Day 1: Sunday 3rd November 2019 LONDON TO NAIROBI
Depart London Heathrow in late afternoon flying Kenya Airways to Nairobi, arriving the following morning.
Day 2: Monday 4th November ARRIVAL AND NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK
Early morning arrival in Nairobi, where we will meet our local guide, and transfer directly to nearby Nairobi National Park. This small but excellent National Park, Kenya’s oldest, is located just 7 kilometres from the edge of Nairobi, and extends right into the city itself. Among many possibilities we may see Ostrich, Secretary Bird, African Water Rail, Spotted Thick-knee, Black-winged Plover, African Finfoot, Pangani Longclaw, Jackson’s Widowbird, Kori Bustard, Hartlaub’s Bustard, Saddle-billed Stork, African Yellow White-eye, Common Nightingale, Ruppell’s Robin-chat, Northern Pied Babbler, White-tailed Lark, Rufous-naped Lark, Somali Short-toed Lark, Red-throated Tit, Speke’s Weaver, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, African Quail-finch, Zebra Waxbill, Harlequin Quail, Lappet-faced Vulture, Violet Wood-hoopoe, Nairobi Pipit, Grassland Pipit, Siffling Cisticola, Croaking Cisticola and Desert Cisticola. A list of between 70 and 100 species is very possible by lunchtime! The park also hosts good numbers of big game, and we should see many Common Zebra, Cape Buffalo, Maasai Giraffe, Warthog, and several species of antelope including Impala, Waterbuck, Hartebeest and Wildebeest. Lions and Black Rhino are present here, albeit in small numbers.
During our rest stop in the Park we will visit the important ivory-burning area, where the Kenyan Government makes a strong and highly visible stance against the ivory trade.
Watching Giraffes and Ostriches with tower blocks in the distance behind is a wonderful if slightly surreal experience, and the wealth of birding and big game in this Park makes it an important place to visit. After our picnic lunch taken inside the Park, we drive to our hotel (which is close to hand), and take the opportunity to relax for the remainder of the afternoon after a long day. Dinner and birdlist are our priorities in the evening! Overnight Eka Hotel, Nairobi.
Day 3: Tuesday 5th November LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
We drive away from Kenya's busy capital city, stopping en route towards Lake Naivasha at a good birding site, Manguo Swamp. This roadside location is at elevation, so already the birdlife is changing, and new species will be found almost immediately. The wetlands hold herons, ducks and waders, there may be pipits and wagtails at the edges, and in the surrounding bushes sunbirds, weavers, greenbuls and many more will keep our birdlist moving. We continue to Lake Nakuru, enjoying big game as we transfer to our lodge for lunch and an afternoon rest (with optional birding)! Later in the afternoon, we enjoy a game drive in the park.
This park is famed as a birdwatchers’ paradise, and indeed was the first national park in Africa to be set up with an avian conservation objective. Up to a million Lesser Flamingos have been recorded here, though numbers are now lower. Other birds include Woolly-necked Stork, Arrow-marked Babbler, Little Rock-Thrush, Mocking Cliff Chat, White-browed Robin-Chat, Reed Cormorant, Pink-backed Pelican, Pied Avocet, Kittlitz's Plover, Blacksmith Plover, Coqui Francolin, Hildebrandt's Francolin, Black Cuckoo, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, African Cuckoo, Grey-crested Helmetshrike, Cape Teal, Brimstone Canary, Hottentot Teal, Red-billed Teal, Dusky Nightjar and Montane Nightjar. The park is also a great sanctuary for both White and Black Rhino, and African Lion, Leopard and Cape Buffalo may be encountered as we move around. Other mammals will be seen, especially herds of grazing Common Zebra and endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe. Travel today 168kms (2.5hrs). Overnight for two nights at Nakuru - Sopa Lodge
Day 4: Wednesday 6th November LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
Today we enjoy an early morning game drive to the Baboon Cliff, scouting for birds and mammals including extraordinary Rock Hyrax, nearest living relative of the Elephant (though rather smaller!). After breakfast, we enjoy the local birding and exceptional scenic views around our lodge. After lunch, we make another birding and game drive, with spectacular White Rhino our key target, plus anything we may have missed earlier.
Day 5: Thursday 7th November LAKE NAIVASHA - MAASAI MARA
We leave Nakuru early, and visit the lakeshore at the famous Lake Naivasha. Local birding includes Goliath Heron, Diederik Cuckoo, Lilac-breasted Roller, White-fronted Bee-eater, Yellow-billed Duck and African Fish Eagle, and mammals include Common Zebra, Nile Hippo, Defassa Waterbuck and Maasai Giraffe. A boat ride on Lake Naivasha will help us reach more species in the middle of the lake, with great views of shorebirds and more.
We take lunch at a local lodge and enjoy the birds and mammals around the compound. We then drive to the Maasai Mara cruising through the Rift Valley, arriving late afternoon. Total travel today 220km (5.5hrs). We enjoy three nights in the impressive Masai Mara - Sopa Lodge.
Days 6 & 7: Friday 8th & Saturday 9th November MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
The Maasai Mara is a breathtaking savannah punctuated by scattered shrubs and meandering river courses. We enjoy the panoramic spectacle of Africa's top nature reserve, as wandering Wildebeest march across the plains like an army headed to the battlefield, accompanied by other herbivores including Zebra, Cape Eland and gazelles. On their trail, resident and roaming predators keep track of this moving buffet! The top niche is held by African Lion, while Cheetah and Leopard prefer a lower profile. When these cats make a kill, flocks of scavenging vultures soon move in to take a share. At the river itself, Nile Crocodile lie in wait for the ruminants which dare to cross, and many Hippos laze in the shallows. Everywhere you turn, there will be amazing game to enjoy, including African Elephant, Common Warthog, Banded Mongoose, Thompson's Gazelle, Topi, Cape Buffalo and Maasai Giraffe. Birding will also be busy as we make several transects across this vast savannah. Likely species include Southern Ground-Hornbill, Rufous-bellied Heron, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Square-tailed Nightjar, Dusky Nightjar, Schalow’s Turaco, Grey-crested Helmetshrike, Red-necked Spurfowl, Red-winged Francolin, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Rufous-chested Swallow, Lappet-faced Vulture, Short-toed Snake-Eagle, Whiteheaded Vulture, Ruppell’s Vulture, Secretarybird, Grey Kestrel, Temminck’s Courser, Rosybreasted Longclaw, Green-capped Eremomela, Black Coucal, African Quailfinch, Kori Bustard, Bush Pipit, White-tailed Lark, Flappet Lark, Singing Bush Lark, Athi Short-toed Lark, Rufous-tailed Weaver, Grey-capped Social Weaver, Karamoja Apalis, Black-backed Cisticola, Long-tailed Cisticola, Pale Wren-Warbler, Usambiro Barbet, Familiar Chat, Sooty Chat, Wattled Plover, Woolly-necked Stork, Saddle-billed Stork and Magpie Shrike.
The next two days will see us enjoy game drives in the Mara, enjoying the birds and big game of this beautiful place. We shall keep an eye for mammals including Savannah Elephant, African Lion, Cape Buffalo, Cheetah and Leopard. We take lunchtime breaks and take some rest in the heat of the day. Nights in the Mara - Sopa Lodge.
Day 8: Sunday 10th November NAIROBI
Today we return by road to Nairobi, with birding on the way. We make strategic stopovers to add more bird species to our list, arriving in good time to take a break and relax at the comfortable Eka Hotel. Total travel today 250km (5hrs).
Day 9: Monday 11th November NAIROBI TO LONDON
After an early breakfast, we make the short airport transfer for the flights home.