Lake Nakuru National Park is situated approximately 164 kilometers northwest of Nairobi just on the rift valley Nakuru district. Its ecosystem mainly comprises of the Lake that covers 27% of the park’s area and its vegetation consists of 550 plant species and unique woodland that include most of the euphorbia, acacia woodlands and olea forests; busy grassland that are found along its border areas. The biggest area of the park largely acts as a wildlife protected area while the land along the catchment area is intensively used for agriculture, ranching and forestry. The park’s main gate is located 4 kilometers from Nakuru town. The park can be reached by air through the 12 kilometer long Naishi airstrip in the southern side of the protected area. There is also a gate at Lanet that links the protected area to Nairobi-Nakuru highway. Lanet gate is mostly used by tourists finishing their Uganda safaris and wish to extend their trip to Kenya. They cross from Uganda through Malaba or Busia borders.
Lake Nakuru was first designated as a National Park in 1961 where it covered an area of 188 square kilometers largely to provide perimeter buffer zone to conserve the Lake from encroachers and also to reduce the effect of urban and agricultural development in the immediate catchment as well as protect its stunning mountains. It was gazetted as a Rhino Sanctuary in 1993 and it is of no doubt that the park boasts of over 45 black and 31 white Rhinos. Lake Nakuru is designated as RAMSAR sites in Kenya. The park is credited for its unique pink flamingos that are commonly spotted on the Lake shores plus many other wildlife species most of which include lions, bat eared fox, wild cat, colobus monkeys, the unique long eared nosed bat, hippos, giraffes, cheetahs, leopards, pythons, antelope families, birds, baboons, black and white rhinos, warthogs and others. Lake Nakuru consists of a soda Lake and it is located within elevation of 1754 meters.
The park is accessible by road which takes you through a tarmac road up to Nairobi and this covers about 156 kilometers Northwest of Nairobi along the main route A104. The commonly used road is through the main gate and it is around 4 kilometers from Nakuru town center. Visitors can also access the park through the main Nairobi Nakuru route at Lanet gate. The Nderit gate is commonly used by travelers who are connecting from Maasai Mara or Elementaita. The park consists of 3 gates the main gate and Lanet gate which connect the protected area with Nairobi-Nakuru highway and the less used Nderit gate. If you intend to spend your vacation holiday at this park, you will need to hire a 4 wheel drive car given the nature of the. The other alternative is for you to take a flight and you will spend at least 25 minutes from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi to the Naishi airstrip.
Lake Nakuru National Park can be visited from 7:00am and in case you are from Nairobi, you will take the Nairobi-Nakuru highway and this will reward you with the most stunning views of the mighty rift valley. For visitors who start their journeys from Nairobi, you will spend about half an hour driving to a scenic overview of over 2200 meters above sea level where you will also have a chance to catch a glimpse of the park’s remarkable volcanoes like Longonot and Suswa.
Nakuru area tends to experience rains during the cool dry season from July to October. This is a period migratory birds start arriving and they stay up to April. The short rains usually begin in November till December. Its rainfall amount is marginal compared to the long rains and features less effect while on wildlife safaris in Kenya. Between January and February, the weather tends to be dry and humidly hot with sprinkles of rain and most travelers flock to this protected area mainly to escape from the cold winters in Europe and the United States of America.
The long rains begin from late March to June and April and May feature as the primary months of the long rains. This means that the precipitation regains and there can be grass and pools as main rain water sources for wildlife species in the park as most of them do not like drinking from the Soda Lake of Nakuru given its high alkaline levels. You may also have a chance to catch a glimpse at most of wildlife species that have given birth during the wet season. The park experiences moderate temperatures except during evenings when it can be cool and because of this, you will need a jacket, sweater to help you participate in both early morning and afternoon activities at the park. Generally, the best time for you to pay a visit to Lake Nakuru National Park should be from June to September and January to March.
What to do in Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is famous for its over 56 mammal species that are worth exploring while you are on safari in Kenya. While on game drive, you will have a chance to spot out most of the white rhinos, tree climbing lions, Thomson’s grant gazelle, long eared leaf nosed bat colobus monkey, hippos, leopards, lions, rock hyrax, waterbuck, striped hyenas, golden cat, impala and others.
Over 450 avian species call this park their home with approximately 1.5 million flamingos that live on its Lake shores. You may also catch a glimpse at the arrow marked babbler, bateleur, Abyssinian thrush, black tailed godwit, black winged lapwing, brimstone canary, broad ringed white eye, brown backed scrub robin, crab plover, European roller, grey crowned crane, grey headed woodpecker, greater spotted eagle, great snipe, grey crested helmet shrike, imperial eagle, Hildebrandt’s starling, lesser kestrel, lappet faced vulture, Kenya Rufous sparrow, long tailed widowbird, pallid harrier, northern puff back, maccoa duck, red capped lark, white fronted bee eater, white headed vulture, western reef heron, Speke’s weaver, sooty falcon, Rufous necked wryneck, Rupell’s griffon vulture, Rupell’s robin chat, Schawlow’s wheatear. In case you are interested in viewing migrant birds, you can visit the park from November to April. This is a breeding season and most of the migrant birds flock into the park.
Accommodation in Lake Nakuru National Park
For visitor stay at Lake Nakuru National Park, the prominent lodges include Lake Nakuru Lodge, Sarova Lion Hill Lodge, Naishi Guesthouse, as well as campsites like Reedbuck campsite, Chui campsite, baboon cliff, pelican picnic site, acacia picnic site, soysambu campsite, Kambi Nyati campsite, Kambi Nyuki campsite, rhino campsite, flamingo camp and others.
Finally, for safaris in Kenya visiting Lake Nakuru National Park should be a must for you and you will certainly be filled with lifetime memories.