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Introduction - Road - Park & Map - Places/Things to see - Pictures - Lake fact - Wildlife - Camping - Lodges

Rarely visited by tourists because it is located in a remote area at the Kenyan south border with Tanzania, Magadi area is known for being one of the hottest and driest place of Kenya and for its pinkish mirror-like soda lake.

A visit to Magadi lake is a nice one-day safari from Nairobi and it is worth a visit for its general landscape, for the wonderful colours of its soda water and for its birdlife.

The town of Magadi as well as the soda lake are owned and exploited by a multinational company who export the valuable sodium carbonate.

At only two hours drive from Nairobi and located in the heart of Maasai land in southern Rift Valley, Magadi is a perfect one-day excursion to see how a semi-solid soda lake looks like.
How to get there :
To go to Magadi, leave Nairobi City center through Langata Road. After the Nairobi National Park (2 km), turn left on the Magadi Road (C58). Along this road, you will pass through the populated Ongata Longai and Kiserian towns, then pass over the Ngong Hills (2,460m - 8,070 ft.) to plunge into the arid plains of the Rift Valley (600 m - 1,970 ft.).
Distance Nairobi-Magadi : 110 km

The landscape along the road is awesome as the road pass over the Ngong Hills to suddenly plunge into the deepest heart of the Rift Valley. After passing the last hills hidden behind the Ngong Hills (Ol Exayeti and Ol Esakut Hills), you will cross large grassplains similar to the one of Mara.

Lake Magadi, as most lakes of the Rift Valley, is an alkaline lake surrounded by volcanic hills and/or escarpment, here the Shompole volcano (1,564 m-5,131 ft.), the Mount Olorgesailie (1,760 m-5,774 ft.) and the Nguruman escarpment (2,330 m-7,644 ft.). The high evaporation of salted volcanic water due to high temperature is changing the lake into billions of tons of semi-solid white soda blocks left on the surface.

This crystalline lake rich in food and soaked by fresh water is a perfect environment for birds (specially flamingoes).

In addition to the lake, you may see the hot springs. On the way to Magadi, you can visit the Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site. Finally, for explorers or two-days safari, there is possibility to continue towards the Lake Natron or the Nguruman escarpment and doing excellent walk.
 MAGADI LAKE      Flash (full size) --- GIF (full Size)
Flash Tip - Click left in the map to zoom or to print


 NGONG HILLS :  When visiting Nairobi, you can not miss the Ngong Hills rising over the Nairobian suburbs highlands (Karen & Langata estates). Ngong hills, of the shape of "the God's hand grabbing the arid soil of the Rift Valley" have four knuckles. The main summit is Lamwia (2,460m - 8,070 ft.). The hills can be easily climb but a K.W.S. guide is recommended as there are risks of smuggling. You need to count Kshs 500 for a guide (at K.W.S. Headquarters). Same remark for cars which should not be left without a guard. The hills provide good walking over rolling evergreen slopes and nice view points on the Rift Valley and the Nairobi plains. - Read also the East Africa Mountains website for a walking guide at Ngong hills.

 OLORGESAILIE PREHISTORIC SITE :  This prehistoric site, covering an area of 52 acres and discovered by Louis and Mary Leakey in 1942, has been donated to the Kenyan Government by the Maasai community. This site comprised six different excavated areas where you can see hand-axes, cleavers, various other tools and animal bones. Most of these finds have been left in place and protected by shaded roof. The site has also an exposition center at the entrance which develops further the importance of the discovery. From sediments dating, the site was probably abandoned more than 200'000 years ago. There is possiblity to camp in the site or spend a night in the four bandas (without bed linnen) available. Reservation can done through the Nairobi National Museum - See camping/bandas section for contact and read the historical background of the prehistorical site at National Museum website.

See all pictures
About soda lakes ? - The explanation of the existence of this shallow soda lake comes from geology. Most volcanoes of the Rift Valley have covered the area with alkaline ashes that contain sodium carbonate. The sodium is carried to the lakes by rainwater. If the lakes have no natural drainage, the sodium stays in the lake water. Therefore, all alkaline lakes are near a volcano : Lake Natron (Tanzania) and Lake Magadi (Kenya) are near Shombole, Olorgesailie (Kenya), lake Elmenteita near Eburu crater, lake Nakuru near Menengai crater, lake Bogoria near Laikipia volcanic escarpment. The tons of algae in soda water and the millions of flamingoes are the final result of thousands of years of volcanic activity.

The town and where to go ? - The Magadi Soda Company is the owner of the lake and the town. A fee is asked at the gate to enter the town and access the soda-lake. The town is very clean and well maintained. The township includes schools, hospitals and even sport clubs (public swimming pool). From town, you can either go eastwards to the Nguruman escarpment (2,330 m-7,644 ft.) and its dense forested area or southwards to the Lake Natron, the Shompole volcano (1,564 m-5,131 ft.) and the Ewaso Ngiro delta.

