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Kenya November 2020 (1 Viewer)

MacHector

Active member
Hi All

For anyone who is desperate for a bit of high diversity, overseas birding in these challenging times, I am putting together a 10-day itinerary for Kenya at the beginning of November 2020.

The itinerary targets some but not all of Kenya's endemic and near-endemic birds, including Aberdare Cisticola, Clarke's Weaver, Sokoke Scops Owl, Malindi Pipit, East Coast Akalat, Fischer's Turaco, Short-tailed Batis, Taita Thrush, Taita Apalis, Taita White-eye, Jackson's Hornbill, Jackson's Widowbird, Taveta Golden Weaver, Mombasa Woodpecker with an enormous supporting cast of goodies. Sites visited will include Aberdares NP, Lake Baringo, Nairobi NP, Taita Hills, Tsavo East and West and the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.

Kenya presents a reasonable destination at the current time. Infection rates are low (though admittedly testing is not very widespread), death rates have been low throughout, borders are open and entry requirements don't seem too draconian for at least UK passport holders. No quarantine is required. There is a well established tourist infrastructure that is, of course, being underutilised at the current time. Flights are a bargain at the moment!

I have a local guide with an excellent reputation who is offering a very reasonable rate for a 10-day tour that will become, of course, even more reasonable if I can get one or two more to join me.

I have some minor flexibility around dates and itinerary.

Please PM me for more details.

Cheers

Andrew
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I would have been interested if there had been more notice but ten days in a species rich country like Kenya isn't very much.

I won't insult you by suggesting that you're unaware of this but anyone else might need to know.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus
Entry to Kenya

Travellers arriving from the UK are exempt from the Government of Kenya’s 14-day quarantine requirement, but must still have a negative COVID-19 test (see full information below). The full list of quarantine exempt countries can be found on the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority website.
Testing and quarantine requirements

The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs have advised that:

All travellers must carry evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours of flying.
Travellers arriving from the UK are not required to enter mandatory quarantine for 14 days, as long as they have a negative COVID-19 test.
The negative COVID-19 test must be a negative PCR test result. Travellers with a negative rapid test result will still need to enter mandatory or voluntary quarantine for 14 days, depending on the Kenyan authorities’ assessment on the traveller’s ability to quarantine.
All travellers will be screened on arrival; anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to quarantine in the place they are staying for the first 14 days of their stay and observe Government of Kenya protocols as directed. Passengers travelling in the 2 rows surrounding the person displaying symptoms will be traced and required to quarantine for 14 days.
 
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MacHector

Active member
Hi Andy

Yes, I am aware of UK travel advice and, yes, it is correct that if you are a UK traveller, you will need to do a PCR COVID test within 4 days of travelling. This is eminently possible. Although in the UK you should not use government testing facilities for such a purpose, there are private clinics who will do a PCR test for about GBP150 and promise a 3 day turnaround. This is an additional cost, but is more than compensated for by the amount saved on the cheap flight. There are risks, of course. What happens if you test positive? What happens if someone else on the flight tests positive? What happens if you contract COVID in Kenya? These unfortunate scenarios would just have to be discussed by whoever is going on the trip to work out mitigations/actions that everyone involved can buy into (it won't be many people).

I didn't print all this entry requirement detail in the initial message because, of course, this only applies to UK passport holders. This is an international forum. I have no idea what rules apply to other countries.

As far as the late notice goes, yes, sorry, such is the way of the world at the moment. Even this plan is at risk of not coming off. In terms of 10 days not being enough for Kenya, that is absolutey true. One solution though might be to extend the trip beyond the 10 days that I have available. The costs of the guide really do seem pretty reasonable and I am sure we could come to some arrangement that would be good for everyone involved. I don't think the guides in Kenya are very booked up at the moment and I am sure they would be glad of business. However, one thing to consider is that however long you make the trip it will never be enough. You will always want to go back for more! I lived in Kenya for 2 years and even so this 10 day trip will potentially net me 100+ lifers, so the diversity is such that you could live in Kenya for years and still not unearth all its avian treasures.

As I say, PM if you want to discuss in more detail.

Cheers

Andrew
 

Arbu

Well-known member
All those issues would be enough to prevent me going by themselves. But another question is how welcome you will be made to feel as you travel around, inevitably visiting quite small communities. People may still be fearful that you are bringing the virus to them. You'd probably manage, but it won't be nice if people don't want you there and you have problems with getting food and accommodation, small children throwing stones at you, things like that.
 

