East Africa Birding Safaris
East African bird habitats present a rich tapestry of biodiversity and stunning landscapes, enticing enthusiasts from around the globe. From the renowned Serengeti plains to the verdant forests of the Eastern Arc Mountains, each habitat boasts a distinct array of avian wonders. Wetlands lining the shores of Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika serve as havens for waterfowl, while the montane forests of the Udzungwa and Uluguru Mountains shelter endemic species. Remote wilderness areas like Ruaha National Park offer glimpses of elusive birds such as the African finfoot. Conservation efforts and community engagement initiatives play a vital role in safeguarding these habitats, establishing East Africa as a paradise for birdwatching enthusiasts. The Albertine Rift region stands out as the continent’s most biologically diverse area.
East Africa is a birding paradise, offering an incredible diversity of bird species and habitats.
Explore Our East Africa Birding Tour
East Africa Birds, Mammals, and Wildlife Expedition
Optimal Period: December through February
Destination: Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda
Expert Guides: Local guides, with the inclusion of proficient local female birders
Tour Highlights: Birdwatching, Big Game Safaris, Primate Encounters, Witnessing the Wildebeest Migration and Calving, Immersion in the Diverse People and Cultures of East Africa Accommodation Standard: Quality Mid-Range accommodations throughout the entire journey
Day 1: Arrival in Arusha, Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)
Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, you’ll receive a warm welcome and be promptly transferred to your accommodation for the night. Depending on the timing of your international flight’s arrival at JRO Airport, you may have the opportunity to meet your ground tour leader and bird guide. Tonight’s lodging includes bed and breakfast, as meal arrangements will be tailored to your international flight arrival schedule. Rest assured, you’ll have a comfortable and rejuvenating stay before embarking on your birding adventure.
Day 2 & 3: Journey to Central Serengeti via the Olduvai Gorge Historic Museum
We’ll commence early with an extensive drive to the Serengeti. Spanning 5,675 square miles, with an additional 3,200 square miles protected within the surrounding Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Serengeti represents a vast, nation-sized conservation expanse. Renowned as the epitome of wild Africa, the Serengeti is among the world’s largest natural sanctuaries.
Meaning ‘Endless Plain’ in the Maasai language, the Serengeti predominantly features grasslands interspersed with Acacia woodlands and rocky outcrops. Scarce permanent water sources, coupled with a regular rainfall pattern, give rise to the famed Wildebeest migration phenomena, where millions of large ungulates traverse between the Serengeti in Tanzania and Maasai Mara in Kenya. Our visit is timed to potentially witness staggering numbers of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope—a spectacle of primeval wonder. Depending on rainfall patterns, calving may occur between January and April, adding to the natural marvels we may witness.
In this expansive landscape, keen observation may reveal elusive species like the endemic Karamoja Apalis, as well as rarities like the Grey-crested Helmet-shrike and Tanzania Red-billed Hornbill. Additional avian sightings may include the Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Usambiro Barbet, a variety of Whydahs, Sand Grouse species, Black Lored Babblers, Woodpeckers, assorted Bustards, Coqui Francolin, and an array of starlings, among numerous others. Accommodation for both nights will be provided at a mid-range tented camp in Central Serengeti.
Day 4 & 5: Exploration of Southeastern Serengeti and the Dynamic Ndutu Region during the Wildebeest Calving Season
The Ndutu region, synonymous with classic African cinematography, serves as the stage for untamed dramas. Witnessing this spectacle firsthand defies verbal description; one must experience it firsthand. Here, amidst the wilderness, the photographic opportunities seem endless, provided one wields a digital camera, capturing the ceaseless action.
From January through March, the Ndutu region hosts the climax of the Wildebeest’s 500-mile circular migration, where they calve before embarking on their northward journey. This remote area offers a glimpse into a dynamic ecosystem, characterized by abundant wildlife, including Lions, Cheetahs, Leopards, Jackals, and Hyenas. Amidst the spectacle, birdwatching opportunities abound, with various species such as Ostriches, Secretary Birds, rollers, Bee-eaters, raptors, Fischer’s Sparrow-Larks, larks, sandgrouse, and numerous endemic birds making appearances. Accommodation will be provided at Ndutu Lodge, nestled amidst acacia woodlands, offering proximity to the prime wildlife congregations.
