Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park famously known for the pink flamingos that have their life on lake Nakuru; is one of Kenya’s finest game parks and among the greater 23 game parks in the East African country. Lake Nakuru National Park is located 164 km from Nairobi City in Nakuru town, Nakuru county Central Kenya. The park covers a total area of 188km2 in Kenya’s southern rift valley and central conservation area of which 40km2 is covered by Lake Nakuru and the remaining area covered with bushy grasslands, hills and woodlands. The park generally encloses the lake and the surrounding savannah lands.
Lake Nakuru National Park is named after Lake Nakuru and it was gazetted as a national park in 1968 though it was first declared a conservation area in 1957. Lake Nakuru National Park at the start only covered the lake area plus a few hills that were by the lake but has since expanded to include the grasslands and the savannah; in efforts to protect the lake from the negative impact of town activities. The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is managed by the Kenya wildlife services. The Park is also a Rhino sanctuary, first gazetted in 1984 and then officially commissioned and declared in 1987.
Lake Nakuru National Park at its inception was mainly a bird viewing destination but as the years has passed, the park has expanded and mammals have been introduced so the park is both a bird and game viewing destination.
The beauty of this park is unmatched; it’s filled with scenic escarpments, unique bush lands and grasslands, water fall and of course the famous lake Nakuru; this park is simply magnificent. The park also hosts over 500 species of flora, with several unique plant species that complement the beauty of the park. The park’s vegetation is mainly bushy grasslands, dense forests, euphorbia forests and tarconanthus vegetation.
Lake Nakuru National park has over 400 bird species that make their life in the park with over a million flamingos of both the lesser and greater type and other bird species like the African Fish Eagles, Verreaux’s eagle, Yellow-billed Pelicans, Hammerkops, Marabou Storks, pied kingfisher, Goliath heron and many more are also endemic on the lake.
On top of the birds the park is home to over 50 mammal species that include the endangered Rothschild’s Giraffes and Rhinoceros (white and black), buffaloes, leopards, warthogs, zebras, waterbucks, Jackals, Hippos, Hyenas, lions, wild dogs, cheetahs, monkeys, Impalas, Baboons and many more. The park is also home pythons that stay in the dense woodlands in the park.
Lake Nakuru National Park being a Rhino sanctuary, it has the highest number of Rhinos in Kenya if not the entire East Africa. Because it’s a Rhino sanctuary the park is fenced with an electric fence to protect the Rhinos from Poachers who would have to hunt them for their horns. Because of the fence this park doesn’t support elephant life.
Lake Nakuru National Park’s climate is neither too hot nor too cold, which means the sun never scorches you on your safari though you may get rained on especially in the afternoons. This type of climate is known as a semi-arid and dry sub-humid kind of climate that doesn’t go to the extreme but remains average all year round. The park receives some of the lowest amounts of rainfall in Kenya through the year with the most wet months March, April, May, October, November, December; and though these months are known to receive rain almost daily the amounts of rainfall are still low; the drier months in the park are January, February, June, July, August, September. You should note though that the drier months tend to also have some rains especially in the afternoons.
Lake Nakuru the most famous feature of the park is highly saline with deep blue alkaline waters which are surrounded by alkaline grasslands. The lake is the main contributor to the park’s unique climate. The Lake has an abundance of algae that supports the Flamingo life on the lake together with other birds. Lake Nakuru is one of the lakes protected under the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.
Lake Nakuru National Park gets its name from Lake Nakuru; Nakuru in Kenya’s maasai language means “Dusty Place or Dust”; little is known as to why the lake and town is called Nakuru, maybe because of the surrounding savannah whose soil loosens during the dry season.
Nakuru town is one of the towns that are as old as the country Kenya and its filled will a lot of prehistoric sites. The people in Nakuru are majorly Maasai people though because of migration and integration other tribes have also settled in the town. In the 19th century the town grew as stopover for the railway line that was connecting Uganda to the coast of Kenya.
Lake Nakuru National park tourist activities include:-
- Birding: Because the park has over 400 species many people flock the park to experience these different bird species making birding the top most tourist activity in the park.
- Game viewing: Viewing the numerous game in the park is another popular activity and because the park is a rhino sanctuary tourists enjoy seeing the large number of rhinos in on place.
- Camping: Camping under the sky on the bushy savannah is a leisure activity as well as an accommodation option for visitors to the park. You get to enjoy the unique lands and weather of the park as you camp in the wild, where it’s said that you can even come up close with some animals.
- Picnicking: picnicking on the different ridge viewpoints is a popular activity that visitors to the park engage in.
- Photography: Lake Nakuru National Park is simply beautiful, it has some of the most scenic points for all photography; so on a normal day, you will find modelling agencies, magazines, media houses and individuals taking photos from the different points in the park.
- Viewpoint experiences (baboon cliff, Lion Hill and Out of Africa): These are elevated ridges that offer visitors breath-taking views of the park and the surrounding areas
- Makalia falls: This small fall takes your breath away, it’s just beautiful complemented with the flowing waters and the cool breeze, a visit to this fall is unforgettable.
The road network in the Lake Nakuru National park is well established and it facilitates a hustle free tour of the park, most of the parts in the part can be accessed with a 2 wheel drive vehicle though they are some parts that will need a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
You can get to the park by road or by air; by air a flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi to the park’s Naishi airstrip is about 25 mins. By road using the Nairobi-Nakuru highway; it’s roughly 2 hours and 30 mins from Nairobi City to the Park’s main gate.
You can use any of the park’s three gates to access the park the main gate which is most used, the lanet gate and the lesser used Nderit Gate. The Nderit Gate is used when you’re connecting to the park from Maasai Mara National Game Reserve.
The park entry fees currently stand at 60 USD for Adult and 35 USD children and students. These prices apply to only foreign residents; fees for residents, East Africans and Nationals are different and can be obtained from the Kenya wildlife services website. Vehicles entering the park also attract a charge that is determined by the park management depending on the number of seats in the car.
For Safari gear, it doesn’t differ from the gear you carry on other safaris; clothing with neutral colours because bright colours can agitate the animals, also you may need insect repellents if you are camping and sunscreen if you are travelling during the dry season.
The park has accommodation inside and outside the park; depending on your budget you can choose the accommodation that suits your taste either inside or outside the park. All accommodations whether inside or outside the park are able to offer picnic lunch for you to take on your tour of the park. Or you can choose to have a break on your park tour and have lunch at one of the dinning places in the park.
You should know that camping accommodations are only available inside the park and the park campsites include: – Backpackers, Makalia, Nyati, Reedbuck, Naishi, Rhino, Chui, Soysambu, Reedbuck and Nyuki. Some campsites don’t have sanitary facilities or are located in noisy places so you should verify with management for a campsite that suits your taste.