Located in East Africa, Kenya is the most popular tourist destination in the region. On average over 2 million tourists have visited annually over the past decade. Majority of these travelers visit for big game safaris and beach getaways. In reality, Kenya has much more to offer. One of the overlooked attractions is birdwatching. If you are considering Africa for your next birdwatching excursion, Kenya should definitely be on your list!
Kenya hosts over 1,100 species of birds and was recently rated by Wanderlust.com as one of the world’s 9 best birding locations. Here are the best reasons to make Kenya your next birdwatching destination:
1. Migratory Patterns
From September to April thousands of birds escape the winter conditions in Europe and North Africa. These birds head in masses to the south. Kenya hosts many species during this period and this coincides with the mating season for many of the local birds in the region. Some of the iconic bird species include blackcap, Eurasian roller, steppe eagle, Eurasian bee-eater, and common sandpiper
According to estimates, some 817 species were sighted in a 2021 study. Of all the countries surveyed Kenya ranked first in Africa. Some of the spots to see these migratory species are Nairobi National Park, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Yala Swamp, Lake Kanyaboli, and more. Sit back and enjoy the amazing show.
2. Breathtaking landscapes
Pair in some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Africa and you are in for a treat. Whether you are in the coastal region, a national park, the Great Rift Valley, or closer to Nairobi there are an array of bird species that can be spotted.
Nairobi, Maasai Mara, Tsavo, Mount Kenya, and Amboseli are just some of the amazing Kenyan national parks you can visit. The Maasai Mara has over 470 bird species that include the Secretarybird, Crowned Hornbill, Hartlaub's bustard, Rüppell's Vulture, and more. Staying at any of these parks also allows you to see some other wildlife on offer such as the big five.
Due to its location on the equator, Kenya has favorable visibility and daylight hours for birdwatching almost all year round. In addition, the weather is perfect for tourists and locals alike during the September to April migration season.
The temperature highs hover around 23/24 °C in the coolest months and around 27/28 °C in the warmer months. This consistency in the weather all year round makes Kenya a great destination in general.
4. One-of-a-kind native species
The unique geography, weather, and landscapes are the perfect melting point for key species that are unique to the East African region. There are multiple species of birds that are only found in Eastern Africa.
Large populations of flamingos are the specialty of the Rift Valley around Lake Elementaita, Lake Nakuru, and Lake Baringo. As a critical part of the ecosystem, these birds are a must-see. These beautiful pink birds congregate by the thousands in their natural habitat and are impossible to miss.