Trip to Lake Nakuru, Rift Valley


We took a trip north-west of Nairobi to Lake Nakuru, in the Great Rift Valley. It was great to get out of the city for the day and see some of Kenya’s spectacular landscapes. It did not disappoint. The drive to Lake Nakuru climbs through the highlands getting cooler, wetter, and greener. Finally the highway reaches the edge of the Great Rift Valley with amazing views of the valley floor and the extinct volcano Mt. Longonot. We stopped at a scenic overlook which was at 8,000 feet above sea level. (This is where you want to come to do some high-altitude training). Immediately over the crest, the landscape is drier and browner with fewer trees. The road descends down the edge of the escarpment past a few other lakes dotting the Rift Valley until we reached Lake Nakuru. Nakuru town was bustling on this Saturday afternoon – its the largest city in the Rift Valley. A short drive through town brought us to Lake Nakuru National Park.

We hired a guide (along with our taxi driver) to escort us through the park. He was very knowledgeable about the birds (450 species in the park) and knew exactly where to find the big mammals. The park is known for its water birds. Lake Nakuru is a saltwater lake – the streams flow in from high above in the Mau Forest, but there is no outlet in the dry Rift Valley. The briny water attracts thousands of flamingos, pelicans, and storks. The park is also home to white rhinos, cape buffalo, griraffes,  Thompson’s gazelles, impalas, water bucks, zebras, vervet monkeys, baboons, secretary birds (Garrett’s favorite), and rock hyraxes (Linnea’s favorite). The park supports lions and hippos too, but we did not see any. The park was just teeming with wildlife.

Somehow our taxi driver James managed to change a flat tire while we were stopped at the Baboon Cliff overlook – without any of us knowing it. After looping the lake and driving through the lowland and upland areas, it was time to head home. A quick stop at the tire repair shop in Nakuru town and we were on our way. It was an amazing day at Lake Nakuru, one we won’t easily forget.

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