Top 5 Places for Birding in Kisumu – Lake Victoria, Kisumu, Winam Gulf, Ahero Rice Paddies and Dunga Bay are somewhat off the normal safari itineraries that are offered by Kenya safari companies.
Western Kenya circuit in our opinion is well worth a visit for any serious birders and curious tourist out there. We recommend that you consider putting aside a 4-6 day stay to get the very best from this amazing part of Kenya.
Kisumu city is not only renowned for its vibrant Luo culture but also for its breathtaking natural wonders and the laid-back atmosphere. Kisumu is Kenya’s third largest city and the only lakeside city in Kenya.
On the other side, Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world and the only lake in Kenya where you can both watch the sunrise and sunset from the comfort of its many calm and inviting beaches.
Away from the bustling city that is dotted with bicycles taxis and the colourful three wheelers, the city is home to a good number of other attractions that should draw your attention. Kisumu city isn’t your ordinary tourist destination, it’s a gem and a city that has so much to offer even to the seasoned guests.
While bird watching tourism is very popular in other parts of Kenya, Kisumu seems to be lugging behind with avian tourism and Kisumu safari companies aren’t keen enough to promote birdwatching in Kisumu in spite of organizations like Nature Kenya and other nature conservation partners who have even offered training courses for the community tour guides at Dunga.
Bird watching on Lake Victoria is a very rewarding experience to birders considering that most of the Lake Victoria biome restricted bird species are found here. With its so many varied habitats. The most notable one being the papyrus swamps along the shores of Lake Victoria. This is home to several birds not easily found anywhere else.
Your birding safari in Kisumu and on Lake Victoria will make you to spot some species like the
Blue-headed Coucal, Red-chested Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Rufous-chested Swallow, Beaudouin’s Snake-Eagle, Swamp Flycatcher, Greater Swamp Warbler, White-winged Swamp Warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Black-headed Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Woodland Kingfisher, Slender-billed Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Long-toed Lapwing, Double-toothed Barbet, Black-billed Barbet, African Marsh-Harrier, Carruther’s Cisticola, Winding Cisticola, Red-faced Cisticola, Water Thick-knee, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird and many more.
- Dunga Beach and Swamp
Deriving its name Tako River mouth, Dunga beach is more than just a beach; it is a wetland ecosystem teeming with life and ecological significance. Dunga is a wetland situated about 5 km south of Kisumu city on the shores of the spectacular Winam Gulf, Lake Victoria and it’s a beach, that is a major fish landing point.
Papyrus Cyperus papyrus stands stretch south-eastwards along the shore from here for 1.5 km, in a strip that varies in width from about 50 to 800 m. A number of streams drain into the lake through the swamp, the main one being Tako River.
This is one of the most reliable sites in Kenya for the scarce and threatened Chloropeta gracilirostris, which is often seen along the lakeward side of the swamp. All but one of Kenya’s nine Lake Victoria Basin biome species have been recorded here, and it is especially important for Laniarius mufumbiri (relatively common), Bradypterus carpalis and Serinus koliensis, all papyrus endemics.
Dunga Beach, a picturesque fishing paradise that offers a unique wetland experience that will captivate both local and international tourists.
Delving into the charisma and the charming ecological significance of Kisumu’s waterfront at Dunga Beach with its expansive surrounding wetlands is the best way to begin your birding experience.
Dunga offers breathtaking vistas of Lake Victoria, which is Africa’s largest freshwater lake as its calm waters stretch as far as the eye, can see, creating a mirage of the sky kissing the lake.
Ornithologists and nature enthusiasts will be delighted by the rich avian diversity at Dunga Beach and the Kisumu waterfront in general. The wetlands is an excellent place to enjoy birding. Papyrus swamps along the shoreline are home to several birds not easily found anywhere else, notably Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Papyrus Canary, Carruther’s Cisticola, Swamp Flycatcher, Blueheaded
Coucal, White-winged Swamp Warbler, and Greater Swamp Warbler. Other aquatic birds such as African Openbill are also found around the lake.
Away from birdwatching, birdwatchers can also enjoy captivating sightings and capture memorable photographs of birds, monitor lizards, the swamp, hippos, Spotted-neck Otters and of course, without missing the spectacular and colourful Dunga fishing village captivating boats.
- Impala Park Sanctuary
For nature lovers, Kisumu Impala Sanctuary is a paradise to explore on foot during the informative nature walks under the guidance of an experienced nature as you traverse to different habitats on foot.
The sanctuary hosts several species of wildlife namely; lions, leopards, Cape Buffaloes, Olive Baboons, Spotted Hyenas, Cheetahs, Side-striped Jackals, Impalas, tortoises, Sitatunga, Warthogs, Bushbucks, Patas monkeys, Blue monkey, Serval Cats, Vervet monkeys, Hippos, Zebras among others. The sanctuary is also a home to various species of reptiles and insects that roam free in the indigenous forest, swampy papyrus areas and grasslands.
