Kenya Bird Watching Safari
Nairobi – Masai Mara
A representative from goshawk tours will meet you at your hotel or pick you up from the airport and after briefing you he or she will introduce you to your safari guide. You will be driven north, a brief stopover at the Great Rift Valley view point. Proceed on arriving Masai Mara in time for lunch.
On arrival You will be assisted to check into your respective rooms. Spend the afternoon at leisure and later head out for a bird watching drive. Masai Mara’s bird population is high. Bird species include Turaco, owls, guinea fowls, rollers, eagles and hawks. Dinner and over night at the Masai Mara Sarova Lodge.
Full day bird watching where on the open plains there is a variety of bustards including the large jacksons bustard. The latter during nuptial display soars high in the air then with rigid wings descends slowly to earth like a prickled balloon.
Ground hornbills are ones of the most spectacled birds of the open plains & more easily seen in the Mara than elsewhere in Kenya birds of prey are abundant and no less than 53 different species have so far been discovered, secretary birds are a common sight as they stalk sedately over the grasslands, and in the sky there are always vultures and that effortless flier the batelour. Dinner and overnight at the Masai Mara Sarova Lodge.
Masai Mara – Lake Naivasha
After breakfast depart and head to lake Naivasha which is a bird watcher’s paradise, water birds exist in great variety and abundance.
Fish eagles and ospreys are residents. Herons, egrets, red knobbed coots, black cracks are common African marsh harriers and the three migrant harriers are often seen sailing just above the reed bed’s hunting the little tree frogs which form the bulk of the diet.
Some 13 km south of lake Naivasha are the towering cliffs of the Hell’s Gate home to the Larmmergeys, several verreaux’s eagles, colonies of ruppel’s vultures and other notable birds. Dinner and over night at Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge.
Lake Naivasha – Lake Nakuru
After breakfast, explore the rich bird filled gardens or an optional boat ride to the crescent island, then proceed to Lake Nakuru National Park arriving in time for lunch. It is the world’s famous haunt of flamingos.
The landscape is picturesque areas of the sedge marsh and grasslands alternating with rocky cliffs and outcrops, stretches of yellow backed acacia woodland and on the eastern perimeter rocky hillsides covered with forest of grotesque looking euphobia trees all set against a background of hilly broken country.
Both lesser and greater flamingos occur abundantly as non-breeding visitors on Lake Nakuru. There is a great variety of other water birds including two interesting ducks, the cape pigeon a lover of blackish waters, and the stiff tailed maccoa duck, blacksmith plover, spurwing plover, crowned plover, kittliz’s plover, birds of prey includes, lanner, long crested eagle, augur buzzard, red-chested cuckoo, lillac breasted roller, grey headed kisher and bronzy and variable sunbirds. Dinner and overnight at Sarova Lion Hill Lodge.
Lake Nakuru – Lake Baringo
After breakfast drive to lake Baringo one of the two fresh water lakes along the Great Rift Valley. Lake Baringo possesses two major ornithological attractions this are goliath herons and verreaux’s eagle the rare brisle starling and hemrich’s hornbill.
Birds generally are abundant in the acacia woodland, which include curly crested helmet shrikes, silverbird, grey silver-headed silverbll, gery-headed bush shrike, northern masked weaver and west Nile red bishop. In the afternoon have an hour- bird watching trip by boat to he Crescent Island and to view hippos too.
At the island you can take excursions at an extra cost like a visit to the Njemps village and dancing or to the local snake farm. Dinner and over night at Samatian island lodge.
Lake Bogoria – Aberdare
After breakfast visit lake Bogoria which is a region of great scenic beauty to the east steep hills descend abruptly to lake shore, whilst along the western shores, which are filter a series of spectacular hot spring. It has an abundance of large concentration of lesser and greater flamingos which often frequent the lake, black necked grebe, fish eagle- spur winged plover, black winged stut to mention a few.
Leave for treetops via Thompson falls to arrive at Aberdare Country Club in time for lunch. Dinner and overnight at the Tree Tops. Game viewing from your room’s balcony where a swampy glade, waterhole and saltlick is the most likely place in Kenya from which to see bongo these large and handsome forest antelopes being frequent visitors.
