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Lake Nakuru National Park Kenya

Lake Nakuru National Park, one of Kenya’s great national parks, is located at the floor of the Rift Valley, an area where an incredibly large number of flora and fauna species in East Africa thrive. The park is a must visit for anyone intent on discovering Kenya’s finest wildlife experiences. This is simply the place to be for vibrant bird life, teeming wildlife populations, beautiful landscapes, walking safaris and so much more!

Location and Geography of Lake Nakuru National Park

Set in the heart of Kenya, about 156km north-west of the capital, Nairobi, Central Kenya’s Lake Nakuru National Park is a gateway into a diverse ecosystem that offers some of the most unforgettable experiences in the country. Its namesake, the magnificent Lake Nakuru, an alkaline soda lake that is world-renowned for the rich concentration of bird life it attracts, is the main feature of this park that measures about 188 square kilometres. The park’s surroundings consist of diverse habitats ranging from the lake waters and surrounding water channels, low grassy plains, amidst pockets of bushland and rocky cliffs.

A Brief History  of Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park was established in 1961 as a Bird Sanctuary to protect the millions of flamingo that call this lake home. In the years since, the park has expanded its borders, and was later declared a national park in 1968, and finally a site of international importance as a wetland habitat under a Ramsar site status in 1990.

Access to Lake Nakuru National Park

Driving to Lake Nakuru National Park on a Kenya safari is an easy trip; the park is just one, two or three hours from Nairobi, depending on how you choose to get there. You can take the road, or you can book a whole safari tour and leave the driving to someone else. Or, if you’re short on time, you can fly to the small town of Nakuru, and then take a car into the park.

When to Visit  Lake Nakuru

The best time to visit Lake Nakuru National Park is all year round as you can spot wildlife throughout, but activities during the dry season and wet season vary. June to October is best for wildlife opportunities as animals can be seen in large numbers congregating closer to the lakeshore and other water sources, while December to May is peak flamingo season, so if you’re a bird enthusiast, plan your trip then. The wet season, from November to May, brings in a lot more greenery to the park creating a lush paradise for migratory birds — a unique and wonderful safari experience.

Witnessing the Iconic Pink Flamingos

Perhaps the most photogenic scene in the Lake Nakuru National Park is that of the hordes of bright pink flamingos which gather on the lake shore. Lake Nakuru’s alkaline waters are a perfect feeding ground for the lesser flamingo, and it’s around these waters that the algae, on which flamingos feed, abound. Drive around the park and you’ll find yourself literally driving through a sea of flamingos that have gathered by the thousands.

Wildlife in Lake Nakuru

Past the pink masses, though, there was much more at stake for the rest of the variety of wildlife that populate the 188-sq-km Lake Nakuru National Park. Here, not far from Mt Kenya and an easy drive from Nairobi, live more than 50 species of mammals, from the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe to black and white rhinos. Within the park’s borders, roam herds of buffalo, zebras and waterbucks, and any predators who dare to steal the herbivores’ meal are the elusive leopards and lions. Acacia forests are sponged throughout the grasslands and expose enigmatic species, like baboons and colobus monkeys, to those who dare to sneak through and have a ganders.

Birdwatching in Lake Nakuru National Park

If you’re a hardcore birder, you’ll be fascinated by the fact that Lake Nakuru National Park, over 450 species of birds, are recorded within its borders. Beside the famous flamingos that are found in abundance, other water birds in the lake breeze through the skies, and these include pelicans, cormorants and herons. The woodlands and grasslands around the lake provide a home to a variety of species of charismatic birds such as the gregarious barbets, sunbirds, and, majestic birds of prey- eagles and owls. The options of what you can expect to see with a Kenya Safari in Lake Nakuru are so many that a birder would be as fascinated as the visitors coming to see the rhinos.

Game Drives and Wildlife Viewing

One of the most popular activities in Lake Nakuru National Park is going on game drives to picnic with the animals, and to see the diverse ecosystems of the park. Game drives follow well-trodden routes where you will drive in a jeep with a ranger who will spot animals for you and tell you about the different animals and their behaviours. You will see giraffes reaching high with their long necks and tongues for a tasty leaf, baboons chasing each other playfully up trees, and packs of rhinos galloping across the earth.

Lake Nakuru Rhinos

Nature Walks and Hiking

Those inclined towards a more personal interaction can explore the park via daybreak nature walks or hikes on some of its established trails (with a four-wheel-drive backup planned for emergencies). Experiencing the park’s outstanding scenery and ecosystems on foot, the nature guides shape an enlightening experience to the hikers’ needs. Hiking routes with moderate slopes meander up and down hills and rise high up the planes of basalt rock into the central plateau. Starting at the lakeshore, they lead into a rugged, tortured topography and into what might be considered the back-of-the-house of Lake Nakuru.

