Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha

Travel Guide
Tours & Safari
Travel Guide

Two of the better-known lakes in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha are within easy reach of the capital, Nairobi. Each offers a distinctive safari experience and are often included in a Kenyan safari.

  • Part of Great Rift Valley lake system
  • Within a 1-to-2 hour drive of Nairobi
  • Often included in Kenyan safari itineraries
  • Lake Nakuru is a soda lake, best known for its incredible numbers of flamingo and other water birds
  • Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake, a favourite feeding spot for a wealth of fish-eating birds, hippo and other wildlife

The great lakes of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru is situated some 160 km north-west of Nairobi and Lake Naivasha, only 102 km from the capital. Both offer a totally different safari experience and are easy to include on your itinerary.

Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru often one of the first stops on safari itineraries for two reasons. It’s a soda lake renowned for its incredibly large flocks of flamingo which literally turn the lake pink, their numbers reaching into the hundreds of thousands. It’s said to be the ‘greatest bird spectacle in the world’. As it’s within easy reach of Nairobi and is one of the few fenced national parks, it’s a safe haven for black and white rhino because the rangers are better able to protect them from poachers. White rhino are grazers and are found on the grassy floodplains around the lake. Black rhino are browsers. They are found in the thick acacia woodlands in the southern reaches of the lake.

Wildlife is plentiful and some of the more notable species include the endemic Rothschild’s giraffe, large numbers of buffalo, waterbuck, reedbuck and other antelope and small numbers of lion and leopard. Apart from the flamingos, bird lovers should be able to spot large numbers of white pelican and a myriad of other woodland and water birds.

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is an ancient freshwater lake in the Great Rift Valley and is set at its highest point, 1,890 m (6,200 ft) above sea level. The outlet for this lake, Njorwa Gorge, forms the entrance to Hell’s Gate National Park which has spectacular examples of rock formations and an abundance of flora and fauna, including some extremely rare breeding pairs of Lammergeyers, also known as bearded vultures.

Lake Naivasha is home to a wide variety of wildlife including a healthy population of hippo, a variety of freshwater fish like black bass, tilapia and crayfish, and many fish-eating birds like fish eagles, pelicans, kingfishers and cormorants

Tours & Safari

Lake Naivasha is some 99 km to the north-west of Nairobi, and Lake Nakuru a little further away at 173 km, but both lie within the Great Rift Valley.

Lake Nakuru is a shallow soda lake 1,740 m above sea level. It has an abundance of algae which attracts an extraordinary number of flamingos to its shores. There is a variety of birdlife in abundance as well as wildlife such as black and white rhino, warthog, baboon, buffalo and other large plains animals. Altogether, 56 different species of mammals and almost 450 species of birds make this safari destination a birder’s paradise.

Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake with bountiful birdlife (over 400 species recorded) and an abundant population of hippo. It’s also become well-known for its fishing, although the accidental introduction of common carp in the early 2000s has resulted in these fish making up around 90% of its current fish population.

As both lakes are close to Nairobi, Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha are interesting stopovers en-route to and from other safari destinations, like Aberdare National Park.


Nakuru is thriving region in Kenya, situated at the base of the Great Rift Valley. It attracts many people as its close to many of Kenya’s top tourist attractions.

Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha have a number of places to stay, from small to big city hotels, to safari lodges and tented camps within the national park. Not far from Nairobi, Lake Nakuru and surrounds are a great place to overnight en route to other safari destinations in the country.