With more than 1,100 species of birds, Kenya is an absolute mecca for bird watchers, and this 14-day itinerary will take you through some of the country's best natural areas. Begin with a free day in Nairobi before transferring to Samburu Reserve where you can straddle the equator and take your first guided safari. Then, you'll take a birdwatching hike up Mount Kenya, tour the Elsamere Conservation Center, and see hundreds of flamingoes at Lake Elmenteita. End your trip with a grand finale: multiple days in the Maasai Mara Reserve.

Highlights

  • Tour a pineapple farm outside of Samburu Reserve
  • Enjoy up to 10 different birding expeditions around Kenya
  • Hike around Mount Kenya, Africa's second-highest mountain
  • See zebras and giraffes up close on a bicycle safari
  • Take a thrilling safari across the savanna in a hot air balloon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi Nairobi
Day 2 Transfer to Samburu Reserve Samburu Reserve
Day 3 Free Day in Samburu Reserve Samburu Reserve
Day 4 Birdwatching Expedition in Samburu Reserve Samburu Reserve
Day 5 Mount Kenya Birding Trek Nanyuki
Day 6 Transfer to Naivasha - Lake Naivasha Birding Trek Naivasha
Day 7 Elsamere Conservation Centre Naivasha
Day 8 Explore Hell's Gate National Park Naivasha
Day 9 Lake Elementaita - Transfer to Nakuru Nakuru
Day 10 Explore Lake Nakuru Park Nakuru
Day 11 Transfer to Maasai Mara National Reserve Masai Mara
Day 12 Free Day in Masai Mara Reserve Masai Mara
Day 13 Free Day in Masai Mara Reserve Masai Mara
Day 14 Departure via Nairobi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nairobi

Aerial view of Nairobi
Aerial view of Nairobi

Welcome to Kenya! When you arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Nairobi.

You can spend the afternoon and evening resting or use the time to explore the bustling central hub of Kenya by visiting one of the city's famous flea markets. If you're feeling ambitious, you might like to see how the cute baby elephant and giraffe orphans are cared for at their respective orphanages. There are also several museums worth checking out, like the impressive National Museum or the Railway Museum.

In the evening, you can go out to dinner at one of the many great restaurants in the city before heading back to the hotel for the night.

Day 2: Transfer to Samburu Reserve

African Crowned eagle
African crowned eagle in flight

After breakfast at the hotel, a driver will pick you up early in the morning for a drive through the magnificent central highlands to Samburu Reserve.

On the way, you will through magnificent central highlands towards Samburu Reserve. There will be opportunities along the way to stop and take in some of the beautiful landscapes, enjoy a hot cup of coffee, and tour one of the many pineapple farms before stopping at the equator marker. 

When you arrive in Samburu in the afternoon, you can drop your baggage at the lodge and begin bird-watching and exploring the park on your own before returning to your camp in the early evening. If you'd like, you can book a guide who can show you where certain species nest and feed.

Day 3: Free Day in Samburu Reserve

Secretary Bird
Secretary bird

You will have a full day free to explore the famous Samburu Reserve and all the wildlife it has to offer. The reserve is known as the setting for the best-selling book and award-winning movie Born Free

Samburu offers a world-class birding experience where you can see species like the Somali ostrich, guineafowl, hunter’s sunbird, and William’s lark. 

If you'd like to go on a hike to see other animals, you may also be able to see long-necked antelopes, giraffe, zebra, oryx, striped hyena, and more.

Day 4: Birdwatching Expedition in Samburu Reserve

Vulturine guineafowl
Vulturine guineafowl

After breakfast, you'll pack up your picnic lunch, pair of binoculars, and camera for a full day of birdwatching.

There have been more than 390 bird species recorded in the Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves. The reserves protect a variety of habitats like the arid acacia savannah, scrub, and the lush forest alongside the Uaso Nyiro River. On today's expedition, you will likely see a number of northeast African dry-country species shared with Ethiopia and Somalia such as the vulturine guineafowl, Somali bee-eater, and the golden-breasted starling.

Day 5: Mount Kenya Birding Trek

A birdwatcher on a Mount Kenya trail
A birdwatcher on a Mount Kenya trail

After breakfast this morning, you will depart for a guided birding trip around Mount Kenya, the second-highest mountain in Africa.

The forests surrounding this famous mountain are home to many unique species of birds like the lesser kestrel, Jackson’s widowbird, Abbott's starling, Jackson’s francolin, Hunter’s cisticola, the crowned eagle, African grass owl, and the Cape eagle owl.

After your trek, your driver will take you to your hotel in Nanyuki for the evening. When you check in, you can head out to explore the town's markets and restaurants.

Plan your trip to Kenya
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Transfer to Naivasha - Lake Naivasha Birding Trek

Malachite kingfisher
Malachite kingfisher

After breakfast, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and drive you 134 miles (216 km) to Naivasha, an important birding area.

This region is a popular destination for nature-lovers as there are over 400 recorded bird species in forests around Lake Naivasha, and the cliffs of Hell’s Gate National Park are an important nesting area for many raptor species.

Once you arrive at your hotel in Naivasha in the afternoon, you will drop your baggage and meet your guide for your birding expedition around the lake.

The highlight of today's trek will be the many waterbirds you can see like African fish eagles, goliath heron, jacanas, pied and Malachite kingfishers, red-knobbed coots, spoonbills, little grebe, rare maccoa ducks, African darters, and saddle-billed storks.

Day 7: Elsamere Conservation Centre

A giraffe on the grounds of the Elsamere Conservation Center
A giraffe on the grounds of the Elsamere Conservation Center

Today's activity is an extensive tour of the former home of Born Free author, artist, and naturalist Joy Adamson. Her 1960 bestseller describes her experiences raising an orphaned lion cub named Elsa and eventually releasing her back into the wild. 

