Kenya has the second highest birdlist for any African country with over 1000 species, and on this tour we expect perhaps 450 of these, including many of the most sought-after Kenyan and regional endemics during a birding spectacle to treasure, as we visit many of the country's top sites. Specifically designed for the keen enthusiast, this tour is an exceptional Kenyan birding safari.
Key habitats and locations have been selected to give you an opportunity to visit many remote and bird-rich places. Our tour includes both soda lakes and freshwater lakes at Naivasha, Nakuru, and Baringo, both high and low altitude grasslands, bush and standard savannah woodlands including fabulous Samburu, mountainous ecosystems and escarpments including Mount Kenya and the pristine Aberdares, extreme drylands and of course a good selection of tropical habitat including Kakamega Forest, one of the top birding locations in Kenya. Animal wildlife is not a major focus, but still of great interest, and you will also see a great deal of big game, reptiles and amphibians as we travel.
Here are some of the Kenyan and regional endemics and near-endemics we will be seeking;
William's Lark, Moorland Francolin, Jackson’s Francolin, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Friedmann’s Lark, Hunter’s Cisticola, Aberdare Cisticola, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Sharpe’s Longclaw, Pangani Longclaw, Turner’s Eremomela, Red-throated Tit, Hinde’s Babbler, Kikuyu White-eye, Grey-crested Helmetshrike, Northern Pied Babbler, Abyssinian Wheatear, Snowy Barbet, Kakamega Greenbul, Hildebrandt's Starling, Abbot's Starling, Kenrick's Starling, Jackson's Widowbird, Southern Grosbeak Weaver/ Canary, Black-lored Babbler, Kenya Rufous Sparrow.
Day 1: Sunday 1st December 2019 LONDON - NAIROBI
Depart London Heathrow in late afternoon flying Kenya Airways to Nairobi, arriving the following morning.
Day 2: Monday 2nd December NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK
The tour begins in Nairobi, where we will be received by our local guides and head directly to Nairobi National Park for a great birding morning. This is Kenya’s oldest National Park, located just 7 kilometres from the edge of the Nairobi city centre. Indeed, this is Kenya’s capital birding location with over 500 species recorded in the Park. Some species to expect include Secretarybird, 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, Whitetailed 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. The park also hosts many other interesting animals, including Zebra, Cape Buffalo and Maasai Giraffe plus a wide range of antelope species.
During our rest stop in the Park we enjoy a picnic lunch as we add more birds to our list, and we visit the important ivory-burning area, where the Kenyan Government makes a strong and highly visible stance against the ivory trade. Later in the afternoon, we head to our hotel, check in and relax during the heat of the afternoon after a very busy day. Driving today 15km (30min). Overnight in Nairobi at the Eka Hotel.
Day 3: Tuesday 3rd December THIKA, OL DONYO SABUK AND MOUNT KENYA
We have an early start and head through Thika, where we make a stop for local birding, and also visit the Ol Donyo Sabuk Mountain area; targeting species such as Hinde’s Babbler, Meyer’s Parrots, African Green Pigeon, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Black-and-white Mannikin, Northern Pied Babbler, African Hill Babbler, Bearded Scrub Robin, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Lead-coloured Flycatcher, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Purple-crested Turaco, Lemon Dove, Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Red-billed Firefinch, Grey-Olive Greenbul, and Spot-flanked Barbet. We also bird around the hotel where we take lunch.
In the afternoon we head to Mount Kenya. We bird briefly around our lodge, targeting forest and woodland species such as Mountain Buzzard, Crowned Eagle, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Golden-winged Sunbird, Olive Pigeon, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon and Oriole Finch. We shall likely see local monkey and antelope species, among other mammals. Driving today 140 km (2.5 hrs). Overnight for two nights at Mount Kenya - Serena Lodge.
