Kenya’s coastal region is simply dreamy, boasting pristine white beaches, swaying palm trees, and abundant sunshine. Eastern Kenya, arguably the country’s wildest region, captivates with vast national parks and herds of red-stained elephants.
This tour caters to birders visiting Kenya’s stunning coast, seeking a concise yet rewarding birding experience focused on encountering a high number of bird species, especially endemics. Explore Arabuko Sokoke, Kenya’s largest coastal forest, where near endemics like the Sokoke Scops Owl and Sokoke Pipit await. Journey through Mida Creek and Sabaki River, where the tidal inlets reveal the breathtaking Crab Plover amidst mangroves and mudflats. In the final days, venture into the red-stained earth of Tsavo East National Park and then onto Taita Hills – searching for the three endemics exclusively found there: Taita White-eye, Taita Thrush, and Taita Apalis.
*An extension to Dakatcha Woodlands for the endemic Clarke’s Weaver can be arranged, although sadly this endemic is getting harder to find.
Just a short journey away from the stunning coastal town of Watamu, is East Africa’s largest remaining tropical coastal forest, Arabuko Sokoke Forest. We will spend a day here looking for near-endemic species, Sokoke Scops Owl and Sokoke Pipit.
Spanning a staggering 420 km², this forest stands as the largest and most intact coastal forest in East Africa. It holds 20% of all Kenya’s bird species, and 30% of butterfly species, and hosts at least 24 rare and endemic bird, mammal, and butterfly species. This site’s significance is truly remarkable.
Where you will be staying: Hemingways Watamu
Stretching inland from the sea into Arabuko Sokoke Forest is one of Watamu’s true hidden treasures: Mida Creek, which we will be exploring for the day. It is an extensive intertidal inlet surrounded by mangroves situated between Malindi and Kilifi. This area holds significance for passage and wintering waders and serves as a habitat for several interesting herons and raptors. It stands as one of the most productive mangrove ecosystems globally. This distinction has earned Mida Creek recognition as an International Bird Area for its exceptional ecological value. Paired with the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, it collectively forms a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We will spend a morning here, looking for target species.
In the afternoon, we will be visiting the Sabaki River. The river mouth boasts a diverse array of bird species, including rare finds and impressive gatherings of gulls and terns. These birds forage in the sea before returning to roost on the Sandbanks. Sabaki is the final stretch of the Athi-Galana-Sabaki, one of Kenya’s longest rivers, draining into the Indian Ocean. The estuary features dunes, beaches, and both seasonal and permanent wetlands on either side. Mangrove forests thrive along parts of the riverbank. Birdwatching here is primarily done on foot and is notably the best location in Kenya to sees the threatened Madagascar Pratincole and the Broad-billed Sandpiper. Additionally, Lesser Flamingos visit when river waters recede. Sabaki hosts a significant bird species count and offers a serene and picturesque setting and will be a lovely way to end this incredible birding adventure.
Where you will be staying: Hemingways Watamu
Our upcoming destination is the renowned Tsavo East National Park, Kenya’s largest, celebrated for its splendid wildlife and the distinct reddish semi-desert terrain, famously associated with its historic man-eating lions. Upon arrival, a satisfying lunch awaits before we embark on an exploration deep into the park.
Our focus will be traversing this captivating landscape, dedicated to discovering as many bird species as possible amidst this picturesque setting. Species highlights: Two-banded Courser, Somali Courser, Somali Sparrow, Red-winged Lark, Chestnut-headed Sparrow Lark, Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark, Spotted Thick-knee, Golden-breasted Starling, Shelley’s Starling, Fischer’s Starling, Eastern Chanting Goshawk, Somali Ostrich, Eastern Paradise Whydah, Golden Pipit, Rosy patched Bushshrike, Three-streaked Tchagra, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, White-headed Buffalo Weaver, Golden Palm Weaver, Kori Bustard, Buff-crested Bustard, Tsavo Sunbird, and Grey-headed Kingfisher to name a few.
Where you will be staying: Voi Wildlife Lodge
The terrain of Taita Hills comprises diverse landscapes, featuring lush forests, rocky outcrops, and verdant slopes, and is an area renowned for its endemic bird species and abundant birdlife unique to the hills. Among the notable species we’ll be looking for are the Taita White-eye, Taita Thrush, and Taita Apalis, which will be our main targets over the next couple of days. On Day 5, we’ll return to the beautiful sunny coast, where this tour will be coming to an end.
Where you will be staying: Salt Lick Safari Lodge
Easy/Medium – on-foot birding at Arabuko Sokoke Forest, Mida Creek, Sabaki River and Taita Hills but nothing too strenuous.
The above cost is based on a group of 6 people. This is not scheduled as a group tour. Please get in touch if you’d like us to arrange a private tailor made tour.
Best time of year to visit:
Prime birding season in Kenya falls during the short rains of November and early December. This period showcases most species in vibrant breeding plumage, featuring captivating display behaviours of whydahs, widowbirds and bishops. Additionally, it’s when numerous Palearctic migrants make their presence felt, so the count will be high.
At Sustainable Birding, our goal is to ensure that every birding holiday we create contributes positively to bird conservation efforts and local communities. Our determination to promote sustainable travel led us to become founding members of Tourism Declares Climate Emergency. As part of this commitment, we have established the world’s pioneering carbon scoring and offsetting framework for tailor-made holidays. Feel free to request us to carbon score your individual trip!
Bird species highlights:
This tour has been designed for you to explore Kenya’s top mammal and birding destinations in just over a week. You will have the opportunity to visit three of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley lakes, trek through the tropical rainforest of Kakamega Forest, discover by boat Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, and culminate your journey at the iconic Masai Mara National Reserve.
The Sustainable Birding Company is a subsidiary of Far and Wild Travel, a tailor-made tour company based in Cumbria, UK. Far and Wild Travel offer sustainable, luxury, tailor-made tour itineraries throughout Africa and around the world.