Nakuru is the fourth largest county in Kenya and one of the country’s leading tourist destinations. From the rolling hills, grasslands, large water bodies, and wildlife, you are spoilt for choice on where to visit when in Nakuru. Especially if you like the outdoors, be prepared to get a bit dusty while hiking or driving through rough terrains. Here’s a list of 10 places you can visit that will leave you thrilled!
1) Lake Nakuru National Park
As a bird watchers’ paradise, Lake Nakuru National Park was established as Africa’s first bird sanctuary to protect flamingoes. The park is home to over 400 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, and 500 species of flora. Besides the common wildlife, you are likely to see Rothschild Giraffes, Velvet Monkeys, and Waterbucks among others while taking a game drive. To catch the flamingoes, the best time to visit is in May as they’ll have migrated to Lake Nakuru.
2) Mt. Longonot National Park
Mt. Longonot is derived from the Maasai word ‘Oloonang’ot’ meaning ‘mountains of many spurs’ a reference to the many steep ridges and deep ravines around it. The park is huge and the hiking trail to the top of the mountain is one of the best in Kenya. The ascent to the crater rim takes about one and a half hours so it’s advisable to start the hike early to avoid exposure to the midday sun as there is no shade along the trail. Once you’re at the top, you can take another 4 hours hike around the crater. The view from the crater rim is worth the ‘treacherous’ hike.
3) Hyrax Hill Pre-Historic Site
Discovered by the Leakeys in 1926, Hyrax Hill is an important pre-historic site that has yielded some of the oldest iron age artifacts known from East Africa. The major attractions within the prehistoric site include a museum, a nature trail, a camping site, and the remains of 3 settlements excavated between 1937 and late 1980. In the museum, you’ll see iron age artifacts including metal tools and iron bracelets, along with cutting instruments made from glass-like obsidian rock.
4) Lake Elementaita
Set in the shadow of an impressively peaked hill known locally as ‘Sleeping Warrior’, Lake Elementaita is a relatively small soda lake located near Gilgil town. It’s a beautiful location for bird watching and is currently a major breeding site for great White Pelicans. During the May-June season, you can find flocks of flamingos on the lake. Other activities you can indulge in include taking nature walks, camping, and picnics.
5) Crater Lake Game Sanctuary
Crater Lake Game Sanctuary is a nature and wildlife sanctuary designed to protect the habitat around Lake Sonachi. Lake Sonachi (also known as Crater Lake) is a relatively small soda lake inside an extinct volcano crater located west of Lake Naivasha. It’s a salty lake coz there is no inflow from Lake Naivasha or an outflow. Apart from a nature drive exploring the flora and fauna, you can enjoy a meal on the edge of the crater overlooking the lake. It’s mind-blowing really.
6) Hells Gate National Park
Hells Gate National Park is quite an impressive natural occurrence. The landscape is spectacular, with unique rock formations, steep cliffs enclosing vast open grasslands, and hidden gorges. Being one of the few savannah reserves that you can explore on foot, you’ll get to see water-gouged gorges, hot springs, steam rising from the neighboring Ol Karia Geothermal Springs, and wildlife such as gazelles, buffalos, zebras, and maybe even lions. The main activities in the park include bird watching, game viewing, rock climbing, hiking, biking, horse riding, and swimming in the clear gorges.
7) Ol Doinyo Eburru
Located 8 km northwest of Lake Naivasha, Ol Doinyo Eburru is part of a group of dormant volcanoes within the Rift Valley. The mountain has two summits; West Hills and Eburru East. It’s also the home of Mau Eburru Forest. From the summits, you can make out Lake Nakuru, Lake Elementaita, and Lake Naivasha on the horizon. The forest is endowed with wildlife such as gazelles, monkeys, waterbucks, and giraffes.
8) Soysambu Conservancy
Bordering Lake Elementaita, is the Soysambu Conservancy which covers an impressive 48,000 acres of savannah grassland. It’s home to a variety of wildlife such as giraffes, leopards, lions, hyenas, terrestrial birds, and numerous birds of prey. While at the conservancy, you can indulge in horse riding, day and night game drives, camel treks, and motorcycle safaris (they give you quad bikes). There are several camps (all very classy) you can stay in with the most notable one being the Lake Elementaita Serena Camp.
9) Olkaria Geothermal Spa
Tucked between Hell’s Gate National Park and Mt. Longonot National Park is the Olkaria Geothermal Spa. Imagine this, after an adventurous day game viewing at Hells Gate or hiking Mt. Longonot, you get to Ol Karia and there’s spa treatment waiting for you. That’s living the dream! The spa has naturally heated water that your host cools to your liking. You end up feeling the most relaxed you’ve been in forever.
10) Menengai Crater
With a surface area of 90 sq km and a height of 2490 meters, the Menengai Crater is an extinct volcano and the second largest surviving volcanic crater in the world. It also houses huge caves, a camping site, nature trails, and a spectacular viewpoint. Some of the activities you can take part in include hiking, camping, biking, and having a picnic at the edge of the crater.
I am a charismatic 23-year-old student at the University of Nairobi. I enjoy traveling be it planned or impromptu. I also enjoy partying. I'll be there with a drink in my cup all through the night, chasing the sun. Life's too short not to choose the fast lane. Carpe diem!