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

Lake Nakuru National Park has been gazetted in 1963 to protect its shallow soda lake, a natural water catchment on the flank of a large volcanic calderas in the heart of the Kenyan Rift Valley.

Second most visited park of Kenya, this small park is a favourite destination for ornithologists. Some years ago, the arrival of thousands of flamingoes landing onto the lake has been dubbed "the greatest bird spectacle on Earth".

Close to Nakuru, fourth largest town of Kenya, the park is surrounded by fascinating volcanic sceneries : North by the Menengai crater, North-East by the Bahati hills, East by the Lion hill, South by the Eburu crater and West by the Mau escarpment.

In central Rift Valley, the park is relatively close to other parks (Aberdare, Hell's gate), reserves (Lake Bogoria, lake Baringo) and geological sites and is a perfect one-day stopover destination.
Nakuru road map
How to get there :
From Nairobi, take the Naivasha uplands road (A104) direction Naivasha. The road up to Naivasha is in very good state.
Pass Naivasha town on your left to continue towards Nakuru town.
Driving tip : Do not drive to close to the lake as the shore, a wet greyish ash powder, is very soft.
Distance Nairobi-Nakuru : 160 km - Distance Naivasha-Nakuru : 70 km

Formed 12 millions years ago, after the huge depression of the Great Rift Valley, lake Nakuru, as most alkaline lake, is guarded by a dormant volcano which catch and filter rain water. Dependant to annual rainfall, the lake keeps decreasing since 1997 and it is only 3.5 m (11.5 ft.) deep during wet seasons. The ecosystem is threatened by annual drought (nakuru means "dusty place" in Maa).

This strongly alkaline lake (62 sq. km) is a paradise for ornithologists as the lake is home to flamingoesN, water birds (pelicansN) and a variety of terrestrial birds living in the forested areas

Thanks to K.W.S. effort to enlarge and fence the park and to reintroduce rare mammals (rhinosN), Rotschild giraffeN) the park is an unique rewarding destination for game viewing and wildlifeN.

There is one main road going around the shore of the lake which is bounded on the eastern and western sides by rocky hillsides covered by prehistorical forests and woodlands. The Lookout point on the Baboon cliff offer magnificent views across the lake. The southern side are grasslands and dry bushes and you may visit the Makalia falls.

Near Nakuru town, you can also visit the Hyrax Valley and the Menengai crater, the largest volcanic calderas of Kenya.
 LAKE NAKURU NAT. PARK      Flash (full size) --- GIF (full Size)
Flash Tip - Click left in the map to zoom or to print


flamingo nakuru
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 FLAMINGOS AND BIRDLIFE :  Primarily created as a bird sanctuary after the arrival of more tha 1.5 million of flamingos on the lake in 1960 - event which has been dubbed by Roger Tory Peterson "the greatest bird spectacle on Earth" - the park is still famous for its abundant birdlife. Dependent to rainfall, the level of the lake and therefore the amount of food supplies fluctuate greatly, and flamingos are not always to be found in large number (10,000 to 1 million depending on the year).

But both species (the lesser and the greater flamingo) occur abundantly as non-breeding visitors. The greater flamingo, characterised by a red bill with black tip and a deep pink plumage, is less commonly seen than the lesser flamingo, which is slightly smaller and has a pink bill and a white plumage. The greater feeds on shrimps and small fishes; the lesser feeds on blue-green algae which grows only in alkaline water and their daily need is only 150 grammes per bird per day, that is for the whole colony of flamingos present in Kenya (2 millions birds) a total of 300 metric tons per day ! This explains why flamingos often move from one lake to another. Other soda lakes populated by flamingos are the Manyara, Eyasi, Natron (Tanzania), Magadi, Crater Lake, Elmenteita and Bogoria lakes

Currently, more than 450 species of birds has been recorded in the park. White pelicans can observed in large number. Interesting bird species are the Cape Wigeon duck, the tiff-tailed Maccoa duck, numerous plovers, migrant birds visiting the lake, birds of prey (and the rare majestic black Verreaux's eagle) living on the cliffs and many forest species living in the acacia and euphorbia woodlands.

