Day 1 Depart UK
- 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
- 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
- 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, Rüppell’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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- We transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to check in for our daytime flight back to the UK.
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
We stay in permanent tented camps in national parks or private conservancies, and comfortable wildlife lodges.
Camps are small and intimate with an average of only ten tents, in unique and remote locations, with comfortable beds, solar-powered electric lighting, en suite bathroom with shower, wash basin and flushing toilet. They provide high-quality meals and freshly baked bread, and great service. Each camp has its own naturalist guides and customised safari vehicles.
At Mount Kenya, we stay in a comfortable lodge with cabin-style rooms raised on stilts above the forest canopy, The property has its own waterhole and salt-lick, which attract herds of elephant and buffalo, along with many birds.
Meals are included, except for dinner on the last night in Nairobi. Breakfast and dinner are taken at the lodge or camp, while lunch is either an outdoor picnic or a leisurely sit-down meal in camp.
With over 1,000 species recorded, several endemics and many near endemics, Kenya is arguably one of the best African destination for birders. Around 170 species are Palearctic migrants, mainly from Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Siberia, which are present from September to April.
Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba Reserves between them have over 380 recorded species. Notable finds include arid endemics such as Donaldson-Smith’s sparrow weaver, shining sunbird, bristle-crowned starling, many vulturine guinea fowl, several hornbills, Somali ostrich and rare species such as Taita falcon, migratory kestrels and William’s lark. The elusive African green ibis is usually found in montane habitats of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares.
Spectacular species seen in the Rift Valley include pale chanting-goshawk, Von der Decken’s hornbill and red-and-yellow barbet, as well as local specialties such as short-tailed lark and black-necked weaver, while the highlight of the Mara is the pretty Karamoja apalis.
- Lesser flamingo
- Grey-crowned crane
- Long-tailed widowbird
- Hemprich’s hornbill
Kenya has some of the world’s finest and most diverse wildlife, including possibly the most spectacular natural phenomenon: the annual migration of more than one million wildebeest and 200,000 zebra across the Mara River in pursuit of life-giving rains. Lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant are all found in the country’s foremost protected area, the Masai Mara.
- African elephant
- Black rhino
We will experience Kenya's varied habitats, which comprise rolling grassland dotted with flat-topped acacia trees, mountains such as Mount Kenya that rise above 5,000 metres, riverine forest, arid plain, the eastern edge of the vast Congo rainforest, and the lakes of the Great Rift Valley.
There are great opportunities for both wildlife and landscape photography on the open plains of Masai Mara, at the lakes of Nakuru and Navaisha, and at Mount Kenya. One lodge has an underground photographic hide beside a waterhole that offers a unique vantage point.
Mainly easy walking along roadsides near the vehicle, or on flat plains and in forests. Some forest trails can be steep in parts, but we take these slowly.
En route from Samburu to Elementaita we stop at the scenic 74-metre-high Thomson’s Falls on the Ewaso Ng'iro river, which rises in the Aberdare Mountain Range.
Price includes return scheduled flights London - Nairobi – London, plus domestic flight from the Masai Mara to Nairobi.
Two four-wheel-drive vehicles, each with a maximum of 6 passengers, with driver and guide. Minibuses will be used for airport transfers.
The baggage allowance on domestic flights is strictly limited to 15 kg per person, including hand baggage.
The highest point of the itinerary – our lodge on the slopes of Mount Kenya – stands at just over 2,000 metres altitude. The Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Spring areas vary from 800 to 1,300 metres, while Nakuru Lake is at 1,750 metres altitude. In general the slight elevation of the plains, forest and Rift Valley isn’t challenging and but helps to keep things cool during the hot season.
Kenya's climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland, and arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. The main rainy season occurs between March-April and May-June, with the short rains from October-November/December. Early March, at the very beginning of the rainy season, is the start of the breeding season, while European migrants are present from September-April.