Nakuru means “Dust or Dusty Place” in the Maasai language. Lake Nakuru National Park, close to Nakuru town, was established in 1961. It started off small, only encompassing the famous lake and the surrounding mountainous vicinity. Now it has been extended to include a large part of the savannahs.
Lake Nakuru, a small (it varies from 5 to 30 square kilometers) shallow alkaline lake on the edge of the town of Nakuru lies about 160 kilometers north of Nairobi. It can therefore be visited in a day tour from the capital or more likely as part of a circuit taking in the Masai Mara, Mount Kenya, and to Samburu. The lake is world-famous as the location of the greatest bird spectacle on earth – myriads of Fuschia pink flamingoes whose numbers are legion, often more than a million maybe two. They feed on the abundant algae, which thrive in the warm waters. Scientists reckon that the flamingo population at Nakuru consumes about 250,000 kilos of algae per hectare of surface area per year. There are two types of flamingo species: the lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater, which has a bill with a black tip. The Lesser flamingos are ones that are commonly pictured in documentaries mainly because they are large in number. Flamingo populations in Lake Nakuru are on a steady increase again. The numbers had been reduced due to the El-Nino weather pattern that flooded the lake and changed the alkaline concentration. The flamingos feed on algae, created from their droppings mixing in the warm alkaline waters, and plankton. But flamingos are not the only avian attraction, also unforgettable are two fish-eating birds, pelicans, and cormorants. Despite the tepid and alkaline waters, a diminutive fish, tilapia grahami has flourished after being introduced in the early 1960s. The lake is rich in other birdlife. There are over 400 resident species on the lake and in the surrounding park. Thousands of both little grebes and white-winged black terns are frequently seen as are stilts, avocets, ducks, and in the European winter the migrant waders.
Lake Nakuru National Park, which surrounds the lake, has recently been enlarged partly to provide a sanctuary for the black rhino. This undertaking has necessitated a fence – to keep out poachers rather than to restrict the movement of wildlife. The park now has more than 25 rhinos, one of the largest concentrations in the country, so the chances of spotting these survivors are good. There are also a number of Rothschild’s giraffe, again translocated for safety from western Kenya beginning in 1977. Waterbuck are very common and both the Kenya species are found here. Among the predators are lions & leopards, the latter being seen much more frequently in recent times. The park also has large-sized python snakes that inhabit the dense woodlands, and can often be seen crossing the roads or dangling from trees.
Due credit should be given to the World Wide Fund For Nature organization, and local Kenyan wildlife foundations for supporting the preservation of animals, protection of the rhinoceros population, and research into the effects of surrounding communities and industries
The Great Rift Valley, mostly known in Kenya as the East African Rift Valley, was formed between 2 and 7 million years ago. It is the longest rift on the surface of the earth. The Rift Valley starts all the way from Jordan too, Middle East and runs through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Malawi, and ends near the coastal town of Solada in Mozambique. The amazing attribute about the Rift Valley is that once it reaches the Kenyan border, it diverges into two rifts, which later converge near Lake Rukwa in southern Tanzania.
The Great Rift Valley is approximately 4,000 miles long and 35 miles wide. It was formed due to geological tension in the earth’s crust that caused a deep depression, while probably forcing the sides upwards. The floor of the valley is normally below sea level. In Kenya, the Rift Valley gave rise to many lakes that have become a habitat for diverse wildlife. The walls of the Rift Valley are called escarpments; the famous escarpments of Kenya being the Mau Escarpment. The Mau escarpments are famous for their height, which rises over 8500 feet.
– As you drive over a hill, one of Kenya’s spectacular soda lakes shimmers in the distance. The closer you get, the pinker it becomes as thousands of flamingos go about their business. Then, without warning, they lift off the water like an amazing pink cloud. Fly about and return to the lake, continuing to enjoy the spectacular sunny Kenyan afternoon. You can visit some of Kenya’s Rift Valley lakes on your safari.