When you think of Kenya, the natural beauty and wildlife are probably the first things that cross your mind. But did you know that there is more to Kenyans than just game viewing? One of Kenya’s top tourist attractions is the Great Rift Valley that stretches from Lake Naivasha in the northeast to Lake Baringo in the southwest. The Great Rift Valley is home to birds that are rarely seen by us in our everyday lives — from poisonous snakes to enormous crocodiles and hippos; the variety here is second only to africa itself.
Africa’s Great Rift Valley that stretches from Lebanon to Mozambique, is a 6000-mile (9656km) crack in the Earths crust, and coincidentally much of it is to be found in Kenya, literally cutting the country into two. When one embarks on one Africa’s finest safari destination in Kenya, the famous Maasai mara, one is entertained by the breathtaking views of the Great Rift Valley on there way to the 8th wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara.
Arguably, the Valley contains some of the world’s finest lakes, mountains and plains. Beginning in the remote North, is Lake Turkana. The Jade Sea as its referred from different quarters, it sits in one of Kenya’s harshest environments on planet Earth. Uniquely, Lake Turkana is the largest desert lake In the World, supporting Africa’s biggest population of Nile Crocodiles.
Now moving further South there are a number of Lakes – Baringo, Bogoria, Nakuru, Elmenteita, and the Naivasha – all unique, all supporting a staggeringly large proportion of Kenya’s wildlife. Importantly, for bird photography lovers and birding safari this ecosystem is critical and the circuit is among the most-beloved for birders.
Baringo, a saline Lake is sometimes home to huge Flocks of lesser flamingo, and contains more true geysers than any other area of true size in the world.
Baringo supports more than 500+ species of birds, and is a crucial stop off for migrant bird populations. Lake Elmenteita, derived from the Maasai word muteita, meaning “dusty place”, a reference to the dustiness of the area, especially between January and March. It also attracts a large no. of flamingos and one can also visit the next-door cradle of mankind, Kariandusi prehistoric site. An archaeological site it’s on the southeastern edge of the Great Rift Valley and on Lake Elmenteita. Kariandusi is an African Early Stone Age site dating to approximately 1 million years ago.
In the far South, in the arid border lands of Rift Valley province, lies lakes Natron and Magadi, whose surfaces like those of Elmenteita, appear pink, such is the propensity of flamingos. One of the famous lakes in this region is Lake Nakuru National Park.
Lake Nakuru National Park ranked as one of the most colorful lakes in the world, is a no miss for an on adventure for an Africa safari experience. A typical itinerary would not be complete without ranked having Lake Nakuru as part of the Kenya southern circuit safari. And there’s good explanation for this. Lake Nakuru hosts some of the most majestic wildlife in Kenya. Importantly its an important breeding ecosystem for the critically black rhino and also the white rhino. As such Lake Nakuru promises an almost 90% game chance of sighting these giant mammals. Apart from the critically endangered black rhino, this park is also home to over 400 migratory bird species.
Historically Lake Nakuru National Park is known for hosting 1% of worlds flamingos, hence the famous reference as the bird watcher’s paradise. While on safari with Rustic Nature Tours and on a sunrise game drive, mid-morning is the best time you’ll find the flamingos foraging for the food, that is filtering blue-green algae from top layer of water.
One is likely to spot both species of flamingos while on safari to Lake Nakuru National Park, that is the Greater flamingo and the lesser flamingo.
Among other incredible birding experiences include, the storks, kestrels, the African fish eagle, white-browed coucal, lilac breasted roller, king fisher, and even the rear southern ground hornbill among others. One cannot miss the tree -lions or the lion-trees of Lake Nakuru National Park. One has the rare chance of sighting lions actually climbing and sleeping on top of trees. Lake Nakuru is also the natural habit to the endangered Rothschild giraffe also known as the Baringo giraffe. Kenya is endowed with 3 of the 9sub-species of giraffe in Africa. The other two are Maasai giraffe and Reticulated giraffe which can only be seen North of the equator.
Like Baringo, lake Naivasha is a fresh water lake and supports healthy numbers of birds and the hippopotamus. Lake Naivasha forms the perfect lake for a boat ride to see the hippos up close and also one can opt to visit crescent island on a tour to Lake Naivasha. Hell’s gate National Park is also a magnificent park with its natural cliffs good for rock climbing and also considered an important breeding ground for the Ruppells Vulture which habitually roosts and nests on cliff faces. Its also the only park one can actually cycle in for adventure safari in Kenya.
The lakes coupled with their feeder/outlet rivers and the rich volcanic soils, are the key ingredients to life in the Great Rift Valley.
Rustic Nature Tours offers an ideal package that is well packaged for all budgets to fully explore and enjoy the abundance beauty of the Lakes safaris both for mammal, birding photography and birding safari. From a simple 2day overnight safari to lakes Nakuru and Naivasha get in touch and let us help you marvel at the great lakes of the rift valley. Exploring the great rift valley, the breathtaking views, the lions, leopards and birding to the African Hoopoe and the Green Wood Hoopoe common to acacia woodlands of the incredible Lake Nakuru National Park.