KENYA: 17-day Classic Wildlife Safari
BIRDS & WILDLIFE
From: $8,650 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Nairobi, Kenya (NBO)
2022 – taking registrations
PRIVATE TOUR OPTION
This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.
Highlights of KENYA: 17-day Classic Wildlife Safari
Description of KENYA: 17-day Classic Wildlife Safari
Kenya is world-renowned as a wildlife destination par excellence with a breathtaking range of often easily approachable mammals and birds in landscapes of immense beauty. Our tour takes in two of Kenya’s finest game reserves, Samburu and the Maasai Mara, visits the alkaline and freshwater lakes of the Rift Valley and the central highlands. Everywhere pulsates with life, from the acacia-dotted savannahs of arid Samburu, arguably Kenya’s finest mammal reserve, to the endless undulating grasslands of the legendary Maasai Mara, perhaps the best place on earth to see large mammals in abundance.
Our trip is timed to witness the northbound Wildebeest migration. At Nakuru National Park the incredible sight of over a million noisy Lesser Flamingos ringing the soda lake is surely one of the great wildlife spectacles. A boat ride along the shore of Lake Baringo will take us close to African Spoonbills, Goliath Herons, Jacanas, diminutive Malachite Kingfishers and majestic Fish Eagles, common inhabitants of the lakeshore as are hippos and Nile Crocodiles. Throughout our tour we will encounter many of Africa’s colorful birds including gem-like sunbirds, beautiful bee-eaters and impossibly bright starlings. There are also a tremendous variety of raptors ranging from the tiny Pygmy Falcon, a bird no bigger than a starling, to the weird and wonderful Secretary Bird.
This is a wonderful trip for photography. The combination of unusual scenery, beautiful and often very approachable wildlife, and rural Kenyan ‘scenes’ means that there is plenty to shoot on this ultimate Wildlife Safari.
This shorter version of the 20-day itinerary, omits Kakamega Forest
As with all safaris, the itinerary can be altered and customized to suit your needs and goals, whether it would be more birding or mammals or length of trip.
Focus: Birds, Mammals, Photography, Reptiles, Butterflies, Scenery
Read more about Savanna Scavengers
Length of Tour
Day 1 : Arrive in Nairobi
Day 2 : Mt. Kenya foothills
Day 3, 4, 5 & 6 : Samburu NR
Day 7 : Naro Moru
Day 8 : Aberdares
Day 9 & 10 : Lake Baringo & Lake Bogoria
Day 11 & 12 : Lake Nakuru NP
Day 13, 14, 15 & 16: Maasai Mara
Day 17 : Return to Nairobi
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi on an evening flight
Day 2 : Central Highlands and Mt. Kenya foothills
Following breakfast we board our specially built 4×4 safari vehicle and drive towards the Central Kenyan Highlands. We will devote our time this morning to looking for Hinde’s Babbler, one of Kenya’s few endemics. We reach our lodge in time for lunch, and spend the remainder of the afternoon birding the grounds and wildlife watching from the upper terrace.
Set deep in the forest of Mt. Kenya, Mountain Lodge is a tree lodge built near a waterhole where wild animals can be seen as they come to quench their thirst. The waterhole is floodlit at night and the lodge staff are ready to signal and alert guests when sought-after mammals venture to the waterhole. We’ll walk around the fenced-off grounds, in search of Tropical Boubou, Streaky Seedeater, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Hunter’s Cisticola, Ruppell’s Robin Chat, White-starred Robin, Doherty’s Bush-shrike, the secretive Abyssinian Crimsonwing, and Black-headed Apalis among other avian delights. Among a wealth of possible mammals, Forest Elephant, Buffalo, Bushbucks are regular visitors to the waterhole, while Skye’s Monkeys and Black-and-white Colobus are abundant in the forest.
Day 3, 4, 5 & 6 : Samburu National Reserve
long with views of the snow-capped summit of Mount Kenya (5199m) at daybreak, our pre-breakfast birding on the roof top may yield Red-fronted Parrot, Scarce Swift, African Olive and Eastern Bronzed-naped Pigeon, while on a walk in the forest we hope to come across African Hill Babbler, Brown Woodland Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-throated and Grey Apalis, and Moustached Green and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, Slender-billed and Olive-breasted Mountain Greenbul, and, if lucky Oriole Finch.
