BIRD & WILDLIFE SAFARI
Optional Extension October 14-20, 2006
Kenya has the second-highest country bird list in Africa, after the
Congo, with at least 1,070 species. On this tour there is the potential to
see nearly 500 bird species in the first two weeks and, during the
extension, about another 100 possible (and with second chances to see some
that may have been missed earlier). Nearly 80 percent of Kenya's birds are
thought to be breeding in the country, with the balance consisting of
And oh, what great birds they are! Colorful Bee-Eaters darting out to
seize their prey, acrobatic Rollers swooping out from perches to nab
insects, and raptors galore, from the tiny Pygmy Falcon to the massive
Martial Eagle. Hornbills, Kingfishers, and Hoopoes are scattered
throughout. No hummingbirds here, but instead, Sunbirds with their curved
bills specially designed to retrieve flower nectar. Mousebirds, Bustards,
and Weavers easily claim your attention. Thousands of Flamingos grace the
alkaline lakes of the Rift Valley, and circling Vultures soar overhead.
We'll also be seeing many fabulous East African animals such as Lion,
Leopard, Cheetah, Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Cape Buffalo,
Hippopotamus, and maybe even a rare Rhinoceros - Wow! Sometimes you'll
feel like you are right in the middle of a wildlife documentary filming.
It is possible to see more than 35 mammal species on this tour. And of
course there are many lesser known, but fascinating creatures, including
Butterflies and Reptiles. To top it all off, the plant life is extremely
diverse, and many flowering plants will be in bloom.
The tour features visits to Nairobi National Park, two fresh water
lakes - Lakes Baringo and Victoria, two alkaline lakes - Lakes Bogoria and
Nakuru, the tropical Kakamega Forest, and the Masai Mara portion of the
northern Serengeti. This will provide us with an extremely diverse group
of habitats to explore.
The extension travels to Tsavo West and Amboseli National
addition to many breeding birds, Tsavo West is particularly known for its
autumn migration of birds arriving from Europe. Amboseli lies close to
spectacular Mount Kilmanjaro, and is especially know for its large
We'll be traveling with knowledgeable and friendly Kenyan birding
guides. Transportation will be in reliable safari minibuses with pop up
roofs carrying a maximum 5 passengers per vehicle, and with highly capable
Cost, from Nairobi: $3,495.00 per person, double occupancy. Single
Supplement $600.00 This includes all meals from breakfast on Day 2 through
lunch on Day 14, all ground transportation, lodging as per itinerary, park
entrance fees, guiding services, bird checklist, guide book and Flying
Doctors evacuation coverage (emergency transport to Nairobi hospital in case of medical
emergency - hospitalization fees are not included). A minimum of 8
participants are needed for this tour to run.
Cost of the extension is $1,750.00 per person double occupancy, which includes all of the
main tour amenities and requires a minimum of 4 participants to run.
For a Gallery of pictures from Kenya, click
14-Day Birding Tour with 7-Day Extension
DAY 1: NAIROBI - La Mada
We will arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in the
evening and then transfer to the La Mada, which is in a quiet area
away from the city center (you probably will have left the U.S. on the
evening before - see flight notes at the end of the itinerary).
DAY 2: NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK - La Mada Hotel (BLD)
This will be a day to relax and wear off jet lag, but not without an
introduction to Kenyan birds! A walk in the garden of our hotel will give
us our first view of African birds, including Northern Pied Babbler,
Holub's Golden Weaver, Speckled Mousebird, Dusky Turtle Doves and numerous
After breakfast we will visit the Nairobi National Park, which despite
being only a few kilometers from the city, is home to abundant wildlife.
In the open grasslands scattered with acacia trees, we will see our first
gazelles, zebras, giraffes and maybe even some of the cats. The birds
expected here are: Common Ostrich, Secretary Bird, several Vulture
species, Cattle and Great Egrets, Tawny Eagle, and a herd of Cape Buffalo
with Red-billed Oxpeckers perched on their backs. Jackson's Widowbird, Black Kite, Marabou
Stork, Pied Crow and African Palm Swift are also found in the park.