The eastern road is interesting for bird life as you cross some lake branches soaked by fresh water rivers coming down the forests, allowing birds to drinks and clean themselves. The forest are located on the western flank of the Nguruman escarpment, just after crossing the Ewaso Ngiro river, where the landscape is hilly and evergreen -
Read also the East Africa Mountains website for a walking guide at Nguruman escarpment.

The southern track is one of the best place to spot flamingoes as you drive on the lake shore along the southern part of the lake. Two hot springs water, where tilapia fishes specially adapted to hot and alkaline water are living, can be visited. Further south is the Shombole volcano and Tanzania, where there is a beautiful over the lake Natron and the delta of the Ewaso river.

 WILDLIFE IN THE AREA :  Magadi is one of the best location for watching birds. You can at some point approach flamingoes more closely than in Nakuru lake. Other birds seen in the area are heron, pelican, spoonbill, etc. The best place for bird watching is along the road crossing the two upper branches of the lake where fresh water running down from the forest brings diversity in life. In addition to the birdlife, mammals are abundant as Magadi is between Maasai Mara N.R. and Amboseli N.P. But, large mammals are very discreet during the day. Common mammals are giraffes, warthogs, some gazelles and antelopes and zebras/gnus in July-August. Note the presence of the rare Chandler's mountain reedbuck, rarely seen in Kenyan National Park and of the black rhinoceros - See full list of wildlife seen in the park - Print a checklist for your next safari !!

.  PICTURES GALLERY - DIAPORAMA.        See the picture's list for Magadi       SEARCH: in
Landscape (9 pic.)
Ngong Hills (0) - Rift Valley (0) - Magadi Lake/Town (9)
Other pictures (0 pic.)
Olorgaisalie site (0) - Flamingo (0) - Maasai (0)

 Altitude : 630 m (2,067 ft.)
 Lake area : approx. 200 km2
 Localisation : South of Kenya at the Kenyan/Tanzanian border
 Distance : 110 km from Nairobi
 Attractions :
   o Typical soda-lake in a hot environment.
   o Public swimming pool in Magadi town.
   o Flamingos.
   o Southern track : Hot springs around the lake and roadway going to Lake Natron.
   o Eastern track : Abundant bird lige and roadway going to Nguruman escarpment (crossing the lake).
   o Olorgaisalie Prehistoric Site on the way to Magadi
   o Majestic landscapes when passing over the Ngong Hills

 WILDLIFE/VEGETATION  --> Just click on the name to see snapshots and a fact sheet of the animal...
!! Print a checklist for your next safari !!
Note mammals seen in Magadi area includes animals seen in the plains going from the Nguruman escarpment and Lake Natron to Ngong Hills.
Antelopes and gazelles (per alphabetic order) :
Bushbuck - Dik-dik (Kirk's) - Duiker (Common) - Gazelle (Grantís) - Gazelle (Thomson's) - Gerenuk - Gnu (White-bearded) - Hartebeest (Coke's) - Impala - Klipspringer - Oryx (Fringe-eared) - Reedbuck (Chanlerís mountain) - Steinbok -
Other ungulates and mammals :
Giraffe (Maasai) - Hyrax (Bruceís) - Hyrax (Eastern Tree) - Hyrax (Rock) - Hyrax (Southern Tree) - Rhinoceros (Black) - Warthog (Common) - Zebra (Common) -
Carnivores :
Aardwolf - Caracal - Cat (African Wild) - Cheetah - Civet (African) - Fox (Bat-eared) - Genet (Small-spotted) - Hyena (Spotted) - Hyena (Striped) - Leopard - Lion - Mongoose (Banded) - Mongoose (Dwarf) - Mongoose (Grey) - Mongoose (Marsh) - Mongoose (Slender) - Mongoose (White-tailed) - Ratel - Serval - Zorilla -
Primates :
Baboon (Savannah) -
Others (rabbits, hares, insectivores) :
Hare (Cape) - Hare (Spring) -
Vegetation :
No description.

There are no public campsite in the region except at the Olorgesailie Prehistoric site where there is possibility to camp. Note also that some bandas are available (sadly, two bandas burnt recently). Bring WATER !
Reservation through the National Museum of Kenya - Email:nmk@africaonline.co.ke.

 LODGES, TENTED CAMPS & HOTELS (in/around the park) Report broken link - Keep me up-to-date
Shompole Camp :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Art of Ventures, P.O. Box 10665, Nairobi. Tel: +254 (0)20 884135 or 883280.
"A unique and artistically appointed camp bordering soda Lakes Natron and Magadi and the edge of the Nguruman Escarpment, and using natural materials, smooth white walls and water to create a fresh and unusual approach to the bush experience."

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for Web Kenya Development
South Kenya : Amboseli - Maasai Mara - Nairobi - Nairobi Safari Tour
Shimba Hills - Tsavo West - Tsavo East - Magadi lake
Rift Valley : Hell's gate - Naivasha lake - Nakuru
Towns : Nairobi - Mombasa - Kisumu - Malindi - Eldoret
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