By late morning we drive north to Samburu / Buffalo Game Reserve, arriving mid-afternoon for our first wildlife drive en-route to our lodge.
We will have three full days with a series of wildlife drives to explore the vast expanse of these reserves. Samburu / Buffalo Springs National Reserves are predominately areas of dry acacia bush, interspersed with dramatic hills and open grassland lined by riverine thickets with doum palms along the Uaso Nyiro River. This beautiful reserve offers a magnificent collection of flora and fauna, hosting a great variety of wildlife, including arid loving species such as Grevy’s Zebra, Gerenuk, Beisa Oryx and the graceful Reticulated Giraffe – all species we will not encounter elsewhere on our trip. In particular we expect to see herds of African Elephants, and we will be on the lookout for Lion, Leopard and Cheetah. There is a host of other mammals, Impala, Spotted Hyeana, Black-backed Jackal, Warthogs, troops of Olive Baboons, Vervet Monkeys and Kirk’s Dik dik. Among the 300 birds species recorded here we will enjoy seeing the beautiful Golden-breasted Starling, Green Wood-hoopoe, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Dodson’s Bulbul, Bare-eyed Thrush, Somali Bee-eater, Palm-nut Vulture, Rufous Chatterer, Taita Fiscal, Fischer’s Starling, Marico Sunbird, Blue-naped Mousebird, Black-faced Sandgrouse, Buff-crested Bustard, Banded Parisoma, Pink-breasted Lark, the exquisite Vulturine Guineafowl, a variety of weavers, hornbills and raptors including Martial Eagle – the largest African Eagle!
Day 7 : Samburu to Central Highlands and Naro Moru
We depart Samburu this morning for the Central Highlands with an en-route game drive out of the reserve. A picnic lunch box allows us to take our time and bird along the way. We make a stop for an isolated population of Boran’s Cisticola, and visit the Meru-Imenti Forest to look for White-eared Barbet, Crowned Hornbill, Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Narina Trogon, Sharp’s, Kendrick’s and Black-bellied Starling, Northern Puffback, African Green Pigeon, White-headed Sawwing, Dusky Turtle Dove, Mountain Thrush and Yellow-crowned Canary. We arrive at Naro Moru River Lodge late afternoon, spending the remainder of the day bird watching around the lodges’ beautiful grounds.
Day 8 : Naro Moru to Aberdare National Park
The grounds at Naro Moru River Lodge are usually very productive, and amongst the species we’ll look for will be, Hartlaub’s Turaco, African Paradise Flycatcher, Crowned Hornbill, Chin-spot Batis, Black-backed Puffback, African Black Duck, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Streaky Seedeater, Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, Purple Grenadier, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Mountain Wagtail, Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike, Montane Oriole, Montane White-eye, Purple-throated Cuckoo-Shrike, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul and an assortment of sunbirds – Bronzed, Tacazze, Amethyst, Eastern Double-collared and Northern Double-collared Sunbird.
Leaving Naro Moru we cross Solio Plains, a vast area nestled between Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare’s comprising of large expanses of privately owned ranches and wildlife conservancies, some of which play an important part in the protection, breeding and conservation of both Black and White Rhinos. Along the way we look out for Black-lored Babbler, Long-tailed Widowbirds, Northern Anteater Chats, Red-capped Larks and Capped Wheatears. Before entering Aberdare National Park we make a roadside stop for MacKinder’s Eagle Owl. Once inside the park it is a short drive to our lodge, The Ark, tucked into the thick lush green forest. A short walk along the boardwalk will give a chance to see Golden-winged Sunbird, Thick-billed Seedeater, Cape Robin Chat, Grey-capped Warbler, Black-headed Waxbill, Scaly Francolin weavers and mousebirds up close. Viewing decks overlook a floodlit waterhole and salt lick that attract Buffalo and Giant Forest Hogs, and a ground level bunker will have you eye-to-eye with Elephants!
Day 9 : Aberdare Mountains to Lake Baringo
After breakfast, we depart with picnic lunch boxes, driving through and over the Aberdare Mountains where our targets will be East African endemics, Moorland Chat, Aberdare Cisticola and Jackson’s Francolin. Along the way we keep an eye out for Silvery-cheeked Hornbills, Slender-billed Starlings, Mountain Buzzard and the magnificent African Crowned Eagle. Once we have exited the park on the western side we will search for another endemic, Sharpe’s Longclaw along the Kinangop grasslands. This afternoon we proceed to Lake Baringo arriving in time to look for owls and nightjars.