Day 6: Highlight Day at Ngorongoro Crater Floor
Following an early breakfast, we’ll journey back through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, descending 600 meters to the Ngorongoro Crater floor. This descent offers excellent birdwatching opportunities, with sightings possible of various avian species, including the Variable Sunbird, Cisticolas, Bunting, Canary, and Citril.
The Ngorongoro Crater, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands as the world’s largest caldera, providing habitat to an array of wildlife. Our focus will be on encountering the ‘Big Five,’ with particular emphasis on observing the critically endangered Black Rhinoceros. Birdlife within the crater is equally rewarding, with sightings of Greater and Lesser Flamingos, raptors, storks, cranes, and various other species anticipated. After an exhilarating experience on the crater floor, we’ll ascend the crater walls and proceed to Karatu Village.
Day 7: Exploration of Ngorongoro Highlands before Departure to Tarangire National Park
This morning, we’ll embark on a bird walk in the hill forest at Endoro, situated on the slopes of the Crater highlands. The forest trail may yield sightings of several avian species, including the African Broadbill, Warblers, Babblers, Cisticolas, and Sunbirds. Following lunch, we’ll journey to Tarangire National Park, concluding our expedition.
Day 8: Exploration of the Baobab Tree Country at Tarangire National Park.
The Tarangire ecosystem, spanning over an expansive 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi), ranks as the third largest in Tanzania. During peak migration, it hosts the second-largest concentration of wildlife, surpassed only by the Serengeti. Tarangire’s renowned feature is its vast congregation of African Elephants along the meandering Tarangire River, offering a captivating spectacle of tender family interactions. Additionally, visitors can expect to encounter other notable mammals such as the majestic Waterbuck, graceful Impala, amusing Common Warthog, and elegant Giraffe.
The park’s Acacia woodland and Baobab-studded grasslands harbour a diverse avian population, boasting over 500 species. Bird enthusiasts have the opportunity to spot various species including the African Hawk-Eagle, Pygmy Falcon, Double-banded Courser, and numerous others. Notable targets include the Tanzanian endemic, Ashy Starling, and the East African endemic Yellow-collared Lovebird. Dusk unveils its own treasures, with sightings possible of Slender-tailed and Freckled Nightjars, and the diminutive African Scops Owl. Consider booking a night Game drive through the Lodge Desk for further exploration.
Day 9: Departure from Tarangire National Park to Arusha
After indulging in breakfast, embark on a final session of birding and big game viewing within Tarangire, potentially encountering sought-after species like the African Red Bellied Parrots and the Mountain Gray Woodpecker. Following lunch, commence the return journey to Arusha, our accommodation destination for the night.
Day 10: Journey from Arusha to Amboseli National Park in Kenya.
Commencing with early morning birding and breakfast, depart from Arusha, heading north towards Namanga, the border crossing into Kenya. En route, keep an eye out for the White-fronted Bee-eater, often spotted sallying for insects from roadside perches. Upon crossing the border, proceed to our lodge nestled in the heart of Amboseli National Park, where glimpses of African wildlife and, weather permitting, the lofty Mount Kilimanjaro await.
Day 11: Immersion in the Shadows of Kilimanjaro at Amboseli National Park
Nestled at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, Amboseli National Park offers a breathtaking backdrop to its diverse wildlife. Renowned for its vast population of African Elephants, Amboseli also presents opportunities to spot the Yellow Baboon and, with luck, the elusive Serval. Explore the park’s diverse habitats, including open plains, swamps, and lakes, for exceptional game viewing and birdwatching experiences.
The park’s arid and moist habitats support a rich avian diversity, with species such as the Buff-crested Bustard, Pink-breasted Lark, and Hartlaub’s Bustard among the highlights. Additionally, waterbirds including various waders, ducks, herons, and storks frequent the park’s marshlands and water bodies.
