KENYA PART ONE:

BACK

GENERAL INFO & SITE ACCOUNTS

PART TWO

 

 

PARTICIPANTS

Wilma & Jos Wanten; Reuver, The Netherlands – e-mail: jos.birds(at)hetnet.nl

 

GENERAL

After trips to South America and Asia we were ready for another trip to Africa. Our last visit to Africa was Ghana in 2003. In 1999 we visited South Africa, but it was always our wish to go to Kenya, being one of the top locations in Africa for wildlife viewing. After reading several tripreports on the internet I was aware that Kenya is also one of the top locations for birdwatching, producing triplists between 400 and 550 species in just two weeks. Our 16 days trip was perfectly arranged by Nature’s Wonderland Safaris (www.natureswonderlandsafaris.com). They are a small but ambitious company arranging general safari trips and specialized birding tours against very fair prices. Our birdguide was Joseph Mwangi who is one of the co-owners of the company. He may not be one of the top guides used by the renowned (and very expensive) UK and US based birding companies, but nevertheless he is a very skilled birdguide and he is learning fast, as our triplist of 480 species proves. Besides that he is a very pleasant and polite young man. During the whole trip we had a 4WD van with sturdy tires and pop-up roof perfectly driven by the very fine Peter Gitau. I must say both of them were fine company and despite the sometimes rough roads we really enjoyed ourselves during travelling by telling jokes etc … I really do recommend Nature’s Wonderland Safaris to anyone who wants to make a good organized birding trip against a very fair price. Accommodation was in top quality lodges and in very descent hotels.

 

PREPARATIONS

For preparations we used the usual websites like www.camacdonald.com, www.bsc-eoc.org/links/links.jsp and www.fatbirder.com. Other interesting sites about birding in Kenya are available at www.kenyabirds.org.uk and at www.naturekenya.org. We also used several trip reports available at www.birdtours.co.uk and www.travellingbirder.com. We used the report from Steve Lister at www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/kenya/Kenya13/Kenya-june-05.htm as a guideline for our own trip because the trip’s itinerary was about the same as in our trip. Besides that his trip was during the same period of the year, and it was organized by the same company. Before our trip I contacted Steve and he was so kind to send me the daily bird list of his trip, and he also recommended Nature’s Wonderland Safaris to me. We used the very good The Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Zimmerman as our field guide. For general information we used the Kenya Lonely Planet.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank the following people for their contribution and for making our trip such a success:

 

Joseph Mwangi from Nature’s Wonderland Safaris for organizing a perfect trip, and for showing us all these beautiful birds. We really enjoyed the trip, and we hope to come back sometime in the near future.

 

Peter Gitau, our reliable and kind driver during the trip. Thanks for doing such a great job.

 

Steve Lister for providing us his daily trip list and for his recommendations.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Because of it’s safari opportunities Kenya is a very popular tourist destination, but besides wildlife Kenya is one of the top birding locations in Africa with a bird list of over 1100 species. Because of it’s popularity the country has plenty of lodging opportunities. The unit of currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KSH). The exchange rate at the moment of our trip was KSH 90 for 1 Euro. Most bigger towns have an ATM. Most lodges also except Visa card and Traveller Cheques. A visa is required to enter the country, which can be obtained at the airport for USD 50 pp. Do take medical precautions before arriving in the country. For info contact your local health authorities.

 

GETTING THERE

We flew with KLM to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Again like Ecuador last year flying from Germany (Duesseldorf) via Amsterdam is about € 130 cheaper than taking the direct flight from Amsterdam. The price per ticket was € 615 including all taxes. Since we live close to the German border flying from Duesseldorf was the ideal option. The airport of Duesseldorf is only a 45 minutes drive from our home compared to a 2 hours drive to Amsterdam.

 

GETTING AROUND

All transportation during the trip was pre-arranged so we did not have to drive by ourselves. Although narrow in some places in general the roads in Kenya are of a reasonable quality. However there are a few exceptions on that with some really horrible and very poor unpaved and potholed sections. This mainly concerns the following routes. From Isiolo in the north to Samburu NP (about 50km). From Kisii towards the north western corner of the Masai Mara (about 80km). From the eastern Mara to the paved road to Narok (about 40km). A section of about 35km beyond Narok. Beyond the junction coming from Narok towards Naivasha (40km). There is a new road under construction on this route which should be ready by the end of 2006.

 

WEATHER & WHEN TO GO

We choosed to visit Kenya at the end of the wet season and we think this choice was an excellent one. The scenery is more green and lush after the rains and nearly all birds are in breeding plumage. The only disadvantage is that there are no palearctic migrants occuring but that was tottaly made up by the sight of all the widowbirds with there beautiful long tails. Although we saw a lot of wildlife it is said that the dry season is better for wildlife viewing because the animals are attracted to the waterholes. Although we had expected rain on some days we were really lucky. The only rain that really disturbed our birding for about 1˝ hour was one late afternoon at Kakamega. But that’s why it is called rainforest after all. Despite being on the equator we had at most sites nice temperatures of around 20 to 25 degrees C with even quite cool temperatures during the early morning. The only exception on this were Samburu and Baringo with day temperatures of around 30 degrees C. 