We will also be on the lookout for Grey Crowned Crane, Red-throated Tit
and Chestnut-banded Plover. At the picnic site Baboons will quickly
assemble on our arrival and just as quickly they can easily walk away with
a lunch box or two (hopefully not!). The Agama Rock Lizard is common here.
DAY 3, 4+5: LAKE BARINGO - Lake Baringo Country Club (BLD)
After breakfast we'll leave Nairobi via the Nakuru road and head to the
Rift valley. En route, we will stop at the Limuru Swamp for some morning
birding. Residents of this swamp include: Little Grebe, African Jacana,
Yellow-billed and Maccoa Duck, Pelicans, Sacred, Glossy and Hadada Ibis,
Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-billed and Little Egret, Grey and Black-headed
Heron, Hamerkop, Blacksmith and Spur-winged Plover, Whiskered and
Gull-billed Tern, Red-rumped Swallow, and African Harrier-hawk.
We'll then proceed to Lake Baringo, which is a fresh water lake, but
with a slight degree of alkalinity. The climate in this region is dry and
the surrounding cliffs are home to a variety of bird life. Over 400
species of birds have been recorded in this region. Since this is a very
hot region, birding excursions away from the lodge will be early in the
morning and late in the afternoon.
After lunch (day 3) we'll bird in the garden of the lodge, where we
should easily see White-browed Sparrow-Weavers, Jackson's and Red-billed
Hornbills, Bristle-crowned Starlings, the rare Northern Masked Weaver,
Grey Kestrel, Little and Dwarf Bittern, Squacco Heron, Red-fronted,
d'Arnaud's, Black-throated and Red and Yellow Barbets, Red-fronted
Tinkerbird, Nubian and Cardinal Woodpeckers and the Lesser Striped
Swallow. There will be time to relax, enjoy the swimming pool, and bird
the grounds of the lodge for the resident Spotted Eagle-owl, and Sunbirds
such as Beautiful, Hunter's and Violet-backed. At night, Nightjars are
common on the lakeshores, and hippos graze freely on the lodge's lawn.
Before breakfast on day 4 we will bird the nearby escarpment and
surrounding countryside for Hemprich's and Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill,
White-crested Turaco, Madagascar Bee-eater, Rufous-crowned Roller, Gabar
Goshawk, Cliff Chat, and Verreaux's Eagle, which feeds on the Rock Hyrax.
Later on in the day we'll take a boat ride on Lake Baringo, always on
the lookout for new bird species. Hopefully, we will get close looks at
Goliath Heron, African Fish Eagle, and Malachite Kingfisher, as well as
hippos and crocodiles.
On day 5 we will make a day visit to the RAMSAR site of Lake Bogoria.
The lake, known for its hot springs and thousands of Greater and Lesser
Flamingoes, is a haven for bird watchers. We'll enjoy a picnic in the
park, and add more species to our list!
Possible sightings here include: Black-necked Grebe, Eastern Pale
Chanting Goshawk, Tawny, Long-crested, Steppe and African Fish Eagle,
Pygmy Falcon, Kittlitz's, Black-headed, Senegal and Three-banded Plover,
Namaqua Dove, Brown Parrot, Red-chested, Diederik and Klaas's Cuckoo, and
African Pygmy and Woodland Kingfishers.
DAY 6,7+8: KAKAMEGA FOREST - Rondo Retreat (BLD)
We plan to arrive at the Kakamega Forest in time for a late lunch. This
forest, in the heart of an intensively cultivated agricultural area, is a
superb remnant of the virgin tropical rainforest that once stretched to
the Congo. The forest is the home to a wide range of specialty birds, many
which are not found anywhere else in Kenya, and it is also home to the
rare De Brazza's monkey (only found in Kakamega Forest), the Hammer-headed
Fruit Bat, Flying Squirrel, 400 species of butterflies and no less than
330 species of birds.
While birding in a forest can be difficult, as compared to the
savannah, this will easily be forgotten when, after two great days of
exploring different areas of the forest, we should have impressive
sightings of Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, Ross' and the Great Blue
Turaco, White-browed Coucal, Striped Kingfisher, White-headed Hoopoe,
Grey-throated Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, and Yellow-spotted Barbet.
