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BEST OF KENYA

Birds, Big Cats & Wild Africa

Birdquest’s Best of Kenya birding and wildlife tour includes the finest reserves (Samburu, Nakuru, Baringo, Kakamega, Mara) of this small country that offers the best birding in Africa. Enjoy staying at some of Kenya’s best wildlife lodges while seeing an awesome variety of birds and an amazing variety of mammals. This has to be the best two-week Kenyan birding and wildlife experience available.

Sunday 1st April — Sunday 15th April 2018
(15 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 a fantastic destination for both serious birding and amazing wildlife encounters. On this splendid Birdquest you can expect a very big birdlist and a remarkable variety of mammals! This superb Heuglin's Courser was photographed at Lake Baringo (Pete Morris)

Kenya is a fantastic destination for both serious birding and amazing wildlife encounters. On this splendid Birdquest you can expect a very big birdlist and a remarkable variety of mammals! This superb Heuglin's Courser was photographed at Lake Baringo (Pete Morris)

This wonderful tour is designed to be a superb experience that can be enjoyed by all kinds of birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Our Best of Kenya tour produces a huge bird and mammal list and yet has pleasantly long stays at a number of wonderful locations. This is a tour that features wonderful, easy birding, fantastic wildlife viewing and good to excellent accommodations and food almost throughout.

Kenya! No superlatives are sufficient to do justice to this middle-sized country that straddles the Equator, for Kenya offers not just the best birding in Africa but some of the best birding on earth!

Almost 1100 species have already been recorded from this one country, far more than from any equivalent area on the continent. This remarkable 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 mangrove-fringed mudflats, from deserts to great lakes and from rugged mountains to rich grasslands). 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 bird-rich habitats to enjoy.

We will travel in 4x4 Land Rovers or Toyota Landcruisers that have been specially adapted for safari work, with large roof hatches that make observation and photography easy. These vehicles are a huge improvement on the safari minibuses still used by some bird tours, being more comfortable, more spacious (with a much larger opening in the roof) and better able to cope with any difficult road conditions. They cost a lot more than a minibus, and this must be reflected in the tour price, but we have never met anyone who did not consider these excellent vehicles as worth the extra cost.

During our journey through this scenically spectacular country we shall see huge ostriches and tiny estrildid finches, a marvellous selection of birds of prey and waterbirds, strange-looking turacos, mousebirds, hornbills and barbets, gaudy starlings and weavers, confusing cisticolas, jewel-like sunbirds and much, much more besides. Not only can one observe a huge variety of birds here within a relatively small geographical area but, as is so often the case in Africa, it is such a pleasure to find so many species which are quite tame and remarkably approachable. Although this is a strongly bird-orientated safari, we hardly need to say that many of the best places for birds and mammals overlap and we shall certainly be paying plenty of attention to mammals as well, and in particular the big cats – Lion, Cheetah and Leopard. For the birdwatcher Kenya’s mammalian riches are the additional attraction which turns a visit to this incomparable country from something which would already be one of the world’s greatest birding experiences into something utterly unique.

There is a primeval magic about Kenya which affects every visitor. As one gazes across the seemingly endless grasslands dotted with grazing antelopes it seems that nothing has changed since our earliest ancestors roamed across these very plains. For the visitor the sheer number of large mammals is invariably astounding. No amount of exposure to wildlife films can blunt the real life impact of a herd of African Elephants moving slowly across the savanna or a Cheetah half-hidden in the grass.

Our travels start at Nairobi, where we will explore Nairobi National Park with its Black Rhinoceroses and great birding before moving on to Thika and then Mountain Lodge at the base of Mount Kenya in order to enjoy the superb birdlife of this upland region.

After descending to the arid thornbush and savanna of Samburu district, we will explore the bird- and mammal-rich Shaba, Samburu, and Buffalo Springs Game Reserves.

From here we travel westwards to the Great Rift Valley, first exploring Lake Nakuru and then beautiful Lake Baringo, home of some exciting specialities.

Moving still further west we come to the verdant landscapes of western Kenya where we shall visit the unique Kakamega Forest.

