Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru is a remarkable national park in Kenya situated in the central region of Kenya and in a distance of 140 kilometers, northwest of Nairobi the capital city of Kenya. Lake Nakuru National Park is located in the Great Rift Valley and sits at an elevation of 1,745 m; it’s famous for the vast numbers of flamingos that feed off its algae and are easily sighted at the shores of Lake Nakuru. It can easily be visited in a day tour from the capital or more likely as part of a circuit taking in the Maasai Mara or Lake Baringo.

 

Lake Nakuru National Park stretches over 188 square kilometres or 73 square miles and is ideal not only for bird watching, but more so for game drives, as well as hiking and picnics. Lake Nakuru National Park started as a very small-protected area, only including the famous lake and a part of the surrounding mountainous neighbourhood, but now also include a large part of the savannahs.

The park has recently been enlarged partly in an effort to provide a sanctuary for the rhino, including the critically endangered black rhino. An area of 188 km (116 miles) around the lake is fenced off as a sanctuary for the protection of giraffes as well as both black and white rhino.

The park is home to a number of Rothschild’s giraffe, which were relocated from western Kenya since 1977 for their own safety. Both the Kenyan subspecies of waterbuck are commonly found in the area too, as are warthogs, baboons and other large mammals.

The park also houses a number of predators like lion, cheetah and leopard, the latter seemingly increasing in numbers over recent times too.  In the dense woodlands of the park some large sized pythons can be found and are often seen while they are crossing the roads or are dangling from trees

A visitor is more or less guaranteed to see white rhinos, African buffalos, Rothschild giraffes, zebras, impalas, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, waterbucks, and a variety of water birds like yellow-billed pelicans, marabou storks, Hammerkops, fish eagles among others. Hyenas, jackals, hippopotamus and pythons are common in the park and if you are lucky, you will also see lions, leopards, wild dogs, Colobus monkeys and cheetahs.

The lake is world-famous as the location of one of the greatest bird spectacles on earth millions of fuchsia pink flamingos that feed on the abundant algae, which thrives in the warm waters on the shores of Lake Nakuru. There are two types of flamingo species: the lesser flamingo and the greater flamingo. The lesser flamingo is distinguished by its deep carmine red bill and pink plumage while the greater flamingo’s bill has a black tip. The lesser flamingos are larger in numbers.

There are more than 400 resident species on the lake and in the surrounding park. Thousands of little grebes and white winged black terns are frequently spotted as well as stilts, avocets, ducks, and in the European winter some of the migrant waders.

In addition to its hundreds of species of birds, Lake Nakuru National Park is home to more than 50 mammal species, as well as over 500 species of flora. Lake Nakuru National Park is further home to a wide variety of beautiful landscapes ranging from grasslands to dense forests, with euphorbia forests and the very rare Tarchonanthus bushlands.

What to do in Lake Nakuru National Park

Game Drives/Viewing

Game viewing is one of the adventurous safari activity offered in Lake Nakuru National Park, the park is a thriving home for a range of wildlife species and has a wide variety of beautiful landscapes ranging from grasslands to dense forests, with euphorbia forests and the very rare Tarchonanthus bushlands. The park offers morning, evening and full day game drives. Morning game drives enables visitors to spot nocturnal mammals and hunters that are always active at night such as Leopards, cats , lions, hyenas, cheetahs while during the afternoon, a huge number of mammals is spotted along the shores of the waterbodies in search of water such as Rhinos both black and white, Hippos, Zebras, gazelles, impalas.  Other wildlife seen in the park include primates such as Baboons, Colobus monkeys. The best  spots for Game viewing in Lake Nakuru national park while on a game drive safari include; along the shores of Lake Nakuru, near Makalia water falls , baboon cliff where baboons are encountered parading though the cliff is not only good for viewing baboons but offers a wide range of views across the park.