MacHector

Active member
Hi Arbu

That is a personal view that I respect. The questions you raise are ones common to any person doing any form of elective travel at the current time, particularly to a developing country. Will I be viewed as an unwelcome potential virus spreader or will I, in fact, be welcomed as a source of much needed tourist revenue in a country that is suffering genuine economic hardship? Will I be seen as an earlier indicator of a return to normality?

Kenya is not under hard lock down at the moment and the hospitality sector recently re-opened. I have friends in Kenya who I have consulted about my trip. I am willing to take a punt on the reaction to visitors being broadly positive. There may, of course, be a few kids that throw stones, but unfortunately this happened in Kenya occassionally way before COVID, and is not a genuine security threat.

There is, of course, a moral obligation to not be genuine spreader of the virus, but the trip comes with a lot of precautions in that respect: pre-testing before departure (I am going to ask the driver and guide to get a test before the trip too, which I will pay for, so they are not inadvertantly spreading the virus around Kenya), an itinerary that is largely wildnerness areas, all the normal precautions around mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing. Nothing is absolutely guaranteed, but then as soon as you step outside your own front door nothing is at the moment.

I'm not worried about accommodation or food. The infrasctructure is there and it is open.

But, yes, nothing at the moment is totally risk free, so it is up to the individual to decide how they feel about the situation. However, I still believe that the single biggest safety risk on this trip is being involved in traffic accident on the Nairobi/Mombasa highway; a hair-raising road if ever I have encountered one!

Andrew
 

Aliks

Well-known member
HI Andrew,
I saw this thread only today - sorry about that, but myself and wife went to Kenya for 10 days birdwatching in November, and we had a great time, and actually felt much safer than the UK. All the hotels, lodges and shops take COVID more seriously than London, with temperature checks everywhere, and masks worn by locals even in poorest areas of Mombasa. Of course we had most of the parks to ourselves as a bonus, and very, very little close interaction with anybody but our guide. 14 days isolation when back in the UK, so I really don't see that we raised our own or anyone else's risk levels.

Our itinerary was Shimba Hills, Arabuko-Sokoke, Mida Creek, Sabaki river mouth, Tsavo East, Taita Hills, Taita West and Amboseli.
We saw Sokoke Scops Owl, Taita Thrush, Taita White-eye, Taveta Golden Weaver from your list, and probably over 300 more species, although I only got photos of 260.
Martial Eagle photo attached. It was arguing with a Tawny Eagle over a dead Dik-Dik right next to the road about 10km inside Tsavo West NP.

Amboseli was especially bird rich with 160 species in 48 hours (arrived 4pm, left 3pm two days later).

For those yet to go to Kenya, I strongly, strongly recommend it. Its damn hot at the coast, but inland the hills and plateaus make for a perfect temperature, and there are so many wonderful habitats to explore. I could go on . . . . . . and on . . .
 

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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
All those issues would be enough to prevent me going by themselves. But another question is how welcome you will be made to feel as you travel around, inevitably visiting quite small communities. People may still be fearful that you are bringing the virus to them. You'd probably manage, but it won't be nice if people don't want you there and you have problems with getting food and accommodation, small children throwing stones at you, things like that.
You can crank that up a notch or two now!

Just glad that we cancelled out plans to visit Russia this Christmas, even had flights been going, which they're not, we wouldn't have been allowed in anyway.
 

MacHector

Active member
Hi Aliks

Thanks for the positive message and really glad you had an excellent trip to Kenya. I am also slightly jealous. I didn't make it in the end. Everything was ready for the off, but as I mentioned, I had asked my guide to take a COVID test a few days before I departed. I think to his genuine amazement, he tested positive. He was totally asymptomatic and is totally fine, but that put a rather serious spanner in the works. I couldn't reschedule with him because UK lockdown was looming, so I had to make some very hasty last minute plan changes. I ended up going to Jamaica for a week, which was also great - 110 species, all the endemics, regional specialities and some interesting eruptions of North American migrants. And, yes, it felt safe and people were really welcoming.

I have to give Moses Kandie, my 'almost guide' in Kenya, a big endorsement for accepting the poor luck in the situation and returning the deposit I had sent him for the trip. When I get the chance to go in the future I will definitely search him out.

I have to say, at the moment, there are a lot of places I'd prefer to be than the UK!
 

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