For birders, the sanctuary is a great birdwatching hotspot for birding safaris in Kisumu. Over 200 bird species have been recorded here making the sanctuary a haven for birdwatchers. The notable species here being the iconic African Fish Eagle, Hammerkop, African Pied Wagtail, Highland Rush Warbler, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Rufous-chested Swallow, Beaudouin’s Snake-Eagle, Swamp Flycatcher, Greater Swamp Warbler, Black-headed Gonolek, Black Kite, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird and many more.
- Ahero Rice Paddies
Located in the Kano plains between Nandi escarpment and Nyabondo Plateau. The Ahero Rice Irrigation Scheme was started as a pilot project to explore the feasibility of irrigation in the Kano Plains. Construction of the scheme started in 1966 and operations the operations started in 1969. The scheme obtains its water from the River Nyando through a pump-fed irrigation system, which is then distributed to the farms through canals.
Currently, the scheme boasts 10,810 acres, with over 30,000 farmers producing 22,000 metric tons of rice annually injecting a significant contribution into the local GDP of the Luo community
This is among the numerous Western Kenya Birding Safaris by Oluokos Signature where you bird at the paddies like in the Ahero Rice Fields. You will encounter huge conglomerations of birds, buy the Ahero Rice Fields especially, if the timing and the season permits, we will learn more about rice farming and processing and do some bird watching especially if the migrant bird species happen to be in the country.
Ahero Rice scheme, which most of the times is filled with water sometimes gets dry but still offers a good variety of interesting waterfowls and terrestrial species.
An exploration to the Ahero Rice paddies will reward us with; waders including the Sacred Ibis, Common Greenshank, Long-toed Lapwing, Common Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper and Ruff. The Western Marsh Harrier, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Southern Red Bishops, White-faced Whistling Ducks, Egyptian Goose, Grey-crowned Cranes, Hadada Ibis, Hammerkop, Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Glossy Ibis, Red-eyed Dove, African Jacana and many more can be easily observed here both in the open paddies, in the canals, the bushes, in the air or the trails.
- Winam Gulf
This is a significant extension of northeastern Lake Victoria into Western Kenya. Formerly known as Kavirondo Gulf, Nyanza Gulf, and Lake Nyanza Gulf, it is a shallow inlet and is connected to the main lake by Rusinga Channel 4.8 km wide, which is partly masked from the main body of the lake by islands.
The port of Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city, stands on its northeastern shore. The gulf has an average width of 25 km and extends for 64 km from Kisumu to the channel. Significant bays in the gulf include Naya Bay, Nyakach Bay, Osodo Bay, Kendu Bay, Homa Bay, Ruri Bay, Mirunda Bay, Asembo Bay, and Olambwe Bay. Islands in the gulf include Maboko, Rusinga, and Ndere Islands.
According to Birdlife International, the Winam Gulf is one of the most reliable sites in Kenya for viewing the scarce and threatened bird species, the Papyrus Yellow Warbler (Chloropeta gracilirostris) which is often seen along the lake ward side of the swamp.
One can also see the White-winged Swamp Warbler (Bradypterus carpalis) and the Papyrus Canary (Serinus koliensis) all being the papyrus endemics.
- Hippo Point
The almost 600 acres viewing area on the shores of Lake Victoria is very welcoming and so is necessary visit if you happen to be in Kenya’s only lakeside city. With a better confusing name, Hippo Point is known for its unobstructed sunsets over the lake than for its occasional hippos.
The open sunset viewing point of Lake Victoria, with occasional hippos, Hippo point is a great centre for organized boat trips on Lake Victoria or birdwatching on the lakeshore. Enjoy a boat ride as you check out for hippos and birds in their natural habitat.
Aside from hippos and the great sunset if you happen to be there in the evening, Hippo Point seats at the edge of the swamp where there is a river entering the lake making it a perfect location for hippos, monitor Lizards and birds. Some of the bird species to be seen here include; Double-toothed Barbet, African Fish Eagle, Black Kite, Hadada Ibis, Village Weaver, Swamp Flycatcher, Carruthers Cisticola, Broad-billed Rollers
Lesser Swamp Warbler, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Northern Brown-throated Weaver;
Spectacled Weaver, Speckled Pigeon, Banded Martin, Palm Swift, Blue-headed Coucal,
White-browed Coucal, Meyers Parrot, African Paradise Flycatcher, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Pied Kingfisher and many more.
Entrust our experts to plan for your Kenya birding experiences
Are you in Kenya for a business meeting or one of those big conferences? Oluokos Signature birding team is available to organize for you customized memorable birding excursions within Kenya and even more birding tours beyond.
For any further assistance, be it photography, where to watch birds in Kenya or even more information about us, or anything else, kindly do not hesitate to get in to reach us on +254572533434 or via our website Oluokos Signature