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Lake Naivasha National Park

Lake Naivasha National Park is located near Naivasha town in Kenya. The park covers an area of 149 square kilometers, and the majority of it is occupied by a freshwater lake known as Lake Naivasha. It is famous for being one of the top birding destinations in Kenya.

The park is dominated by Lake Naivasha, which is within the park. The park derives its name from the local Maasai word “Nai’posha,” meaning “rough water,” as the Maasai named it for its rough waters and sudden storms. Lake Naivasha consists of a combination of sedimentary deposits and volcanic rocks from a larger Pleistocene era lake.

Entry Fee Fortunately, Lake Naivasha National Park does not charge an entry fee compared to other Kenyan national parks, but visitors will have to pay for activities done within the park. This makes the park an ideal safari destination for budget travelers.

History Lake Naivasha linked Kisumu and Nairobi and was a landing site for flying boats on the Imperial Airways and mail route from Southampton to South Africa. The shores of Lake Naivasha were also a base for the famous American conservationist Joy Adamson, the author of “Born Free.”

On the 10th of April 1995, Lake Naivasha was declared by UNESCO as a Ramsar wetland. By 2020, Lake Naivasha’s surface area had increased from the usual 139 square kilometers to 198 square kilometers. The common carp fish was introduced to Lake Naivasha in 2001 and now accounts for 90% of the fish caught in the lake.

In 1995, a total of 45 MW of electricity was generated from Lake Naivasha. The lake had disappeared completely at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award was given to the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association for its conservation efforts for its Ramsar site. Lake Naivasha National Park is one of the country’s youngest national parks, established in 1995.

Location Lake Naivasha National Park is located northwest of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, in Nakuru County, outside Naivasha town. You can access the park by road in about a 1.5-hour drive from the city or through a chartered flight from Nairobi to Loldia Airstrip on the western side of Naivasha. It is about a 90-minute drive by road from Nairobi city.

Best Time to Visit Lake Naivasha’s weather is favorable for visiting all year round, but the best time to visit is during the dry seasons of June to August and December to February. During these times, the vegetation in the park is not thick, making it easier to spot wildlife, mainly concentrated on the lake shores. Annual average temperatures of the park range from 16.7°F to 17.9°F.

Accommodation There are several accommodation options to choose from while visiting Lake Naivasha National Park, ranging from luxury, mid-range, and budget, depending on tourists’ budgets. Some of the places to stay include Naivasha Sopa Lodge, Fisherman’s Camp, Loldia House, Lake Naivasha YMCA Camp, Naivasha Kongoni Lodge, Sawela Lodge, Naivasha Crescent, Lake Naivasha Country Club, Kiboko Luxury Camp, Camp Carnelley’s, and many others.

Animals Lake Naivasha National Park is teeming with wildlife such as hippos, African buffalos, waterbucks, warthogs, giraffes, common zebras, Grant’s gazelles, baboons, wildebeests, leopards, lions, and large numbers of colobus monkeys, among others.

What to Do Horseback Safaris Horse riding in Nakuru National Park allows you to get close to wildlife without disrupting their daily activities, such as grazing. This is one of the best ways to experience wildlife, compared to being on a game drive. The cost of horse riding is 3,000 Kenyan shillings per hour.

Nature Guided Walks Nature guided walks at Lake Naivasha National Park can be done on designated trails. All tourists planning to do nature walks must be accompanied by an armed game ranger because some animals can be dangerous, although the trails are safe in most cases. The ranger will point out and provide more knowledge about birds, wildlife, and different plant species.

Night Game Drives Night game drives at Lake Naivasha National Park are the best way to explore nocturnal wildlife species like hyenas and hippos.

Swimming Swimming in Lake Naivasha can be done in areas designated by guides from Sanctuary Farm. Remember to pack your swimming costume if you wish to engage in this activity.