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 PELICAN CORNER :  White pelicans can be seen at the southern end of the lake where they feed on Tilapia grahami, an alkaline-tolerant fish reintroduced into the lake to fight against mosquitoes and increase the population of pelicans. The pelican's cooperative fishing technique - a small group get in a horseshoe formation on the water to surround and force fish into shallow water, flapping wings and plunging bills to catch the fish along the way - demands shallow and warm water. Pelicans can also be observed at the north-eastern shore of the lake where they usually come to wash.

waterbuck nakuru
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 WILDLIFE IN THE PARK :  The number of animals to be encountered is not inconsiderable as the park is small and game density and variety are high. Indigenous mammals seen in the park include the hippopotamus (in the north-eastern corner), spotted hyena, lion (restocked), leopard, rock hyrax, bat-eared fox, wildcat, golden cat, Bohor reedbuck, Defassa waterbuck (in high grasses bordering the shore) and Colobus monkey. Reintroduced species are the endangered Rotschild's giraffe (17 giraffes from Soy area in 1977 and 26 more in 1979), black and white rhinoceros (19 black rhinos - 11 males and 8 females - from Solio game reserve in 1987 - the park was completely fenced and Nakuru is the first national rhino sanctuary). Essentially browser, the black rhinoceros has a concave back and a triangular prehensile lip specially designed to eat on trees and shoots. The white rhinoceros has a wide flat snout suitable for grazing.
Note also the presence of a very rare bat, the long-eared leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros megaletis), a tiny orange-buff species with ears half the length of the body -
See full list of wildlife seen in the park - Print a checklist for your next safari !!

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.

And Nakuru lake... - Despite the effort of the K.W.S., local people and international organisations (WWF) to protect this unique Ramsar zone, the level of the lake is continuously decreasing and the area is more and more suffering of climate changes and desertification (like during the 2000 drought), heavy traffic, siltation caused by soil erosion and pollution. Regarding the climate changes, some believe that occasional drying up of the lake is part of a natural cycle and last good rain seasons (1997 with El Nino and Oct-Nov 2002-2003) has helped a lot by diluting toxins and decreasing pollution. Heavy traffic is another threat, located at only 4 km from Nakuru, fourth largest town of Kenya, the park is the second most visited park of Kenya after Nairobi National park and it has received in 2003 more than 150,000 visitors (that is 411 visitors per day !).

But pollution is still the most important threat as since 1975 Nakuru has industrialised heavily arsenic, cadmium, copper, mercury, lead, chromium, DDT, DDD and some other toxic substances; and nowadays, Nakuru is still undergoing a rapid growth and industrialisation. From 1993 to 1997, a large number of birds died at Lake Nakuru and high concentration of toxins (up to 9 different metals in excess amounts) were found in their body. In 1998, about 137 tons of chemical wastes were dumped into Nakuru town and that is despite the good effect on pollution by El Nino heavy rains.

The WWF is starting up a new system (Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry - PRTR) aimed to control pollution by tracking the types and amount of various pollutants being released by individual industries. The program is know starting to take fruit with the creation of the Nakuru Field Study Centre to monitor pollution, the participation of voluntary industries and local people/organisation and awareness campaigns to protect the lake basin.

Sources :
"WWF-UK - News" at WWF UK website
"Toxic Pollution of East African Rift Valley Lakes in Kenya ..." at Earth Crash Earth Spirit website
Sources :
Do also a search at Google Web for Nakuru pollution

 BABOON CLIFF :  The Baboon cliff and its lookout point offer finest view across the lake and over the shimmering fringe of pink around the lake's white shores. There is a nature trail of 100 meters long which winds its way along the cliff. Picnic tables and lavatories are available. You may spot rock hyrax at the top of the cliff near the picnic site and baboons in small trees hanging over the cliff and awaiting for food. The Baboon cliff is covered by euphorbia, acacia and olive trees.

 OUT OF AFRICA HILLS & LION HILL :  In the southern part of the the park, the Out of Africa hills have spectacular views along the edge of the towering black Baboon cliff and it is the greatest sundowner spot of the park, specially for people staying at the nearby Naishi house. Note that the hills offer no facilities.
The Lion Hill is located at the eastern part of the park and the hill is fully covered by strange cactus-like trees, the Euphorbia candelabrum (known also as candle tree), forming the biggest euphorbia forest in Africa and a unique preshistoric forest.
 MAKALIA FALLS :  At the southern end, the Makalia falls mark the southern border of the park. The torrents of the Makalia river plunge in a small pool forming the Makalia falls. The place is famous for being virtually empty of visitors and its camping site sits in a green clearing close to water and impalas are grazing nearby your tents.
 ACACIA PICNIC SITE :  Acacia picnic site sits at only 5 minutes from the main gate and it is a perfect place to have a lunchtime break when arriving at the park. Picnic tables and lavatories are available. Other picnic facilities close to the Acacia picnic site are at the Baboon cliff lookout.
 HIPPO POOLS :  In the north-eastern corner of the lake, the Njoro river and other springs have created a series of hippo pools and a small herd of hippopotamus lives along the pools.