Aberdare – Samburu
After breakfast depart for Samburu to arrive in time for lunch. Bird life is sparklingly numerous and colourful. There is no difficulty in seeing well over a hundred species of birds in a single day.
Perhaps the most impressive sight is the immense flocks of helmeted and vulturine guinea-fowls which make their way each afternoon to the riverbank to drink, the latter resplent with white-streaked neck and brilliant blue under parts. Dinner and overnight at Samburu Lodge.
Pre breakfast, bird watching and game drive is done full day with view of the Masai ostrich, buffalo springs, in the reserve of that name is the drinking place in the dry season for literally thousands of sand grouse and doves in addition to a galaxy of smaller birds the tiny pygmy falcon is common.
The males have blue grey and white the females with mahogany brown mantle. At a distance when perched, high in some acacia tree they distinctively resemble shrikes. the giant eagles the martial eagles is often seen usually perched high on some vantage point alert for dik -dik or guinea fowl. Dinner and overnight at Samburu lodge.
Samburu – Nairobi
After breakfast, have a game drive enroute, depart and drive to Nairobi, lunch en route arriving late afternoon. Drop off at a hotel in Nairobi or the airport to board a flight to your next destination.
- Transport in a custom safari minibus with pop up roof.
- All park entrance fees.
- Fullboard Accommodation.
- Game drives and other activities as described in the itinerary
- Services of an English speaking driver guide.
- Complimentary Bottled water 1 Litre per person per day.
- All government taxes.
- International airfares.
- All expenditure of personal nature such as telephone calls, hard drinks, soft drinks and laundry.
- Travel Insurance.
Parks & Reserves Facts
The world we known masai mara game reserve is a northern extension of the serengeti national park which is located in Tanzania. Masai mara covers an area of 1510km². The masai mara ecosystem is composed of rivers i.e talek river and mara river which are the main water supply for the ecosystem. The mara river is a huddle to the wildebeest migration as the wildebeests have to cross the river from serengeti most of them perishing in the jaws of crocodiles and big cats. The western part of masai mara lies the siria escarpment, loita plains and the rest is the masai pastoral land.
The masai mara game reserve is owned and run by the county council of Narok which is the richest county council in Kenya due to the revenue collected as park entrance fee. Part of the masai mara which is called the mara triangle is contracted out and privately run. Park fees are paid by the number of nights one spends in the mara conservancy.
The masai mara lies at an altitude of 1500 meters to 2100 meters. It rains twice a year in the game reserve that is during the long rains that fall between the month of March and May and during the short rains that fall on the month of October, November and part of December. June and July are the coldest months and January and February the hottest months. Temperatures during the day rarely exceed 85°F (30°C) and during the night it hardly drops below 60°F (15°C). Masai mara is a mosquito prone area but camp site are sprayed with mosquito repellants and the tents have treated mosquito nets.
Masai mara has a big population of wildlife. All members of the big five can be seen in this reserve, a large number of ungulates are also easily visible they include the wildebeest , thomson gazelles, grant gazelles, buffalos, rhinos, impalas, topis, elands, zebras, giraffes and duikers. The common predators include the lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, jackals and foxes. Masai mara has over 450 identified species. Some common birds include the common ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, hornbills, storks, eagles and vultures.
The wildebeest migration happens annually, this spectacle is considered as one of the 7th wonder of the world. More than a million wildebeest, accompanied by topis, zebras, gazelles and elands make their journey from serengeti national park to masai mara game reserve. Many of them perish while crossing the mara river where crocodiles and big cats make a kill on the vulnerable ungulates. The migration happens every year during the month of July after the long rains. The grass is big and plenty and for the next three months the wildebeests clear the lush grass of the masai mara. The migration varies annually due to the climate change. If the climate changes and it doesn’t rain as usual the wildebeest may delay to cross over or cross over and go back since there isn’t grass to feed on.
The masai people whom by definition speak the maa language hence the name masai have held on to their culture even in these times of modernization. A masai’s home is called a manyatta where he lives with his wives and children. From childhood boys are obligated to look after their fathers cows while girls are obligated to doing house chores, fetching water and milking the cows. After every fifteen years there is an initiation where boys are circumcised and they become young morans and the existing morans graduate to junior elders. The masai enjoy eating meat, milk mixed with blood during rituals such initiation and marriage. The use of herbs as medicine. Their culture is still embedded in their day to day life. The masai are a big attraction in Kenya.
