If you visit the Great Rift Valley, you can see the outstanding Lake Nakuru National Park, surrounded by bushy and wooded grassland. It provides each tourist with breathtaking landscapes and the unique chance to see a vast wildlife diversity. Albeit the fact that it’s one of the smallest National Parks in Kenya, Lake Nakuru is, by far, one of the finest places to visit if you are genuinely fascinated with nature. For the eager birdwatcher, the region is an Eden, as this is the first National Park in the entire Africa branded as an Important Bird Area, having no less than 500 registered bird species. At the same time, you may wander through the biggest Euphorbia Forest in Africa, and relish the magnificent savannah view, not to mention the unique sight of gorgeous flamingo birds.
- +Greater and Lesser Flamingo gatherings
- +Black and White rhino sanctuary
- +Rothschild giraffe sanctuary
- +Makalia Falls
- +Baboon Cliff
- +Lion Hill
About Lake Nakuru National Park
In spite of the fact that it’s a relatively small National Park, Lake Nakuru shouldn’t be underrated. Its small size doesn’t make it any less of a top attraction, being a fantastic destination if you are eager to contemplate magnificent landscapes and a vast variety of animals ranging from various species of birds to mammals.
What makes Lake Nakuru an extraordinary destination for every nature enthusiast is that it combines different environments, bringing together astonishing landscapes and magnificent species of plants and animals. Therefore, the activities available in the park vary from adventurous safari drives to relaxing picnics.
Lake Nakuru National Park is particularly famous as it boasts with gatherings of Greater and Lesser Flamingo. The population of Lesser Flamingos recorded here is estimated at 1,5 million, while Greater Flamingos are present in a much smaller number, around 500,000. Just imagine how the shore of the Lake Nakuru looks when such a large number of birds are nesting and eating. A spectacle for each traveler’s sight!
The limit between the water and the land can no longer be distinguished, and even if you aim at spotting the lake from the shore, the chances to succeed are slight. From the distance, you would rather see a constantly waving pink ‘lake.’ The best place to enjoy the view of Lake Nakuru and observe the flamingo birds is the Baboon Cliff. It enables you to glare at this amazing live spectacle and remain in awe at Mother Nature’s beautiful markings.
Taking into consideration how many flamingos dwell on the premises of Lake Nakuru National Park, together with the fact that it’s the home to numerous migratory bird species, it comes as no surprise that the park is called ‘the bird watchers’ paradise.’ Nearly 500 species of birds have been recorded here, and the park has been recognized as a distinguished bird sanctuary for more than 50 years now.
For feline lovers, Lake Nakuru National Park is the perfect destination. This National Park is highly acknowledged due to its large populations of leopards, felines that are not so popular in other National Parks or reserves. Typically, leopards may be noticed climbing trees during the day, but you may also have the chance to spot them hunting. Imagine the view! This park is also the home of several lions and cheetahs, so you will definitely not leave the place without having spotted at least a few big cats. And of course, the feeling parallels watching a National Geographic TV show.
The fantastic Lake Nakuru National Park has a great importance in respect to wildlife conservation, especially when it comes to rhinos and Rothschild giraffes populations. The park is recognized as a sanctuary for these endangered species, and you will have the chance of seeing several rhinos in their natural living environment, as no less than 40 white rhino and around 60 black rhinos call Lake Nakuru their home.
You can access the park by road, through three gates. Make sure you reach Nairobi, Masai Mara or Elementaita. From Nairobi, via the highway, you’ll drive 156 kilometers to the park, and you may choose between Main Gate and Lanet Gate. From Masai Mara or Element, you may access the park through Nderit Gate.
However, if you wish to travel by plane, your destination is Nakuru Airport. Alternatively, when that’s not a possibility, you can get your ticket to Nairobi airport and then you may reach the park by car, as mentioned above.
When to Go & Weather
If your purpose is to see flamingo birds, the best months for visiting the National Park are January and February. During these months, the hot-dry season settles in, and the lake water level is low. Preferably, other recommended months for seeing the flamingo are from August to October. The chance of seeing large gatherings of flamingo decreases as the precipitations increase – hence, this is something for you to take into consideration.
If you are rather interested in observing migratory birds, you should know that, by the end of the cool-dry season, in October, they reach beautiful Lake Nakuru. Most of them usually remain there until April. However, even during the dry season, avoiding the rain isn’t a guarantee – rainfall may occur later on in the afternoon.
