Kenya Birding tours are fantastic all year round due to a large diversity of ecological zones and habitats. Kenya is a major destination in Africa for birdwatching tours and wildlife adventures at any time of year.
East Africa (Kenya, Uganda Tanzania) has some of the most excellent birdwatching destinations in the world. If you’ve ever considered taking the birding tour of a lifetime, then choosing Kenya as your birdwatching destination might be a perfect choice.
Kenya is a vast land of wonders ranging from rich cultures and jaw-dropping landscapes teeming with abundant wildlife, to historical sites and bustling towns. Kenya birding tours are considered as the best in Africa. There is plenty to see and to do for birders/birdwatchers of all types, from avid fans to relative beginners. Kenya currently boasts more than 1000 bird species, almost half the total number occurring in the whole of Africa
Kenya is rich in biological diversity. Approximately 25,000 species of animal and 7000 species of plants have so far been recorded, along with at least 2000 fungi and bacteria. One of the reasons why birdwatching tours in Kenya are popular and productive is because of the country’s diverse habitats
Relative ease travel and access to its many national parks, reserves, and birding hotspots, accommodation facilities are excellent too. Kenya is one of the main countries in Africa for Birdwatching safaris. Kenya birding tours have a handful of endemic birds which includes; the Tana River Cisticola, Aberdares Cisticola, Hinde’s Babbler, William’s Lark, Sharpe’s Longclaw, Clarke’s Weaver (Kilifi Weaver) and Sokoke Owl
There are several major biomes, Kenya has a number of isolated mountains, with their own varied habitats. These include the ice- and snow-covered mountains, montane forests, tropical rain forests, semi-desert, savanna, mangrove forests, and palm-fringed coastline, with its many lagoons and estuaries, this diversity of vegetation and wildlife makes Kenya a top birding destination in Africa. Kenya birding tours can be one of the best holidays of your life. The skies are filled with colorful wonders, so take that leap and get in touch so we can help you make the first move.
Kenya Birding tours in Highlands consists of two major divisions on either side of the Great Rift Valley. This area has more plentiful rainfall and cooler temperatures than elsewhere and much of the major population centers are located there. Nairobi is located on the eastern side of the Rift Valley, as is Mount Kenya. The Mau Forest, (420,000 hectares) is the largest water catchment tower in Kenya, is located in the highlands on the western side of the Rift Valley. Kenya’s highlands are especially subjected to agricultural activity and human activity that greatly threatens forests and a number of bird species.
One of the gazetted forests Mau Eburu Forest is close to Nairobi only 120kms. The Mau Eburu forest area covers 8715.3 hectares (87sqkm) of pristine indigenous forest, huddled in the folds of a 2,820 meters high active mountain. Overlooking Lake Naivasha to the South East, Lake Elementaita to the North and Lake Nakuru to the North West. It is a delicate miniature island of biodiversity and home to 12 of the fewer than 100 surviving wild populations of critically endangered Eastern Mountain Bongo, a gorgeous and grandiose Antelope.
There are different forest birds and huge indigenous tree species. Here birding is pretty cool because it is done while walking and the gradient is perfect for any age group.
Some Kenya birdwatching sites in the eastern highlands are Nairobi National Park(one of the oldest parks and close to the capital city 10 minutes drive and one of the most famous sites for birdwatching tours in Africa). Mount Kenya Forests (Castle, Bantu &Irangi), and the Aberdares Ranges Forest, which includes the Gatamaiyu (most visited/preferred by Birders) Kinale, Kereita and Kijabe Forests.
Kenya Birding tours on the western side include the Mau/Molo Grasslands, the Mau Narok region to the south, and the Kongelai Escarpment, Cherangani Hills and Ortum Hills to the northwest of Kitale. The Great Rift Valley in Kenya encompasses the eastern half of the larger African Rift Valley, which runs from the Red sea across Ethiopia, through Kenya and Tanzania.
