Parks & Reserves Details
Kenya is a mecca for birdwatchers. The country is home to an amazing 1,100 recorded species – about 11 per cent of the world’s total bird population. Over the past 30 years birdwatching in Kenya has become a popular organised pastime for both enthusiastic locals and visitors.
There are excellent areas for bird viewing throughout Kenya and visitors can readily obtain a special checklist to keep track of sightings. In most parks and wildlife areas visitors can observe the birdlife with the help of an experienced guide. There are also opportunities to go on pre-planned nature trails in areas with a large bird population.
The organisation Nature Kenya lays on bird-watching expeditions in Nairobi and the surrounding area. In addition, it organises trips further inland on a monthly basis to Lake Bar-ingo – which has the highest recorded number of bird species, 450, and a resident ornithologist- and also to Mount Kenya, Lake Naivasha, the Amboseli and Aberdare National Parks, Kieni Forest and Hells Gate.
A bird-ringing event is held each year at Ngulia lodge in Tsavo West. Over a two-week period, more than 30,000 birds of 40 to 50 species are ringed and up to 200 other species are observed. Kenya is a wintering ground for many birds, some of which have migrated from as far as Europe to escape the harsh winter. Others simply ‘camp’ for a short time before heading on to southern Africa, returning to Europe later. Of the 1,100 species found in Kenya, about 230 are migrant, 170 palearctic and 60 intra-African. Only 10 species are endemic to Kenya.
Kakamega Forest in western Kenya is said to be one of the last remnants of the ancient Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once spanned the continent. It is famous for the diversity of its birdlife, with over 367 species recorded, seven of which are endemic to Kakamega Forest. Once again, birdwatchers heading for this area can pick up a special checklist on arrival.
Buffalo Springs & Shaba
Referred to as the Hollywood of Africa, Shaba contains such spectacular places as the Sleeping Lion and Tortoise Hill. It has also provided the setting for films such as ‘Walk with Lions’ and ‘Survivor III’.
Together with the adjacent Samburu, and divided by the River Ewaso Nyiro, the three reserves are popular with tourists because of their diverse wildlife. Unlike other wildlife areas in Kenya’s northern tourist circuit, the Samburu ecosystem supports free-ranging wildlife species both within the three reserves and far into community lands.
Temperatures range from 30°C in the hottest months to 20°C between July and September. Average annual i rainfall is 100 mm to 300 mm and I is usually divided into two seasons: short rains in October and November and long rains between February and May.
Besides normal species found elsewhere in Kenya, the area is home to the rare Five Northern Species, consisting of Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx, Somali ostrich and gerenuk. Shaba is also home to the highly endangered Williamson’s lark. These rare species can only be found in the game reserves.
Roads: From Nairobi through Nanyuki to Isiolo, then 22 km on tarmac road.
Air: Buffalo Springs Airstrip is used by daily scheduled flights from Nairobi, linking the reserve to other tourism destinations.
Best time to visit
All year round
Game viewing, nature walks, entertainment by villagers to provide a flavour of the community and
its nomadic lifestyle.