Lake Nakuru National Park in Central Kenya

Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

Lake Nakuru National Park is located in Central Kenya, 140 km northwest of Nairobi, in Rift Valley Province near the town of Nakuru.

The park is located around Lake Nakuru and covers an area of 188 km².

Lake Nakuru National Park was originally established as a bird sanctuary in 1960 and was designated a national park in 1968. The park’s ecosystem is centered around the lake, surrounded by grasslands and thickets of forest. The park is home to about 56 different species of mammals as well as about 450 species of birds.

The formation of Lake Nakuru

The East African Rift Valley was formed as a result of increased geological activity at the boundary of two tectonic plates: the African and Arabian plates. A rift is essentially a large depression at the point where two tectonic plates tear apart. The East African Rift Valley in Africa is the largest such formation on the planet.

The peculiarities of the topography create special conditions, primarily climatic: the East African Rift Valley is the hottest place in Africa.

Description of Lake Nakuru

The uniqueness of this region accounts for the uniqueness of the local flora and fauna. Nakuru is a very salty lake, but the salt in it is different than in the ocean. The lake is saturated with bicarbonates and carbonates. According to geologists, there was once a large freshwater lake here, but then the climate changed and became drier, and the large lake split into three smaller ones, Naivasha, Elmenteita, and Nakuru.

Then Lake Nakuru was fed with soda from volcanic springs and gradually took on its modern appearance. The lake is fed by two rivers: the Nyiro and the Nderit. The amount of water in the lake depends on the rainfall that falls in the region. There are no rivers flowing out of the Nakuru. The lake changes very much in size throughout the year.

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The flora and fauna of Lake Nakuru

Cyanophyte Spirulina platensis blue-green algae, which feeds on a huge number of flamingos, form the basis of the park’s food chain. In the peak season the lake gathers more than 1.5 million flamingos and half a million pelicans.

Due to this park has become world famous. The number of flamingos on the lake throughout the year varies depending on the water in the lake and the food.

Also quite interesting area around the lake, which is home to many animals, including rare white rhinos.

The park has recently been expanded to conserve the black rhino population, which in turn required fencing to protect the animals from poachers.

To the southeast, the park borders the Soysambu Conservation Area, which appears to be a possible future habitat expansion for rhinos and the only remaining wildlife corridor to Lake Naivasha.

In 2009, the park had more than 25 black rhino (one of the largest populations in the country) and about 70 white rhinos. The park is also home to the Ugandan giraffe, relocated for safety from western Kenya in 1977.

The water ibex is very common in the park. Predators include the lion and the leopard, the latter of which has been seen much more frequently as of late. The park is also home to large pythons, which live in dense forests and can be seen crossing the road or hanging from trees.

In addition to flamingos, the park has many other bird species that live near the lake and in the thickets of trees: the screech-eagle, the great egret, the hammerhead, the kingfisher and the kaffir eagle.

Among the geographical attractions of the park stands out the dormant Menengai Volcano, 2.3 km above sea level.

In translation from the language of the locals, Nakuru means “dusty place”. The lake is constantly on the verge of complete drying up. In the 1990s it dried up, but then filled with water again.

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Lake and the Nakuru National Park is one of the most beautiful and fascinating places in Africa and that is saying a lot. Lake Nakuru National Park welcomes thousands of tourists every year.

Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru is one of the most interesting attractions in Kenya. Flamingos live here in large numbers, there are rhinos and other animals. This national park is small but very popular with tourists.

Lake Nakuru is one of the most interesting sights in Kenya, included along with Amboseli in the Premium Parks of this country. Due to its natural riches, the area around the lake became a nature reserve back in 1960. Though Lake Nakuru National Park is small compared to other protected areas in Kenya (188 sq. km) it is very interesting with its fauna and especially with the flamingos.

Lake Nakuru, Kenya

The nature of Lake Nakuru

Nakuru (Swahili for “dusty place”) is not one but several lakes combined into a system. In total they occupy about 40 km². They are located in the East African Rift Valley, the largest rift in East Africa.

Safari in Lake Nakuru, Kenya

Lake Nakuru is thought to be a salt lake, but in fact the salinity of the waters in different parts of this system varies (in the 1990s the salinity of Nakuru dropped dramatically, but has now recovered). Moreover, although it is said that Lake Nakuru is located at 1,759 meters above sea level, in reality parts of Lake Nakuru Park, representing different lakes, occupy different altitudes, creating a special landscape.