Day 4: Wednesday 4th December MOUNT KENYA - NARO MORU
From the hotel we bird the local bush and forest edge, then head up the mountain in our vehicle. We scan the forest and grasslands hoping to find species such as African Cuckoo-Hawk, Mountain Buzzard, Crowned Eagle, Alpine Swift, Purple-throated CuckooShrike, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Mountain Wagtail, Cape Wagtail, Slender-billed Greenbul, Mountain Yellow-Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Black-throated Apalis, Black-collared Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, White-browed Crombec, Hunter’s Cisticola, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Crowned Hornbill, African Black Duck, Red-fronted Parrot, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Spectacled Weaver, Grey-headed Negrofinch, Scaly Francolin, Jackson’s Francolin, Moorland Francolin, Moorland Chat, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Rueppell’s Robin-Chat, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Golden-winged Sunbird, Eastern Doublecollared Sunbird, Black-headed Waxbill, Olive Ibis, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Slender-billed Starling, Abbott’s Starling, Sharpe’s Starling, Kenrick’s Starling, Waller’s Starling, Montane White-eye, Fine-banded Woodpecker, White-headed Wood-Hoopoe, Bar-tailed Trogon, Yellowcrowned Canary, Dusky Turtle Dove, African Green Pigeon, Lemon Dove, African Olive Pigeon, and Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon. Montane mammals are likely, including monkeys, antelopes, mongooses, genets, pigs, hogs, elephants and buffalo. Driving today 50km (1hr).
Days 5 and 6: Thurs 5th & Fri 6th December BUFFALO SPRINGS AND SAMBURU
We leave early for Buffalo Springs and Samburu, spending the next two days birding this special place. As we approach Samburu, we pass dry country where we keep an eye for specialities such as Straw-tailed Whydah, Steel-blue Whydah, Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark, Rufous Bush Chat, Fan-tailed Raven, Bristle-crowned Starling, Fischer’s Starling, Magpie Starling, Ruppell’s Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow-Weaver, Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, White-bellied (Variable) Sunbird and Pink-breasted Lark. We enjoy a game drive the first afternoon, and the following day have both a morning and afternoon session, with a lunch break to relax.
In Samburu, we keep scouting for extra birds as we enjoy local mammals such as Leopard, Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk, Grevy’s Zebra, Cheetah, Reticulated Giraffe, Lion and Elephants. More birds will be expected here including Somali Ostrich, Somali Courser, Golden Pipit, Golden-breasted Starling, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, Pringle’s Puffback, Northern Puffback, Northern White-crowned Shrike, White-headed Mousebird, Hunter’s Sunbird, Black-bellied Sunbird, Shining Sunbird, Red-billed Hornbill, Eastern Yellowbilled Hornbill, Von der Decken’s Hornbill, Black-faced Sandgrouse, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Fire-fronted Bishop, Somali Bee-eater, Stone Partridge, African Orange-bellied Parrot, Yellow-vented Eremomela, Northern Crombec, Northern Grey Tit, Black-capped Social Weaver, Northern Brownbul, Buff-crested Bustard, African Bare-eyed Thrush, Somali Sparrow, Donaldson-Smith’s Nightjar, Dusky Nightjar, Vulturine Guineafowl, Rufous Chatterer, African Mourning Dove, European Turtle Dove, Egyptian Vulture, Bateleur, Martial Eagle and Tawny Eagle. Driving total 180km (3hrs) Two nights at Samburu - Sopa Lodge.
Day 7: Saturday 7th December NYAHURURU AND THOMSON’S FALLS
On our final morning we scout for some extra birds in Samburu, then head to Nyahururu, a highland area in Central Kenya, with birding on the way. We also make a quick stop for a site where Cape Eagle-Owls roost, if time allows. On arrival in Nyahururu, we spend time at the Marmanet forest edge and at Thomson’s Falls scouting for local birds such as Slender-billed Starling, White-browed Crombec, Brown Woodland Warbler, Golden-winged Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Tacazze Sunbird, Hartlaub’s Turaco, African Yellow White-eye, Montane White-eye, Fine-banded Woodpecker, Crowned Eagle, African Harrier Hawk, Cape Wagtail, Peregrine Falcon, Red-fronted Parrot and Crowned Hornbill. We may also scan a local swamp for highland marsh species. Driving today 230km (4hrs) Overnight in Nyahururu - Thomson’s Falls Lodge.