The site of her former home is now the Elsamere Conservation Center that houses a small museum dedicated to Adamson and her husband George, and a dedicated center for the care of injured and endangered local species.

After your tour, you can participate in additional optional activities like a trek to Oloiden Lake to see flamingoes, an excursion to Crescent Island, or a tour of a nearby flower farm.

Day 8: Explore Hell's Gate National Park

Hell's Gate National Park
Hell's Gate National Park

Today, a driver will pick you up early in the morning and take you to the entrance of Hell's Gate National Park.

You can choose between taking a guided trek or a bicycle ride, and you will be able to see plenty more birds and big game like zebras, giraffes, impalas, and warthogs roaming the savanna inside the 26-square-mile park. You will also be able to see natural hot springs and geothermal activity, the famous gorge, and plenty of majestic cliffs.

You will be able to enjoy a packed lunch at one of the park's scenic picnic spots before heading back to your hotel in Naivasha in the late afternoon.

Day 9: Lake Elementaita - Transfer to Nakuru

Flamingoes on Lake Elmenteita
Flamingoes on Lake Elmenteita

A private driver will pick you up early in the morning and drive you to Lake Elmenteita (also spelled Lake Elementaita) is one of Kenya's Rift Valley soda lakes. 

A soda lake or alkaline lake has a high concentration of carbonate salts, and Lake Elmenteita contains a mineral that can be mined as sodium carbonate. Soda lakes are the most highly productive aquatic environments in the world due to their unlimited supply of dissolved carbon dioxide.

Lake Elmenteita is quite shallow, and it makes for an important habitat for many migratory and native birds. You'll be able to see lesser flamingos and white pelicans, and 450 other species of birds inside the lake's protected Soysambu Conservancy area. 

You will be able to spend the entire day trekking around the area, and a local naturalist can join you on your excursion if you'd like to learn more about the local wildlife. In the late afternoon, your driver will transfer you to your hotel in Nakuru.

Day 10: Explore Lake Nakuru Park

A rhino and flamingoes on Lake Nakuru
A rhino and flamingoes on Lake Nakuru

Today you will take binoculars and a packed lunch to Lake Nakuru Park for a day of trekking and exploration. A driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you on a short 4-mile (7 km) ride to the park, which is a great birding destination with more than 500 recorded species of birds.

Lake Nakuru is another biodiverse soda lake, and it is one of the best places in Kenya to see the striking, long-tailed widowbird. Other common species in the area include the greater blue-eared starling, Speke's weaver, hottentot teal, and the greater flamingo. Rarer birds of prey established in the area include Verreaux's eagle-owl and the long-crested eagle, and there are some larger animals like rhinos, buffalo, zebra, and antelope. 

If you'd like, you can book a guide and an all-terrain vehicle for a safari tour, or you can spend your day trekking and bird-watching on your own. In the late afternoon, your driver will return you to your hotel.

Day 11: Transfer to Maasai Mara National Reserve

Two giraffes in Maasai Mara
Two giraffes in Maasai Mara

After breakfast, a driver will collect you and drive you 172 miles (278 km) to Maasai Mara National Reserve. Your route will take you through fields of wheat and picturesque farms until you arrive in the reserve, where you will see a vast swath of gently rolling savannah bordering the Serengeti. 

This reserve is one of the premier safari locations in East Africa due to its large numbers of lions, cheetahs, elephants, buffalos, wildebeests, and other large game animals. You will take a nature walk with an experienced local Masai guide and learn about the species in the area and the unique plants.

After your tour is over, you will check into your hotel on the grounds and settle in for the night.

Day 12: Free Day in Masai Mara Reserve

An air balloon on safari
An air balloon on safari

You will be able to choose how you would like to spend your day in Maasai Mara. If you'd like to visit the Mara River, you can pack a picnic lunch and take a safari drive to see crocodiles, wildebeest, zebra, and more. There are more than 450 species of birds on the reserve, so you will have plenty of opportunities to see striking birds like the rosy-throated long claw, magpie shrike, and Schalow's turaco. 

For an incredibly unique experience, you can book a safari on a hot air balloon. You will be picked up from your lodge early in the morning and transferred you to the launch site. Here you will meet your pilot, receive a briefing and watch the inflation of your balloon.

At dawn your balloon will take off, rising with the sun, and you will float in whichever direction the winds of the morning take us. Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon which offers a unique perspective and great photographic opportunities of the wildlife below.

At the end of the day, you will return to your lodge to relax for the evening.

Day 13: Free Day in Masai Mara

Verreaux's eagle in Masai Mara
Verreaux's eagle in Maasai Mara

You can choose how to spend your last full day in Maasai Mara.

If you haven't yet taken a safari drive, we recommend you book one of these as the drives are between two and three hours long. The sheer diversity of wildlife in the park means that going for a game drive is a great way to spot different species up-close or witness unique interactions that you didn't see previously.

For a longer experience, you can opt for a full-day drive from 10:00-4:00. For even better bird watching, you may want to start the game drive at 6:30 in the morning in order to catch the spectacular birds that are active at sunrise.

Day 14: Departure via Nairobi

An impala on the outskirts of Nairobi
An impala on the outskirts of Nairobi

It's time to say goodbye to Kenya! After an early breakfast, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to the airport in Nairobi in order to catch your international flight back home.

Map

Map of Kenya Birdwatching & Safari Trip - 14 Days
Map of Kenya Birdwatching & Safari Trip - 14 Days