Lakes in Kenya from north to south, are Lake Turkana, Lake Logipi, Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Lake Solai, Lake Nakuru, Lake Elementeita, Lake Naivasha, and Lake Magadi. The Kenya Lake system is a major location on the West Asian-East African Flyway, a route followed by huge numbers of birds in their yearly migration from breeding grounds in the north to wintering places in Africa. There are a chain of Lakes, some which are alkaline and varying differently in altitude
Starting with Lake Turkana (375m) which is the largest desert lake in the world, Other alkaline lakes that attract huge numbers of Flamingos, and other water birds are Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria but also in Lakes Elementaita also spelled as Lake Elementaita or Elmenteita and Oloidien.
For nearly all of the year, up to 4 million Lesser Flamingos move between the three shallow lakes. The major freshwater lakes are Lake Naivasha and Lake Baringo, which is actually slightly alkaline. These attract different aquatic birds than those found around the soda lakes. Much of the surrounding habitat is bushland and scrub, which has rich bird species too
Great Rift Valley is also where the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania is located along with its northern extension into Kenya, Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Maasai Mara dotted plains are home to vast herds of migratory Wildebeest(Gnus) Zebras, Giraffes, many species of antelope such as the Impalas, Topis, Elands Gazelles (Thompson’s and Grant’s). Big cats such as; Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, and Hyenas plus other big mammals; huge herds of Buffalos and Elephants.
The savanna includes grassland but also bush, open woodland, scrub, rocky hillsides, ridges, valleys, and riverine this diversity of habitats results in a great diversity of birds.
For instance, over 500 bird species have been recorded within the boundaries of Maasai Mara Game Reserve alone.
The Western area is the region around Lake Victoria and lies between the eastern and western branches of the African Rift. This region is marked by numerous faults and escarpments with valleys in between. The last remaining rain forest in Kenya is located there, the Kakamega Forest which the most visited forest in Africa by birdwatchers. Some 80 species of birds in the Kakamega Forest are found nowhere else in the country.
The well-marked and kept nature trails are very productive, walking while birding allowed in the forest. An altitudinal gradient coming down the Kongelai Escarpment onto the Western Plateau adds to the diversity of bird species.
Habitat such as Papyrus swamps and other lake shore vegetation around Lake Victoria is home to its own set of specialty birds, while the lake itself attracts numerous aquatic species. The Busia Grassland near the northeast shore of Lake Victoria is home to several localized bird species and is fast turning into agricultural fields.
Coastal Kenya covers the entire eastern half of Kenya. This low-lying region is hot and largely featureless. It’s characterized by several river floodplains and low plateaus and forests that gradually rise in elevation. The scrub and forest along the East African coast are unique, and as such a significant number of birds are only found in the narrow coastal strip where this habitat occurs. The beaches, reefs, creeks, and open ocean support another group of birds clearly found elsewhere in Kenya and dunes, open woodland and mangroves all add to the diversity of birds to found along Kenya Coast.
During years of good rain, a rich network of seasonal freshwater pools fills up in the area, several the sizes of small lakes, These attract large numbers of waterbirds and can be particularly impressive for birding. Lake Chemchem and Lake Jilore are two of the large ones located not inland in Arabuko Sokoke Forest
They are surrounded by bushland and open woodland which also hold interesting bird species and making it a worthwhile visit. The Kenya coast is known for Afro tropical migrants such as African Pygmy Kingfisher, Carmine Bee-eater, White-throated Bee-eater, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Yellowbill, African Paradise Flycatcher and Black Cuckoo Shrike
The Kenya Coast is, of course, the only place in Kenya to find two Afro tropical migrants, Mangrove Kingfisher and Spotted Ground Thrush. Seasonal movements of migrant birds are also quite marked with Palearctic species such as Osprey, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Eurasian Bee-eater, and Spotted Flycatcher, Rare forest birds, vast congregations of waders, gulls and terns other specialties make the coast of Kenya an outstanding birding destination.