Birding Lake Naivasha National Park is a birder’s paradise where enthusiasts can spot over 400 species of birds. Some of the birds you can expect to see include Klaas’s cuckoo, red-chested cuckoo, common swift, African rail, fulvous whistling duck, yellow-billed duck, helmeted guineafowl, common quail, speckled pigeon, mourning collared dove, black cuckoo, Eurasian thick-knee, black-bellied plover, African jacana, bar-tailed godwit, spotted redshank, lesser black-backed gull, African openbill, long-tailed cormorant, cattle egret, squacco heron, African sacred ibis, black-winged kite, long-crested eagle, African grey hornbill, white-fronted bee-eater, white-throated bee-eater, African pygmy kingfisher, malachite kingfisher, lilac-breasted roller, African grey woodpecker, yellow-collared lovebird, sulphur-breasted bushshrike, northern fiscal, rufous-naped lark, buff-bellied warbler, African yellow warbler, plain martin, red-billed oxpecker, red-winged starling, white-browed sparrow weaver, pin-tailed whydah, western yellow wagtail, and white-bellied canary among others.

Game Drives Although big cats are not common in Lake Naivasha, a game drive is still satisfying with views of giraffes, impalas, zebras, and other animals. The best time for a game drive is in the morning and evening. You can stop at several viewing points to admire the scenic views of the lake and the entire park.

Boat Cruise The best way to explore Lake Naivasha National Park is by taking a boat cruise on the beautiful lake. Boat cruises are the most common tourist activity in the park, offering views of wildlife and aquatic birds. The best time for a boat cruise is in the afternoon when you can see numerous wildlife at the shorelines quenching their thirst from the scorching sun. Hippos are the most common animals spotted during the ride.

Cycling Cycling at Lake Naivasha National Park can be done from Sanctuary Farm. You can hire their bikes for an hour, a day, or for the entire day if you wish. It’s a great way to explore the farm and the neighboring communities.

What to See/Attractions Lake Naivasha The average depth of Lake Naivasha is 6 meters, with a maximum depth of 30 meters. Its surface elevation is 1,884 meters, and its surface area is 139 square kilometers. It is fed by the Gilgil and Malewa rivers and transient streams, with no visible outlets at the lake; yet the water is fresh. It’s been assumed that Lake Naivasha has underground outflows. The lake is an habitat to several species of aquatic birds and acts as the main water source for the national park. Lake Naivasha is the highest of all the Rift Valley lakes.

Lake Oloiden Lake Oloiden, which was formerly connected to Lake Naivasha about 50 years ago, has a camp where you can stay and visit destinations close to Naivasha. It attracts a number of flamingoes and other bird species.

Elsamere The trees at Elsamere form a very beautiful scenery on the shores of Lake Naivasha. These stippled trees create a forest at its shores.

Crescent Island Crescent Island is a small private island on the eastern side of Lake Naivasha. The game sanctuary was formed in 1988 after the lake’s water dramatically decreased, allowing Crescent Island to become part of the mainland. It also became famous after the “Out of Africa” movie was shot in areas around Lake Naivasha and its surroundings. You can access the island by boat from Lake Naivasha and partake in activities such as bird watching, nature-guided walks, boat cruises, picnicking, biking, game viewing, and horseback rides.

Hell’s Gate National Park Tourists visiting Lake Naivasha National Park should also visit the nearby stunning Hell’s Gate National Park, located just south of Lake Naivasha. The park, as its name suggests, is named after two narrow, massive red cliffs found within the park. Hell’s Gate National Park is mainly known for its breathtaking views. Two volcanoes, Olkaria and Hobley’s, are located within the park, and Hell’s Gate Gorge is lined with two red-hued cliffs of volcanic plug, offering great hiking opportunities. The park is home to 103 species of birds and some wildlife and can be explored on foot with an armed ranger guide.

Crater Lake Game Sanctuary Crater Lake Game Sanctuary is situated west of Naivasha, dominated by a small saline-alkaline crater lake. It’s a privately owned sanctuary with a camp where visitors can stay. There are about 170 species of birds found around the lake, making it a birding hotspot. The sanctuary offers activities like hiking, walking safaris, and birding.

Mount Suswa

Mount Suswa is a striking shield volcano in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya, known for its unique double crater with a vast lava-tube cave system. It offers adventurous hiking, caving opportunities, and a chance to observe diverse wildlife and the traditional lifestyles of the local Maasai community.

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