Excursions & Day Trips
Lake Elmenteita Hot Springs
Lake Elmenteita’s hot springs at dawn are a bird watcher’s paradise. Early risers will be rewarded with pied kingfisher, yellow-billed stork, and many more. The hot springs are a key part of the lake’s ecosystem and act as a breeding ground for the Tilapia fish that are key to the local birds. The local Maasai have been using the hot springs for centuries and believe the water can cure certain illnesses.
Departure time: 6.30am or earlier
Duration: 1 ½ hours
Suggestion: A visit to the hot springs is ideally followed by a bush breakfast at the foot of the Sleeping Warrior crater.
Excursions to Lake Nakuru National Park
Why not take a day trip to this world famous national park, renowned for its stunning flamingos and prolific rhinos. Just a short drive from the Conservancy, this trip typically features a picnic lunch in the park.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Sunk deep in the cleft of the Great Rift Valley, one of earth’s most phenomenal geological features, ringed by shoals of extinct and dormant volcanoes and presided over by the Menengai Crater, one of the largest craters in the world, lie the turquoise-shimmering waters of Lake Nakuru. Flamingo-frosted, salt-encrusted, acacia-haloed and guarded by the prehistoric splendour of a grey-green forest of Euphorbia candelabrum, Lake Nakuru National Park offers sanctuary to some of the world’s most endangered creatures.
Altitude: 1,756 metres above sea level
Area: 188 sq. km
Location: Nakuru, Rift Valley Province.
Distance from Nairobi: 160 km north-west of Nairobi
Vegetation: 550 plant species and varied woodlands to include: acacia woodlands, Euphorbia and Olea forests.
Climate: The climate is warm and dry.
Fauna: Indigenous mammals include; the rare long-eared leaf-nosed bat, colobus monkey, rock hyrax, hippo, leopard, lion, rhino, waterbuck, impala, gazelle, striped hyena, bat-eared fox, wild cat, reedbuck and golden cat.
Re-stocked mammals include: lion, black and
White rhino and the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe.
Birds Up to 1.5 million flamingos plus 450 other species of birds.
The Fabulous Flamingos
‘The most fabulous bird spectacle in the world’
Roger Tory Peterson
The lake is especially famous for the 1.5 million-strong population of Lesser Flamingo that gather on its shores to filter the brackish water through their beaks and thus extract the blue-green algae, Spirulina platensis, which proliferates in this unique alkaline aquatic environment. Greater flamingo also visit the lake, in smaller numbers than their shorter relatives, feeding usually on the lake bottom, up-ended like ducks or stalking in the shallows with heads submerged. For a variety of reasons neither species breed here, though both regularly make nests and indulge in courtship displays.
On the safari trail
Because the Park is so compact, game density is high and wildlife encounters are plentiful. This is also the Park where you are most likely to see a leopard while the high numbers of lion make sightings a real possibility.
In the woodland forests watch out for endangered Rothschild’s giraffe, colobus
monkey, rhino and the odd striped hyena. In the bushlands look for eland, steenbok, impala and reedbuck while on the cliffs and escarpment you may see dik dik, rock hyrax and klipspringer. In the lake you can enjoy the antics of the small hippo herd whilst on the lakeshore you’ll find numerous waterbuck, reedbuck and zebra. In the southern part of the Park look out for eland, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle and in the dense woodlands watch out for large pythons that slither across the road or dangle from the trees.
Kenya’s first rhino sanctuary.
Established as Kenya’s first rhino sanctuary, the Park now hosts one of the largest black rhino concentrations in the country and substantial numbers of white rhino have also been introduced.
Where to find them: black rhino prefer bushy forested areas and are therefore more difficult to spot. White rhino prefer to graze in open grasslands, especially those around the lakeshore making them very easy to spot.
Excursions to Eburru Forest
This indigenous forest area provides sanctuary to 12 out of the 100 remaining critically endangered Eastern Mountain Bongo in the world; also to troops of black and white colobus monkeys and an exceptional variety of birdlife. This day trip will feature a guided trek through the forest, which is home to unique flora and fauna. A picnic lunch will be served from a viewpoint offering magnificent views over the Great Rift Valley. This excursion is of particular interest to bird watchers.
Departure time: 7.30am
Duration: ¾ day
In the immediate vicinity of the Sleeping Warrior and Soysambu Conservancy
If you’d like to explore the area immediately around the lake there are some fascinating prehistoric sites to be discovered. Such as:
Overlooking the lake, just 3.5kms out of Nakuru town heading in the direction of Nairobi, is the prehistoric site of Hyrax Hill. Named after the hundreds of rock hyrax that once scampered here, this is a prehistoric seasonal settlement that goes back some 3,000 years and is liberally littered with the assorted relics of man, from hand-axes to clay pipes.
Perhaps the most evocative remains however, are the ancient ‘Bao’ boards, which were carved into the rocks by our far-distant ancestors and can still be played upon today. ‘Bao’ is a board game that involves the movement of seeds or small stones around a series of hollows that represent cattle encampments (Bomas) or captured herds.
Open daily 9.30am to 6pm, fees are payable upon entry. Further details can be obtained from the National Museums of Kenya
Directly behind Lake Nakuru rise the massive grey ramparts of the Menengai Crater, which, with a diameter of 12 km and a depth of around 500 m, is the second largest volcanic caldera in the world. The scene of a famous battle between warring Maasai clans in the 19th century, its eerily petrified waves of lava and towering volcanic walls are still believed to be haunted by the tormented souls of the thousands of vanquished Maasai ‘Morans’ who were hurled to their deaths from its rim.
To get there: Head out of Nakuru on the A104 in the direction of Nairobi and look for a road on the outskirts called, Menengai Drive. Take the fourth turning on the left off Menengai Drive (Crater Climb) and some 4.5 kms up the hill you will see a campsite followed by a telecommunications tower. Head for the latter then turn right along a path that leads through the remnants of the forest to the edge of the crater.
Entry is free and the crater is accessible during daylight hours (it is not recommended that you visit after dark or alone).
Kariandusi Prehistoric Site
The Kariandusi prehistoric site is further along the A104 heading out of Nakuru in the direction of Nairobi. Discovered in 1928 by the famous palaeontologist, Louis S.B. Leakey, it features a museum and two excavated sites and is believed to date back to the Acheulean period. Studies suggest that this was a prehistoric workshop rather than a place of permanent dwelling since it is strewn with stone hand axes and cleavers made from obsidian, a vitreous black volcanic rock.
The museum is open daily 8am to 6pm, fees are payable upon entry. For further information contact the National Museums of Kenya.