Lake Nakuru is an alluring natural water body, which lies to the south of Nakuru town, located in the rift valley of Kenya, and encompassed by the majestic Lake Nakuru National Park. This shallow alkaline lake is home, and an attraction to a host of wildlife, such as: Baboons, Warthogs, Zebras and several species of birds; including lesser and greater flamingos, which have been known to turn the lake, pink; when gathered in vast numbers.
Lake Nakuru National Park
This zone was first declared a conservation area in 1957; southern two-thirds was designated a bird safe haven in 1961, before being officially branded a National park in 1968. The Lake Nakuru National Park covers over 46, 000 acres (188km²) of land and is one of Kenya’s 23 National Parks; not forgetting that it makes it’s way into Premium category, alongside Amboseli National Park.
Getting to the park is fairly easy from Nairobi as there is a road connection which then enters the park through the Main Gate. It is also possible to enter the park through the Nairobi Nakuru Road which then passes through the Lanet Gate of the park. There are three park gates: Main Gate, Lanet Gate and the Nderit Gate which isn’t often used. Park fees for Adults are priced at USD60 and for a Child at USD35.
If you’re thinking of finally booking a dream safari in Africa, this is no doubt, an ideal place to visit. This renowned national park boasts of a variety of wildlife; including a myriad of birds, featuring several terrestrial birds numbering over 400 species. It also features over 50 mammal species, and an elegant distribution of flora, numbering over 500 species.
Lake Nakuru Attractions
One attraction that puts the Nakuru National Park at the top of the pile is its world-famous, stunning assembly of flamingos. Regarded as the greatest bird spectacle on earth, this bird congregation features a host of pink flamingos, as many as 2 million, which cast a beautiful pink mass around the Nakuru lake for a major part of the year. This massive number of flamingos are attracted by the lake’s abundance of algae, which forms a major part of their diet.
However, their population varies based on the alkalinity of the lake, as this is key to the availability of algae for the birds to feed on. Other water birds such as Fish Eagles, Billed Pelicans, Hammerkops, Marabou Storks etc can also be found here.
With over 50 different mammal species, the Nakuru national park provides one of the most exciting wildlife experiences for animal lovers around the world. Apart from birds, some areas of the park have been set out to give sanctuary to black rhinos. Over the years, these creatures have seen their numbers dwindle and have even been listed as endangered due to poaching for their horns; but here, the East African black rhinoceros are well protected, forming the largest concentration in the entire country.
In addition, there is a remarkable presence of around 70 endemic southern square-lipped rhinoceros (Southern White rhinoceros), parading their territories like the bulldozing kings they are. You’re also likely to come across a good number of Rothschild’s giraffe, which was first introduced from Western Kenya in 1977 for their protection.
Others include Waterbuck (Both species are found here), Zebras, Olive Baboons, Wild dogs, Hyenas, Jackals, Warthogs, Vervet Monkeys, Hippo’s; not forgetting top predators like the powerful Masai lions, the lightning fast cheetahs, and the elusive leopards. The park also accommodates massive pythons, mostly found in the dense woodlands, and on certain occasions, have been seen crossing roads. Exciting, isn’t it?
At Lake Nakuru National Park, you have an opportunity to view it’s unique and elegant vegetation. Home to over 500 species of flora, this tourist attraction is covered with tall cactus-like trees, euphorbia, and acacia woodland. It has a myriad of fascinating landscapes including; grasslands, dense forests, as well as the very rare tarconanthus bushland.
The park features a number of rocky cliffs and hillsides, notably; The Lion hill, Baboon cliff, Honeymoon, Enasoit, Out of Africa, Lion hill ridge etc some of which are used as viewpoints for a breathtaking outlook of the area. Let’s not forget the Makalia waterfall, located at the southern end of the park. This splendid attraction provides beautiful natural scenery for tourists, one that can really help you apprentice the work of mother nature.
Best time to visit Lake Nakuru
When booking a safari to the Lake Nakuru National Park, there are a lot of things to consider, based on your priorities or what interests you the most. For those who have their hearts set on flamingo-watching, you stand a greater chance of experiencing a legion assembly during the dry-hot season, between January and February. This is because, lower levels of precipitation increase alkalinity of the lake, leading to an abundance of algae for the birds to eat.
However, based on seasonal rain variations, there is no 100% guarantee of seeing an enormous flamingo population, as they are mostly drawn to any lake that offers the most algae.
Beginning from late March, the rainy season kicks off, lasting through June. This period helps rejuvenate grasses, increases fauna distribution and revives dried up pools, causing an exciting congregation of different animals for the purpose of drinking (The animals cannot drink from the Nakuru lake due to its high alkalinity).
This also marks the birth period of several animals, giving you an opportunity to catch a glimpse of calves, foals etc, or even a live scene of an animal birth.
As exciting as this safari could be, getting the right accommodation is key to making your visit to Lake Nakuru National Park a delightful experience. Your decision shouldn’t just be based on a budget, but it is also important to consider the style of lodging, location (inside or outside the park), quality of service, food, amenities, facilities, among others.
The Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge is one classic, a cost-effective accommodation that offers 64 deluxe rooms and 3 suites with private veranda, nicely located within individual chalets, spread all around the property. Stepping into your chalet room, you’re greeted by wood accents, warm color palettes, open beam ceilings, white linens, simple furnishing, and everything needed to make you feel relaxed and at home.
Here, you have a picturesque view of the Lake, feasting your eyes on a rare natural scenery from the comfort of your room. Being the nesting spot of the elegant pink flamingos, Lake Nakuru is no doubt a favourite spot for filmmakers, photographers, as well as core wildlife lovers.
The Lake Nakuru Lodge stands as the largest economical accommodation in the park, offering a total of 95 standard rooms and two suites. It has the capacity to comfortably accommodate over 200 guests. Located in the southeast corner of the park, this lodge features beautiful landscape gardens with paved walkways, while also bringing you closer to the action.
Here, you have a chance to take a close peek at the rare black rhinos and the majestic Rothschild’s giraffes. For tourists looking for a modest accommodation with palatable food and quality services, this is a good choice for you.
If you’re looking for a front row seat to the most amazing bird spectacle on the planet, this is your best bet. The Flamingo Hill Camp is strategically located at the border of the Park, offering deluxe accommodation which includes; cozy guest tents…furnished with a romantic four-poster bed…small writing desk and other things needed to make you feel at home. Also made available, is a private veranda; allowing you to view the surrounding flora, trees, valley, and flamingos.
At Lake Nakuru National Park, it goes beyond just the usual breathtaking natural scenery and remarkable ecological diversity. Over here, you are one with nature…you step into the animal kingdom, giving you a perfect idea of how these magnificent creatures survive in their various natural habitats.