LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK

LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK

Lake Nakuru National Park is with no doubt the most leading bird watching destination in Kenya and East Africa. The park was originally a rhino sanctuary in 1983 and upgraded to a National Park in 1961. Lake Nakuru National Park spans 188 sq.km and it is accessible about 164 km from Nairobi city. The park features Lake Nakuru, one of the beautiful rift valley soda lakes and it is officially a Ramsar site.

Lake Nakuru NP prides itself as home to abundant wildlife and birdlife including countless flamingoes. The compact protected area features distinct landscape characterized by acacia forest, rocky escarpments, Lake Nakuru on the floor of the Great Rift Valley and open plains. This park also featured in Sydney Pollack’s 1985 epic romantic drama ‘Out of Africa’, starring Meryl Streep & Robert Redford.

History of the park

Lake Nakuru N/Park officially became a recognized conservation area for the birds in 1957. This covered Lake Nakuru plus some parts of the surrounding areas. The main reason for its creation was primarily to preserve the Lake, reduce effects of pollution and conserve bird species that survive on the lake.

It was declared a conversed area in 1961, the current Southern section of the park which was declared a bird sanctuary. As a result, various protocols were put in place to ensure that birds are protected well. Lake Nakuru NP was gazetted as a national park after its area coverage was expanded to include the Northern savanna lands and today, the park spans 188 sq.km. To boost the park’s visitor experiences and diversify its faunal species, many mammal species were introduced.

In 1977, the park was honored as home to the unique and endangered Rothschild giraffes. This follows the introduction of giraffes into the protected area, the initiative by the government of Kenya to boost its efforts to preserve fauna.

Rhinos were also introduced into the park in the 1980s and in 1984; the park became the first government protected rhino sanctuary in Kenya. In 1986, a 188sq.km electric fence was erected in order to ensure maximum protection of rhinos from poachers.

In 1990, Lake Nakuru NP was recognized as a RAMSAR Site and in 2009, it was declared as an IBA considering the fact that it is home to more than 400 species of birds. Lake Nakuru N/Park is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Location

Lake Nakuru National Park is Kenyan National Park located in the Central Region, along the Great Rift Valley, Northwestern Nairobi city. The park has 3 main gates including the Nderit Gate (the less used park gate), Lanet Gate (the main entry) and access to the park is possible when you have cleared the park entry fees.

Wildlife in the park

Lake Nakuru National Park holds diversity of wildlife including four of the big five game with exception of only the African elephants. Animals in Lake Nakuru NP include baboons, elands, leopards, lions, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, hippos, warthogs, waterbucks, buffaloes, impalas and others.

Birds

Nakuru NP is a true birder’s haven, protecting over 400 species of birds. These include sooty falcons, shining sunbird, Schawlow wheatear, eastern imperial eagle, Hildebrandt’s starling, arrow-masked babblers, Northern puff back, Kenya rufous sparrow, grey headed woodpecker, European rollers, white fronted bee-eaters, crab-plovers, bateleurs, rufous throated wryneck, long-tailed widowbird, African fish eagle, slender-billed greenbul, black tailed godwit, white headed vulture, flamingoes, and many others.

Other attractions in Lake Nakuru N/P Kenya

The other special attractions in Lake Nakuru N/P include baboon cliff, and Makalia Falls.

Tourism Activities in Lake Nakuru NP Kenya

Game drives

Lake Nakuru NP is popular for its exceptional game drive experiences. The park exposes visitors to diversity of wildlife including lions, impalas, leopards, rhinos, waterbucks, giraffes, zebras, and birds.

Birding

Lake Nakuru NP is recognized as a birding sanctuary for a good reason. The park offers the most memorable birding experiences with opportunity for birders to identify plenty of bird species. The expected birds to be spotted include crab plovers, greater blue-eared starling, pelicans, flamingos, European rollers, great snipe, black-winged lapwing, hottentot teal, Abyssinian thrush, sooty falcons, pied kingfishers, goliath herons, grey crowned cranes, African fish eagle, lesser kestrel, and more.

Explore the baboon cliff

The baboon cliff is incredibly a remarkable viewpoint that overviews the whole valley. It takes its name from baboon troops which often roam in this area. The cliff is perfect to visit during morning hours for clear skies and for incredible view of sunrise. At the baboon cliff, visitors have many hiking opportunities to allow you experience the park.

Cycling with rhinos

There is a chance for tourists to also cycle with rhinos; an annual event that often takes place at Lake Nakuru NP. The event is usually organized as a way to raise funds to help support community-based programs in the park.

Makalia Waterfalls

Makalia Falls is a charming waterfall located in the Southern side of Lake Nakuru National Park. This natural wonder is accessible a short drive off from the park gates, and has a season flow. It falls 10 meters and it originates from the Makalia River.

When to travel to the park

Lake Nakuru National Park is best to visit during the dry season: June, July, August, September to October. During this season, smaller watering holes become dry and most of the animals confine around Lake Nakuru for water thus offering excellent game viewing experience.

Where to stay

Accommodation facilities in and around Lake Nakuru NP exist in three categories: budget, midrange and luxury. The main accommodation options include Merica Hotel, Mbweha Camp, Lake Nakuru Lodge, Lakira Camp Nakuru, Lake Nakuru Flamingo Lodge, Sarova Lion Hill Lodge, Hotel Waterbuck Nakuru, Rhino Campsite, Makalia Campsite, Kambi Nyuki Campsite, Naishi Campsite, Soysambu Campsite and more.

Getting to the park

Accessing Lake Nakuru National Park by road or air; by road, drive from Nairobi to the park gates about 3.5 hours’ drive. The park lies near Nakuru town or you can get there along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway. By air, fly up from Nairobi to Naishi Airstrip in the Southern side of Lake Nakuru National Park.