Day 12: Transfer to the Mt. Kenya region
Following breakfast in Amboseli, embark on a journey northward, passing through Nairobi, towards the lush forests of Mt. Kenya’s lower slopes. Our comfortable lodge, nestled amidst the forest, serves as our base for exploration. Tonight, fall asleep to the serene calls of the Montane Nightjar and Southern Tree Hyrax.
Day 13: Exploration of the Mt. Kenya Highlands.
The focal point of the central highlands, Mount Kenya, offers spectacular birding and game viewing opportunities. From our lodge balcony, witness the Red-fronted Parrot, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, and various other avian and mammalian species against the backdrop of this majestic mountain. Explore rich forest habitats, seeking out elusive species such as the Crowned Eagle, Narina Trogon, and Eastern Black-and-white Colobus.
Day 14: Journey to Shaba National Reserve.
After concluding birding activities on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, journey northward to the Samburu district. Traverse montane grasslands and fields, with chances to spot species like the Long-tailed, Red-collared, and Jackson’s Widowbirds. Descend to the town of Isiolo, gateway to the arid-zone reserves of Shaba, Samburu, and Buffalo Springs, before settling into a riverside lodge in Shaba National Reserve.
Days 15 & 16: Exploration of Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves.
Renowned for their scenic beauty and unique wildlife, Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves offer a diverse array of game and bird species. Encounter iconic animals such as the Reticulated Giraffe, Grevy’s Zebra, and Lesser Kudu amidst rugged mountains, Acacia woodland, and lava plains. Birdwatchers will delight in spotting species like the Somali Ostrich, Vulturine Guineafowl, and many others amidst the semi-desert scrub and riverine vegetation.
Day 17: Transiting from Buffalo Springs National Reserve to Lake Nakuru National Park
in the Great Rift Valley, we’ll be on the lookout for the localized Cape Eagle-Owl, a species sometimes referred to as Mackinder’s Eagle-Owl. Lake Nakuru National Park, initially designated for its abundant flamingo population, is renowned for hosting both African rhinoceros species. The lake’s fluctuating alkaline waters result in significant variations in flamingo numbers, ranging from millions to none. Yet, when present, the spectacle of rosy pink waters adorned by Lesser Flamingos is breathtaking. Our lodge provides an optimal vantage point for observing this phenomenon. Later, an afternoon game drive offers opportunities to encounter African Buffalo, Plains Zebra, Rothschild’s Giraffe, various antelope species, and the elusive Lion and Leopard.
Day 18: Continuing our journey to Nairobi via the Kinangop Plateau
we’ll pause to seek out the rare Sharpe’s Longclaw, endemic to the region. Our final roadside stop at Limuru Ponds promises sightings of diverse waterbirds, including Hottentot Teal, White-backed Ducks, and Maccoa Ducks. Upon arrival in Nairobi, we’ll transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for departure to Uganda, where we’ll stay at Boma Hotel.
Day 19: Birdwatching in Mamamba and Entebbe Botanical Gardens.
Day 20: Birding at Mt. Elgon National Park
Offers a rich avian diversity, including notable species like Jackson’s francolin, Eastern bronze-naped pigeon, and Luhders and Doherty’s Bush-shrikes, amidst stunning landscapes and natural features.
Day 21: Traveling through Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve
We’ll have the chance to observe rare wildlife such as Roan Antelope and Lelwel Heartbeest, along with unique bird species like Red Fronted Tinkerbird and Stone Partridge. Birding opportunities continue in Nakapiripirit, enhancing the wilderness experience.
Day 22 and 23:
Exploring Kidepo National Park, renowned for its abundant buffalo herds and diverse avian population, including species like Secretary Bird, Pygmy Falcon, and Yellow-necked Spurfowl, among others.
Day 24 and 25: Transfer to Murchison Falls National Park
Home to an impressive variety of African wildlife and a notable birding destination. The Murchison Falls, where the Nile River squeezes through a narrow gorge, provides a stunning backdrop for observing waterbirds such as the African Fish Eagle and the iconic Shoebill stork.
