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Overview

The string of lakes that runs along Kenya's Rift Valley floor is among the most scenic parts of East Africa, and offers good wildlife and bird viewing possibilities. The closest lake to Nairobi, Naivasha is reached via a spectacular descent of the Rift. It is popular with birdwatchers and watersport enthusiasts, and there are great walking possibilities nearby at Hell's Gate (plenty of savannah wildlife), Longonot (ascent of a steep extinct volcano) and Elsamere (colobus monkeys on the lakeshore). Farther west, Lake Nakuru is the centerpiece of a national park famed for attracting flocks of up to two million flamingoes, and is worth ...

The string of lakes that runs along Kenya's Rift Valley floor is among the most scenic parts of East Africa, and offers good wildlife and bird viewing possibilities. The closest lake to Nairobi, Naivasha is reached via a spectacular descent of the Rift. It is popular with birdwatchers and watersport enthusiasts, and there are great walking possibilities nearby at Hell's Gate (plenty of savannah wildlife), Longonot (ascent of a steep extinct volcano) and Elsamere (colobus monkeys on the lakeshore). Farther west, Lake Nakuru is the centerpiece of a national park famed for attracting flocks of up to two million flamingoes, and is worth visiting even without the flamingoes (leopard, black rhino and Rothschild's giraffe being specialties). These days, the pink flocks are more often resident on nearby Lake Bogoria, the best site in Kenya for the handsome greater kudu. Scenic Lake Baringo, north of Bogoria, is home to plentiful hippo and birds, while the little-visited salt-encrusted Lake Magadi south of Nairobi can be visited in conjunction with Olorgasailie, a major archaeological site that also hosts some wildlife. Most spectacular of all is croc-infested Turkana, whose serpentine shore follows the Rift Valley floor for 200km south of the Ethiopian border. Set in a harsh desert environment, Turkana is also notable for the wealth of traditional pastoralists that inhabit its shore, while nearby landmarks include forested Mount Marsabit and the bleak Chalbi desert.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Great Rift Valley is part of an intra-continental ridge system that runs through Kenya from north to south.
  • Language: English, Kiswahili
  • Currency: Kenyan Shilling
  • Research: Southern Rift Valley | Rift Valley
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    There's no particularly good or bad time, so best to tie in dates with seasonal factors elsewhere in Kenya.