Birdwatching in Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve : Situated on the Kenyan coast, about 110 kilometres north of Mombasa, the National Forest Reserve of Arabuko Sokoke invites you to explore its rich biodiversity. This magical woodland offers a compelling combination of animals, birdwatching, and historic ruins. It is located next to Watamu’s beaches and the Indian Ocean.

Situated inside the wider Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve, the park spans many square kilometres and serves as a focal point for avian aficionados. It may not have the huge safari creatures, but it does reveal a magnificent world with over 270 bird species, 33 types of snakes, and a variety of fascinating animals, such as elephants, yellow baboons, Aders’ duiker, and Sykes’ monkeys.

Birdwatching safaris in Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve

Being a tropical forest with many fruiting trees, Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve is a popular safaris in Kenya destination for bird watchers who enjoy the variety of birds that call this place home. The main draw for birding safaris is the birding adventure in this forest reserve.

It is one of the best kenya safari tours places to visit  on Kenya’s coast, 110 km north of Mombasa, the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve is a National Forest Reserve. This great forest habitat is a great haven close to the famous marine parks and Watamu’s beaches, only a short distance from the Indian Ocean.

The 260 square mile Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve is located in Kilifi County on Kenya’s coast. In addition to a large variety of butterfly species, the forest is home to about 20% of Kenya’s bird species.

Primarily a birdwatching destination and a great lovely destination birding safaris in Kenya, the reserve is home to a number of endemic and near-endemic species. While the woodland is a delightful spot to spend a few hours and a great escape from the seaside heat, don’t expect to see any of the large safari animals  found in other National parks and reserves in Kenya here.

It is also home to over 270 different species of birds, including the spotted ground thrush and the endangered Sokoke pipit. The region is well-known for housing some internationally vulnerable species, such as Clarke’s weaver and the Sokoke scops owl. Sokoke pipit, Amani sunbird, and chestnut-fronted helmet-shrike are some of the other highly sought-after species that can be spotted here. As usual, forests are difficult places to go bird watching, but the rewards of seeing intriguing species are many. The trumpeter and silvery-cheeked hornbills are two of the more conspicuous forest avifauna that even non-birdwatchers will find fascinating.

Nestled within the abundant birdlife of the Miombo woodlands are stunning seasonal springs. 4 Wheel Drive  tracks and nature walks wind through the forest from the park’s four entrances. The Kararacha entrance leads to bird trails at Kararacha Pools and Spinetail Way, which are 16km south of the main entry. A trail heads to the Whistling Duck Pools from the Mida entrance, a popular hangout for grebes, open-billed storks, and whistling ducks. From the main entrance, there’s a small trail that heads north to the Treehouse, a great spot to watch elephants drinking from a nearby lake. You can also see elephants on the 4WD Elephant Track.

Getting to Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve

Protected as a National Forest Reserve, the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve is situated 110 km north of Mombasa on the Kenyan coast. Located close to Watamu beaches and the Indian Ocean, this intriguing wooded habitat is a short distance from the surf. Accompanying a Kenyan safari tour operator on your travels can make the journey to Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve an exciting experience in and of itself.

Just a minor fraction of the reserve, the park is located at its northwest border and spans only a few square kilometres.

This reserve is located about 100 miles from Mombasa town and 18 kilometres from Malindi along the tarmac Mombasa-Malidu route. The offices of KFS’s Malindi Forest Zone are situated there, and tourist services are offered in addition to clear markings indicating the entry. From Nairobi, there are frequent buses and flights to Mombasa or Malindi. Taxis or public transport from Mombasa, Malindi, or Watamu are other options.

Birdwatching in Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve
Birdwatching in Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve

There is a system of walking and driving trails throughout the forest. Saloon cars can access many parts of the forest, but for optimal access to all tracks, a 4 x 4 wheel drive safari vehicle is advised. This will ensure a smooth ride to the park, particularly during the rainy season when heavy downpours cause the road to become muddy, which is something that a 4 x 4 wheel drive vehicle can handle. While driving makes it easier to see the changes between the various forest kinds, strolling through the forest reveals more information about it.

The Best time to visit Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve

Visitors are welcome all year round at Arabuko Sokoke, with the drier months of December to March and June to September being the best for leisurely exploring. Put on comfy clothes, bring a camera, binoculars, books on animals, and picnic and camping supplies. Every day from 6:00 to 18:00, the park is open.


Although camping is permitted within the reserve, guests can also easily find lodging in Malindi and Watamu, which are close. From Malindi, the Mombasa-Malindi highway leads to the forest, which is about eighteen kilometres away. Mombasa or Malindi can be reached from Nairobi via frequent buses and aircraft.

The area is also rich in uncommon and endemic animals, including three rare near-endemic mammals, amphibians, and six taxa of butterflies that are unique to the coast of East Africa.

There once was another secret in this magnificent woodland. This was the flourishing Swahili town of Gedi in the thirteenth century, sheltered from outside influences and Portuguese incursions for hundreds of years. Eventually, the village was abandoned, and the ruins of Gedi, now tucked away among the forest’s trees and meandering vines, serve as a sombre reminder of the past.

 To learn more about the wildlife of Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve, get in touch with us.

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