mammals. Night at the luxurious Lake Nakuru Lodge.

DAY 6 - LAKE NAKURU & LAKE BARINGO

After a morning game drive through Lake Nakuru National Park, transfer to Lake Baringo, one of only two freshwater lakes in the Rift Valley, arriving mid-afternoon. Late afternoon birding around the lodge grounds. Night at Soi Safari Lodge.

DAY 7 - LAKE BARINGO

Lake Baringo, the most northerly of the Rift Valley lakes, is a prime birding locale with over 500 bird species recorded there. Because of its location, Lake Baringo is the southern-most extent of several desert and arid-country species, so it's a place to see many specialty birds we won't see elsewhere not prsent elsewhere on the tour. Before breakfast visit the cliffs located not far from the lodge. A number of raptors nest there including Verreaux's Eagle and Verreaux's Eagle-Owl. Birding along the little-traveled road to the cliffs and in the dry bushland below the cliffs should yield Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, White-bellied Go-away-bird, White-browed Coucal, Blue-naped Mousebird, Jackson's Hornbill, D'Arnaud's Barbet, Gray-throated Barbet, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Red-fronted Barbet, Black-throated Barbet, Pygmy Batis, Brubru, Slate-colored Boubou, Fan-tailed Raven, Somali Tit, Mouse-colored Penduline-Tit, Northern Brownbul, Northern Crombec, Red-fronted Warbler, Pale Prinia, Grayish Flycatcher, Rufous Chatterer, Brown Babbler, Bristle-crowned Starling, Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird, Hunter's Sunbird, Beautiful Sunbird, White-bellied Canary, Parrot-billed Sparrow, White-billed Buffalo-Weaver, White-headed Buffalo-Weaver, Little Weaver, Village Weaver, Black-headed Weaver, and Green-winged Pytilia.

With the help of a local guide who knows where to find roosting owls and nightjars, look for several difficult local specialties he can usually find. Notable are African Scops-Owl, Northern White-faced Owl, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Slender-tailed Nightjar, and Three-banded (Heuglin's) Coursers. Birding around the grounds of Soi Safari Lodge should yield Giant Kingfisher and many other species. A boat trip on the lake later in the day should offer up Goliath Heron, Great Cormorant, Long-tailed Cormorant, African Fish-Eagle, African Jacana, African Pygmy-Kingfisher, Gray-headed Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher and various other herons, storks, and shorebirds. Night at Lake Baringo Club.

DAY 8 - KERIO VALLEY & KAKAMEGA

Depart early for Kakamega, birding the Kerio Valley en route. This out-of-the-way road is skipped by many birding tours but offers some really great birds. In the highland forest above the escarpment one can expect to see the beautiful Ross's Turaco. A wetland area along the road is a good place for African Rail. As the road emerges into bushland habitat, look for Crested Francolin, White-crested Turaco, Blue-headed Coucal, Blue-naped Mousebird, Abyssinian Scimitar-bill, Black-headed Batis, White Helmetshrike, Boran Cisticola, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Isabelline Wheatear, Magpie Starling, Mariqua Sunbird, Long-billed Pipit, Golden-breasted Bunting, Southern Citril, Yellow-spotted Petronia, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, and Fan-tailed Widowbird. Arrive mid-afternoon, allowing some time to relax or go birding before dark. Accommodations for the next 3 nights are first rate, as is the food. Bring your own alcohol as none is served on the premises. Night at Rondo Retreat Centre.

DAYS 9-10 - KAKAMEGA FOREST RESERVE

Kakamega Forest is the only true rainforest remaining in Kenya and is a superb place to go birding. It was once an extension of the vast Guinea-Congolian rainforest and is rich in species found nowhere else in Kenya. Most birding is along the main road through the reserve and along various side roads and well-used paths, though there is a good network of trails behind the lodge that is home to many species of the forest interior. Some 75 species are on our list of target birds for this area. One species, Turner's Eremomela is globally endangered, while another, Chapin's Flycatcher, is listed by the IUCN as globally vulnerable. Over 40 other species are found nowhere else in Kenya. Among the specialties are Delagorgue's Pigeon, Great Blue Turaco, Ross's Turaco, the very uncommon and local Blue-headed Bee-eater, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Yellow-billed Barbet, Gray-throated Barbet, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Brown-eared Woodpecker, several species of very locally distributed wattle-eyes, Pink-footed Puffback, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, Gray-green Bushshrike, Petit's Cuckoo-shrike, Square-tailed Drongo, Black-headed Paradise-Flycatcher, Shelley's Greenbul, Joyful Greenbul, Ansorge's Greenbul, Toro Olive-Greenbul, several species of Apalis flycatchers, Black-faced Rufous-Warbler, Green Hylia, the very secretive Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Brown-chested Alethe, Equatorial Akalat, Green-throated Sunbird, Red-chested Sunbird, Oriole Finch, Red-headed Malimbe, Viellot's Weaver, Dark-backed Weaver, Gray-headed Negrofinch, Black-crowned Waxbill, and Red-headed Bluebill. Nights at Rondo Retreat Centre.