Day 10 : Lake Baringo
Lake Baringo is in a dry, rocky area with acacia bushes and impressive towering basalt cliffs. This is one of Kenya’s top birding spots. Weavers abound around the lake with Golden-backed, Village, Little, Lesser Masked and Northern Masked (the only place for it) along with White-billed Buffalo Weaver all likely. The adjacent acacia scrub holds Acacia Tit, Pygmy Batis, Green-winged Pytilia, Eastern Violet-backed and
Beautiful Sunbird, Black-throated Barbet, Northern Brownbul, Jackson’s Hornbill, Black-headed Lapwing, Heuglin’s Courser, Slender-tailed Nightjar, and 5 species of owl – Pearl-spotted, African Scops, Northern White-faced Scops, Greyish and Verreaux’s Eagle-owl. Other interesting species we look for include African Pygmy Kingfisher, Rufous-crowned Roller, Sulphur-breasted and Grey-headed Bush Shrikes, and several raptors – Rock Kestrel, Shikra, Lanner Falcon and Dark Chanting Goshawk.
We will have a full day in the Baringo area. A leisurely boat ride around the lake’s perimeter will show case herons and egrets, Hamerkop, African Jacana, Malachite Kingfishers, African Fish Eagle, Northern Red and Yellow-crowned Bishop, Madagascar Bee-eater and with luck Senegal Thick-knee, Little Bittern and Allen’s Gallinule. We’ll also enjoy watching the local fishermen fishing on their traditional ambach canoes, and there is always a chance of being amongst a pod of hippos and seeing crocodiles up close!
Day 11 : Bogoria National Park to Lake Nakuru National Park
We begin with an early morning bird walk along the nearby basalt cliffs in search of Lead-coloured Flycatcher, Fan-tailed Raven, Hemprich’s Hornbill, Brown-tailed Rock Chat and Bristle-crowned Starling. Leaving Lake Baringo we proceed to Lake Bogoria which holds spectacular concentrations of Lesser Flamingoes and small numbers of Greater Flamingoes. We should also encounter Little Grebe, Grey-headed Gulls, Hottentot and Cape Teal.
This afternoon we enter Lake Nakuru National Park and enjoy an afternoon wildlife drive en route to our lodge.
Among the wealth of African mammals, we will enjoy seeing both Black and White Rhinos, Waterbuck, Buffalo, Rothschild’s Giraffes, Black-backed Jackals, Spotted Hyaena, Bat-eared Fox, and with luck, Leopard!
Day 12 : Lake Nakuru National Park
We will have a full day in the park with a series of wildlife/birding drives.
Lake Nakuru is the most famous of the Rift Valley’s lakes. With very attractive Yellow-barked Acacias (fever trees) and magnificent escarpments, the park has been recognized as an international Biosphere. Birdlife is abundant and we will hope to see White-fronted Bee-eater, Little Rock Thrush, Mocking Cliff Chat, Buff-bellied Warbler, White-bellied Tit, White Helmet-Shrike, Grey-backed Fiscal, Violet-backed and Ruppell’s Starling, Schalow’s Wheatear, Arrow-marked Babbler, Long-tailed Widowbird, Broad-billed and Lilac-breasted Roller, Green Wood-hoopoe, Fischer’s Lovebird, White-headed Barbet, Coqui and Hildebrandt’s Francolin, and an assortment of cuckoos within the woodlands. The edge of the lake is teeming with an assortment of waders and shorebirds, Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, White-breasted and Long-tailed Cormorants, Yellow-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, Pied Avocet, Kittlitz’s and Blacksmith Plovers, Whiskered and White-winged Terns.
Day 13, 14, 15 & 16: Maasai Mara NR
After breakfast we depart with lunch boxes for the long journey to the Mara with birding enroute. We arrive at the world famous Maasai Mara in time for an afternoon wildlife drive. Basing ourselves in the heart of the park for the next three days, allows us to track the Wildebeest migration at the Mara’s nearby river crossing points. There will also be an opportunity for a night game drive.