For eager admirers of Kenya’s luxurious vegetation and the unique chance of seeing animals giving birth or baby animals that are no older than a few hours or day, you may choose to visit Lake Nakuru during the rainy season, in May or June.
For your general information, January, February, August, September and October are the busiest months of the year, just like the Christmas period.
When planning your trip, you should also consult some official weather sites, which provide a day by day or month by month forecast, such as:
Lake Nakuru is classified as dry-humid or semi-arid location. In fact, the weather climate here is tropical monsoon climate, which means that there is a high level of precipitation all year round. However, there are two dry seasons every year.
January and February are months of the hot-dry season, and they are also the warmest months of the year. Concurrently, during these months, the National Park is packed with tourists, which means that it’s crowded. If you don’t mind some rain, and you wish to avoid the crowds, coming during the rainy season might save you some money as well – from late April until June.
The cool-dry season begins in July, and it ends in October, and the coolest month of the year is August.
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Lake Nakuru was first declared as a conservation area in 1957, and in 1961, it partially became a bird sanctuary. In 1964, the whole lake and its surroundings were verified as a bird sanctuary, and two years later, in 1968, the District was gazetted as a National Park. In 1977, a significant number of Rothschild giraffes were translocated to the park, as a measure of protection. Nearly a decade later, more accurately, in 1984, the National Park was already recognized as a government managed rhino sanctuary. In fact, in 1987, the park was officially announced as a rhino sanctuary.
In 2009, it was branded as IBA (Important Bird Area), and a few years later, in 2011, it became a World Heritage Site, designated by UNESCO.
When it comes to wildlife and flora, Lake Nakuru National Park provides travelers with immense diversity. This park is partially covered by the largest Euphobia forest in Africa, a forest that, unfortunately, is now endangered because of the side effects of global warming.
From a distance, the color of the lake appears to be pink-colored, due to the presence of the main attraction, which is the population of flamingos. Cyanophyte Spirulina is an algae, recognized as the primary source of food for these birds and gives the lake a shade of greenish blue. The overall image of the lake is stunning – you may see distinct spots of pink, blue, green and white.
As you may see around 2 million of Greater and Lesser Flamingo gathered on the shore, you may also spot around 500 bird species when visiting Lake Nakuru. In fact, this is one of the most important aspects that make Lake Nakuru such an important attraction for bird enthusiasts. Simultaneously, it’s undoubtedly the place with the largest concentration of long-crested eagle on the earth, and you will also encounter fish eagles, yellow-billed pelicans, hammerkops, marabou storks, and so on. Among the most colorful birds living on the premises of Lake Nakuru is the one and only African pygmy kingfisher. In spite of its small size, the brilliant color scheme makes it unique.
The lake is also a sanctuary for rhinos, and the population of black and white rhinos is a major attraction itself. At the same time, Rothschild giraffe is another mammal for which this park proves to be the perfect shelter, as we’re talking about an endangered species. Other animal species that are part of the wildlife spectacle of the National Park include buffalos, zebras, olive baboons, impalas, hippos, hyenas, lions, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs.
During a game drive, you’ll immerse into the lush woodlands, where you have the unique chance of spotting the vervet monkey and the colobus. Watching these primate species is, by itself, a rewarding, incredible experience.
This park has been acknowledged as a conservation area since 1957 and offers protection for the unique combination of wildlife and flora. It has been a bird sanctuary since 1961, a rhino sanctuary since 1984, and it has also become a haven for Rothschild Giraffes. To assure optimal protection to the area, the park is surrounded by an electric fence. At the moment, Lake Nakuru National Park is officially designated as IBA and a World Heritage Site, with the numbers of tourists growing yearly.
- Lake Nakuru National Park is the first National Park that has been branded as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in Africa.
- The largest number of long-crested eagles on the planet dwells on Lake Nakuru National Park’s premises.
- Around 2 million flamingo birds come for food at Lake Nakuru National Park – 1,5 million Lesser Flamingo and 500,000 Greater Flamingo.
- Unfortunately, the populations of flamingos have been diminishing recently. The initial reasons include pollution resulted from waterworks industries, too much tourism, together with the irregular variations in the water levels between the wet and dry seasons.
- Pollution, paired with drought, are factors that contribute to the deterioration of Cyanobacteria, which is the blue-green algae flamingos eat. As a result, the populations of flamingos migrate to neighboring lakes such as Elmenteita.