Lake Nakuru National Park
Created in 1961, this park now covers 180 sq km and is one of the most visited reserves in Kenya after the Masai Mara. Like most of the other Rift Valley lakes, it is a shallow soda lake, abundant with the blue-green algae that draw the shorelines thousands, and sometimes millions, of flamingos. For a number of years, the water level decreased steadily until the lake was almost dry between the rains, forcing the huge flamingo population to seek pinker pastures elsewhere, mainly on Lake Bogoria. The lake was restored to its former glory after the El Nino rains of 1997, and is currently around 3.5km deep – the deepest it has been for a decade. The flamingos are already starting to return in large numbers, but even without them Lake Nakuru has maintained its reputation as an ornithologosts paradise, with more than 400 species of bird found here. These include spoon-bills, hornbills and various raptor species. However, there is much more to the park than just a lake. Areas of grassland, bush, euphorbia and acacia forests and rocky cliffs support hundreds of species of bird and animal. Wathogs are common all over the park; right by the water you’ll come across waterbucks and buffaloes, while Thomson’s gazelles and reedbucks can be seen further into the bush – there’s even the occasional leopard. Around the cliffs you may catch sight of hyraxes and birds of prey amid the countless baboons. There’s a small herd of hippos that generally lives along the northern shore of the lake. The park is surrounded by a high electric fence, which keeps in a small number of black rhinos and white rhinos that were introduced from private ranches some years ago. The southern end of the lake is the best place to see white rhinos grazing close to the water’s edge; the black rhinos, browsers by nature, are more difficult to spot. Walking in the park is not permitted so you will either have to hitch a ride with other tourists, rent a vehicle or go on a tour. You can get out of your vehicle on the lakeshore and at certain viewpoints, but don’t drive too close to the water’s edge, as the mud is very soft.