Lake Nakuru is among Kenya’s finest national parks. Flanked by rocky escarpments, pockets of acacia forest and at least one waterfall, the park is gorgeous year-round and is home to both black and white rhinos, lions, leopards, hippos and endangered Rothschild’s giraffes. Rising water levels in 2014 forced the park’s famous flamingos to flee (although a small number had returned at the time of research), and the lake is now hauntingly surrounded by drowned trees. The southern end of the lake is the best place to see wildlife. The forested area below Flamingo Hill is a favourite lion-spotting point – lionesses love to sleep in the trees – while leopards frequent the same area, and are also sometimes seen around the Makalia camp.
Baboon Cliffs: This popular viewpoint and one-time lunch spot have superlative views out over the lake, with some fine aerial vistas down onto the flooded lakeshore. Baboons, however, are a problem and don’t mind raiding vehicles, whether you’re inside or not, for food scraps. Visit in the early morning before they’ve taken over for the day.
Makalia Falls: The modest Makalia Falls, at the extreme southern end of the park, swell after the rains when they’re at their best. You can camp at the nearby park campsite.
Wildlife: The Park is an important stronghold for the rare Rothschild’s giraffe. It was introduced to the park in the 1980s and has now become locally common. Aside from the widespread vervet monkey and olive baboon, the beautiful black-and-white colobus monkey can sometimes be found in the acacia forest. Highlights, if you’re lucky enough, are the tree-climbing lions – Lake Nakuru NP is the best place in Kenya to see them.
Getting there: Lake Nakuru is located 155km/96mi northwest of Nairobi and 5km/3mi from Nakuru town. Nakuru is an easy destination by car via a tar road from Nairobi.
Getting to Nairobi (the entry point to Kenya that most visitors arrive through) is straightforward – it’s one of Africa’s biggest transport hubs. International flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi.
Lake Nakuru can also be reached from several other parks. The distance from the Masai Mara is 235km/150mi and the driving time is about six hours. The distance from Samburu in the north is 300km/190mi and the drive takes about five and a half hours. Driving time from Laikipia Plateau hugely depends on which reserve you are coming from, but should be between three to seven hours.