Lake Naivasha is at the highest elevation of all the Kenyan Rift valley lakes standing at 1,890 metres (6,200 ft). The lake is fed by two river namely malewa and gilgil rivers, and has no visible outlet. The lake covers an area of 140 km² but this varies annually due to the rainfall. The lake has an average depth of 8 meters and it is a fresh water lake.
Much of the lake is surrounded by forests of the yellow barked Acacia Xanthophlea, known as the yellow fever tree. These forests abound with bird life, and Naivasha is known as a world class birding destination. The lake habits schools of hippos and many bird species. The most common is the fish eagle. A wonderful way to spend the afternoon or morning is to take a boat ride.
Lake Nakuru is one of the alkaline lakes of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Nakuru is also known as “Pink Lake” or Africa Bird’s Paradise. The lake is ideally located in central Kenya within Lake Nakuru National park. The park occupies an area of 188 km2 while the lake occupies an area of 62 km2. The lake is famous for the millions of flamingos that flock the lake although flamingos are unpredictable birds and are not always to be found in the lake is such vast numbers. From a distance i.e. the baboon cliff the lake looks pink in color due to the flamingos.
The topography at Lake Nakuru is comprised of grasslands alternating with rocky cliffs and outcrops, acacia woodlands and a forest made up euphorbia trees. In the early 1960’s tilapia grahami was introduced to the lake and it flourished despite the alkaline nature of the lake.
There are two species of flamingos namely lesser flamingo and greater flamingos, they feed on algae, which flourishes due to the warm alkaline waters of Lake Nakuru. It is believed that flamingos consume about 250,000 kg of algae per hectare of surface area per year. The abundance of algae in the lake is what attracts millions of flamingos to Lake Nakuru. Apart from flamingos other bird species include ducks, pelicans, cormorants, plovers, vultures, eagles, and buzzards. Lake Nakuru has over 50 animal species which include hippos, reed bucks, water bucks, rothschild giraffe’s, baboons, black and white columbus monkey, hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, lions, gazelles and impalas among others.
Lake Baringo is one of the Rift Valley lakes located north of Lake Nakuru, The lake has a surface area of about 130 square kilometres (50 sq miles) and an elevation of about 970 metres (3,180 ft). The lake is fed by several rivers, El Molo, Perkerra and Ol Arabel, and has no obvious outlet; the waters are assumed to seep through lake sediments into the faulted volcanic bedrock. It is one of the two freshwater lakes in the Rift Valley in Kenya, the other being Lake Naivasha.
The acacia woodland has a lot of bird species. The lake also provides an invaluable habitat for seven fresh water fish species including the Nile Tilapia, which is endemic to the lake. Lake fishing is important to local social and economic development. Additionally the area is a habitat for many species of animals including the hippopotamus, crocodile and many other mammals, amphibians, reptiles and the invertebrate. The lake used to boast of a large Goliath Heron nesting colony which has disappeared although Goliath Herons are still breeding around the lake.
In addition to bird watching walks and boat trips, with the guidance of a professional ornithologist, the lake offers a range of activities which include fishing, water sports (ski, wind-surfing), camel rides, day trips to the nearby Lake Bogoria National Reserve or visiting a Njemps village, where you can get to sample the local handcrafts and dances.
Lake Bogoria covers an area of 32 square kilometres (12 sq miles) and lies in a trough below the Ngendelel Escarpment, a sheer wall 600 metres (2,000 ft) high. The lake is geothermically active on the western shore, with geysers and hot springs. The geologist J.W. Gregory described the lake in 1892 as “the most beautiful view in Africa”. Lake Bogoria was formerly known as Lake Hannington.
