KENYA


10th February - 24th February 2007

Rich Andrews, Alex Bevan, Phil Bristow, Judd Hunt, John Martin & Mike Powell



Text by Alex Bevan, photos by Rich Andrews

Introduction
In terms of variety of species Kenya must rank as one of the top birding destinations in the world. Add in the Big Game and some fantastic scenery and you are guaranteed a memorable trip. With just two weeks available to us we concentrated on birding the Rift Valley Lakes and the area west towards the Ugandan border, including Kakamega Forest. We also took in Lake Victoria and finished our trip with two days on safari in the Masai Mara.

Transport
Our flights with Kenya Airways were booked through www.travelbag.co.uk and whilst they ran to time, we almost missed our return flight due to attempts by the airline to bounce us off the flight. All ground arrangements including internal travel, accommodation, park entrance fees/permits were made by Origins Safaris. Everything ran like clockwork and we encountered no real logistical problems during our stay. Origins also supplied an excellent guide/driver called Edwin Selempo who had a good knowledge of all the sites visited and could put a name to pretty much anything that moved, bird or beast.

Getting About
Our transport consisted of a nine-seater 4WD Land Rover with roof hatches. With a few exceptions, Kenyan roads including the main highways are of a very poor standard so we endured a rather bumpy two weeks as we moved between sites. The driving standards were on a par with the roads and ranged from erratic to downright crazy!

Health/Money/Food/Visas
We all arranged our visas in advance at a cost of 30 each. However, upon arrival in Nairobi it did appear that you could pay for a visa at the airport. The food in all the places we stayed was of a good standard, although as per usual, several of us suffered bouts of upset stomachs, but nothing too serious. With plenty of biting mosquitoes about, we took particular care to ensure we took our daily fix of Malarone. Whilst it was possible to change dollars at most of the places we stayed, the exchange rate got progressively worse the further away we got from Nairobi. Mobile phone coverage was excellent throughout with very few black spots.

Field Guides/CDs
There are several options for Field Guides whilst in Kenya. We used the following :

* Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania (Zimmerman, Turner and Pearson)
* The Birds of East Africa (Stevenson and Fanshawe)
* Birds of Africa south of the Sahara (Sinclair and Ryan)
* The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals (Kingdon)

The most comprehensive CD set available is African Bird Sounds 2 (West and Central Africa) and although a little expensive, the purchase proved to be a good investment and helped us to secure views of a number of difficult species.

Daily trip report and gallery
Click on the thumbnails below to view the daily itinerary with photos. All the text in this report is by Alex Bevan, and the photographs are by Rich Andrews. The full trip report, including systematic list of birds and mammals can be downloaded here.

Masai Giraffe

11th February 2007  Nairobi National Park

Vitelline Masked Weaver

12th February 2007  Nairobi to Lake Magadi, via Olorgosailie

Sykes's Monkey

13th February 2007  Nairobi to Mountain Lodge, via Blue Post

Golden-winged Sunbird

14th February 2007  Mountain Lodge to Naro Moru River Lodge

Long-crested Eagle

15th February 2007  Naro Moru River Lodge to Lake Nakuru

Lesser Flamingo

16th February 2007  Lake Nakuru to Lake Naivasha

Heuglin's Courser

17th February 2007  Lake Naivasha to Lake Baringo

Rufous-crowned Roller

18th February 2007  Lake Baringo to Kakamega

Central Emperor Swallowtail

19th February 2007  Kakamega

Great Blue Turaco

20th February 2007  Kakamega, west to the Ugandan Border

Southern Red Bishop

21st February 2007  Kakamega to Masai Mara, via Lake Victoria

Lion

22nd February 2007  Masai Mara

Ross's Turaco

23rd February 2007  Masai Mara

Tawny Eagle

24th February 2007  Masai Mara to Nairobi


Acknowledgements
I think we would all agree that in Edwin we were very lucky indeed to have access to one of Kenya's best bird guides. There is little doubt that our trip list would have been much the poorer without his sharp eye and knowledge of both the birds and the sites visited. Then there was Edwin's driving skills. He never ceased to amaze us with his ability to get our vehicle across all sorts of terrain. On many occasions you could see the look on everyone's faces - "we'll never get across there", but invariably we did, without once getting stuck. A top bloke all round. Also a big thanks to Steve Turner at Origins Safaris for advising on and arranging our itinerary whilst in Kenya.

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