The Mara is probably one of the best places in Africa to see the ‘Big and Small Cats’ with nearly all the members well represented here, including large prides of Lions. Along the rivers, pods of Hippos can be found resting in shallow pools and Nile Crocodiles basking on sandy river banks. Other mammals of interest include Black-backed Jackal, the delightful Bat-eared Fox, Banded Mongoose and Spotted Hyena. Our visit coincides with the peak annual migration of a million or more Wildebeest as they enter the northern section of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Zebras, plains game and their respective predators following them.
Birdlife is abundant, with many birds of prey in particular; over 50 species have been recorded including Grey Kestrel, Black-chested Snake Eagle and Secretary Bird, as well as 6 species of vulture – White-headed, Egyptian, Griffon, Hooded, African White-backed and Lappet-faced. Other notable species are Kori and White-bellied Bustards, Usambiro and Spot-flanked Barbets, Nubian & Cardinal Woodpeckers, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Sooty Chat, African Wattled Plover, Hildebrandt’s Starling, Temminick’s Courser, Rufous-bellied Heron, Southern Ground Hornbill, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse among a great variety of other species.
Day 17 : Transfer to Nairobi
Being the last day of our tour we leave the Mara this morning heading back to Nairobi, birding enroute. A stop at Limuru ponds gives us a chance at Maccoa and White-backed Duck and we have seen Madagascar Squacco Heron there! Return to Nairobi by late afternoon. Transfer to the airport for a late evening flight.
$8,650 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Nairobi, Kenya (Airport code NBO).
This trip ends in same as arrival city (Airport code ).
Single Supplement and other Cost Additions
If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $1,465 will be assessed.
The Cost Includes
All ground transport, game drives and park entrance fees; professional driver guide; meals and accommodation; boat ride at Lake Baringo; Flying Doctors Temporary Medical Travel Insurance; mineral water on game drives.
Note: There may be an additional surcharge should Park and or Conservation fees increase, which often happens with very little notice.
Airfares to Kenya; Visa fees (currently $50); beverages.; any items of personal nature (laundry, telephone calls and so forth); any services not mentioned or indicated as optional; gratuities to drivers / guides / porters / waiters.
If fewer than the minimum number of participants are registered the trip can still run with a small-group supplement fee per person determined by the number of participants.
A $1,000 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.
How to Book
In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.
For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.
For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.
NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.
All the accommodations on this tour have clean comfortable rooms with en suite showers/baths and toilets and an the whole are very good, with excellent service.
Lodges and camps are based on availabilty and convenience to our wildlife locations.
Activity Level Rating: 2 (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)
One or two hikes, though there will be little walking on this tour as we will be restricted to the vehicle when we are within the parks.
At Mt. Lodge (about 7000 feet elevation), Baringo and Naro Moru birding will be mainly on foot.
At Baringo the terrain will be stony and in some places a bit rocky.
Going over the Aberdare Range we will reach a height of 10,500 feet.
Recommended Field Guide: Birds of East Africa (Princeton Field Guides, 2020) by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe
You will need to get an eVisa to enter Kenya, which can be applied for online prior to our trip.
This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our safari.
Trip Insurance is highly recommended for all safaris
Please read our latest information and requirements in regards to Covid.
Currently you are required to show proof of a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to travel, and are required to do the same prior to returning to the US. We will arrange to have this done at a convenient place before the end of the trip.
There is a risk of malaria through the country. Check with your doctor for the recommended prophylaxis.
What to expect
This is a safari and as such we will concentrate on all the wildlife, as one would expect, the birds and mammals giving everyone time to view, experience and photograph them. Easy wildlife viewing from the confines of our open top safari vehicle in some outstanding parks; though we expect to see about 450 bird species we will spend considerable time with the incredible mammals that make this part of the world unique and hope to come across about 50 species including the “Big 5” – elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard.
One or two hikes, though there will be little walking on this tour in the parks; midday breaks, when in the parks; a mostly pleasant and dry climate, breathtaking scenery and many excellent photographic opportunities. At Mt. Lodge, Baringo, Naro Moru and Mara West birding will be mainly on foot.
We will be using the typical safari ‘combo’ vehicles such as a 4X4 Safari Mini Bus or Land Cruise. There is a pop-up roof that enables one to stand up to view and photograph wildlife. We will have a maximum of six participants per vehicle as this will guarantee everyone a window seat.
Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.
Detailed Trip Information
Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.
Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.
As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.
Passport & Visa
US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.
Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.
The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.