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KENYA SPECIALITIES

Special Birds, Great Scenery & Marvellous Mammals

Kenya Birding Tours: our Kenya Specialities bird watching holiday is a very special Kenya birding tour that we have carefully crafted from many years of experience in the country with the richest avifauna in Africa. Our Kenya Specialities tour features a large birdlist, as Kenya is a country with one of the world’s richest avifaunas, but the tour focusses on Kenyan endemics, near-endemics and regional specialities that we do not see on any other Birdquest tour, or at least not on any regular tour.

Thursday 1st April — Wednesday 21st April 2021
(21 days)


Leaders: Nik Borrow and a local naturalist guide

Group Size Limit: 6

Tour Category: Easy walking and comfortable or very comfortable accommodations

Kenya is the best birding destination in Africa if not the world! You will see some of the best scenery in Africa, a huge variety of bird species, many of which while be regional specialities, and many spectacular mammals. Somali Ostrich is just one of many species that can only be seen on bird tours to Kenya  (Pete Morris)

Kenya is the best birding destination in Africa if not the world! You will see some of the best scenery in Africa, a huge variety of bird species, many of which while be regional specialities, and many spectacular mammals. Somali Ostrich is just one of many species that can only be seen on bird tours to Kenya (Pete Morris)

Kenya Specialities is a very special, targeted new Birdquest birding tour through the richest country on the African continent for birdlife. While we are looking for the Kenyan endemics, Kenyan near-endemics and other regional specialities, plenty of which are seen on no other Birdquest tour, we will also amass a large bird list and see a superb selection of mammals!

This splendid new birding tour to Kenya is deliberately positioned at the best time of year for seeing Kenya’s avian specialities. As a bonus, it is also a good time for observing numerous Palearctic migrants. Many very approachable birds, fantastic mammal viewing, great scenery, good food and some really superb accommodations (some of the best we encounter) all add to the attractions.

Some 1100 species have already been recorded from this small country, far more than from any equivalent area on the African continent. Kenya’s remarkably rich avifauna is a direct consequence of a highly varied topography combined with an extraordinary diversity of climatic conditions and habitats (including virtually everything from dry savannas to verdant forests, from snow-capped volcanoes to rich grasslands, and from deserts to great lakes). Like some of the countries of South America, Kenya exhibits great changes in the composition of its birdlife over very short distances, but, unlike much of South America, birding here is delightfully easy, with many open and well-lit habitats to enjoy and many quite tame and remarkably approachable species.

Our Kenya Specialities  birding tour starts in Nairobi, from where we take an internal flight to the ancient port of Lamu on the Indian Ocean coast, where we will be wanting to see the recently-described Black (or Manda) Boubou.

From Lamu we move south the Malindi area. Part of our time here will be spent in the Arabuko-Sokoke coastal forest tracking down endemic and near-endemic specialities such as Sokoke Pipit, Amani Sunbird, Clarke’s Weaver and the exquisite Sokoke Scops Owl, the rest in coastal wetlands and adjoining habitats where we should find the restricted-range Malindi Pipit and Violet-breasted Sunbird, as well as the handsome Crab-plover and Sooty Gull.

The relict forest of the Taita Hills will be our next major port of call and here we will be wanting to see the full suite of Taita endemics, including Taita Thrush, Taita Apalis and Taita White-eye.

In the Nairobi area we will be seeking out such special birds such as Shelley’s Francolin and Hartlaub’s Bustard.

The endemic Hinde’s Babbler will be our prime target as we head north and skirt Mount Kenya.

Descending to the arid thornbush and savanna of Samburu district, we will explore the very ‘birdy’ Shaba, Samburu and Buffalo Springs Game Reserves where specialities include White-headed Mousebird, Grant’s Wood-hoopoe, Williams’s and Masked Larks, Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark, Somali Long-billed Crombec, Brown-tailed Rock Chat, Somali Fiscal, Black-bellied Sunbird, Golden Palm Weaver and Donaldson Smith’s Sparrow-weaver. The reserves also harbour a superb selection of mammals, in particular Grevy’s Zebra, the long-necked Southern Gerenuk, Galla Oryx and the attractive Reticulated Giraffe.

Travelling on northwards, way beyond the limits of most visiting birders in Kenya, we come to the remote Marsabit Massif and the remote Dida Galgalu Desert. Here we will be looking for Heuglin’s Bustard, Somali Courser, Masked Lark, Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark, Somali Long-billed Crombec, Somali Fiscal, Bristle-crowned Starling, Somali Crow and Somali Sparrow.