Lake Nakuru is located in the center of Kenya.

Geographic attractions of the park

In addition to observing the birds and animals in Lake Nakuru National Park it is worth climbing Menengai, a dormant volcano 2.3 kilometers above sea level. The views from here are unbelievably beautiful.

Menengai Crater, Kenya

Another interesting non-fauna attraction of this place is Thomson Falls. It is quite a dangerous path up an almost steep path. But it’s possible to get there if you choose to stay at Thomson Falls Lodge.

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Thomson Falls, Nakuru, Kenya

The wildlife of Lake Nakuru

Though Lake Nakuru National Park is not as big as for example Tsavo or even Masai Mara, the fauna here is very rich and diverse and has its own features. The number 1 attraction of the park is the flamingo.


Lake Nakuru – home to flamingos . The matter is that here there are several special algae, mostly blue-green algae Cyanophyte Spirulina platensis. Flamingos feed on them and are therefore very fond of Nakuru. Depending on the season, the concentration of birds here is different, but at its peak can be a million and a half to two million flamingos and half a million pelicans! Tours to Kenya are an opportunity, among other things, to see the surface of the lake completely hidden by the pink birds.

Flamingos in Lake Nakuru, Kenya

Nakuru Rhinos

Rhinoceroses are the second “living pearl” of Nakuru after flamingos. For their sake the protected area of the national park was enlarged some time ago. It is home to one of the largest populations of black rhino in Kenya and an impressive number of white rhinos.

Rhinos at Lake Nakuru, Kenya

Other fauna of the lake

The Ugandan giraffe was relocated near Nakuru in the late 1970s, saving the species from extinction. Now the Ugandan giraffe (another name is the Rothschild giraffe ) can be found quite often in the park.

Ugandan giraffes at Lake Nakuru, Kenya

In the wooded area, away from the shores of the lake itself, live pythons – travelers traveling to Kenya can see them here in the trees or crawling across the trail. A lot in the reserve and water goats – their fat is poisonous and they are not afraid of predators, which also inhabit here (these are lions and leopards, leopards in recent years is becoming more and more).

Water ibex at Lake Nakuru, Kenya

In the vicinity of Lake Nakuru you can meet the warthog – remember Pumba from The Lion King? The baboons also live here. On the shores of Lake Nakuru can be found quite a large number of buffalo .

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Buffalo at Lake Nakuru, Kenya

As for birds, in addition to flamingos, it is worth to note quite rare bird-secretary, which took a fancy to these places, and also a great egret, yellow-billed stork, Kaffir eagle, sea eagle, African fish eagle. In general, both on the shores and away from them in the territory of the reserve are a lot of birds and originally “Lake Nakuru” was exactly the ornithological park. Look how beautiful the crowned crane is .

Crowned crane at Lake Nakuru, Kenya

Accommodation near Lake Nakuru

There are good lodges and campsites near the park. These are, for example:

  • Milele Resort Nakuru.
  • Eagle Palace Hotel
  • Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge
  • Nakuru Merica Hotel
  • Nakuru Kenyatta Avenue
  • Nakuru Ogingo Ogingo.
  • Lake Nakuru Lodge

Among the lodges near the lake is the comfortable Lake Nakuru Lodge. From here, you can observe the fauna of the reserve right from the pool or a lounge chair.

Lake Nakuru Lodge. Lake Nakuru, Kenya.

There are good camps in the park itself, budget and more expensive, where tourists will be provided with quality food, comfortable beds, electricity, water and Internet.

Under no circumstances should not go beyond the fenced area without trained escorts. There is a real wilderness around!

Lake Nakuru Lodge, view from the lodge. Lake Nakuru, Kenya

How to get to the lake?

The Kenyan capital of Nairobi is 156 km away on the A104 from Nakuru, the starting point for your trek through the national park. From the city to the entrance of the reserve is 4 km on the Flamingo road.

The best way to get there is by car. But if you want to travel to Kenya at your own risk and have a limited budget you can take a bus (they are called here “matatu”) from Nairobi to Nakuru.

The other option is by plane. The park has a landing strip called “Naishi” which is designated for tourist planes.

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