Kenya Birding Tours
Kenya! This is truly one of the planet’s most exciting countries for birds as well as for big game (along with all the small mammals, of course). On a three-week Kenya birding tour you can see 550 to 750 bird species (we usually don’t race, and we like to spend adequate time with each species, so we don’t try to pad our list with lots of “glimpse only” or “heard only” birds, but we usually do see well over 600 bird species). While accumulating a humongous bird list (and enjoying the birds seen rather than racing from one bird to the next) you’ll also be able to enjoy Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Blue Wildebeest (on migration in the Masai Mara if your tour is timed right when these beasts haven’t crossed the Tanzania border into the Serengeti), African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, Plains Zebra, and more.
Habitats change rapidly in Kenya. Everything is so compact, and in the course of a single morning you can find yourself birding in a semi-arid area inhabited by African megafauna, bustards and more, in an evergreen Afro-montane forest with the scarlet wings of an otherwise mainly bright green turaco adding vivid color to the scene, and in a chilly highland grassland looking for Sharpe’s Longclaw and Aberdare Cisticola. From Kakamega Forest (one of Africa’s most legendary birding forests, where Turner’s Eremomela, beautiful wattle-eyes, Great Blue Turaco and possibly even (African) Grey Parrot (although this is much more easily seen on our West African bird tours), to the hyper-saline, flamingo-filled Great Rift Valley Lakes such as Lake Naivasha with the famous Elsamere Conservation Centre and Elsamere Lodge on its banks, Lake Nakuru, Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, and the others, you’ll see birds, birds, and more birds in incredible Kenya!
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The Rift Valley Lakes are famous for their tens of thousands of Greater and Lesser Flamingos but also host a great many other birds, including localized East African endemics such as Grey-crested Helmetshrike (which is only found in a small part of Kenya and northern Tanzania). From the Taita Hills with their several endemic birds containing “Taita” in their names (plus the non-endemic Taita Falcon, although this rare bird is more reliably seen on our South African birding tours) to the humid coastal Arabuko Sokoke Forest, Malindi, and the Mida Creek area with its famous scops-owl endemic, Clarke’s Weaver, Malindi Pipit, Crab-plover, etc., Kenya’s habitat diversity is remarkable. From the incredibly bird-and-mammal-rich arid game parks such as Samburu National Reserve and Masai Mara National Reserve (which reaches the Kenya/Tanzania border, and on bespoke bird watching trips we can cross into Tanzania and include the Serengeti as well) to the high mountains such as Mount Kenya this is one of the best wildlife countries on our beautiful planet. And talking of big African mountains, we should also mention Kilimanjaro here, even though it is just across the border in northern Tanzania; Amboseli National Park in Kenya provides the famous postcard views of big game with Africa’s highest mountain as a backdrop. You’ll see all of this, and more, on your birdwatching holiday to Kenya. Nairobi National Park and Tsavo East/Tsavo West National Parks are also well worth visiting, and we certainly include them on our bird/wildlife tours.
Kenya is one of the best places for bird and nature photography, so we run a set-departure birding and wildlife photo tour to Kenya, in addition to our standard Kenyan birding tour, which does not focus specifically on photography.
If you’re considering doing a bird watching trip to Kenya we highly recommend that you get yourself the East Africa birding guide by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe (please scroll down to Kenya in our African field guides blog for details of this field guide and of the associated birding app).
All in all, Kenya has a unique and spectacularly diverse array of habitat types and landscapes, ranging from the snow-capped mountains at about 15,000 feet (5,000 meters) above sea level, tropical lowlands, highland forests, vast savannas, and rolling plains and grasslands to the coastal dry forests and the shores of the Indian Ocean. There is a total of 1150+ bird species recorded on the country’s checklist from its 62 Important Bird Areas (IBAs), with 117 of these being migrants from the Eurasian region, 11 being Kenyan endemics, numerous more being East African endemics (quite a number of which are only found in northern Tanzania and Kenya), and 47 globally threatened species. Our birdwatching tours to Kenya will enable us to score at least 600 species and will take us through many spectacular habitats and famous sites from the shores of Lake Victoria to the Afromontane forests. Throughout Kenya we’ll experience some of the world’s finest birding and large game viewing. We’ll have a chance to walk in the forests and drive among the many large game animals that the plains of east Africa are famous for. Please do choose between our classic birding tour, our birding photo tour, or a bespoke bird watching tour of Kenya. Africa is where we started as a company, and we love the continent and would be excited about showing it to you!