 

Bird Watching

The park is famous for its bird spectacle featuring over a million flamingos, over 400 migratory bird species from around the world and large flotillas of pelicans. Two species of flamingoes exist in the Lake Nakuru game park- the lesser flamingo with deep red carmine bill and the greater flamingo with black tip. The flamingos feed on blue green algae, created from their droppings mixing in the warm alkaline waters, and planktons. Apart from Flamingos, birders are in position to watch other species of birds with in the park such as pelicans, king fishers, storks, herons, Eagles and weavers among others.

 

Nature Walks

Explore the different parts of the park especially the forested areas in Lake Nakuru national park, a guided nature walk is the way to go while viewing different plant species as well as wildlife species including Baboons, monkeys, warthogs, pythons and birds among others. Nature walks in Nakuru national park often take place around the shores of Lake Nakuru where a large population of flamingos are seen.

 

Visiting the Makalia Falls

Makalia falls in Lake Nakuru national park create a magnificent view as water flows to the group from the hill, which is loved by many tourists.

 

Out of Africa Lookout

A visit to Nakuru national park is complete until you visit the out of Africa lookout hilltop where the film entitled “Out of Africa” was shot from. This hill offers stunning view of the entire lake Nakuru national park. With the best stunning viewing points, Lake Nakuru national park is indeed the best destination for picnics, camping and photo taking apart from wildlife viewing and birding.

WhEN TO VISIT Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru offers very good wildlife viewing throughout the year, but the rains of the wettest months, which are April and May, might interfere slightly with game drives.

The best time for flamingo-watching tour is during the dry-hot season in January and February, because majority of the birds feed and rest at the lake that offers the highest quantity of algae, the sightings are never guaranteed.

Still, even with fewer flamingos, Nakuru Park still offers many other types of wildlife that will ensure an exhilarating wilderness visit.

During the long dry season, there are limited fresh water sources available for animals to congregate, which make sightings easier. In the dry season, there are also fewer mosquitoes, so you can enjoy a more comfortable trip to Kenya.

 

The Nakuru region receives a bit more rain than other areas in the country during the cool but dry season from July to October. As temperatures start falling in Europe during October, migratory birds begin their long journey south and start to arrive and remain in this area until April.

The short rains normally start in November and last until December, but the amount of rain is much less, than the long rains and has minimal impact on any wildlife safari because the moisture evaporates very quickly in equatorial Kenya.

In January and February, the weather is dry, humid and hot with scattered rains, bringing increased numbers of visitors from the cold winters in Europe and the United States to the park.

The long rainy season start in late March and last through June, with April and May being the months of the most rain. Pools of water form as water sources for the animals (they cannot drink from the soda lake of Nakuru due to the high alkaline levels) and green grasses sprouts.  Although animals are more dispersed throughout the park during this time of year, some of them are giving birth, so you may see very young foals and calves galore.

Lake Nakuru National Park enjoys moderate temperatures throughout the year, but often with cool evenings.

April and May are considered as low tourist season, with Nakuru room rates reduced but other costs associated with logistics, park fees, meals, activities, guides, hotel taxes and other aspects of your visit stay the same.

HOW TO GET To Lake Nakuru National Park

Travelling by road. The park is situated north west of Nairobi and reachable from the city via a tarred road connection – a distance of 156 km on the main A104 road. The route most commonly used into the park is via the main gate, which is about 4 km from the Nakuru town centre.

The park can also be accessed through Lanet Gate from the main road between Nairobi and Nakuru. People accessing the park from Maasai Mara or Elementaita will use the Nderit Gate.

If you decide to travel from Nairobi on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, you will have a great view of the Rift Valley. From Nairobi, it is about 30-minute drive to a scenic lookout point at 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) above sea level from where you can get a spectacular view of the volcanoes Suswa and Longonot.

 

Travelling by Air. Many visitor choose to fly in from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. It takes about 25 minutes to reach Naishi airstrip that is located inside the park.