About Kenya Birdwatching, Where To Watch Birds in Kenya, Birding Destination
The Republic of Kenya lies astride the Equator on the eastern coast of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia and Sudan to the north, Uganda to the west, Tanzania to the south and the Indian Ocean and Somalia to the east. The coastline, about 550 km long, faces the Indian Ocean.
Date: December 12, 1963
Capital City: Nairobi
Total Area:586,600 km2
The area underwater:10,700 sq km’s
Time: UTC/GMT +3 hours
Population: 43,013,341 as by July 2012
Languages: English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages
Religions: Roman Catholics 33%, Protestant 45%, Muslims 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%, others 2%
Average Altitude: 1,798 m above sea level
Average Temperature: 17.7° C
The climate of Kenya varies by location; from mostly cool every day, to always warm/hot. The climate along the coast is tropical. This means rainfall and temperatures are higher throughout the year. At the coastal city of Mombasa, the air changes from cool to hot, almost every day. The further into Kenya, the arider the climate becomes. An arid climate is nearly devoid of rainfall, and temperature swings widely according to the general time of the day/night. For many areas of Kenya, the daytime temperature rises about 12 C (corresponding to a rise of about 22F), almost every day.
The elevation is the major factor in temperature levels, with the higher areas, on average, as 11°C (20°F) cooler, day or night. The many mile-high cities have temperature swings from roughly 50–79 °F (10–26.1 °C). Nairobi, at 1,798 m (5,899 ft) or 1.798 km (1.12 mi), ranges from 49–80 °F (9.4–26.7 °C), and Kitale at 1,825 m (5,988 ft) or 1.825 km (1.13 mi), ranges from 51–82 °F (10.6–27.8 °C). At night in the highlands, temperatures drop to about 50–54 °F (10–12.2 °C) every night.
At lower altitudes, the increased temperature is like day and night, literally: like starting the morning at the highland daytime high, and then adding the heat of the day, again. Hence, the overnight low temperatures near sea level are nearly the same as the high temperatures of the elevated Kenyan highlands. However, locations along the Indian Ocean have more moderate temperatures, as a few degrees cooler in the daytime, such as at Mombasa.
There are slight seasonal variations in temperature, of 4 °C or 7.20 °F, cooler in the winter months. Although Kenya is centered at the equator, it shares the seasons of the southern hemisphere: warmest summer months in February-March and the coolest winter months in July-August, although only a few degrees cooler.
On the high mountains, such as Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon, and Kilimanjaro, the weather can become bitterly cold for most of the year. Some snowfall has occurred on the highest mountains.
Kenya has tremendous topographical diversity, including glaciated mountains with snow-capped peaks, the Rift Valley with its scarps and volcanoes, ancient granitic mountains, flat desert landscapes and coral reefs and islets. However, the basic configuration is simple. Coastal plains give way to an inland plateau that rises gradually to the central highlands, the result of relatively recent volcanic activity associated with the formation of the rift valley. To the west, the land drops again to the Nyanza plateau that surrounds the Kenyan sector of Lake Victoria. The coastline is broken and composed of beaches, coral cliffs and reefs, creeks and numerous offshore coral islands.
The narrow coastal plain lies on sedimentary rocks, with some igneous intrusions such as Dzombo and Mrima. Beyond low rolling hills lies the Nyika plateau, mainly on sedimentary rocks. This is largely a thorn-bush plain with seasonal drainage lines and a few isolated rocky hills. This landscape covers almost the entire north-eastern sector of the country, on a very gradually sloping plain. The Great Rift Valley, with its associated escarpments and mountains, is a major feature. It runs the length of the country from Lake Turkana in the north to Lake Natron on the southern border with Tanzania. The central portion of the rift is raised, with the Aberdare Mountains and Mount Kenya to the east and the Mau Escarpment and Cherangani Hills to the west. The northern and southernmost sectors of the rift are the region west of the central highlands is characterized by Precambrian metamorphic rocks. Mount Elgon, an old, eroded volcano, intrudes through the ancient shield on the Uganda border.
The Lake Victoria basin generally has a gently sloping landscape and an eroded surface that exposes granitic outcrops. Isolated hills and mountains, such as Mount Kulal, Mount Nyiro, and Mount Marsabit, are scattered to the north and east of the central highlands. The Taita Hills, rising from the south-eastern plateau, is an ancient fault block formation, the northernmost of a chain of isolated peaks (the ‘eastern arc’) that stretches south to Malawi through eastern and southern Tanzania. They sit almost cheek-by-jowl with one of the region’s most recent volcanic ranges, the Chyulu Hills.
All Kenya’s major rivers drain from the central highlands, divided by the rift into those flowing westwards into Lake Victoria and those flowing eastwards towards the Indian Ocean.
There are five major drainage basins: Lake Victoria, the Rift Valley, the Athi-Galana-Sabaki river (and coastal areas to its south), the Tana River and the northern Ewaso Ngiro river. The Rift Valley contains several basins of internal drainage, forming a chain of endorheic lakes from Lake Natron on the Tanzanian border, through Lakes Magadi, Naivasha, Elmenteita, Nakuru, Bogoria, Baringo, and Turkana.
These lakes vary in alkalinity, from freshwater Lake Naivasha to the intensely alkaline Lake Magadi.
Lake Turkana is notable as a major volume of (more or less) fresh water in an otherwise arid and barren part of the country, while a number of rivers, including the Turkwel, Kerio, Athi-Galana, Tana and Northern and Southern Ewaso Ngiro, flow for long distances through dry parts of the country. Here they may often be the only permanent source of water.
Kenya is generally a dry country; over 75% of its area is classed as arid or semi-arid and only around 20% is viable for agriculture. Inland, rainfall and temperature are closely related to altitude changes, with variations induced by local topography.
Kenya is the home of the Safari. For over a hundred years Kenya has attracted adventurers and romantics from all over the globe. This has been the setting of some of history’s greatest adventure tales. This is the home of Out of Africa, a place where setting out on an adventure into the wilderness became an age-old tradition.
The spirit of the Safari lives on today. The romance of sundown drinks, of evenings around a campfire and nights under canvas with the distant roar of a lion in the African night can still be found in Kenya.
The variety of birdlife is enhanced by its visibility. Vibrant Sunbirds flit from tree-to-tree, Weavers build their incredible variety of nests in the open, the Starlings shine, resplendent Widowbirds dance in the air and bright Turacos are strangely camouflaged in the trees. Kingfishers, Rollers, Bee-eaters, Hornbills, Barbets, and Woodpeckers are present in many varieties, and for a greater challenge, the Cisticolas and Greenbuls provide just that. Overhead, the sky is alive with a variety of Swifts and Swallows, and raptors are plentiful. Ground birds include several Bustards, Larks, Pipits and Game birds, and the cast is not complete without the wonderful sight of tens of thousands of Lesser Flamingoes on the soda lakes, and the world’s largest bird, the Ostrich.