Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru national park is one of Kenya’s wildlife haven harboring the famous Lake Nakuru which is internationally recognized and ranked as one of the world’s most colorful lakes. Lake Nakuru is known for the flamingos that like to forage at the lake and visitors from across the world flock Lake Nakuru national park for an opportunity to watch these spectacular birds hanging at the lake, a picturesque and magical wildlife experience.
Lake Nakuru national park achieved national park status in 1961 and covers an area of 188 square kilometers and is situated next to the slow paced yet urban Nakuru town of Kenya. Nakuru Park lies in the Great Rift valley of Kenya and is a popular safari destination in Kenya. In addition to the large population of flamingos which are a major attraction in the park, Lake Nakuru national park is also a sanctuary for the black rhinoceros with a good population of the endangered eastern black rhinos.
Lake Nakuru is a rift valley lake and is a Ramsar site that is internationally recognized. The lake is of course known for its large population of the Lesser flamingos and Greater Flamingos that like to flock the lake in search of food. Lake Nakuru is a popular bird watching spot and attracts specialist birders from across the world whose keen interest is usually in the water birds. The Flamingos are drawn by the algae that survives in the warm waters of the soda lake and these water birds like and are usually seen feeding on it along the shores.
Lake Nakuru is fed by four seasonal rivers and the permanent Ngosur River in Kenya. The seasonal rivers that feed the lake include Nderit, Makalia, Njoro and Lamudhiak, all these rivers spring from the Eastern Mau Forest. The lake is at an elevation of 1,754m and the lake was formerly 44 square kilometers but between 2010 and 2020 the surface area of Lake Nakura has increased to 68 square kilometers due to the increasing water levels of rift valley lakes in Kenya.
Wildlife of Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru national park is home to various mammal and primate species. Wildlife viewing is best done while on a game drive in the park. Wildlife to look out for in the park include Plains Zebras, Eastern Black Rhinos, Vervet monkeys, Olive Baboons, Impalas, Water bucks, Spotted Hyenas, White Rhinos, Buffaloes, Hippos that like to hangout and forage on the shores of Lake Nakuru, Thomson’s Gazelle, Rothschild’s Giraffes, and black-and-white colobus monkey. The national park is home to tree-climbing lions and if you are lucky enough you might come across them while on a game drive, sightings of the lions are occasional.
Birds in Lake Nakuru National Park
The park is a popular bird watching site in Kenya and across the world hence offering wonderful birding opportunities. The most sought after birds in Lake Nakuru National Park are the Lesser Flamingo and Greater Flamingos that like to hang around the alkaline Lake Nakuru.
Other birds in the park include Augur Buzzard, African Jacana, Hamerkop, Hadada Ibis, African Hoopoe, Pin-tailed Whydah, Egyptian Geese, Malagasy Pond-Heron, Lesser Kestrel, Grey-crested Helmetshrike, Great Egret, Long-tailed widow bird, African Fish eagle, Goliath Heron, Pied Kingfisher, Verreaux’s Eagle, Great White Pelican, Greater blue-eared Starling, Hottentot Teal, Grey Crowned crane, Black-tailed godwit, Crab-plover, European Roller, Black-winged Lapwing, Great Snipe, Greater spotted Eagle, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Kenya rufous sparrow, Maccoa duck, Hildebrandt’s Starling, Ruppell’s robin-chat, Slender billed greenbul, Speke’s weaver, Shining Sunbird, Ruppell’s Vulture, Sooty falcon, White-headed Vulture, White-fronted Bee eater among other species of birds. Lake Nakuru national park is an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is known for its abundance of water birds.
Vegetation of Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru national park encompasses various vegetation types some of which provide food for the herbivores and the other vegetation types act as habitats for the wildlife in the park. Vegetation in the park includes Alkaline flats, open grassland, marsh, rocky slopes in the park, acacia woodland with thickets, grass shrub and fresh water swamps with mud flats and short grasses.
Activities to do while in Lake Nakuru National Park
The best way to explore Lake Nakuru national park is by going on a game drive. The game drives usually begin in the morning, you set out in the park through the acacia woodland and open savanna areas. While here you stop over to watch animals like zebras, olive baboons, giraffes, vervet monkeys, buffaloes among others, The game drive then continues towards the lake and this is the main highlight of the game drive as you get to see the famous flamingos, water birds like pelicans, cormorants and ducks as well as wildlife like hippos, rhinos, waterbucks, impalas that like to forage close to the shores. The game drive also offers stunning views of the park scenery and as you look further you also have views of Nakuru town.
Bird watching in Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru national park is a birding hot spot with opportunities to look out for water bird species, savanna specials and nearly endemic species. The birding excursion involves exploring the park with a professional birding guide who is well conversant with the park trails that offer worthwhile birding opportunities. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded at the park and the best time to bird in the park is between the months of November and April where a lot of migratory species are available in the conservation area. Lake Nakuru national park is an IBA and a site worth adding to your birding safari itinerary.
Where to Stay in Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru national park has a number of accommodation options that one can choose from while on safari in the park. Accommodation facilities to consider include;
Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge – This is a luxury safari lodge nestled along “The Lion Hill” in the national park and features 67 chalet style rooms with comfortable beds and beautiful interior décor. The safari lodge makes a perfect base while on safari and offers one stunning views of Lake Nakuru, it’s the perfect blend of tranquility and luxury. The staff at the lodge is amazing and trained to make your stay the most comfortable.
Lake Nakuru Sopa Lodge – Located at a one hour distance from the Nderit gate of the national park, Lake Nakuru Sopa Lodge is a beautiful property that can also make for a good option while on safari. The lodge has spacious cosy rooms each with a private balcony overlooking Lake Nakuru. The lodge is known for its warm and welcoming staff and it features a restaurant that serves delicious meals, a well-stocked bar and a swimming pool. Please note that the drive from the lodge to Nderit gate is bumpy so we recommend that you travel with a 4WD car to avoid getting stuck.
The Cliff Nakuru – This is a beautiful lodge located a top a rock outcrop overlooking Lake Nakuru. The Cliff Nakuru is the perfect mix of tranquility, stunning views and beautiful interior décor fit for a safari lodge. The lodge has 10 safari tents perched at the edge of a cliff overlooking the lake and each room features an en-suite bathroom with hot water available throughout the day. The Cliff Nakuru has other facilities including a restaurant, fitness center, a spa, a bar area. Wi-Fi is also available at the property. Be sure to catch the spectacular sunrise from your tent while here!
How to get to Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru national park is easily accessible from Nairobi city as it is just 155km from Nairobi. You can get to the park by road or by air. The drive to the park along a paved road takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes and it takes you through the small busy towns of Kenya and past the rift valley viewing points, it’s an overall scenic drive. The most common route used is past Nakuru town to Lanet Gate which is one of main entry points in to the park.
If travelling by air there are charter flights from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to Naishi airstrip near Lake Nakuru national park. Flight duration is 30 minutes.
The best time to visit is during the dry season that is from June to September and from January to February.
The low season is during April and May and it is rainy during these months as it’s the peak of the wet season in Kenya. However the park is open to visitors throughout the year.
Tours to Lake Nakuru National Park