 HYRAX HILL PREHISTORICAL SITE :  At only 4 km from Nakuru town center, the prehistorical site in located in the Hyrax hill which is about 4.5 km with its base about 100m above the present Lake level and is open daily from 9:30 am to 6 pm. In 1926, while excavating a nearby site, the palaeontologist Louis Leakey noted evidence of prehistoric habitation of Hyrax Hill. Eleven years later, his wife, Mary Leakey, noted several more habitation sites, including a stone walled fort and a group of pits. Excavations began in 1937 and the results of these excavations yielded three major areas of prehistoric settlement: the oldest dating to 3,000 years and the youngest to possibly 200 to 300 years. The site was proposed and confirmed as a national monument in 1943 and established museum in 1965 - Read also the historical background of the prehistorical site at National Museum website
.Sources :
"the Hyrax Hill Museum" by the National Museum of Kenya website, www.museums.or.ke

 Menengai Crater, one of the largest calderas of the world and the largest of Kenya, is a extinct volcano of the Central Rift Valley (it has been volcanically active until relatively recently as fresh lava flow could be observed in 1991). The crater, covering an area of 90 sq. km, is 12 km in diameter and 485 m deep and its lavas are trachytes and obsidian. At the summit of the crater (2,278 m - 7,474 ft.), which is easily accessible by car, there is a signpost dressed by Rotary Club of Nakuru showing the directions and distances to several towns in the world. As expected, from the rim of the crater, the view extending a panorama of the northern Rift Valley and a dozen hills (the Mau and Aberdares ranges, the Tugen hills, the Elgeyo-Marakwet escarpment, the Matthews range, and the Cherenganis), is majectic and offers the finest hill scenery in Kenya.

There are many versions about the origins and meaning of the name Menengai. Some say it means the "place of the dead corpses" as during the 19th century Maasai unity disintegrated into a succession of wars between various rival clans largely over cattle and grazing grounds. One of the battles took place just outside the crater and Ilaikipiak morans (warriors) were thrown in the calderas. The second meaning, "where the devils live" (or simply "the devils"), is coming from a story relating to mysterious people who once lived inside the crater :
"... the sound of the crater sometimes gives the impression of cow bells. So the early Maasai decided that people were living inside the crater. ... Yet as no other animal can kindle fire, the Maasai thought that the crater's inhabitants must be devils..."

Sources :
Origin of Menengai from "Traditional Music and Cultures of Kenya" - Copyright Jens Finke, www.bluegecko.org/kenya/

 Lake Elmenteita (1,776 m - 5,826 ft.) is a small soda lake located at mid-distance between Naivasha and Nairobi. Along Nakuru road, there is wonderful viewpoints over the lake. Close to the road and rarely visited by tourist, Lake Elmenteita is good alternative to watch flamingos and it is one of the rare places where they can build their nests and raise their chicks without being disturbed by tourists and pollution. Before the 80s, wild animals such as hippopotamus, rhinoceros, ostriches and hyenas could be seen around the lake. The lake is bordered southwards by two small volcanoes (the horseshoe crater and the split crater) and one major volcano (the Eburu volcano 2,668 m - 8,756 ft.)

 At only 2 km to the eastern side of Lake Elmenteita, the site is a typical Acheulian site characterised, like Olorgesailie (Magadi), by the presence of heavy hand axes and cleavers. A walk through the site takes visitors through several excavation pits, undertaken by Louis Leakey in 1928, each displaying a scattered assortment of stone tools, many made from obsidian: the black volcanic rock found in lava flows. Apart from the open excavation sites, there is a small site museum with displays of excavated fossils and stone tools. Near the site is a diatomite mine where many tunnels have been excavated to extract the diatomite, a fine powder rock composed of almost pure silica - Read also the historical background of the prehistorical site at National Museum website
.Sources :
"the Kariandusi Museum" by the National Museum of Kenya website, www.museums.or.ke

 Hell's Gate National Park & Mount Longonot National Park - Lake Bogoria National Reserve - Lake Naivasha - Aberdare National Park - Lake Baringo - Kamnarok N.P.

