Kenya

Lakes of Kenya

Kenya has a large number of lakes, mainly formed by the Great Rift. There are many beautiful lakes, some filled with freshwater and some with saltwater. We would like to tell a bit more about the more known lakes like Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru, Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana.

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha lies only 90 km northwest of Nairobi, at the foot of the Rift Valley Escarpment. Few lakes have a better location or greater attraction than this lake, the highest and purest of all Rift Valley Lakes. Her secluded lagoons are surrounded by papyrus. Mount Longonot (2977 m), now an extinct volcano, dominates the skyline in the shades of misty blue and purple. Lake Naivasha is a haven for more bird species than the whole of the British Isles, and can be seen here in large numbers and variations. Pelican, herons and cormorants are well represented and may well be seen during a boat ride on the lake, which also offers the chance to see hippos up close. A striking bird is the African Fish Eagle, which breeds in the trees along the edge of the lake and its hunters call is regularly heard on the water’s edge. A narrow strip of land connects the mainland with Crescent Island, a private reserve where you can walk and find a large variety of wildlife such as gazelle, waterbuck, zebra, giraffe and dikdik. Just south of Lake Naivasha is the dramatic Hell's Gate, it is a 13 km long gorge with a rugged road between towering red rocks. Hell's gate is a geo-thermal hot spot. It is also home to one of Kenya's rarest birds of prey, the Lammergeyer.

Lake Nakuru (National Park)

Located between Lake Baringo and Lake Naivasha, under the high cliffs of the East Valley, you can find Lake Nakuru National Park. The park is named after the shallow saltwater lake surrounded by a forest of yellow acacia and grasslands, rocky cliffs and hills covered with the unusual giant Euphorbia trees. Lake Nakuru is known worldwide as the home of many larger and smaller flocks of flamingos that often form a brilliant pink ribbon along the edges of the lake. Remember flamingos are unpredictable and cannot always be found where you expect them to be. They migrate in large numbers between Lake Natron and Lake Turkana in search of the best food. An entertaining spectacle is the daily bathing ritual and the fishing of the large groups of pelicans on the southern edge of the lake. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded in and around the lake, making it clearly a very important ornithological site in Kenya. Besides the birds, the park also offers a home to herds of buffalo, waterbuck, impalas, Rothschild giraffes and leopards. A portion of the territory of the park is now designated as a rhino reserve. Lake Nakuru probably offers the best chance at see the mighty rhinoceros and the sublime hunter, the leopard.

Close to Lake Nakuru is an important volcanic crater in the East African Rift, the Menengai Crater. Liquid magma rose along the deep fractures to the surface. Fissures formed by the force of the tectonic plate which as it were "float" on the crust. The Menengai crater is 8-10 km in diameter and 485 m deep.

Lake Turkana

Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) is the largest and most northerly of the Rift Valley Lakes, with its northern coast bordering Ethiopia. "The Jade Sea", so called because of its remarkable colour that contrasts with the harsh environment of purple and black volcanic rock, is undoubtedly the least hospitable, but absolutely most fascinating. Although the mammals are not well represented, it is an important place for the northern European movement of migratory birds. The Central Island National Park is accessible from the Ferguson's Gulf and is a breeding area for the large colonies of water birds and crocodiles. Lake Turkana, where men and animals fight for survival, is in fact the "cradle of humanity" itself. The fossil rich environment at Koobi Fora in the Sibiloi National Park, located on the northeast coast, has many fascinating evidence disclosed about the origin of man and his predecessors dating back almost two million years.

Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria

The freshwater lake, Baringo, is located in the Rift Valley at about 125 km north of Nakuru. It is a quiet place of unparalleled beauty and the home of the Njemps tribe, the smaller cousin of the Maasai tribe. They have abandoned their nomadic way of life and now fish in reed boats on the lake. The other tribes in the area of the lake are the Tug and the Pokot, but also a few Turkana have migrated to the area. There is very little cultivation as a result of the long hot dry seasons, followed by the usual heavy rainfall in May. Most residents live by cattle, goats and sheep, supplemented by fishing for catfish and tilapia and the harvest of honey, aloes, wild fruits and berries. Baringo is a paradise for birdwatchers; its two main attractions are the Gibraltar Island with its breeding area for a large colony of Goliath herons and the plateau on the west side of the lake - especially the home of the Verreaux's Eagle. Walks along the edge of the lake and on the islands offer the opportunity to see the abundant numbers of birds close by. As well as a boat trip, a trip up the River Molo gives good opportunity to view crocodiles, hippos and the abundant bird life.

Hidden in the hills, 50 km south of Baringo the amazing Lake Bogoria is located. With its clear blue water set beneath the towering cliffs of the Laikipia Plateau. Hot water geysers can be found on the western coastline and provide proof of the volcanic history of the area. In the middle of the day the heat can be devastating, but there is always a wonderful cool shelter place to find under a Fig Tree and a clear flow of fresh water emphasizes the ambience of an oasis. Lake Bogoria is known mainly for the chance of seeing the greater Kudu, a rare antelope, which thrives in the area.

Lake Victoria

The second largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Victoria, dominates the space with its 70,000 kilometre square area and is the mysterious source of the Nile. The area is ideal for bird watching because the lake attracts a wide variety of waterfowl. With its enormous size, the dark lake is very shallow - only 100 meters at its deepest point. Three African countries - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, border this giant lake. Travelling between these countries over the lake is, unfortunately, a luxury of the past. It is important to note that bilharzia is widely spread in Lake Victoria so unfortunately for people who like to swim it is too dangerous. The basin is home to the Luo people. Originally coming from Sudan they moved into the area in the 15th century and are now Kenya's third largest ethnic group. Surrounded by the waters of Lake Victoria and shaded by giant fig trees is the forgotten world of Mfangano Island in an oasis of piece. The island is an ideal refuge from the bustle of modern life. Huge boulders along the waterfront are a perfect base for cormorants or large monitor lizards that enjoy the sun. Another beautiful location and many years earlier discovered by many migratory birds is Rusinga Island, with clearly a lot of the characteristics of Mfangano Island.

Recommended accommodation nearby the Lakes of Kenya:

Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge (Lake Nakuru), Flamingo Hill Camp (Lake Nakuru), Maili Saba Camp (Menengai Crater), Mbweha Camp (Lake Nakuru), Loldia House (Lake Naivasha), Elsamere House (Lake Naivasha) and The Great Rift valley Lodge (Lake Naivasha)

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