Lake Naivasha, Great Rift Valley, Kenya

Lake Naivasha is a fresh water lake and a bird watching paradise in the outskirts of Nairobi. A part of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha is a haven for wild life and is surrounded by swamps and Hells Gate National Park. Besides 400 species of birds, Hippos, Giraffes, Wilder Beast, Impalas and Baboons make Lake Naivasha and the surrounding savannah their home. The lake retains an old world charm despite being in the center of a thriving flower export business. A leisurely boat ride on the Lake Naivasha is a great way to spend an afternoon!

Reaching Naivasha

Naivasha is 90 KMs from Nairobi and is well connected by Roads. You can reach the Lake in a couple of hours from Nairobi.

Stay at Lake Naivasha 

Usually Lake Naivasha is a day trip; however there is no dearth of accommodation if you plan to spend a night over. Some options are Lake Elementaita Lodge, Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort, Longonot Ranch House, Lake Naivasha Country Club, Naivasha Simba Lodge and Crater Lake Lodge Naivasha.

What to do at Lake Naivasha

The Lake Naivasha regions abound with the Yellow barked Acacia Xanthophleatrees teeming with bird life. Nearly 400 species of birds can be spotted here including Grey-capped Warbler, Spectacled Weaver, Brimstone Canary, Long Tailed Cormorants, Pied Kingfishers and Red-billed Fire finch.
A boat ride is the best means of exploring the Lake and the surrounding regions. The boatman does a remarkable act to attract the Fish Eagles from their Trees. He holds a fish in his hand and whistles and as he spots the Eagle approaching, throws it high in the air to be neatly picked up by the Eagle before it hits the water!

The lake also abounds with Hippos and their little ones. They are nice to look at as long as you maintain your distance. Hippos are supposed to be the nastiest creature in Africa and will maul anyone coming in its way especially during their nocturnal grazing visits.

Fishing is a popular activity on Lake Naivasha. Historically the Lake was not abundant with fish, but lately species like the Nile Perch and Black Bass have been introduced. These fishes attract a plethora of bird predators like the Pelicans, Kingfishers and Cormorants.

Hells Gate National Park (or Njorowa Gorge) is one of the few places you can walk along with the wild life! Hiking, camping and rock climbing are other ways to explore this game reserve. A key attraction here is the Eagle and Vulture breeding grounds on the cliffs. The Olkaria Geo thermal power station is also situated inside Hell’s Gate. Magma rises up from the earth’s core to near the surface of Hell’s Gate and creates a unique environment for the generation of electricity. This power plant has helped in reducing the frequent blackouts that occur across Kenya due to a shortage of electricity.

Crater Lake Game Sanctuary is spread over 10000 acres and is at the bottom of an extinct volcano on the western side of Lake Naivasha and north of the village of Kongoni. Walking or Cycling is the best way to explore this reserve. The Crater Lake looks surreal as the alkaline Lake changes from blue to emerald green and back again as the hours pass by. It is home to more than 150 species of birds, giraffe, buffalo and zebra.

There are a set of caves here knows as Cave of Gods which inspired Rider haggard to write the Allan Quatermain series, featuring the quintessential Victorian English Gentleman and African big-game hunter.  Crater Lake also houses a famous grave on a hilltop. Happy Valley's tragic heroine, Lady Diana Delamere, is buried here with her last two husbands, Gilbert Colvile and Thomas Delamere.

Lake Naivasha is in the center of a thriving flower export industry. More than 90 million tons of cut flowers are exported to Europe every year. However, the Flower industry has had an adverse ecological impact due to depleting water levels, population explosion and over use of pesticides and fertilizers.

Traveller's Tip for Naivasha

Naivasha is very popular among Fischer's and the Yellow-Collared Lovebirds. There is a racket running involving these poor lovebirds. Please do not buy Love Birds from boy vendors and take pity and release them. The boys catch the birds again and will be reselling them to another gullible and soft hearted tourist!

A Discovery at Lake Naivasha

Joy Adamson the conservationist and author of the book Born Free used to live in Elsamere on the shore of Lake Naivasha. Elsamere is now a wildlife education and conservation center. While at Elsamere don’t miss the freshly made cakes along with tea or coffee. It is fantastic, provided you can save them from the Colobus Monkeys that abound here.

For my travelogue on the Great Migration of Wildebeest from Serengeti to Masai Mara, visit Kenyan Safari.

For my photoblog on Incredible India, please visit India Travel Pictures