A Guide To Lake Nakuru National Park Kenya
Lake Nakuru National Park Kenya is about 188 sq km and is 160 km northwest of Nairobi in the Rift Valley Nakuru county. The ecosystem comprises of the lake surrounded by wooded and bushy grasslands. The main gate is 4 km from Nakuru town. It can also be accessed by air through the 12km long naishi airstrip in the southern part of the park. But there is a gate at Lanet that links the park to the Nairobi – Nakuru highway. At Lake Nakuru National Park Kenya there are flamingo and other water birds numbering about 450 species with about 1.5 million flamingoes.
Facts About Lake Nakuru National Park
Altitude: 1,756 metres above sea level.
Area: 188 sq km.
Location: Nakuru County
Distance from Nairobi: 140 km northwest of Nairobi
Gazetted: Lake Nakuru was gazetted as a bird sanctuary in 1960 and elevated to status of National Park 8 years later.
Vegetation: 550 plant species and varied woodlands that include: acacia woodlands, Euphorbia and Olea forests.
Climate: The climate is warm and dry.
Fauna: Indigenous mammals include; the rare long-eared leaf-nosed bat, colobus monkey, rock hyrax, hippo, leopard, lion, rhino, waterbuck, impala, gazelle, striped hyena, bat-eared fox, wild cat, reedbuck, vervet monkeys, baboons and golden cat. Re-stocked mammals include: lion, black and white rhino and the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe.
Birds: 450 other species of birds. Up until 2012 before the lake’s water levels tremendously rose, well over 1.5 million flamingos belted its shores.
Roads: The park is well connected by a tarmac road from Nairobi and is networked by accessible, sufficiently passable roads.
What To See At Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru has 56 species of mammals including the white rhino and lion tree climbers. The park is Kenya’s firat rhino sanctuary. Other wildlife including thomson’s grant gazelle, the long eared leaf nosed bat colobus monkey, rock hyrax, hippo, leopard, lion, the waterbuck, impala, striped hyena and the golden cat.
Lake Nakuru National Park also has a unique vegetation with about 550 different plant species including the exceptional and biggest euphorbia forest in africa, picturesque landscape and yellow acacia woodlands. The park, too, has breathtaking viewpoints at lion hill baboon cliff and out of africa view points and the makalia falls.
Entry to the park is by safari card only and the card may be loaded or obtained at Mtito Andei gate. Proof of identification will be required. Lake Nakuru National Park has accommodation facilities which include Lake Nakuru lodge and Sarova lion hill lodge. Kws offers self – catering accommodation at Naishi guest house, while camping facilities are at Naishi, Rhino Soysambu, Nyati Chui and Reedsbuck.
What To Do At Lake Nakuru National Park
Game drive: This is best done in the company of an expert guide who knows their birds, as they really are the main attraction in this Park. It is one of the parks in Kenya where you can drive up close to White Rhino and may even snap a shot of them with flocks of flamingos on the Lake in the background.
Game viewing: See the endangered white rhinos and other animals including waterbucks, warthogs, hippos, impalas, buffalo, Rothschild giraffes and more.
Bird watching: Enjoy the fabulous water birds and other bird species. The best place to view the birds is from Baboon Cliff, where you get an excellent view over the lake, and the wonderful spectacle of pink flamingoes along its edge. However, the number of birds in the park fluctuates as food conditions change, so check the bird population with the national park before making the journey.
Accommodation and Hotels in Lake Nakuru National Park
KWS Self Catering at Lake Nakuru National Park
Campsites in Lake Nakuru National Park
- Back Packers
- Makalia Campsite
- Reedbuck Campsite
- Naishi Campsite
- Rhino Campsite
- Chui Campsite
- Soysambu Campsite
- Kambi Nyuki Campsite
- Kambi Nyati Campsite
- Acacia Picnic Site
- Baboon Cliff
- Out of Africa
- Pelican Picnic Site
Lodges in Lake Nakuru National Park
- Sunbird lodge
- Bontana hotel
- Merica hotel
- L.Nakuru lodge
- Sundowner lodge
- Mbweha camp
- Flamingo camp
How to get to Lake Nakuru National Park Kenya
Roads: The park has a tarmac road connection with Nairobi, a distance of 156 km north west of Nairobi on the main A104 road. The most commonly used route into the park is via the main gate, 4 km from Nakuru Town Centre.
It is also possible to enter the park from the main Nairobi Nakuru road at Lanet Gate. The Nderit Gate is used by people accessing the park from Masai Mara or Elementaita.
Airstrips: The Naishi airstrip services the park for tourism and KWS activities.
Park Roads:The park has an adequate and well serviced motorable roads that make most parts of the park accessible.
Park Gates: The park has three gates, Main Gate and Lanet Gate that link the park with the Nairobi – Nakuru highway and the less used Nderit Gate.
A Map to Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park Entrance Fee and Charges
The entry fee is $90 for adult, nonresident foreigners, 1200 ksh for nonresident children and $55 for non-resident students. If possible, pay in US$. If the fee is paid in Kenyan Shillings (KSH), the fee is converted to US$ at a highly unfavorable rate. For Kenyan nationals the fee is KSH 1,200 for adults, KSH 600 for children; for foreign adult residents of Kenya the fee is KSH 1,200 and one-half KSH 300 for children ages 3 through 17. If you’re using a currency other than the US$.