Returning south, we will overnight at Naro Moru at the foot of Mount Kenya. A nearby ranch is well stocked with game and home to Jackson’s Widowbirds, whilst a quarry provides sanctuary for a pair of Mackinder’s Eagle Owls.

Descending into the Great Rift Valley at Lake Nakuru, one cannot fail to be enthralled by the huge numbers of Lesser Flamingos that are usually present. Grey-crested Helmet-shrikes occur here while Hildebrandt’s Francolin is another speciality. Black Rhinoceros still survives at Nakuru alongside introduced White Rhinos.

Moving still further west, we come to the verdant landscapes of western Kenya, where we shall visit the bird-rich Kakamega Forest. As well as sharing many exciting species with the forests of Central Africa, these luxuriant forests are also home to Turner’s Eremomela (seen at no other locality during birding tours) and both Uganda Woodland Warbler and Blue-headed Bee-eater (which can be difficult to find elsewhere). Grey-chested Babbler (formerly Grey-chested Illadopsis), now placed with two other relatives in their own bird family, is probably easier to see here than anywhere else.

From beautiful Lake Naivasha we ascend slopes that harbour Lynes’s Cisticolas on our way to the high mountain country of Aberdare National Park. Here we shall look for the endemic Jackson’s Francolin and Aberdare Cisticola, and even the high-altitude Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird.

Finally, before we return to Nairobi, we will seek out relict areas of native tussock grassland that hold the endemic Sharpe’s Longclaw and visit the leafy haven of a well-forested escarpment that provides shelter for the near-endemic Abbott’s Starling at one of its most regular localities,

By the time we have to return home we will have seen a huge variety of birds, including Kenya’s many endemics and other specialities, and an extraordinary diversity of mammals amidst some wonderful scenery.

Birdquest has operated birding tours to Kenya since 1982.

What makes the Birdquest Kenya tour special? Firstly our tour has the very best, unmatched itinerary for seeing Kenya endemic and near-endemic specialities.

Secondly our tour is limited to just one vehicle and up to six participants maximum, which means our small group will be together all the time, both when on foot and when in the parks where one can only occasionally bird on foot. This provides a much better experience compared with Kenya birding safaris that have two vehicles in the parks and also have a much larger group size when birding in forest habitats.

Thirdly the high quality way to go on a birding tour in Kenya is to use specially modified and extended 4x4 safari vehicles, either Toyota Landcruisers or Landrovers, with large opening roof hatches. These vehicles make the safari experience so much more comfortable.

The cheaper alternative, used by some birding tour operators (who can as a result reduce per person costs by up to US$1200 or more for a three week safari), is to put folk into small minibuses (passenger vans) that will have significantly less space and a much less comfortable ride on bumpy dirt roads (these are a fact of life on any Kenyan safari).

Furthermore, the minibuses used either have no 4x4 capability or a more limited capability than proper ‘off road’ vehicles like Landcruisers, so they can struggle to pass muddy or rutted sections of road (conditions regularly present in Kenya).

If you see a Kenya birding tour description and it does not clearly specify that you will be travelling in a Landcruiser or Landrover 4x4, check with the tour operator in case they are going to have you travel in a minibus. In our opinion that temptingly lower tour price comes at a very high cost in terms of client comfort.



Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges used in Kenya are of good or very good standard throughout and are often wonderfully situated. Some of the best accommodations on Birdquest tours in fact. Transport will by comfortable extended Toyota Landcruiser 4x4 vehicle with opening roof hatch. Road conditions are variable.

Walking: The walking effort is easy throughout our Kenya Specialities birding tour.

Climate: Many days at low and moderate altitudes in Kenya are warm or hot, dry and sunny, although it is sometimes warm or cool and overcast. At the highest altitudes conditions can be fairly cold early in the morning. There will be some rain and it is generally rather humid along the coast.

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities during our Kenya Specialities tour are very good.

KENYA SPECIALITIES BIRDING TOUR: PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: our tour prices include all flight costs and all tipping, including tips for local guides and drivers. Some bird tour operators do not do this, yet for participants these costs are an unavoidable part of the tour. The value of these inclusions on this Birdquest tour amounts to approximately: £380, €430, $530.

Price is provisional

£6640, €7600, $8970 Nairobi/Nairobi. Deposit: 10%.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes this flight: Nairobi-Lamu

Single Room Supplement: £453, €519, $612.