Other notables are the Grey-headed Negro-finch, Red-headed Bluebill,
Chestnut Wattle-eye, and Mackinnon's Shrike.
On day 8 we'll visit Lake Victoria to search for species that are
rarely seen anywhere else in Kenya such as the Blue-breasted Bee-eater,
Blue Swallow, Swamp Flycatcher, Greater Swamp-warbler, White-winged
Warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Carruthers' Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek,
Red-chested Sunbird, Red-headed Quelea, Slender-billed, Yellow-backed, and
Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Black-throated Seedeater, and the Papyrus
DAY 9+10: LAKE NAKURU - Lodge in the park (BLD)
We'll head southeast to Lake Nakuru, which is famous for its thousands
of Lesser Flamingos - the Greater Flamingoes will be easily
distinguishable by their height. Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, and
Black-winged Stilt are also found there.
Since the lake has low concentration of salt it supports fish that
attract other water birds such as Avocets, Storks, Ibises, Ducks,
Cormorants, Herons, and Terns. In the grasslands and acacia forests there
will be a chance to see Broad-billed Roller, Arrow-marked Babbler, Narina
Trogon, Yellow Bishop, Red-collared and Long-tailed Widowbird, Speke's
Weaver, Rüppel's, Long-tailed and Greater Blue-eared Starling,
Black-headed Oriole, Black-backed Puffback, Chin-spot Batis,
White-shouldered Cliff Chat, White-browed Scrub Robin, Common and Little
Rock Thrush, and Hunter's and Bronze Sunbird.
DAY 11, 12+13: MASAI MARA - Fig Tree Tented Camp (BLD)
We'll head to the famous Masai Mara National Reserve, which borders
Serengeti in Tanzania. Mara is the gem of wildlife viewing and bird
watching in Kenya with 450 species recorded. We will drive through Masai
land, home to one of the most fascinating cultures in Africa. We'll
overnight at the Fig Tree Tented Camp, which is built in a great natural
setting, allowing for easy bird watching from the tents.
In the vast grasslands we expect to see African Elephants; the large
cats - Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah; the herd animals - Burchell's Zebra,
Wildebeest, Thompson's and Grant's Gazelles; and specialties like the
Hartebeest and Topi.
Expected bird species are the highly conspicuous Common Ostrich, the
small but still conspicuous Cardinal Quelea, Sooty Chat, Ground Hornbill,
Open-billed Stork, Temminck's Courser, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse,
White-bellied, Black-bellied and Denham's Bustard, Northern Anteater Chat,
Red-faced Cisticola, White-Bellied Tit, Common Wattle-eye, Grey
Cuckoo-shrike and Lilac-breasted Roller. If we find a "kill", we
may see six species of vultures all dining together: Egyptian, Hooded,
Griffon, Lappet-faced, White-backed and White-headed. It will be a double
reward should a Hyena or a Jackal join in the scramble.
There are numerous raptors in Mara such as Bateleur, Martial and Tawny
Eagles, as well as Pale Chanting Goshawk, Augur Buzzard and Black-chested
Along the Mara River we'll watch for African Finfoot, Egyptian Goose,
Schalow's Turaco, Crested Guineafowl, Woodland Kingfisher, Yellow-billed
Barbet, Black-billed Weaver, Violet-backed Starling, and perhaps with
luck, Pel's Fishing Owl. Any tapping noise on the trees may be indicative
of the relatively uncommon Golden-tailed and the Fine-banded Woodpeckers.
Hopefully we will be lucky enough to see some of the more difficult to see
mammals such as Bat-eared Fox, Hunting Dog, Serval and the delightful
Every day we'll take an early morning wildlife drive before a late
breakfast and an afternoon wildlife drive until sunset. On day 13, after
breakfast, we walk to a Masai village, still on the look out for various
birds. The Masai people who accompany us will give us more info about the
medicinal use of the plants and about their culture. In the village we
enter one of their houses so that we can see how the Masai live today,
which has changed little from the way their ancestors did hundreds of
DAY 14: BACK TO NAIROBI (BL)
We'll transfer back to Nairobi in time for lunch. There will be a free
afternoon to sort out your things, and pack (if you are leaving that day).
