Lake Nakuru is the foundation of the park serving as a wildlife haven. The maximum depth is only 6 feet (1.8 m) with an average depth of 1 foot (.30 m) making it easy for animals to access. It is one of the Rift Valley lakes sitting at an elevation of 5,755 feet (1,754 m) above sea level.
Nakuru is an alkaline lake, which is what further draws birds and wildlife to its shores. The national park and lake are most renowned for the tens of thousands of flamingos which can reach over a million at their peak. The best place to view the view flamingos is from Baboon Cliff.
The serene landscapes of the area include grasslands, marsh, outcrops, rocky cliffs, and sedge. Yellow-barked acacia trees add to the traditional African wilderness experience.
An area around 116 miles (188 km) has been fenced to create a protected area for both black and white rhinoceroses as well as giraffes. The park features about 70 white rhinos and another 25 eastern black rhinos. It is one of the largest collections of rhinos throughout Kenya.
Wildlife is bountiful with a populous predator presence to reflect the abundance of prey. Predator species include lion, cheetah, leopard, and hyenas. Large pythons might be found as well. Giraffe and the two species of rhino are mammalian highlights however there are several other species. The waterbuck is more common than in other parks.
There is a small number of hippo that can be found along the reeds of the lake. Along with the waterbuck, visitors might also see Reedbuck and Bushbuck.
Birdwatchers can hope to see African fish eagle, Verreaux’s eagle, Goliath heron, kingfisher, and of course an abundance of flamingos. It is a spectacular place for birdwatching with over 400 species. There are over a dozen different predator bird species. The flamingo population has earned the lake and national park the slogan, “the greatest bird spectacle on earth.”
The shallow lake is rich in algae and according attracts the flamingos who eat around 551,155 pounds (250,000 kg) of algae per acre a year.
Location: Lake Nakuru is 170 km (105 m) northwest of Nairobi. It’s close enough for a day trip or a longer stay in the area.
Climate: The park has a higher elevation than most at 1,756 m (5757 ft.) and this has a cooling effect. Even though it’s near the equator, it rarely gets hot. Nor does it get too cold, too wet or too dry. Generally, the climate here is quite comfortable.
However, there are intermittent late afternoon showers, but these tend to be more refreshing than an obstacle.
Best time to visit: The park is open year-round. In many parks the wet season can put an end to game viewing but that’s not necessarily the case at Lake Nakuru. The roads are good and since the park is fenced, the animals won’t disperse.
Still, the most popular time for viewing is during the dry season from July to December.
Operating Hours: Lake Nakuru Park operates from 0600 hrs. to 1900 hrs. daily. Note: No entry is allowed on foot and hiking is only allowed in designated areas with a KWS ranger.
By road – you can book a tour with Timken Tours from the coast or Nairobi. From Nairobi, you’ll take the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway. The drive affords fantastic views of the Rift Valley.
By air – fly-in safaris can land at the park’s Naishi airstrip.
Things to do and see
Flamingos – Famous for its millions of fuchsia pink flamingos blanketing the shoreline. The birds are of two varieties – the greater and lesser flamingo. The lesser are the more numerous with their red bills and pink plumage. The greater variety are smaller in numbers with a distinctive black bill.
View-Points – The views of the park, the Rift Valley beyond and the wildlife below are all richly enjoyed from the hilltop vantages of Lion Hill, Out of Africa Lookout or Baboon Cliff. Just watch out for the baboons who are always looking for food scraps.
Makalia Falls – A pretty waterfall at the south end of the park. This is a wonderful spot for picnicking and hiking.
Vegetation – There’s over 550 plant species to be found in the park including yellow acacia woodlands and the largest euphorbia forest in Africa.