This supplement will not apply if you are willing to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The localized Pangani Longclaw is one of a series of specialities we are likely to find in Tsavo West (Pete Morris)

The localized Pangani Longclaw is one of a series of specialities we are likely to find in Tsavo West (Pete Morris)

This superb Heuglin's Courser was photographed at Lake Baringo  (Pete Morris)

This superb Heuglin's Courser was photographed at Lake Baringo (Pete Morris)

As well as localized specialities, Kenya offers some incredible bird spectacles, such as the flamingos and pelicans of Lake Nakuru (Pete Morris)

As well as localized specialities, Kenya offers some incredible bird spectacles, such as the flamingos and pelicans of Lake Nakuru (Pete Morris)

Seeing such a remarkable diversity of mammals is a wonderful bonus when birding in Kenya. This endearing Cheetah cub was photographed in the Masai Mara (Pete Morris)

Seeing such a remarkable diversity of mammals is a wonderful bonus when birding in Kenya. This endearing Cheetah cub was photographed in the Masai Mara (Pete Morris)

The Masai Mara at dawn. This fantastic destination will undoubtedly be one of the great highlights of this superb tour! (Pete Morris)

The Masai Mara at dawn. This fantastic destination will undoubtedly be one of the great highlights of this superb tour! (Pete Morris)

Kenya has a wonderful variety of avian specialities. We will start off our search for them at the Indian Ocean, where the near-endemic Malindi Pipit is to be found. (Pete Morris)

Kenya has a wonderful variety of avian specialities. We will start off our search for them at the Indian Ocean, where the near-endemic Malindi Pipit is to be found. (Pete Morris)

The spectacular Mangrove Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

The spectacular Mangrove Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

Hartlaub's Bustard (Pete Morris)

Hartlaub's Bustard (Pete Morris)

Some rare and localized larks are found in Kenya, such as this Friedmann's Lark (Pete Morris)

Some rare and localized larks are found in Kenya, such as this Friedmann's Lark (Pete Morris)

...and Masked Lark, which can be found on the lava plains at Shaba (Pete Morris)

...and Masked Lark, which can be found on the lava plains at Shaba (Pete Morris)

A fabulous group of White-headed Mousebirds (Pete Morris)

A fabulous group of White-headed Mousebirds (Pete Morris)

An impressive roosting Mackinder's Eagle-Owl (Nik Borrow)

An impressive roosting Mackinder's Eagle-Owl (Nik Borrow)

A pair of Northern Pied Babblers (Pete Morris)

A pair of Northern Pied Babblers (Pete Morris)

Turner's Eremomela, a species virtually restricted to the fabulous Kakamega Forest (Pete Morris)

Turner's Eremomela, a species virtually restricted to the fabulous Kakamega Forest (Pete Morris)

Even more spectacular is the fantastic Blue-headed Bee-eater, a species which is probably easier to see in the fabulous Kakamega Forest than anywhere else (Pete Morris)

Even more spectacular is the fantastic Blue-headed Bee-eater, a species which is probably easier to see in the fabulous Kakamega Forest than anywhere else (Pete Morris)

As well as the specialities, you'll see a huge number of widespread African species such as this Goliath Heron (Pete Morris)

As well as the specialities, you'll see a huge number of widespread African species such as this Goliath Heron (Pete Morris)

Long-crested Eagle (clutching a Rusty-nosed Rat) (Pete Morris)

Long-crested Eagle (clutching a Rusty-nosed Rat) (Pete Morris)

A Montane Nightjar by day (Pete Morris)

A Montane Nightjar by day (Pete Morris)

The huge Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill (Pete Morris)

The huge Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill (Pete Morris)

The colourful Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater (Pete Morris)

The colourful Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater (Pete Morris)

The delightful, miniscule Malachite Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

The delightful, miniscule Malachite Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

White-headed Barbets (Pete Morris)

White-headed Barbets (Pete Morris)

Mammals are a major feature of Kenya, as well as the birds. Who could fail to be impressed by a big male Lion! (Pete Morris)

Mammals are a major feature of Kenya, as well as the birds. Who could fail to be impressed by a big male Lion! (Pete Morris)

African Elephants are another favourite (Pete Morris)

African Elephants are another favourite (Pete Morris)

The superb Beisa Oryx is one of the most impressive game animals in the north and east (Pete Morris)

The superb Beisa Oryx is one of the most impressive game animals in the north and east (Pete Morris)

The attractive Grant's Gazelle (Pete Morris)

The attractive Grant's Gazelle (Pete Morris)

A couple of Masai boys posing for the group, no doubt wondering what on earth we were up to! (Pete Morris)

A couple of Masai boys posing for the group, no doubt wondering what on earth we were up to! (Pete Morris)

Many of the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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