21/10/2023
Birdwatching Safaris in Kenya: Your Ultimate Q&A Guide

Kenya, known in wildlife safari circles for its vast savannahs, majestic wildlife, and coastal beauty, is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Home to over a thousand bird species, Kenya offers unparalleled birding safari experiences, enticing both novices and seasoned birdwatchers alike. There are only two other Africa destinations that outrank Kenya in avian diversity – DR Congo and Tanzania. We take flight into the world of birdwatching in Kenya, answering all your burning questions.

1. Which month is best for birding in Kenya? or When is the best time of year for birdwatching in Kenya?

Kenya has excellent bird-watching safaris all year round. However, the prime birding months are between October and April, when migrant birds from Europe and Asia join the local avifauna. This time does coincide with the rainy season starting in March, so remember to pack accordingly. Different species and regions might have peak times, so it’s always wise to check in advance with your tour operator.

2. Where can I see birds in Kenya?

From coastal areas to forests, savannas, and lakes, Kenya’s diverse ecosystems make it a bird lover’s Eden. Whether it’s the flamingos in Lake Nakuru or the rare Sokoke Scops Owl in Arabuko Sokoke Forest, there’s a spectacle waiting everywhere.

Kenya has 24 national parks, 15 national reserves, 6 marine parks, and a number of private conservancies. All of which will offer plenty of birding opportunities. Lake Baringo is well known among birdwatchers, with around 500 recorded species, so don’t miss this paradise on your birding safari adventure. Other top birding areas in Kenya include Nairobi National Park, Maasai Mara, Mount Kenya National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Lake Naivasha, Kinangop plateau, the Arabuko Sokoke Forest (which is the largest remaining coastal forest in East Africa) and Mida Creek.

Recommended Safari: 10-Day Best Kenya Horizons Safari

3. What rare birds are found in Kenya?

Although Kenya has over a thousand recorded species, there are birds that are under threat due to a number of reasons. These rare and threatened birds are found across Kenya in forests, savannahs and coastal regions. 

The following birds are some of the rarest: Taita apalis, Kilifi weaver, Grey crowned crane,  Egyptian vulture, Hooded vulture, White-backed vulture, Rueppell’s griffon, Martial and the African crowned eagle, Sokoke scops owl, Papyrus gonolek, Abbott’s starling, African grey parrot, Great blue turaco, and Sharpe’s longclaw.

4. What is the biggest bird in Kenya?

The Ostrich, specifically the Common Ostrich and the Somali Ostrich found in northern Kenya, are the giants among Kenya birds. This impressive bird is a marvel to observe in its natural habitat. The largest flying bird is the Kori bustard, weighing in at 18kgs with a wingspan of 2.5 metres.

Recommended Safari: 8-Day Kenya Samburu, Sweetwaters, Lake Nakuru, Maasai Mara Safari

5. What types of birds can I expect to see on a birdwatching safari in Kenya?

Kenya’s bird diversity is stunning. You can expect to see a mix of waterbirds, raptors, songbirds, and migrants. From the colourful Lilac-breasted Roller, the national bird of Kenya, to the elusive African Finfoot and the regal Martial Eagle, the possibilities are endless. 

Visit the Avibase Kenya bird checklist to view the full Kenya bird list. 

6. Are birdwatching safaris suitable for all levels of birdwatchers?

Absolutely! Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned professional, a Kenya birding safari experience can be tailored to everyone. Professional guides often accompany tours, providing insights and assisting in spotting and identification. Let your guide know what you are looking for at the beginning of your birding safari so that they can plan.

7. Which national parks and reserves are ideal for birdwatching in Kenya?

Birders will be rewarded everywhere in Kenya, as it is full of birdwatching havens. Parks such as Kakamega Forest, Lake Nakuru National Park, Samburu, Amboseli, Arabuko-Sokoke National Park, and the Maasai Mara offer excellent birding opportunities.

Recommended Safari: 3-Day Amboseli National Park Safari

8. Are guided birdwatching tours available in Kenya?

Yes, many SafariDeal travel partners offer dedicated guided birdwatching safaris. These birding safaris could be private or shared, depending on your budget. Expert guides enhance the experience with their in-depth knowledge of Kenyan birds, habitats, and behaviours.

A well-planned two-week tour that visits multiple birding hotspots is likely to result in a trip list of around 375 to 400 bird species.

9. Can I take photographs of the birds during the safari?

Certainly! Birding safaris often allow for splendid photography opportunities. Just ensure you have the right equipment, and remember to be respectful, avoiding flash or anything that might disturb the birds. 

You can also refer to these 10 Hacks For Taking Amazing Photos While On An African Safari.

10. How long do bird watching safaris typically last?

While there are day trips, most birding safaris range from 7 to 14 days, ensuring a comprehensive experience across various habitats. If you are trying to target a diverse list of species, then a 10-day tour that visits the dryer Samburu, a lake, the Masai Mara and the coast would be ideal.

11. Do birdwatching safaris include other wildlife viewing opportunities?

Indeed! Many birding safaris are conducted in the major national reserves rich in wildlife. You will be able to see Kenyan safari animals like lions, elephants, giraffes, gazelle, wildebeest and more.

12. What should I wear and pack for a bird watching safari?

Opt for neutral-coloured clothing, comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen. Pack something warm for the evenings and a light shower-proof jacket in case of showers. Don’t forget your binoculars, field guide, notebook, and camera! 

See our safari packing guide here: 7 Things You Must Pack for Your African Safari.

13. Can I combine birdwatching with other safari activities in Kenya?

Absolutely. Combining birdwatching with activities like game drives or cultural tours makes for a holistic Kenyan experience.

14. What makes Kenya a top bird watching destination?

The sheer diversity of Kenya’s birds combined with its breathtaking landscapes and hospitable culture creates a birdwatching gem.

15. How can I book a birdwatching safari in Kenya?

SafariDeal Kenya travel partners offer bespoke and group birdwatching tours. Research Kenya safari tours, consult reviews, and choose an operator that aligns with your interests and budget.

Embark on your Kenyan birdwatching adventure to discover diverse birdlife!

A Kenya birding safari can be a very rewarding experience, offering a blend of nature, culture, and adventure. Whether you’re a newbie birdwatcher or an ardent avian twitcher, the call of Kenya’s birds is irresistible. So, why wait? Embark on your birdwatching journey in Kenya today!

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