Sitting comfortably on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, 170 kilometres northwest of Nairobi, is Lake Nakuru National Park. Lake Nakuru is famous for its flat soda lake dotted with vivid pink flamingoes, but also offers an unparalleled game viewing experience. Lake Nakuru National Park is one of two premium parks in Kenya, and well-deserving of its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Lake Nakuru remains one of Kenya’s most popular destinations for its remarkable natural scenes. Eerie morning ghost-like mist clouds hover over the natural lake, creating captivating backdrops for wildlife.
Surrounding the shallow lake is the national park, defined by grasslands and wooded areas. A protective ridged escarpment hugs the perimeter of the lake and offers up unsurpassed views of the park below. The flamingoes aren’t the only drawcard of the area—Rothchild’s giraffe, hippo, and vocal wading birds often adorn the shores of the alkaline lake.
There’s a prevalence of both black and white rhino in the area, with the park containing the world’s highest concentration of black rhino. This park is fenced off to provide a natural sanctuary for both species of rhino.
The closest international airport to Lake Nakuru National Park is Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Visitors can board a scheduled flight from here to the smaller Nakuru Airport, situated a mere four kilometres from the entrance of the park.
Visitors descend upon Lake Nakuru to see the flocks of flamboyant flamingoes and critically endangered black rhino. In addition to these popular protagonists, the Park also has over 50 species of mammals and 400 species of bird.
There are no elephants in the Park—Lake Nakuru National Park is fenced off to protect the Rothschild’s giraffe and endangered rhinos.
Commonly spotted mammals include hyenas, jackals, wild dogs, buffalo, lions, leopards and cheetah. Birds to spot include the long-tailed widowbird, Abyssinian thrush raptors, waders, Rüppell's vulture and grey crown crane.
Lake Nakuru National Park offers good game viewing year-round. June to February is the dry season, which means it’s easier to spot game because of the thin vegetation.
March to May is wet season which means fewer crowds but more thundershowers. Short heavy downpours characterize the wet season, which can be hot and humid. Overall, Lake Nakuru enjoys a moderate climate without too much range in temperature.
Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the few places where visitors can get up close and personal with white rhinos on game drives. Guided game drives take visitors close to the shores of Lake Nakuru to enjoy an unforgettable wildlife experience.
These drives are normally conducted by local safari operators. The Makalia waterfall situated on the south side of the national park also adds a unique dimension to the safari experience.
Birding is big in Lake Nakuru. Privately guided birding tours within the park can be arranged—there are migratory and endemic species waiting to be photographed. Internationally, the area is recognised as being significant.
The most popular accommodation type in Lake Nakuru National Park is self-catering lodges and campsites. There are a wide variety of campsites available in the park, each equipped with running water and ablution facilities.
There are only a handful of privately-owned luxury lodges within the park. Visitors should consider staying in self-catering or privately-owned accommodation during the rainy season.