Lake Bogoria is dominated by the countless hot springs which pour boiling water into the sterile lake. Sterile, except for the massive flocks of Lesser Flamingos that flood into Bogoria each year. Millions of them have been recorded at peak times of the year and hundreds of thousands is common. The lake is alkaline, feeding blue-green algae which in turn feed flamingoes. Raptors such as Tawny Eagles prey on the flamingoes. The reserve has a herd of the relatively uncommon Greater Kudu. Other large mammals include buffalo, zebra, cheetah, baboon, warthog, caracal, spotted hyena, impala and dik dik.
The Aberdare National park was established in 1950, it covers an area of 766 square kilometers and is 100 km north of Nairobi. The park has five entry points depending on where you are coming from, the entry points are Kiandongoro gate, queens gate, east gate, treetops gate, ark gate. The park entry fee is paid using a smart card which can be loaded at the main entry point.
The Aberdare Mountains are part of the central highlands Kenya, from north-south between Nairobi and Thomson’s falls. The mountain slopes especially on the eastern and western slopes are covered with thick forest giving way to bamboo zone on the higher levels. Deep ravines cut through the forested inclines through which hidden streams flow and waterfalls cascade down hundreds of open moorlands, broken by lichens covered rocky outcrops, hills and crags, thickets of giant heath and tussock grass.
Wildlife easily observed include the lion, leopard, african elephant, african hunting dog, giant forest hog, bushbuck, mountain reedbuck, waterbuck, cape buffalo, suni, side-striped jackal, eland, duikers olive baboon, black and white Colobus monkey, and sykes monkey. Rarer sightings include those of the golden cat and the bongo – an elusive forest antelope that lives in the bamboo forest. Animals like the eland and spotted and melanistic serval cats can be found higher up in the moorlands.
Recently a project that stated twenty one years ago by conservationist Ken Kuhle’s Rhino Ark to fence the Aberdare national park was finished successfully. In the “olden days,” elephant and other game used to migrate from the Aberdare Mountains towards Mt. Kenya and into the Rift Valley, but the population pressure of modern day Kenya has made migration all but impossible in those parts of the country, as farms and homesteads have now spread around the park, cutting it off from other areas where game is found.
Samburu game reserve is the most popular parks of the northern frontier fauna sanctuaries. The game park occupies an area of 165 km2. The driving distance from Nairobi is 350 km and 65km from Isiolo town to achers post gate. The park lies on the northen bank of Uaso Nyiro River, the river serves as the only source of water without which the game in the reserve could not survive in the arid country.
Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George Adamson and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness made famous in the best selling book and award winning movie Free. The Samburu National Reserve is also home of Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting oryx calves.
Samburu’s topography is composed of river Uaso Nyiro which flows from the Kenyan highlands and flows to lorian swamp, scattered acacia, riverine forest, thorn trees and grassland vegetation. The climate for Samburu is hot dry with cool nights with an average annual maximum temperature of 30ºc (86F) and minimum annual temperature of 20ºc (68F). There is a wide variety of animal and bird life seen at Samburu National Reserve. Several species are considered unique to the region, including its ts unique dry-country animal life: All three big cats, lion, cheetah and leopard, can be found here, as well as elephants, buffalo and hippos, Olive baboon, gerenuk, warthogs, Grant’s gazelle, Kirk’s dik-dik, impala, waterbuck, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe and over 350 bird species.
Samburu is also a masai land, the Masai people whom by definition speak the Maa language hence the name Maasai have held on to their culture even in these times of modernization. A maasai’s home is called a manyatta where he lives with his wives and children. From childhood boys are obligated to look after their fathers cows while girls are obligated to doing house chores, fetching water and milking the cows. After every fifteen years there is an initiation where boys are circumcised and they become young morans and the existing morans graduate to junior elders. The Masai enjoy eating meat, milk mixed with blood during rituals such initiation and marriage. The use of herbs as medicine is still embedded in their day to day life. The Maasai are an attraction in Kenya since they managed to stick to their culture.
- Do not Litter the reserve/park.
- Do not feed the animals, i.e. monkeys or baboons.
- Do give the animals the right of way and do not disturb wildlife.
- Do not take any plant or animals remains, dead or alive.
- Do not start fires or throw cigarettes in the reserve.
- Do stay in your vehicle except at designated viewing points.
- Do not shout, laugh loudly, play radio or cassettes as this will keep away the animals.
- Do not provoke any animals its dangerous.