 

ACCOMMODATIONS & FOOD

Our lodges during the trip were really outstanding and very luxurious at some sites. In most places (especially at the popular safari sites) the meals were served as extensive buffets with a wide choice in salads, meat, fish, vegetables and deserts. The most popular local beer is Tusker which was very good. Prices for a large bottle were between KSH 100 (€ 1,10) and KSH 220 (€ 2,40) in the popular safari resorts. Soft drinks were cheaper at between KSH 70 and KSH 130. We stayed in the following hotels and lodges:

 

Silver Springs Hotel in Nairobi (http://www.silversprings-hotel.com): good hotel with swimmingpool and good breakfast outside. The rooms were not too big but okay.

 

Serena Mountain Lodge (www.serenahotels.com): fairly small rooms but with superb views on the waterhole right in front of the lodge. Excellent food.

 

Samburu Serena Lodge (www.serenahotels.com): luxurious and nicely located along the river.

 

Naro Moru River Lodge (www.alliancehotels.com/naromoru.html): nicely located along a small river. Beautiful garden and nice cabins. However parts of the forest around the lodge were cut down for a future golf course and the lodge seems to lose it’s popularity amongst birdwatchers since there were only four other guests around.

 

Sarova Lion Hill Lodge in Nakuru: (www.sarovahotels.com/lionhill/index.php): very luxurious safari lodge.

 

Lake Baringo Country Club: (www.blockhotelske.com): excellent lodge with a nice garden. Very cosy place and not as posh as the popular safari lodges.

 

Kitale Club Hotel: a bit run down. Poor food. Only lodging option near Saiwa Swamp N.P.

 

Rondo Retreat in Kakamega (www.rondoretreat.com): in one word heaven!! Very nice cottage’s with large veranda’s surrounded by rainforest. Excellent service and food.

 

Mara Serena Safari Lodge (www.serenahotels.com): luxurious with beautiful location overlooking the savannah plains. Excellent food.

 

Mara Sopa Lodge (www.sopalodges.com): very luxurious. Expensive drinks.

 

Lake Naivasha Country Club (www.blockhotelske.com): excellent lodge at the lake shore with a nice extensive garden.

 

Meridian Court Hotel Nairobi (www.meridianhotelkenya.com): good hotel in the centre of Nairobi. The rooms are excellent and spacious.

 

SOME BIRDING STATISTICS

Following information should give an impression of numbers of birds to be expected at visited sites and also numbers of birds recorded at only one particular site. It also should give an impression of the quality of sites visited. Of course one have to take in account that the length of each visit to a certain area plays an important role in these numbers. Looking back to the whole itinerary and the figures I think we made a good choice. The only alteration I would make afterwards is probably having an extra morning at Kakamega and drive in the afternoon to the Lake Victoria area to have there an afternoon and early morning the next day. We namely arrived there a bit late in the morning and missed some specialty birds. Keeping to the same length of the trip I would swap this extra day for the third day in the Masai Mara because we did not see many new birds there.

 

The total trip produced 480 species recorded including 4 heard only. Of these 287 were lifers for me pushing my life list to 2102 species. We saw 221 birds that were only recorded at one particular site (46%). Of the longer visits Kakamega was the best site to our opinion. Here 39 out of 87 birds (44,8%) were not recorded at any other site during the trip. Second best is Samburu (30 out of 103) followed by Baringo (28 out of 102). The Mara produced 28 out of 134 birds but one have to take in account that we had almost 3 days there. Of the shorter visits Gatamayu Forest (9 out of 38) and the Lake Victoria area (9 out of 54) were the best. The Thika Ponds were also very good with 7 out of 36 in only 1˝ hours. Having 24 birds at other sites shows the importance of travelling around and stopping for birds en route. Anyone interested in a detailed excel spreadsheet of birds recorded per day and site can contact me by e-mail at jos.birds(at)henet.nl

 

 

Location

length of visit

Total

Seen at one site only

% seen at one site only

Thika Pond

11/2 hours

36

7

19,44%

Thika Falls

11/2 hours

15

3

20,00%

Wajee Camp

11/2 hours

22

1

4,55%

Mountain Lodge Area

31/2 hours

57

7

12,28%

Samburu NP

11/2 days

103

30

29,13%

Meru Forest

2 hours

20

1

5,00%

Naro Moru Lodge

21/2 hours

32

2

6,25%

Mount Kenya Met Station

3 hours

18

4

22,22%

Nakuru NP

6 hours

87

8

9,20%

Lake Baringo

11/2 days

102

28

27,45%

Saiwa Swamp NP

3 hours

34

4

11,76%

Kakamega

11/2 days

87

39

44,83%

Kisumu & Lake Victoria

21/2 hours

54

9

16,67%

Masai Mara

21/2 days

134

28

20,90%

Lake Naivasha

11/2 days

101

17

16,83%

Gatamayu Forest

2 hours

38

9

23,68%

Other (birds en route)

-

-

24

 

Total

 

 

221

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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