Days 8 and 9: Sunday 8th & Monday 9th December LAKE BARINGO
We enjoy a bird walk around the lodge before breakfast, then head for Lake Baringo, birding all the way. If time allows, we stop briefly at a roadside dam near the lake to check for waterfowl. We arrive in Baringo around midday, and take a short break to relax. In the later afternoon, we enjoy a nature walk around the area for owls and nightjars. Birds to expect here include Spotted and Greyish Eagle-Owls, Northern White-faced Scops Owl, Shikra, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Verreaux’s Eagle, Slender-tailed Nightjar, DonaldsonSmith’s Nightjar, Heuglin’s Courser, Blue-capped Cordon-bleu, D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Blackthroated Barbet, Brubru, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Somali Fiscal, Three-streaked Tchagra, Spotted Thick-knee, Senegal Thick-knee, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Nubian Woodpecker, Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Little Weaver, Jackson’s Golden-backed Weaver, Northern Masked Weaver, White-billed Buffalo-Weaver, White-bellied Canary, Beautiful Sunbird, Black-headed Plover, Jackson’s Hornbill, Yellow-billed Hornbill, Hemprich’s Hornbill, Northern Red Bishop, Brown-tailed Rock Chat, Mocking Cliff-Chat, Somali Sparrow and Bristle-crowned Starling, among many others.
We start the next day with a boat ride on Lake Baringo, in search of water birds such as African Jacana, Black Crake, Goliath Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Heron and White-faced Whistling Duck. The boat ride will also help us enjoy the beauty of the lake and see the local African Fish Eagles advertising their territories as they hunt. We return to the lodge for breakfast, then scout the local scrubland and nearby cliffs seeking birds we may have missed the previous day. After lunch, we relax for some time and later take another walk seeking nightjars and owls, among other birds. Driving total 160km (3hrs). Two nights in Baringo - Tumbili Cliff Lodge.
Days 10 and 11: Tuesday 10th & Wednesday 11th December KAKAMEGA FOREST
We depart for Kakamega, arriving around midday. We scan the lodge compound to find our first birds, then take lunch before an afternoon bird walk. The following day we are birding deeper into Kakamega Forest, a remnant of the Guineo-Congolian Equatorial forest, exploring different sections. Species diversity here is plentiful and we hope for a huge addition to our list, perhaps including Yellow-shouldered (-mantled) Widowbird, Little Greenbul, Shelley’s Greenbul, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul, Ansorge’s Greenbul, Toro Olive Greenbul, Great Blue Turaco, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Crowned Eagle, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Red-headed Bluebill, Oriole Finch, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Uganda Woodland Warbler, White-chinned Prinia, Buff-throated Apalis, Turner’s Eremomela, Green Hylia, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Olive-Green Camaroptera, Square-tailed Drongo, Red-headed Malimbe, Black-necked Weaver, Black-billed Weaver, Vieillot’s Black Weaver, African Broadbill, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Snowy-headed Robin-Chat, Grey-throated Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Pink-footed Puffback, Green Sunbird, Western Olive Sunbird, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Green-throated Sunbird, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, White-spotted Flufftail, Dusky Tit, African Emerald Cuckoo, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Bocage’s Bush-Shrike, Luhder’s Bush-Shrike, Black-crowned Waxbill, White-breasted Negrofinch, Bar-tailed Trogon, Least Honeyguide, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, White-headed Wood-Hoopoe, Black-and-whitecasqued Hornbill, Equatorial Akalat, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Western Black-headed Oriole, Common Wattle-eye, Jameson’s Wattle-eye and Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye. The forest also holds unique monkey, antelope and squirrel species. Driving total 221km (4hrs). Two nights in Kakamega - Rondo Retreat Lodge.