.  PICTURES GALLERY - DIAPORAMA.        See the picture's list for Nakuru       SEARCH: in
Mammals (8 pic.)
Rhinoceros (6) - Giraffe (2)
Landscape (4 pic.)
Baboon cliff (0) - Out of Africa cliff (1)
Lake Nakuru (3) - Menengai crater (0)
Birds (6 pic.)
Flamingo (3) - Pelican (3)
nakuru rhinoceros safari nakuru flamingo safari nakuru pelican safari

 Altitude : 1,758 m - 5,768 ft.
 Area : Park: 188 sq. km - Lake: 62 sq. km
 Localisation : 160 km km from Nairobi - Nakuru District (Rift Valley Province)
 Entrances : The park has three gates (Main, Lanet and Nderit gates) and one major airstip.
 Open : Daily from 6.00 am to 7.00 pm. No entry is allowed on foot and visitors will not be allowed in the park after 6.15 pm.
 Historic : Bird sanctuary in 1960. Gazetted National Park in 1968. Addition of a northern extension in 1974. Lake designated as a Ramsar site in 1990 (protection of wetlands).
 The Warden : Senior Warden, Lake Nakuru National Park, P.O. BOX 539, Nakuru - Kenya.
Tel: (254-051) 44069/45287, E-mail:kwslnnp@africaonline.co.ke
 Attractions :
   o Flamingo (Greater and Lesser) and other water birds including a variety of terrestrial birds numbering about 450 species in total.
   o Mammals: 56 different species including white and black rhinos.
   o View-points: Lion hill, Baboon cliff and Out of Africa hill
   o Makalia waterfalls and Njoro, Makalia and Nderit rivers
   o Hills: Enasoit, Honeymoon, Lion hill ridge etc.
   o Unique vegetation with about 550 plant species including the largest euphorbia forest of Africa

 WILDLIFE/VEGETATION  --> Just click on the name to see snapshots and a fact sheet of the animal...
!! Print a checklist for your next safari !!
Antelopes and gazelles (per alphabetic order) :
Bushbuck - Dik-dik (Kirk's) - Duiker (Blue) - Duiker (Common) - Gazelle (Grantís) - Gazelle (Thomson's) - Impala - Klipspringer - Reedbuck (Bohor) - Reedbuck (Chanlerís mountain) - Steinbok - Waterbuck (Defassa) -
Other ungulates and mammals :
Buffalo (Cape) - Giraffe (Rotschild) - Hippopotamus - Hyrax (Bruceís) - Hyrax (Eastern Tree) - Hyrax (Rock) - Hyrax (Southern Tree) - Warthog (Common) - Zebra (Common) -
Carnivores :
Aardwolf - Cat (African Wild) - Cheetah - Civet (African) - Dog (Hunting) - Fox (Bat-eared) - Genet (Large-spotted) - Genet (Small-spotted) - Hyena (Spotted) - Jackal (Black-backed) - Jackal (Common) - Jackal (Side-striped) - Leopard - Mongoose (Banded) - Mongoose (Dwarf) - Mongoose (Grey) - Mongoose (Marsh) - Mongoose (Slender) - Mongoose (White-tailed) - Ratel - Serval - Zorilla -
Primates :
Baboon (Savannah) - Bushbaby (Lesser) - Colobus (Eastern Black-White) - Monkey (Blue/Sykes/Diademed) - Monkey (Green Vervet) -
Others (rabbits, hares, insectivores) :
Aardvak - Pangolin (Temminckís ground) - Hare (Cape) - Hare (Spring) - Porcupine (Crested) -
Vegetation :
The vegetation of the park is mainly woodlands and bushy grasslands with a wide ecological diversity and characteristic habitats (including includes sedge marshes, seasonally flooded grassland, dry grassland, swampland riparian forest, and various types of dry wood and scrubland) that range from the lake waters to the escarpment and ridges. The lake water supports a dense bloom of the blue-green Cyanophyte Spirulina platensis from which it derives its colour and which is the major food source for the flamingo. The lake is fringed by alkaline swamps with areas of sedge, Cyprus laevigatus and typha marsh along the river inflows and springs. The surrounding areas support a dry transitional savanna with lake margin grasslands of Sporobolus spicatus salt grass moving into grasslands of Hyparrhenia hirta and rhodes grass Chloris gayana in the lower areas. More elevated areas have dry forest with Acacia xanthophloea, olive Olea hochstetteri and Croton dichogamus; Euphorbia candelabrum forest; and bushland dominated by the composites, Mulelechwa Tarchonanthus camphoratus and Psiadia arabica. Rocky hillsides on the parks eastern perimeter are covered with Tarchonanthys scrub and a magnificent Euphobia candelabrum forest.
Text provided by the K.W.S. Nakuru webpage.