The ultimate highlight of our safari will be our visit to the rolling grasslands of the Masai Mara, Kenya’s finest wildlife reserve and a superb birding locality in its own right as well as the best place in the country in which to enjoy the magnificent spectacle of the herds of gnus (or wildebeest), zebras, gazelles and other ungulates and their attendant carnivores.

Birdquest has operated tours to Kenya since 1982.

Important: Our Best of Kenya tour is limited to just one safari vehicle, 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. A much superior experience to Kenya birding safaris with two vehicles and a much larger group size when birding in forest habitats.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of good to very good standard and are often wonderfully situated. Road transport is by specially adapted 4 x 4 safari vehicle with opening roof hatch. Road conditions are variable.

Walking: The walking effort is easy throughout. Walking is restricted to a few specified areas in the national parks/game reserves. This is of little hindrance and indeed we can approach many large birds and mammals far more closely in a vehicle than we could on foot. Everywhere else we are free to walk as much as we wish.

Climate: Most days at low and moderate altitudes are warm or hot, dry and sunny, although it is sometimes cool and overcast. At high altitudes conditions range from cool to quite cold. There will likely be rain at times.

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities are very good.

Kenya Tour Prices: Prices in Kenya, in common with many of the ‘safari’ countries of eastern and southern Africa, are high by the general standard of tour costs in ‘less developed’ countries. There are two main reasons for this. In the first place ‘safari travel’ appeals to a very well-heeled audience from across the globe, not just to birders and wildlife enthusiasts, and the high quality and remote location of many of the safari lodges (which are truly wonderful places to stay to be sure) is reflected in their very high prices. In most areas there are no mid-range accommodation options available. Secondly, the high quality way to go ‘on safari’ is to use specially modified 4x4 vehicles, typically Landrovers or Toyota Landcruisers. Import taxes and running costs for these vehicles in Kenya are very high, and the vehicles take only a small number of people in each, so costs per person are correspondingly steep. The cheaper alternative, still used by some bird and wildlife tour operators, is to put folk into a small minibus (passenger van) that will have less space, a less comfortable ride on bumpy dirt roads and which usually has no 4x4 capability and so can struggle to pass muddy or rutted sections of road (conditions regularly present in Kenya). If you see a Kenya tour description and it does not specify 4x4 Landrovers or Landcruisers, check with the tour operator in case they are going to have their clients travel in minibuses.

Can be taken together with: NORTHERN TANZANIA

Tour Price: £4890, €5570, $6410 Nairobi/Nairobi. Single Room Supplement: £280, €319, $367. Deposit: £600, €720, $780.

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

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.150.

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.

Kenya offers some incredible spectacles, such as the flamingos and pelicans of Lake Nakuru (Pete Morris)

Kenya offers some incredible spectacles, such as the flamingos and pelicans of Lake Nakuru (Pete Morris)

This endearing Cheetah cub was photographed in the Masai Mara (Pete Morris)

This endearing Cheetah cub was photographed in the Masai Mara (Pete Morris)

The Masai Mara at dawn. This fantastic destination will undoubtedly be the highlight of our superb tour! (Pete Morris)

The Masai Mara at dawn. This fantastic destination will undoubtedly be the highlight of our superb tour! (Pete Morris)

With so many species of birds and mammals, there is only room for a few highlights here! These include a Montane Nightjar by day (Pete Morris)

With so many species of birds and mammals, there is only room for a few highlights here! These include a Montane Nightjar by day (Pete Morris)

... the localized Hemprich's Hornbill, pictured here at Lake Baringo (Pete Morris)

... the localized Hemprich's Hornbill, pictured here at Lake Baringo (Pete Morris)

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

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

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)

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)

Southern Ground Hornbills patrol the open plains of the Masai Mara (Pete Morris)

Southern Ground Hornbills patrol the open plains of the Masai Mara (Pete Morris)

White-headed Barbets (Pete Morris)

White-headed Barbets (Pete Morris)

Mammals are a major feature of Kenya, as well as the birds. The big cats will be high on our priorities. 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. The big cats will be high on our priorities. 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 attractive Grant's Gazelle is present at many sites (Pete Morris)

The attractive Grant's Gazelle is present at many sites (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 flights and 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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