12 Days Nakuru, Baringo, Naivasha, Masai Mara Birdwatching Vacation.
Day 1. Nairobi
Arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in the evening. Transfer to Nairobi Safari Club or equivalent hotel.
Day 2+3. Birdwatching vacation in Lake Nakuru National Park & Lake Elementaita
After breakfast we leave Nairobi via the Nakuru road to the Rift valley. The Nairobi - Nakuru road is on a contour along the rim of the Rift valley and on view points we will be able to see our whole route for the next days. Our destination is the Sleeping Warrior Camp, situated in the Soysambu Conservancy on the western side of Lake Elementaita.
On the way we may see soaring Black Kite, Augur Buzzard, Marabou and Yellow-billed Stork and Pied Crow. After lunch we go for our first birding safari in the Soysambu Conservancy. We are on the look out for various water birds and in the acacia woods and reeds along the lake we might find the Lilac-breasted Roller, Klaas's Cuckoo, Grey and Bearded Woodpecker, Grosbeak Weaver, Pied Kingfisher.
From the bird feeder of the camp we will already see a wide range of Weavers, Red-billed Firefinch, Purple Grenadier, Red-winged Starling, White-browed Robin-chat and the Cliff Chat.
Our birdwatching vacations are designed to keep us away from the crowded lodges in the Lake Nakuru National Park. We will therefore stay in the exclusive Sleeping Warrior Camp for 2 nights.
Lake Nakuru, a favorite destination in our birdwatching tours, takes the 3rd day of the tour. It is famous for its thousands of Lesser Flamingos and the Greater Flamingoes will be easily distinguishable by their height. The Great White and Pink-backed Pelican and Black-winged Stilt are also there.
The lake has a low concentration of salt, so it supports fish that of course attract other water birds species.
It is a good place to look for Avocets, Storks, Ibises, Ducks, Cormorants, Herons, and Terns. In the wooded acacias there is a chance to see the White-browed Coucal, Broad-billed Roller, Arrow-marked Babbler and the Narina Trogon.
We go with a picnic lunch, so that we can take a full day for birding and game viewing in the park.
Day 4,5+6. Kenya Birding vacation: Lake Baringo & Bogoria (3 nights Lake Baringo Country Club)
After breakfast our birdwatching vacation heads further north to Lake Baringo which without doubt is a one of the most interesting places for bird watching in Kenya because of the different habitats that are found with-in a small radius. There is the fresh water lake with a slight degree of alkalinity, cliffs, open grasslands as well as scattered bushes.
Over 400 species of Kenya birds have been recorded. The woodlands by the lake are alive with White-browed Sparrow-Weavers, Jackson's and Red-billed Hornbills, Bristle-crowned Starlings, and the rare Northern Masked Weavers, there are several Hamerkops along the lake shore and with luck we should be able to see their nest, which a pair of Grey Kestrels have adopted as a home. There will be time to relax, enjoy the pool, and bird the grounds of the lodge for the resident Spotted Eagle-owls, and Sunbirds such as the Beautiful, Hunter's and the Violet-breasted. Nightjars are common on the lake shores at night and the Hippos graze freely on the lodge's lawn. Overnight is at Lake Baringo Country Club.
From our base in Baringo our birdwatching vacation detours to the nearby alkaline lake of Bogoria, famous for its thousands of flamingos and beautiful hot springs. As this area is very hot, we go early and return to the Baringo Country Club in time for a late lunch. Afternoon is spent birding leisurely in the garden of the lodge.
Before breakfast on day 6 our birding vacation will start with 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 the day we make a boat ride over Lake Baringo, always on the lookout for new bird species. We will come close to the Goliath Heron, African Fish Eagle, Malachite Kingfisher, plus swimming hippo and crocodiles.
Day 7. Birdwatching Tour in the Lake Naivasha Area. O/N Lake Naivasha Country Club
From Baringo we head south to the second of two fresh water lakes in Kenya's Rift Valley: Lake Naivasha, which is a fresh water lake without a known outlet. This is very strange considering that the rivers that feed it are salty. The lake has dense vegetation, which in turn supports a variety of birds. The area has a bird count of +350 Kenya birds species.
We reach the Lake Naivasha Country Club in time for a late lunch where we'll stay for the next two nights. In the afternoon we do a bird walk in the garden of the hotel, which borders the lake. A late afternoon boat ride gives us not only the chance to see numerous Hippos but also a wide variety of fresh water birds. A nocturnal visitor in this lodge is the hippo, whose deep munching we will easily identify from the comfort of our rooms.
Day 8. Hell's Gate National Park. O/N Lake Naivasha Country Club
Hell's Gate is only a 20 min drive away from our lodge. The first part is open grasslands bordered with steep rock cliffs in which the Rüppell's Griffon Vulture nests. Easy sightings here are the Verreaux's or Black Eagle, Common Ostrich, Black-shouldered Kite, White-fronted Bee-eater, Grassland and Long-billed Pipit, Northern and Schalow's Wheatear, Lilac-breasted Roller...
The narrow gorge has a completely different habitat and hence very different birds: Yellow, Grey and African Pied Wagtail, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, Purple Grenadier, Common Drongo, Superb Starling, Brimstone Canary, Common Waxbill, White-browed Robin-Chat...
Day 9,10+11. Birdwatching Vacation: Masai Mara. O/N Mara Leisure Camp or Ashnil Tented Camp
The last section of this birding tour is in the famous Masai Mara National Reserve, which borders Serengeti in Tanzania. Mara is the gem of birding in Kenya with 450 species recorded. We will drive through Masai land, home to one of the most fascinating cultures in Africa.
In the vast grasslands we expect to see Elephants; the large Cats - Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah; the herd animals - Zebra, Wildebeest, Thompson's and Grant's Gazelles; and specialties like the Hartebeest and the Topi.
Expected Kenya 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 and Denham's Bustard. Lilac-breasted Rollers are common. 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 for the kill.
In addition we will encounter numerous raptors such as Bateleur, Martial and Tawny Eagles, as well as Pale Chanting Goshawk, Augur Buzzards and Black-chested Snake Eagles. Along the Mara River we'll watch for African Finfoot, Schalow's and Ross' 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 Woodpeckers (Golden-tailed and Fine-banded). 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 Banded Mongoose.
Day 12. Visit to the Kiambethu Tea Farm + transfer to Nairobi for the outbound flight
Our birding tour ends with a lunch at the Kiambethu Tea Farm. This is an old colonial home established by the early settlers and the pioneers of tea growing in Kenya. There will be a talk on tea: its arrival in Kenya, the growing, processing and up to when you put it into your cup. A short hike in the tea plantation and into a small remaining part of indigenous forest completes the tour. We might add to our list some Mannikins, Golden-winged, Double-collared and Amethyst Sunbirds, Grosbeak Weavers... We have a healthy farm lunch and thereafter transfer to Nairobi for the evening flight out.