Days 12 and 13: Thurs 12th & Friday 13th December LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
We leave Kakamega for Nakuru, arriving by midday. We enjoy a lunch break and then have an afternoon game drive. The following day will have morning and afternoon sessions for birding, with a break in between for lunch and to relax.
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. Famous for its Lesser Flamingos, other birds here 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, Greycrested Helmetshrike, Cape Teal, Brimstone Canary, Hottentot Teal, Red-billed Teal, Dusky Nightjar and Montane Nightjar. The park is also a great sanctuary for rhinos, and these may be encountered as we move around the park. Other mammals will be seen, especially herds of grazing herbivores and Rothschild’s Giraffe. Driving total 180km (3.5hrs). Two nights in Nakuru - Sopa Lodge.
Day 14: Saturday 14th December LAKE NAIVASHA
We leave early and drive straight to Naivasha. Here we sample local birding spots, including more savannah and bushland areas, and also visit the lakeshore at favourite beach points, where many shorebirds will be seen. We enjoy a boat ride here to reach more birds and enjoy the scenic beauty, then head to our lodge for lunch, followed by a bird walk in the afternoon. Expected species include Mosque Swallow, Lyne’s Cisticola, Chestnut Sparrow, Abyssinian Wheatear, Nyanza Swift, Mottled Swift, White-fronted Bee-eater, Mocking Cliff Chat, Bearded Woodpecker, Plain-backed Pipit, Giant Kingfisher, Grey-backed Fiscal, Grey-crested Helmet-Shrike, Brimstone Canary, Cape Teal, Pied Avocet, Black Heron, Goliath Heron, Lesser Flamingo, Maccoa Duck, Great White Pelican, Common Greenshank, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Hilderbrandt’s Francolin, Arrow-marked Babbler, Black-lored Babbler, African Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Osprey, Hybrid Lovebird, Red-throated Wryneck, Golden-breasted Bunting, Buff-bellied Warbler, Grey Crowned Crane, Black Cuckoo and Hoopoe. Driving today 70km (1.5hrs). Two nights in Naivasha at the quaint Elsamere Lodge former home of George and Joy Adamson, of 'Born Free' fame.
Day 15: Sunday 15th December KINANGOP GRASSLANDS & ABERDARE NP
We leave early for a day trip to this highland region, carrying a picnic lunch. Much of the day will be spent in Aberdare National Park. This Park runs the expanse of a majestic mountain range on the eastern edge of the Rift Valley, and has a great stretch of alpine moorland vegetation, mainly above 3000m. This great landscape has led to the park’s nickname:- “The Majestic Moorland”. There is a thick tropical forest, with deep ravines and dissecting riverine gorges. At certain areas, these rivers form majestic waterfalls, which really must be seen! Home to many regional endemics, this area promises to be rewarding in terms of birdlife. Species include Aberdare Cisticola, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Brown Woodland Warbler, Abbott's Starling, Scarlet-tufted Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Moorland Chat, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Red-fronted Parrot, Yellow-crowned Canary, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, African Olive Pigeon, Jackson’s Francolin, Mountain Buzzard and Olive Ibis. Many other animals occupy this beautiful place and African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Mountain Bongo, and Giant Forest Hog can be expected.
Later in the afternoon we drive through the Kinangop plateau to score some more special birds in the grasslands, and also in local wetlands for highland water birds. Birds here include Black-winged Plover, Red-throated Wryneck, Common Quail, Hunter’s Cisticola, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Long-tailed Widowbird, Jackson’s Widowbird, Angola Swallow, Montane Nightjar, Sharpe’s Longclaw, Mountain Buzzard, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Red-throated Pipit, Black-tailed Godwit, African Snipe and Lesser Jacana. Driving today 65km (1.5hrs).
Day 16: Monday 16th December LAKE NAIVASHA TO NAIROBI
Today we begin with a morning walk around our lodge, then relax and enjoy lunch before leaving for Nairobi, with birding on the way. We arrive in time to check-in and relax, then enjoy our final dinner. Driving today 115km (2hrs). We return to the comfortable Eka Hotel.