Smartcard is needed to enter.
Smarcards can be obtained and loaded at the main gate.

Source : K.W.S. park tariffs
Adult resident - 500 Kshs
Children resident - 200 Kshs
Adult non resident - 30 US
Children non resident - 10 US

Less than 6 seat - 200 Kshs
6 to 12 seats - 500 Kshs

There are two public campsites (water,shower,latrines,tables), which are :
o the Backpacker's campsite right back after the main gate.
o the Makalia campsite near the Makalia falls at the southern end of the park.
Lastly, there has been a real commitment by K.W.S to open and run bandas and special campsites in order to provide medium budget accommodation to attracts foreign as well as local visitors wanting to experience a closeness to the wild away from the beaten track. Bandas are welcome and popular, therefore booking in advance is a must.

Special campsites:
Reservation through the warden (see park facts) or at Nairobi K.W.S. Headquarter.
There is also possibility (if booked in advance through the warden or the K.W.S. Headquarter) to use other special or private campsites available in the park. These areas are exclusively used for private parties. For further information, services available, booking and fees, contact via KWS contacts. Special campsites are the Kampi ya nyati (Buffalo camp) and Kampi ya nyuki (Bee Camp) - both are on the north-eastern shore of the lake - and the Soysambu, Naishi, Reedbuck, Chui and Rhino campsites.

Naishi House :
Reservation through the warden (see park facts) or at Nairobi K.W.S. Headquarter.
For up-to-date information, consult the K.W.S. website

Located at 18 km from the main gate and near the airstrip, the Naishi house and its guest-cottage can accommodate a group of 8 persons. Both are furnished. The main house comprises a kitchen (fridge, gaz cooker), a dining room, a drawing room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and an outside terrace with veranda. The guest cottage has two single bedrooms, a shower and WC. Booking must be done at KWS HQ in Nairobi and the cost includes firewood and the services of a full catering.
Maximum capacity is 8 persons
Low (January - June) : Resident - 7,000 Kshs and Non-resident - 200 USD for the house/day
High season (July - December) : Resident - 10,000 Kshs and Non-resident - 250 USD for the house/day.

Nakuru Field Study Centre :
Reservation through the warden (see park facts) or at Nairobi K.W.S. Headquarter.
Kitchen, dining hall and dormitaries, self-catering facilies. Booking via KWS. Funded by the WWF, the KWS Field Study has been built to ensure the long term protection of the Lake Nukuru ecosystem and its catchment through the promotion of economically viable conservation based land-use and development.

Wildlife Clubs of Kenya :  
WCK Headquarters, Nairobi. Tel: +254 (0)20 89190314. At Nakuru, P.O. Box 33. Tel: +254 (0)51 850929.
Wildlife Clubs of Kenya Hostel and Guest House caters for visiting groups. Fully equipped kitchen, dormitories and camping facilities as well. Prices are reasonable. Wildlife clubs of Kenya was formed in 1968 by Kenyan students and its Mission is to educate and stimulate Kenyan youth towards a better understanding of the cultural, environmental aesthetic value of wildlife and natural resources and their sustainability.

 LODGES, TENTED CAMPS & HOTELS (in/around the park) Report broken link - Keep me up-to-date
Lake Nakuru Lodge :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Lake Nakuru Lodges, P.O. Box 70559, Nairobi. Tel: +254 (0)20 212405 or 224998.
At Nakuru, P.O. Box 561. Tel: +254 (0)51 850228.

"Lake Nakuru Lodge offers the sort of relaxation you have never experienced before. It is located in a wonderland which lies in the heart of one of Kenya's most densely populated wetlands National Park."

Sarova Lion Hill Lodge :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
At Nakuru, P.O. Box 7094. Tel: +254 (0)51 850235. Fax: +254 (0)51 210836.
At Nairobi, Sarova Central Reservations, P.O. Box 72493, Nairobi. Tel: +254 (0)20 2713333 Fax: +254 (0)20 2715566.

"Although smaller compared to the other hotels in Sarova Hotels Group, this 14-year-old Lodge offers a peaceful retreat amidst one of the most stunning National Parks in Kenya, the Lake Nakuru National Park."

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