Lake Nakuru National Park is a birder’s haven famously known for being home to a vast numbers of flamingos found on the shores of Lake Nakuru feeding on its algae, this is the fourth – largest population of flamingos in Kenya though in the recent years the population has drastically reduced.
The park is also a great Kenya wildlife destination known for being a home to a large rhino population, rhinos are critically endangered animals and in the park there are 70 white rhinoceros and 25 black rhinos.
The endangered Rothschild giraffe are other fascinating wildlife species found in Lake Nakuru National Park.
Lake Nakuru National Park is situated on the floor of the Great Rift Valley in Nakuru District approximately 164 kilometers North of Nairobi, a 2 – 3 hours’ drive from Nairobi City and South of the town of Nakuru.
Lake Nakuru National Park is at a size of 17 square miles encompassing of waterfalls, cliffs, forests, wooded and bushy grassland and Lake Nakuru which is a vital water source for the wildlife in the park and the whole ecosystem.
History of Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park was first declared a conservation area for the birds including high population of flamingos in 1957 and the conserved area only included Lake Nakuru and small parts of the surrounding area. This was done purposely to preserve the lake, reduce on the its population and conserve the birdlife that was blooming on the lake.
In 1961, the already declared Conservation Area which is the current southern section of Lake Nakuru National Park was declared a bird sanctuary and to ensure that the bird population is protected, several protocols were introduced.
In 1968, Lake Nakuru National Park was gazetted as one of the national parks in Kenya, later the park’s area was expanded to include the northern Savannah lands of the park which led to the current area of 188 square kilometers.
In 1977, the park was honored for being home to the rare and endangered Rothschild giraffes which were translocated to the park from western Kenya for conservation and protection. This was one of the ways through which the Kenya government’s efforts of preserving wildlife in the Est African Community were boasted.
Lake Nakuru National Park was later recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site, a RAMSAR Site in 1990 and an International Birding Area in 2009.
Attractions in Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru is one of the most famous soda lakes in East Africa’s Great Rift Valley Lake System and is situated in the heart of Lake Nakuru National Park covering a surface area of 45 square kilometers, Lake Nakuru is a RAMSAR site is one of the main attractions in Lake Nakuru national park.
The lake is a perfect site in the park to spot a huge population of birds as it algae attraction a lot of them including huge populations of pink flamingos (lesser and greater flamingos) which are in millions and create a pink plumage, other animals on the shores of the lake include pelicans, cormorants among others.
The magnificent Makalia Falls are another great attraction in Lake Nakuru National Park found on the southern end of the park, the waters on Makalia River drop at a height of 10 meters off a sheer cliff and forms a plunge pool.
Lake Nakuru National Park is made up a rugged terrain consisting of hills such as Enasoit, honeymoon, Lion hill among others. These hills are the best spots to enjoy views of the park and its numerous attractions including wildlife.
Lake Nakuru National Park is a birder’s haven and is listed among the Important Birding Areas in Kenya, the park is a great destination for Kenya birding safari as it hosts over 500 bird species including the largest population of flamingos and pelicans in East Africa.
Birds in Lake Nakuru National Park include migratory, endemic, resident birds of which are critically endangered and threatened species. The most endangered bird species in the park include Rueppells Griffon, Gray crowned-crown, and white-backed Vulture. Others are nearly endangered and these include European Roller, Great Snipe, black-tailed Godwit, Maccoa Duck, lesser flamingos, and they’re also birds that are Vulnerable and these include white-headed Vulture, Imperial Eagle, Lappet-faced Vulture, Abyssinian Thrush, and Greater spotted Eagle among others.
Other birds in Lake Nakuru National Park include Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck, Maccoa Duck, Egyptian Goose, Cape Teal, Hottentot Teal, Red-billed Duck, Yellow-Billed duck, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Old word and sparrows which include Northern Gray-headed Sparrow, the purple grenadier, African fire finch, Black and White Mannikin, Common Waxbill, crimson-ramped waxbill, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, lesser Masked weavers, Long-tailed Widowbird, spectacled Weaver, Speke’s Weaver, Double-collared Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, green-headed sunbird, Amethyst Sunbird, Shinning sunbird, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, golden-winged sunbird among others.
Wildlife in Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is home to a diversity of wildlife with over 50 mammal species, the park is a great destination to see the endangered species such as black and white rhinos and Rothschild giraffes.
Other wildlife in Lake Nakuru National Park include wild dogs, zebras, elands, waterbucks, lions, baboon, impalas, colobus monkeys, hyenas, zebras and pythons among others.
Kenya safari activities to do in Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is a great destination for game viewing in Kenya as it is a home to some of the endangered wildlife species including black and white rhinos and the endangered rare Rothschild.
Game viewing (Game drives) in Lake Nakuru national park are offered as morning and afternoon game drives, they are done in open safari vehicles with an expert safari driver guide. Some of the animals you will encounter during the game drives include rhinos, cape buffaloes, giraffes, antelopes, elands among others.
Birding is one of the most fascinating Kenya safari activity to do in Lake Nakuru National Park a birder’s haven, the park is a great Kenya birding destination recognized as an Important Birding Area.
The greatest spot for birding in Lake Nakuru National Park is Lake Nakuru – a soda lake known for hosting huge population of lesser and greater flamingoes which create a pink plumage on the lake’s shores.
In addition to flamingoes, other birds to see in Lake Nakuru National Park include Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck, Maccoa Duck, Egyptian Goose, Cape Teal, Hottentot Teal, Red-billed Duck, Yellow-Billed duck, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Old word and sparrows which include Northern Gray-headed Sparrow, the purple grenadier, African fire finch, Black and White Mannikin, Common Waxbill, crimson-ramped waxbill, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, lesser Masked weavers, Long-tailed Widowbird, spectacled Weaver, Speke’s Weaver, Double-collared Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, green-headed sunbird, Amethyst Sunbird among others.
Camping and picnic
Lake Nakuru National Park is a great destination for picnic and camping, these two amazing experiences offer visitors a chance to get close to nature and also see many animals from a short distance ever. The park has a number of camping sites where camping is possibly done and these include Enjoro Campsite, Nakuru Tented Camp, Makalia falls campsite, Mbweha Camp among others.
Picnicking is a great Kenya safari experience to enjoy in Lake Nakuru National Park, the park has a number of picnic sites where you can enjoy your meals together absorbing in nature and spotting some animals from a short distance. Picnic sites in Lake Nakuru National Park include Baboon cliff, lion cliff, Out of Africa outlook among others.
Getting to Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is accessed by road and air.
By road – the park is accessed along the Nairobi – Nakuru Highway from Nairobi City on a drive of about 3 hours, from Nakuru town it is 4 kilometers to get to the entrance of the park.
By air – domestic flights are available from Wilson Airport to Naishi Airport and it is a drive of just 25 minutes.
Best time to visit Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park can be visited all year round, however the best time to visit is during the dry season running from June to October (long dry season) and January to March which is the short dry season.
During the dry season, animals are easy to spot as they congregate on the remaining watering holes such as Lake Nakuru thus increasing your chances of wildlife sightings.
Where to stay in Lake Nakuru National Park
There are limited accommodation in Lake Nakuru National Park, the available facilities include
Camps and Tented Camps
Flamingo Hill Tented Camp, Makalia Camp, Rhino Campsite, Ziwa Bush Lodge.
Mbweha Camps, Lakira Camp Nakuru and Lake Nakuru Lodge