Day 17: Tuesday 17th December NAIROBI TO LONDON
We enjoy breakfast at the hotel, then make the short airport transfer for our flights home.
Pete is a highly experienced leader and very well-travelled overseas birder, with an interest in Africa and Kenya in particular. Of all our local guides, he is the one most noted for finding rarities and spreading the news!
Washington has a taste for everything in nature, from the small to the big and everything in between. He is an experienced Safari Guide and was awarded the African Sustainable Tourism Fellowship Award in 2016. Washington is a member of the Kakamega Rainforest Tour Guides Association, and has led many birding trips and expeditions across the whole of East Africa. He is a passionate author, and has taken part in many bird related research and conservation projects. He is also an experienced nature photographer and his photos have been featured in many international books and magazines.
Wilson was born in Kenya, and is one of the leading authorities on bird identification and distribution in the Baringo region. Wilson enjoys birding just as he enjoys leading birding tours, and brings vast experience in bird spotting and identification. He has taken part in expeditions to many other parts of Kenya, and his interests span to other aspects of flora and fauna. Wilson is a passionate nature photographer and his passion and jovial mood in the field has made him a clients’ favourite.
Either Washington or Wilson will be our local Guide.
Washington and Wilson
Accommodation is in excellent and friendy hotels and lodges, often located in areas with expansive views. Rooms are comfortable, clean and attractive with en-suite bathrooms. The hotel in Nairobi has been selected for its easy access to both the Airport and Nairobi National Park, other hotels have been chosen for their location, accommodation and food, which are universally very good, and often exceptional.
Food is usually plentiful. Breakfasts offer a good choice, with tea, coffee, juice, fruits, pancakes, egg of your choice and other things depending on location. Lunches are taken at hotels or somewhere in the bush depending on the day’s plan. Evening meals are at the accommodation with a full dinner. Vegetarian and other diets are always available.
Walking is easy throughout, but restricted in the national parks and game reserves. This is no hindrance, as we will be safe and able to get up very close to many animals and birds. It is also important for safety reasons to stay close to if not inside the vehicle – remember we are not top of the food chain here!
Travel is by comfortable minibus, and all clients have a window seat. Tarmac roads make travelling much easier these days, though there are some 'marram' roads, which are both rough and dusty. Sometimes the wildlife we want to see is at the end of a dusty road! Roads around National Parks are likewise unmade, though we travel slowly here to maximise our chances of birding and game.
Weather will be warm to hot most days although it can sometimes be cool, especially at altitude and in the early mornings. You will probably experience 'dry heat', though rain is certainly possible. Most sites selected for this holiday are close to water and so should hold plenty of wildlife at the time of year we are visiting.
Insects There are very few biting insects at this time of the year, but general precautions are advised. Before travelling consult your doctor about suitable anti-malarial medication, and on arrival take adequate precautions against mosquito bites although you may not encounter mosquitos.
Clothing We recommend a mixture of light and warm clothing as temperatures will vary from place to place. Gloves and hat are advised especially when at altitude. Please bring waterproof clothing, it hopefully won't be needed but rain is possible at any time, even in the dry season.
What's included in your holiday price:
Price includes return scheduled flight from London – Nairobi, airport taxes, baggage up to 20kg, hand luggage to 5kg, in-flight meal, airport transfers, the services of your Heatherlea leader and professional local guide, ground transportation, accommodation and meals including breakfast and lunch, evening meal and water during the day. Also included are boat rides, park entrance fees and walk fees. Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included subject to terms and conditions.
The Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi
by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe is included in your holiday price. One copy per room booked.
What's not included in your holiday price:
Travel to and from the airport before and after the holiday, baggage above 20kg, incidental tips, drinks with meals, expenses of a personal nature and personal insurance.
WHY CHOOSE HEATHERLEA?
Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.
Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.
The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;
* We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for 27 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
* Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
* Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
* All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
* Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.