Birding safari holidays in Kenya

lilac roller tsavo European roller in Tsavo

Kenya is one of only 15 countries globally where more than 1,000 bird species have been recorded, and it lies third on the African avian diversity list after DR Congo and Tanzania. This list includes the world’s two largest birds (common and Somali ostrich, now regarded as separate species) and its bulkiest flying creature (Kori bustard), along with a wealth of raptors and a dazzling array of colourful bee-eaters, turacos, parrots, rollers and passerines.

Birdwatching is rewarding everywhere in Kenya. For dedicated birdwatchers, a well-planned two-week itinerary is likely to result in a trip list of 350–400 species, a figure that compares favourably with anywhere in the world.

purple grenadier Purple grenadier | Credit: Bird Guide

The open savannah of southern Kenyan reserves such as Amboseli and the Masai Mara provides an excellent introduction to East Africa’s commoner birds, with the likes of superb starling, purple grenadier, lilac-breasted roller and African grey hornbill all conspicuous. The Rift Valley lakes are also superb: Nakuru and Bogoria are rightly famed for their mind-boggling flamingo aggregations, but the less celebrated Naivasha and Baringo are arguably even better for general birding.

For regular Africa safarigoers, a region of special interest is the arid north, where Samburu-Buffalo Springs-Shaba hosts a high quotient of dry-country species whose range is otherwise restricted to less accessible parts of Ethiopia and Somalia.

For visitors with limited exposure to the rainforests of west-central Africa, Kakamega Forest and Saiwa Swamp protect dozens of forest species at the very eastern extreme of their range.

Sokoke scops owl Sokoke scops owl

For coastal birds endemic or near-endemic to Kenya, Arabuko-Sokoke National Park near Watamu is home to Clarke’s weaver, Sokoke scops owl, grey-crested helmet-shrike, Sokoke pipit and Amani Sunbird. The central highlands also host several endemics, notably Sharpe’s longclaw, Aberdare cisticola and Hinde’s babbler.

Kenya offers excellent birdwatching throughout the year, but the prime season runs from October to March, when resident populations are boosted by Palaearctic migrants. This also broadly coincides with Kenya’s rainy season, when several resident species shed their drab eclipse plumage in favour of bright breeding colours.


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Popular Kenya Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

Asilia Africa | Spectacular July to September Wildebeest River Crossings  (10 days)

Spectacular July to September Wildebeest River Crossings (10 days)

Experience one of Africa's greatest spectacles – smell the dust and hear the noise of thousands of animals crossing the Mara River in an epic struggle for survival...

 | Best of Africa Safari (16 days)

Best of Africa Safari (16 days)

Experience the best of Africa, from the Okavango Delta – one of Africa's Seven Natural Wonders – to the endangered mountain gorillas and East Africa's Great Migration...

 | Migration Safari in Kenya and Tanzania (8 days)

Migration Safari in Kenya and Tanzania (8 days)

See the beauty of nature's greatest wildlife spectacle in two countries...

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Gorilla trekking and the Great Migration Combined (11 days)

Unforgettable experience in the jungles of Rwanda to track the last Mountain gorillas on earth and view the awesome Great Migration river crossings...

Giraffes | Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

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Even if you've seen the Big Five and the Great Migration, you'll appreciate the different beauty of animals like reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, gerenuk and bongo...

The Uganda Hills | The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

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Enjoy East Africa's most celebrated highlights, from a snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, to sailing above the Serengeti in a hot-air balloon and meeting mountain gorillas...

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Why not visit more than one exciting African destination? See the Great Migration, Victoria Falls and wildlife-rich Hwange National Park...

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