A really cool new thing that KWS has started is called SafariCard. You can buy a permanent one ahead of time and load it up with money to use at several of Kenya’s parks, or you can buy a temporary one at the gate, surrendered at the gate when you leave.
An additional vehicle fee is required, the amount of which is determined by the number of seats in your vehicle. For detailed list of vehicle and aircraft fees.
Lake Nakuru National Park Kenya Opening and closing time
The park opens at 7 am. If you are traveling from Nairobi, then take the Naironi – Nakuru highway. On the way to Nakuru you will have a great view of the Rift Valley, so drive slow and enjoy the scenery! From Nairobi, it is about a 30-minute drive to a scenic overlook at 7200 feet (2200 meters) above sea level and from here you can get a spectacular view of the volcanoes Suswa and Longonot.
There are also a group of great little curio shops at this stop where you can buy souvenirs. Seeing the entire park could take you a full day, so plan to arrive around 9 am unless you have more than a day in the area. It might take you few minutes to get your ticket and the vehicle checked.
The park has very well established roads that make most parts of the park accessible by 2-wheel-drive vehicles. Some less – traveled parts and most viewpoint hills will require 4 – wheel-drive. The park has three gates: the Main Gate and Lanet Gate that link the park with the Nairobi – Nakuru highway and the less-used Nderit Gate.
If you choose to fly: It’s about a 25 – minute flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi to the Naishi airstrip inside the park.
Lake Nakuru National Park Contacts
Attraction Type: Wildlife, Scenery & Landscapes
Category: National Park, Birding Site, Lake or River
Region: South Rift
City / Town: Nakuru Town
Road / Street: Nakuru Nairobi Highway
Postal Address: The Senior Warden, Lake Nakuru National Park, PO Box 539-20100, Nakuru.
Phone: 020-2664071, 020-2664079, 020-2671686, 020-2322886, 051-8012070
Mobile: 0728355267, 0728355207, 0728355401
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
Flamingos in Lake Nakuru National Park
Spirulina has a lot to answer for in the life of the flamingo: a periodic low Spirulina count in the waters of their most famous home on Lake Nakuru causes them to migrate north and south to Kenya’s other lakes. If there’s a high Spirulina count, however, then as many as 1.5 million birds might arrive to create what famous ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson called, ‘the most fabulous bird spectacle on earth.’
The spectacle comes, however, at a price because an average population of 300,000 flamingos suck around 180 tonnes of Spirulina out of the lake every day. That’s a lot of algae. And nor is it always available. Sometimes, after a long dry period, the level of the water in the lake will reduce and its alkalinity will increase. This is bad news for the Spirulina, which cannot tolerate too high an alkaline content.
Consequently they shrivel up and die leaving the flamingos with a conundrum: they can deviate from their diet, depart for another lake, or die. It’s a tough choice and, though the flamingos try to survive on an alternative algae known as Clamydomonas, it’s considerably smaller than Spirulina and slips through the filtering system of their beaks. So, faced with starvation, they have only one choice – to migrate.
Migrating flamingos make for one of nature’s most glorious spectacles. Rising from the lake in choreographed flights of coral pink, they head off in V formation, streaking the blue skies pink, and filling the air with the sound of their honking. Where do they go? Any large expanse of water might attract them, but not before they’ve checked it out for Spirulina. And if the menu isn’t up to scratch, they’ll move on in search of better. Sometimes south, sometimes as far north as up to Lake Turkana, even to Ethiopia and Botswana.
The lesser flamingo is one of the world’s six flamingo species, but when it comes to eating Spirulina, it’s a master of the art. Custom-built for the job, it has long legs that allow it to wade and feed in water nearly a meter deep, while its long neck allows it to reach down into the water where it feeds with its head upside down. Flamingos harvest their algae by ‘grazing’ along the top of the water, skimming only a few centimetres of it into their elegantly curved bills. Inside the bill is a complex filtration system.
The upper mandible is triangular and fits tightly into the lower bill when closed, and the inner surfaces of both are covered with fine hair arranged in rows of about four to the centimetre. The thick, fleshy tongue fits neatly into a tubular groove in the lower mandible where it moves back and forth like a piston. As the tongue retracts, water is sucked in over the filter hairs; as it extends the water is forced out causing the algae to be caught in the fine filament hairs of the mandibles.
Consequently, if you watch a flamingo feeding, you will notice a pulsing ring of water coming rapidly out of its beak.
Flamingos: Did you know?
It’s not only flamingos that thrive on Spirulina – it is also highly beneficial to humans – being rich in protein and a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins, iron and calcium. Indeed so nutrientpacked is Spirulina that it has been dubbed ‘the most nutrientdense food on the planet’. The good news is, however, that it doesn’t turn humans pink.
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Identification: 56 in / 142 cm. Plumage white with a pink wash, wing-coverts and auxillaries bright coral-red; flight feathers black, bill pink with black tip – a much larger and paler bird than the lesser flamingo, easily recognised by its pink bill and ‘S’-shaped neck.
Lesser Flamingo (Pheonicopterus minor)
Identification: 40 in / 101 cm. Plumage deep pink, much darker and brighter than the greater flamingo; bill dark carmine-red with black tip.
Watch a tour video of Lake Nakuru National Park