Lake Nakuru National Park
Nakuru in Kiswahili means “Waterbuck Haven”. Lake Nakuru National Park started off small, only encompassing the famous lake and the surrounding mountainous vicinity. Now it has been extended to include a large part of the savannahs. Currently, the fenced Lake Nakuru National Park covers around 90 square miles. It has unusual but beautiful vegetation. The forest vegetation is covered with Euphorbia, tall cactus like trees and acacia woodland. The forest region is a host to over 400 migratory bird species from around the world.
Lake Nakuru National Park has a very shallow strongly alkaline lake with 62 kilometers squared. The park is set in a picturesque landscape of surrounding woodland and grassland next to Nakuru town. The landscape includes areas of marsh and grasslands alternating with rocky cliffs and outcrops, stretches of acacia woodland and rocky hillsides covered with a Euphorbia forest on the eastern perimeter. The lake catchment is bounded by Menengai crater to the north, the Bahati hills to the north east, the lion hill ranges to the east, eburu crater to the south and the Mau escarpment to the west. There are three major rivers; the njoro, makalia and enderit drain into the lake, together with treated water from the town’s sewage works and the outflow from several springs along the shore.
Lake Nakuru was first gazetted as a bird sanctuary in 1960 and upgraded to National Park status in 1968. A northern extension was added to the park in 1974 and the lake was designated as a Ramsar site in 1990. The foundation of the parks food chains is the cyanophyte spirulina platensis, which can support huge numbers of lesser flamingo.
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. People accessing the park from Masai Mara or Elementaita use the Nderit Gate.
The park can also be accessed by air through Naishi airstrip, which services the park for tourism and KWS activities.
Lake Nakuru National Park is a place for a variety of flora and fauna; Flamingos Ornithologists often describe Lake Nakuru as “the most tremendous bird spectacle in the world”. The Lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater, which has a bill with a black tip. The Lesser flamingos are ones that are commonly pictured in documentaries mainly because they are large in number. There are estimated to be over a million lesser flamingos. (Greater and Lesser) and other water birds including a variety of terrestrial birds numbering about 450 species in total has their habitat in this park. There are up 56 different species of mammals including white rhinos, lions, and baboon.etc. There is a unique vegetation with about 550 different plant species including the unique and biggest euphorbia forest in Africa, Picturesque landscape and yellow acacia woodlands. Other wildlife in the Lake Nakuru National Park includes: The famous Black and White rhinos. The Black rhinos have been slowly multiplying over the years, and are well protected.
There are also plenty of waterbucks, impalas, dik-diks, grants gazelles, lions and leopards. In 1977, the Rothschild giraffe was introduced to the Park. The park also has large sized python snakes that inhabit the dense woodlands, and can often be seen crossing the roads or dangling from trees.
There are several kinds of accommodation including Bandas:
Naishi bandas, Lodges like Lake Nakuru lodge & Sarova Lion Hill Lodge with special Campsites like Naishi, Chui, Rhino, Soysambu, Nyati, Nyuki and reedbuck and Public Campsites: Makalia and Backpackers.
The vegetation is mainly wooded and bushy grassland with a wide ecological diversity and characteristic habitats that range from the lake waters to the escarpment and ridges.
The normally water-covered surface of the lake occupies about a third of the park. The lake water supports a dense bloom of the blue-green Cyanophyte Spirulina platensis from which it derives its colour and which is the major food source for the flamingo.
The lake is fringed by alkaline swamps with areas of sedge, Cyprus laevigatus and typha marsh along the river inflows and springs. The surrounding areas support a dry transitional savanna with Lake Margin grasslands of Sporobolus spicatus salt grass moving into grasslands of Hyparrhenia hirta and Rhodes grass Chloris gayana in the lower areas.
More elevated areas have dry forest with Acacia xanthophloea, olive Oleo hochstetteri and Croton dichogamus; Euphorbia candelabrum forest; and bush land dominated by the composites, Mulelechwa Tarchonanthus camphoratus and Psiadia arabica.
Rocky hillsides on the Parks eastern perimeter are covered with Tarchonanthys scrub and a magnificent Euphobia candelabrum forest.