The Great Rift Valley
Running from north to south through the heart of Kenya, the Great Rift Valley is most famous for the alkaline and fresh water lakes which are found along its length at various intervals – Turkana in the north, followed by Baringo, Bogoria, Nakuru, Elmentaita, Naivasha to Natron on the border with Tanzania.
The alkaline lakes such as Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Elmentaita and Lake Natron are rich in blue-green algae which attracts vast flocks of greater and lesser flamingos, whilst the less alkaline lakes Baringo and Turkana are home to populations of hippo and crocodile, and together with Lake Naivasha (fresh water) a wide range of water birds. The two lakes most commonly visited are Nakuru and Naivasha.
Lake Naivasha is the highest of the lakes, at 6000’ above sea level, and although surrounded by volcanic mountains, the lake is fresh water. It covers an area of around 115 sq.kms., and is one of the most picturesque in Africa. More than 300 species of birds can be seen. To the south of the lake lies the dormant volcano, Longonot (which can be climbed), and Hell’s Gate Gorge National Park, whilst to the west, numerous, infrequently visited, smaller crater lakes can be found. On the south shore of the lake is Elsamere, Joy Adamson’s former home and now a Conservation Centre. Naivasha is the centre of the Kenyan cut-flower industry.
Of all the Great Rift Valley Lakes, the 200 sq. km. Nakuru National Park is most associated with traditional big game-viewing. The lakeshore and surrounding acacia woodland is a sanctuary for wildlife, especially both black and white rhino, and the rare Rothschild giraffe. However, the park is perhaps best known for the pink sheen which covers the lake – the flamingo population. Whilst Lake Nakuru is a beautiful park with great game-viewing, its location (proximity to Nairobi and on the main route for safaris visiting both the north and Masai Mara) and small size does lay it open to being busy and over-crowded.
For further information on safaris to the Great Rift Valley and surrounding areas please call us on 01787 888590 or contact us to speak to one of our safari experts.