DAY 11 - BUSIA GRASSLAND & KISUMU

The grasslands of western Kenya are seriously threatened by human cultivation. The Busia Grassland preserves some of this habitat and is home to several species difficult to see elsewhere. The grassland is reached by driving west from Kakamega toward Busia, not far from the Uganda border. The people are very impoverished in this area and are everywhere along the roadsides. Birding remains very good nevertheless. Likely birds around towns and cultivated areas include Red-headed Lovebird, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Bar-breasted Firefinch, and Bronze Mannikin. The very scarce Rock Pratincole can usually be found on the rocks in the river behind the water plant in Busia. A possible rarity is the Piapiac, a corvid mainly found in nearby Uganda. Specialty birds in the grassland include the very localized White-crested Turaco, Senegal Coucal, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Copper Sunbird, Black-winged Bishop, Black Bishop, Buff-shouldered Widowbird, and Brown Twinspot. From Busia continue on to Kisumu, arriving before dark. Night at Victoria Comfort Inn.

DAY 12 - LAKE VICTORIA, MOLO GRASSLAND, NAIVASHA

Early morning bird road outside Kisumu and the shoreline of Lake Victoria. Interesting species likely along the road include African Openbill, Shikra, Gray Kestrel, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Meyer's Parrot, Black-billed Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Angola Swallow, Wire-tailed Swallow, Red-faced Cisticola, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Black-lored Babbler, Black-necked Weaver, Chestnut Weaver, and Red Bishop. The Papyrus beds along the shoreline are home to Papyrus Gonolek, Greater Swamp-Warbler, and Lesser Swamp-Warbler. The not uncommon Marsh Owl sometimes makes an appearance in the open grassland around the lake. Mid-morning depart for Lake Naivasha, stopping en route in the highlands of the Mau Narok Escarpment and Molo Grasslands, a less visited place where a walk through the grassland should yield two Kenyan endemics, Aberdare Cisticola and Sharpe's Longclaw. Another highland specialty usually found there is Wing-snapping Cisticola, a secretive bird that will fly up and then quickly land in tall grass after being flushed. A wetland area adjacent to the grassland could offer views of the quite rare Maccoa Duck, as well as Eurasian Marsh-Harrier, Black Crake, Red-knobbed Coot, and African Snipe. Then continue on to Naivasha, arriving before dark. Night at Elsamere Centre (George and Joy Adamson's former home) near Lake Naivasha.

DAY 13 - 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. Birding the lodge grounds and some trails near the lodge should produce African Hoopoe, Green Woodhoopoe, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, Fork-tailed Drongo, Northern Anteater-Chat, Arrow-marked Babbler, Rueppell's Glossy-Starling, 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 good for African Fish-Eagle and many aquatic birds. An afternoon game drive in the national park offers some good mammal viewing as well as birds such as Little Sparrowhawk, Black Goshawk, Giant Kingfisher, and Gray-backed Fiscal. Night at Elsamere Centre.

DAY 14 - KINANGOP PLATEAU, GATAMAIYU FOREST, MANGO PONDS

Depart very early for Gatamaiyu Forest on the eastern escarpment of the Rift Valley, stopping en route on the Kinangop Plateau to look for the globally threatened Sharpe's Longclaw as well as Red-capped Lark, Capped Wheatear, and Tacazze Sunbird. Gatamaiyu Forest is located in the southern extent of the Aberdare Mountains and features a good variety of important birds. Of special interest is the endemic Abbott's Starling, which can often be seen there. Among the many other birds present are Hartlaub's Turaco, Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, three species of apalis, White-browed Crombec, and Northern Double-collared Sunbird. Also possible are some monkeys such as Syke's Monkey and Guereza Black-and-white Colobus. After birding the forest and having a box lunch, continue on to Manguo Ponds and a nearby unnamed wetland. Especially notable are the secretive White-backed Duck and Maccoa Duck. Other wetland birds include Red-billed Duck, Hottentot Teal, White-winged Tern, Whiskered Tern, herons, ibises, spoonbills, and waders. Along the roadsides possibilities include Cape Wagtail, Baglafecht Weaver, Holub's Golden-Weaver, and Grosbeak Weaver. Continue on to Nairobi International Airport, arriving by dark. Tour ends at the airport.

DAY 15 - INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS HOME

Overnight flights arrive back in the US or Canada.