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BIRDING TOURS↑

HOTSPOTS BIRDING SAFARI

Travel Information

KENYA
BIRDING TOUR
ANY TIME*

Duration:15 days, 14 nights
Group Size:2-6
Anytime Price:$7700
Group Price:$7100
Single Suppl:$900
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.

The below information is provided to inform people of what to expect if they participate in this tour and to advise participants on how to prepare for the tour. We try to provide accurate information but conditions and travel requirements can change over time.

Entering Kenya

Persons entering Kenya require a valid passport with an expiration date more than 6 months after their planned departure from the country. All US citizens must obtain a tourist visa to enter Kenya. Visas can be obtained from the Kenya Embassy. Allow at least one month for visa processing. Visa services such as CIBT can handle visa processing quickly and efficiently. Yellow fever immunization is strongly recommended, as proof of immunization may be requested upon entry. Contact the Kenya Embassy for details about entry requirements. Non-US citizens should contact the nearest Kenya Embassy for visas and other entry requirements.

Leaving Kenya

A departure tax of $40 is assessed when leaving Kenya. This fee is often included in international airline tickets unless stated otherwise.

Time Change

Kenya is 8-10 hours ahead of the US and Canada, and it typically takes 2-3 days to adjust to the time change. Flights to Kenya from the US or Canada are generally overnight in both directions. We schedule the first couple days of activity following arrival visiting areas near Nairobi, with the first several nights at a nice hotel in Nairobi to give people a chance to acclimate to local time.

Immunizations

Please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding health issues and immunization requirements when traveling in Kenya. Currently, the CDC strongly recommends malaria preventatives. They also recommend vaccination for Hepatitis A, typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus-diphtheria booster as needed, measles, and polio. See your travel doctor for specific recommendations at least 4-6 weeks prior to departure.

Medical Facilities

Good medical care is available in major cities but not in remote areas. Medical facilities outside cities are few and far between, and facilities in rural areas often do not have critical care capabilities.

Insurance

We recommend purchasing trip cancellation insurance, which will reimburse you for any non-refundable payments you would otherwise lose if you must cancel your participation in the tour for some unforeseen reason. Trip cancellation insurance must normally be purchased within a short time after you register for the tour.

We will be in areas where immediate medical attention may be limited or unavailable. While we operate our tours in a safe manner, Kenya is a tropical country where the risk of contracting tropical diseases or encountering venomous insects or snakes is present. We therefore strongly advise travel health insurance. The coverage should include emergency medical evacuation, which can be very expensive. Note that most domestic health insurance policies do not cover medical expenses abroad. An alternative is to purchase a tourist membership in Flying Doctors for a nominal fee, which entitles you to one emergency medical evacuation during the covered period (up to 2 months) but does not cover hospitalization costs in Nairobi.

Altitude

Much of Kenya where we travel is above 5000 ft elevation. Nairobi is at 5500 ft, sites within the Rift Valley such as Masai Mara, Lake Naivasha, and Lake Nakuru are 5000-6000 ft, and higher escarpments we visit (especially during the birding tour) reach 8000-9000 ft. We spend one day reaching 10,000 ft on Mt Kenya during the photo tour.

Climate

Kenya is located on the Equator but does not have a tropical climate where our tours take place due to the altitude. Days can be quite cool and nights can be cold, especially at higher elevations. The open plains of Masai Mara and more northern sites around Samburu and Lake Baringo especially can be quite hot on sunny days. Rainy seasons are somewhat unpredictable, especially in recent years. Normally, the short rains occur in November and the long rains occur in April-May. Rainy season is when most bird species are in breeding plumage. Northern Kenya is quite arid, and rainfall there is generally less even during rainy season.

Pace & Vehicles

Birding and photography in the national parks is from the vehicles. Leaving vehicles is generally prohibited except in a few designated areas. Each of our vehicles has a roof hatch for each game viewing and photography and is large enough to readily accommodate 4 persons with camera equipment all looking out the same side. Our maximum is 4 persons per vehicle while on safari.

Roads in national parks and reserves are mostly jeep tracks except the main access roads, which are gravel and dirt. Following jeep tracks within reserves can be bumpy. For the most part transfers are a half day or less. Some sites require longer drives to reach, and on those days we make it a point to schedule stops en route either along the roadsides or at intermediate sites of special interest.

Some areas allow birding/photography on foot. On Mt. Kenya we walk through middle elevaton forest accompanied by an armed ranger. Other areas allow walking because dangerous animals are absent (eg Kakamega Forest, around lodges). Walks are not strenous and are a welcome change from birding by vehicle within reserves.

Birds are most active in early morning. To take advantage of this, most days begin at first light around 6:30 am. While in national parks and reserves, we typically spend early mornings and late afternoons concentrating on birds, with game drives scheduled during later morning and early afternoon at which time our focus turns to mammals and larger birds of open country. While this is the general rule, we don't ignore birds or mammals of interest that we encounter at any time of day. In the Kakamega Forest our emphasis is mostly on birds. On travel days the schedule varies but normally we depart after early breakfast or in late morning. While in parks and reserves, we usually allow time for a break during the hottest time of day and again before dinner. In some places it's possible for optional night-time game viewing (e.g on Mt Kenya) during early evening. We do checklists before or after dinner depending on which is most convenient each day.

Accommodations

We generally stay in moderately priced hotels or lodges during the tour. Hotels are generally those that cater to tourists and business people (eg Nairobi and western Kenya). Lodges cater to safari clientele and are generally ecologically friendly and comfortable. We don't stay in the high-priced luxury lodges or tent camps to keep the tour price reasonable. In Masai Mara we stay in tented camps where accommodations are in bandas (small huts) or tents sheltered under thatched roofs. The tents are permanent structures with concrete floors, proper beds, flush-toilets, and hot-water showers. You may have to let the water run for a while for it to get hot. All have electric lights. Electricity is by generator, which may be turned off at night. Further details can be found on the Accommodations link on the sidebar.

Food

The places we stay cater to international travelers and the food is generally very good. In major tourist centers, standards are very high in both quality and variety of cuisines. Breakfasts are typically served buffet-style. Other meals almost always offer a choice of 2-3 main courses, with offerings available for vegetarians.

Transportation

Transportation is in safari van with roof hatches for window-free viewing and photography. Each van easily accommodates 4 photographers at a time through the roof hatch. Our drivers are skilled professionals who are expert at finding birds and mammals. They are also skilled at repairing vehicles should any mishaps occur. Each person will have a window seat throughout the tour. Drinking water will always be available. Bathroom stops will be made as soon as possible upon request during transfers. Please note that more time will be spent in vehicles than is the case on tours to Central and South America simply because no one is allowed outside vehicles while on safari inside most national parks and reserves due to the presence of potentially dangerous animals.

Registration & Payment

Please refer to the REGISTRATION menu for registration procedure. Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended as payments may be partially or wholly non-refundable. See the GENERAL -> Policies menu for our refund policy.

Additional Information

General information about the tour, including where to meet the group and contact information, will be mailed prior to departure. Checklists will be provided at the beginning of the tour. Additional information about our policies can be found on the REGISTRATION menu above. Please feel free to call or email us with any questions you may have.

Information last updated April, 2012.