Day rooms are provided at the La Mada hotel. Evening transfer to the
airport is provided.
TSAVO & AMBOSELI EXTENSION
DAY 14: NAIROBI - La Mada
Overnight at the La Mada in Nairobi.
DAY 15,16+17: Tsavo West National Park - Severin Safari Camp (BLD)
After an early breakfast we'll drive south of Nairobi towards Tsavo.
We'll stop at Hunter's Lodge where we expect to see a colony of Palm and
Golden Weavers, and Giant and Grey-headed Kingfishers. We will then enter
the park looking for species typical of dry acacia country such as Golden
breasted Starling, Crested Francolin, Helmeted Guineafowl, White-bellied
Go-away-bird, Blue-naped Mousebird, White -headed Mousebird, Red -billed
Hornbill, Von Der Decken's Hornbill. The beautiful Red-and -Yellow Barbet
can sometimes be seen foraging on termite mounds.
At the water fountain of the exclusive Severin Safari Camp, which is
going to be our home for the next 3 nights, we will likely see the
Grey-headed Silverbill, Spotted Morning Thrush, and Sparrows.
Our days in Tsavo will be spent with wildlife drives and birding. On
day 17 we will drive to Lake Jipe which is on the Kenya Tanzania border.
The lake is bird rich and easy to see species here are Taveta Golden
Weaver, African Skimmer, and Water Thick-knee.
DAY 18+19: Amboseli National Park - Ol Tukai Lodge (BLD)
On day 18 we cross over to Amboseli National Park, where we will stay in the Ol
Tukai Lodge for 2 nights. Amboseli would be considered a dry park but it
has a lot of swamps that are fed by underground rivers flowing from Mt.
Kilimanjaro. There is abundant wildlife, and elephants are present in the
hundreds, with the snowcapped Kilimanjaro in the background making the
park a great place for photographic opportunities.
Our 2 days of birding here should give a good mixture of water birds,
dry-savannah birds, and many raptors. We'll look for Purple and Goliath
Heron, African Spoonbill, Red-billed Teal, Black-chested Snake Eagle,
Eurasian Marsh, African Marsh, Pallid and Montagu's Harrier, Little
Sparrowhawk, Martial Eagle, Crested Francolin, Yellow-necked Spurfowl,
Allen's Gallinule, Two-banded Courser, Collared Pratincole, Long-toed
Plover, Marsh and Common Sandpiper, Ruff, Chestnut-bellied and
Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Levaillant's Cuckoo, Scarce and African Black
Swift, Southern Ground Hornbill, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Fischer's
Sparrow-lark, Banded Martin, Pangani Longclaw, Rufous Chatterer,
White-starred Robin, Pied and Isabelline Wheatear, Brown-tailed Rock Chat,
Pale and Spotted Flycatcher, Olivaceous and Willow Warbler, Winding
Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Red-tailed Shrike, Taita Fiscal, Brubru,
and White-naped Raven.
DAY 20: Back to Nairobi (BL)
We'll transfer back to Nairobi in time for lunch. There will be a free
afternoon to relax and pack for the return flight. Day rooms are provided
at the La Mada hotel. An evening transfer to the airport is provided.
Flight Notes: The normal procedure for a flight to Kenya is to take an
evening departure from the U.S. east coast, fly overnight and arrive in
the U.K or Europe in the early morning. There is then usually a layover of several
hours, with a morning departure, followed by an evening arrival in Nairobi
and transfer to the lodging. There are often some type of meals on most
long flights, but
I recommend bringing some food with you, and especially water. During your
airport layover(s), get a good meal at a decent airport restaurant (not
always easy). I will notify you of the recommended flight(s), but you are
free to arrive earlier, if you wish, however in that case, depending on
your arrangements you may need to manage your own hotel transfer, and
For a Gallery of pictures from Kenya, click
All pictures and content Copyright © 2002 Mark Suomala. All rights
reserved. Revised: December 22, 2006
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