North Coast Kenya birding; we have Arabuko Sokoke Forest, Mida Creek, Tana River Primate Reserve, Dakatcha Woodlands, Sabaki River Estuary. Arabuko Sokoke Forest is the largest stretch of coastal dry forest, 420 km2 the ecosystem comprises of three forest types;
Mixed forest, Brachystegia woodland and Cynometra bush, each containing different rare species of Birds, Mammals, Butterflies, and Plants. There are 270 bird species, 261 butterflies, 79 amphibians, 52 mammals, and 600 plant species. The Clarke’s Weaver (Kilifi Weaver) an endemic bird that breeds in Arabuko Sokoke and Dakatcha forests, other unique and rare bird;
Three mammals which are endemic species: – Ader’s Duiker, Sokoke Bush Tailed Mongoose, and Golden- rumped Elephant Shrew.
Below links to other Coastal Kenya Birding sites that are worth visiting
Tana River Primate Reserve
Birdwatching tour is best in the cool hours of early morning and in the late afternoon when the day’s heat has started to dissipate.
South Coast is Shimba Hills National Reserve, (the second largest forest after Arabuko Sokoke Forest) notable for Sable Antelope as well as several range-restricted bird species such as the Green-headed Oriole, Asian lesser Cuckoo, not found elsewhere in the country.
The southern coast is rocky and ruled continuously with coral reefs.
Northern Plains Kenya Birding Tours
The region is rather dry. It includes Lake Turkana, semi-desert savanna west of Lake Turkana, and the Chalbi Desert to the east and Marsabit National Park.
The region is only lightly populated. Samburu Game Reserve, Samburu Shaba, and Samburu Buffalo Springs Reserve are located in the southern area of this region.
These reserves are home to the Samburu people and feature birds of semi-arid savanna such as ;
As well as some interesting mammals such as
Wildlife in the area depends hugely on Ewaso Nyiro river which cuts through the three reserves It originates from Aberdares Ranges. The river provides the much-needed water and the lush green vegetation, especially during the dry season. Not far from Samburu is Meru National Park which has an abundance of wildlife
Kenya Birding tours
We offer a range of friendly, affordable, and skillfully guided Kenya birding tours, in all those hotspots plus other regions in East Africa. Kenya Birding Tours cater to all levels from beginners, amateurs, and twitchers. Kenya Birding tours are intended not only to offer incredible bird watching, but also a satisfying calming experience.
On most of our Kenya birding tours, we aim to see a wide variety of species, while taking time to enjoy other wildlife, as well as other diversities of interest.
With over 1,000 bird species recorded, several endemics, and many near endemics, and birding which starts in the capital Nairobi, Kenya can justifiably be depicted as a haven for birders.
Whether you are a new or regular visitor to East Africa, an ornithologist, or a traveler with a passing interest in birds, Kenya birdwatching tours should be high on your list of priorities.
Kenya Birding tours itineraries offer the benefits of small group travel including flexibility, attention to detail, lovely company, reduced prices, reduced waiting times, and more opportunities to appreciate the unexpected.
We organize different birding itineraries, from one day to multi-day birding tours in Kenya and also the neighboring countries of Uganda and Tanzania
Our Kenya Birding tours features:
A plus to your birding and wildlife escapade in Africa is the opportunity to learn some of the many of cultures and customs found in different parts of the continent
Best time for Birding tours in Kenya
Birdwatching tours in Kenya are excellent the whole year but it is at the peak from September to April when the migratory birds from Europe and northern Africa are wintering here, At this time, many resident bird species are nesting and are in dazzling breeding plumage. For wildlife viewing, however, the dry season is better.
The best wildlife viewing months in Kenya are during the dry season from late June to October. The Wildebeest migration normally reaches the Maasai Mara National Reserve in the months of July or August and stays until October when they go back to the Serengeti in Tanzania. Wildlife watching is fine all year-round, but this can differ for some parks