Day 26 and 27: Venturing to Kibale Forest National Park
Renowned for its bird species diversity, including sought-after sightings like the Green-breasted Pitta. Chimpanzee tracking and encounters with other primates, such as Guereza Colobus and Grey-cheeked Mangabey, further enrich the wildlife experience.
Day 28 and 29: Exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park
Situated in the heart of Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park stands as the pinnacle of the country’s wildlife reserves. Spanning from the picturesque crater-laden foothills of the Rwenzori ranges to the serene shores of Lake Edward, and extending to the remote Ishasha River in the south, this park boasts a diverse array of habitats. From expansive savannahs to lush rainforests, dense papyrus swamps to enchanting crater lakes, and the vast expanse of Lake Edward, Queen Elizabeth National Park offers a captivating panorama of natural beauty.
This biodiversity hotspot hosts an impressive bird list, with 606 species recorded, making it the most species-rich protected area in Africa. Notable avian residents include Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, White-winged Terns, Swamp Fly-catcher, Grey-capped Warbler, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Collard Pranticole, African Jacana, Pin-tailed Whydah, Martial Eagle, Gabon, and Slender-tailed Nightjars, among others.
Day 30 to 32: Birdwatching in Bwindi Forest
Renowned as Africa’s premier birding destination, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest boasts an impressive avian population, with 360 species recorded, including 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics. Among these are globally threatened species such as Grauer’s Broadbill and Shelley’s Crimsonwing. Visitors can marvel at the unique birdlife, including Archer’s Robin-Chat, Lagden’s Bush-shrike, Dusky Crimson-wing, and other rarities, making Bwindi a must-visit for bird enthusiasts.
Gorilla Tracking Experience:
Today is an unforgettable adventure with gorilla tracking, a highlight of your tour. Led by experienced park guides, you’ll journey through lush forests, navigating steep terrain to encounter these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Witness the incredible tolerance of these gentle giants as they go about their daily activities, offering a truly awe-inspiring experience.
Day 33 and 34: Exploring Lake Mburo National Park
Discover the captivating landscapes and rich biodiversity of Lake Mburo National Park. Home to elusive predators like Leopard, Spotted Hyena, and Jackals, as well as a myriad of bird species, including rarities like White-backed Night-Heron and African Finfoot, this sanctuary offers a unique wildlife experience. Spot iconic African mammals such as Eland, Boehm’s Zebra, Topi, and Impala, and immerse yourself in the beauty of this wetland and Acacia savanna sanctuary.
Day 35 and 36: Birdwatching at Mabamba Wetlands
A second chance of a thrilling birdwatching excursion to Mabamba Wetlands, a haven for avian enthusiasts. Explore the intricate channels and lagoons of this Important Bird Area, home to iconic species such as the Shoebill. Delight in sightings of classic East African waterbirds and local specialties, including the Blue-breasted Bee-eater and Papyrus Gonolek. Spend the afternoon birding around Enkima Lodge, adding to your avian sightings in varied habitats.
Day 37: Departure
Bid farewell to East Africa as you depart for your journey home, filled with unforgettable memories of wildlife encounters and birding adventures.
Ensure your travel insurance covers medical evacuation, as remote locations may lack immediate access to medical care. Participants should be in good health, with a moderate level of fitness required for forest birding excursions. Pack appropriate clothing for varying temperatures and climates, including sturdy walking boots and casual attire. Currency exchange facilities are available, with MasterCard and Visa widely accepted. Remember to carry essential documents such as passports and Yellow Fever Vaccination certificates. Stay connected with available internet and mobile coverage, and consider tipping for exceptional service throughout your tour
Tour price includes ground services only as below.
- Airport transfer arrivals and departures
- All accommodations
- All meals throughout the tour
- All entrance fees to national parks
- Community levy fees
- Conservation fees where applicable
- Transport in safari land cruiser
- Services of naturalist female bird guide (English speaking)
- Bottled water all through the drive
Excludes below services:
- Service before and after the tour dates above
- International travel – air tickets etc
- Tipping all through the tour (crew and lodges )
Items of a personal nature
- Carbonates and alcohol
- Laundry services
- Medical and travel insurance
- Covid-19 test fees where required