Cultural Tours Around Lake Nakuru National Park

A Kenya safari to Lake Nakuru National Park also includes a visit to the surrounding Maasai community, when travellers have the option to visit local villages that offer insight into the traditional ways of the transhumant pastoralists. While there, visitors can observe traditional dances, hear earnest stories about the community’s traditional artisanship, learn about Maasai cultural life, and see how members maintain a close connection with the land, its wildlife and one another. These Maasai experiences embellish a Lake Nakuru safari by bringing to the forefront the human element of the region’s fascinating culture and history.

Conservation Efforts

Preserving the Park’s Ecological Treasures

Lake Nakuru National Park is on the cutting edge of conservation in Kenya, doing all it can to protect its unique ecosystems and endangered species. The black and while rhinos at the park have made some of the greatest conservation strides, returning from the brink of complete extinction. And ensuring a pristine ecosystem for the millions of flamingos which feed on the algae growing in the lake’s waters isn’t easy. A close watch is kept on the lake’s water table and quality so that the ecosystem can continue uninterrupted. the paycut for the vast benefits the flamingos give tourists outweighs the costs of conservation in every way Kenya safari visitors who come to this park pay a wild animal’s weight or more for park fees. That money contributes to the conservation efforts of the park, as do the burgeoning tourist revenues from a safari in Kenya. Tourists stay in lodges or resorts, or luxury tented camps throughout the park.

Accommodations At Lake Nakuru National Park

There is nowhere better than staying within the park for getting the most out of your wildlife encounters in the wonders of Lake Nakuru National Park and there are places to suit all budgets including luxurious lodges and quaint tented camps, some with magical views of the lake and its surroundings, enabling you to wake to the sounds of nature and the wildlife outside your door. Staying within the park also offers the opportunity for early morning and late afternoon game drives for those exciting wildlife encounters.

Wildlife Photography

A Kenya safari to Lake Nakuru National Park is a photographer’s dream come true. The park’s landscape, birdlife and mammals offer numerous photography opportunities. It’s no wonder that professional and amateur photographers grace Lake Nakuru for creative inspiration. It’s particularly interesting in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. The pinkish flamingo mirage formed by hundreds of thousands of birds on the lake, the rhinos stances and the baboons play are worth going there with a camera.

Scenic Viewpoints

The Lake Nakuru National Park and its surrounds offer some of Kenya’s most picturesque landscapes, while various viewpoints offer dramatic panoramas of the lake’s shores, its surrounding plains and distant mountain ranges. One of the most widely visited is Baboon Cliff, which offers magnificent, sweeping views of the lake and its shores dotted with flamingoes. The Lion Hill viewpoint offers a different angle from which to enjoy the park, while taking in the vast panorama and spotting wildlife from above.

Picnic Sites and Rest Areas

Lake Nakuru National Park has several picnic sites and resting places between game drives where visitors can take a break from the hustle and bustle of game-viewing and wildlife viewing. Some of the picnic sites such as Makalia Falls and the Acacia picnic site in this park are peaceful places for one to relax while enjoying a packed lunch and stretching their legs. The picnic sites are surrounded by nature’s serenity and are, definitely, a good place to rest during a busy day.

Exploring Lake Nakuru with Expert Guidance

The easiest way of embarking on a Kenya safaris at Lake Nakuru National Park is to do an organised tour or safari. Reliable tour operators create good-quality itineraries for exploring not only the highlights at Lake Nakuru, but also other nearby spots such as Hell’s Gate National Park, Lake Naivasha and others. Led by expert guides, guided tours introduce you to the park’s ecology, animals, and conservation efforts. The entire safari experience is handled from the very beginning, offering pick-up at the hotel, vehicle transfer, stay, meals and park fees.

Discovering the Wonders Beyond Lake Nakuru

Though the scenic lake in Lake Nakuru National Park gives the region its name, travellers who stay only at the park miss a lot. The attractions around the park are just as fascinating. The nearest town, Nakuru, is a major gateway to the park. Although it has less to offer than Nairobi and Amboseli, it’s an excellent outpost for further exploration of local life. The town’s lively markets and bustling streets testify to a lively culture, while even more ancient records come from the Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site, just outside of the town. Here, excavations have yielded stone tools and other remnants of some of Africa’s earliest known people.

To those with time to see more of Kenya, the freshwater Lake Naivasha, with its verdant surroundings, supports hippos, crocodiles, water birds and myriad varieties of wildlife, while next door is Hell’s Gate National Park, which lends itself to walking, cycling and rock climbing, and which is studded with towering cliffs, geothermal activity and dramatic gorges.