Lake Nakuru National Park | Kenya Wildlife Service | Lake Nakuru National Park Travel Guide | Lake Nakuru National Park Hotels | Lake Nakuru National Park UNESCO World Heritage Centre | Lake Nakuru National Park Fees | Lake Nakuru National Park Tours | Lake Nakuru National Park Wildlife | Things to do in Lake Nakuru | Lake Nakuru National Park Attractions | Kenya National Parks Game Reserves
Lake Nakuru National Park, just a three-hour drive from Nairobi in the Great Rift Valley of southwestern Kenya, boasts an abundance of wildlife and spectacular landscapes. Lake Nakuru was declared a bird sanctuary in 1961, before being officially announced as a national park in 1968.
The park covers a total area of 188 km² (73 mi2). In 1977, endangered Rothschild’s giraffes were introduced from western Kenya to protect their population, and in 1984, it was designated as Kenya’s first rhino sanctuary.
Lake Nakuru itself, which lies at 1,754m (5,755ft) above sea level, became a wetland site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990, and, in 2011, was awarded Unesco World Heritage status, along with nearby Lake Bogoria and Lake Elementaita.
It’s also internationally recognized as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), home to an estimated 450 bird species. Up until 2012, Lake Nakuru was renowned for its vast flamingo population (sometimes exceeding 1.5 million), which covered the lake in a blanket of pink.
Since 2012, rising water levels from heavy flooding have drastically reduced this phenomenon, shrinking the flamingos’ breeding and feeding grounds. More recently there have been promising signs of flamingos returning, which bodes well for the health of the park’s biodiversity and its tourism industry.
Flamingos might not be as abundant as they once were, but there’s so much other wildlife to see while you’re in Lake Nakuru National Park. It’s one of the best places in Kenya to see rhinos in the wild – there are roughly 100-150 individuals in total, of which 80 percent are white rhinos and 20 percent black.
The park also has a strong reputation for leopard sightings. Other animals include lions, cheetahs, hippos, buffalos, hyenas, giraffes, and zebras among the 50 (or more) mammal species living in the park. You can expect to see several types of large python, which are especially prevalent in woodland areas.
Also keep an eye out for ostriches, African fish eagles, Woolly-necked Storks, and dusky nightjars, plus an array of other bird species.
Lake Nakuru National Park’s temperatures typically hover around 25-28C (77-82F) during the daytime and drop overnight to around 10C (50F). The best time to visit is during one of the dry seasons – either between July and early October, or January through until early March – as these months provide optimal conditions for wildlife viewing. April and May tend to be the wettest months.
There’s an excellent variety of places to stay both within Lake Nakuru National Park and just outside – it all depends on your budget. Most lodges and camps offer safari experiences, including game drives, boat rides, bush walks, and bird watching excursions with experienced park rangers.
Some of the lodges include Lake Nakuru Lodge, Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, Lake Nakuru Sopa Lodge, Naishi Guest House, Flamingo Hill Camp, and campsites such as Makalia Campsite, Rhino Campsite, and Chui Campsite.
Lake Nakuru National Park Animals & Birds
Animals of Lake Nakuru: While the full Big Five don’t call Nakuru ‘home’, four of them do. Only the elephants don’t roam here, as the park is too small to support them. Expect to see Rothschild’s giraffes, zebra, hippo, many antelope including impala and waterbuck, plenty of baboons and monkeys, and more.
Keep your eyes peeled because, if you’re lucky, you may see the more shy leopard, cheetah, pythons, hyena, and jackal!
The lions of Nakuru are spotted regularly but, unlike other areas, these ones are often seen in the trees, not on the ground. The forested area below Flamingo Hill is a favorite spot, so be sure to take a drive through there and keep your eyes on the trees! Both white and black rhinos live in the park.
In fact, the park was originally a rhino sanctuary and it boasts one of the highest concentrations of black rhinos in the world.
Birds of Lake Nakuru: Lake Nakuru is a treat for birdwatchers, with 400 species of birds. Spend an hour with your binoculars and you’re likely to see a plethora of water birds. These include flamingos, herons, pelicans, storks, and the iconic African fish eagle. Lake Nakuru has always been most well-known for its flamingos.
Literally millions of these gorgeous pink birds used to flock to the lake to feed on its algae and breed, turning the lake into a mirage of pink. Unfortunately, due to rising water levels over the past few years and the loss of the algae that they eat, most of the flamingos have left and moved to other lakes.
Water levels do, however, fluctuate, so check before going to see if the flamingos are there.
Lake Nakuru National Park Attractions & Activities
You can plant a tree in Lake Nakuru National park. We usually provide our guests with a choice of trees to pick from, or if would like to bring your own, you must ensure that it is Kenya Wild Service approved. Once you plant your tree, we look after it for you for a lifetime. Guests are required to request the tree planting sessions in advance in order for us to adequately prepare.
Our horse riding excursions take place at Flamingo Stables, located on the perimeter of the Lake Nakuru National Park. Flamingo Stables has been in existence for over 35 years and offers residents of Nakuru as well as our guests, the very best horse riding services in the entire region. Experience a variety of wildlife as you meander through the outskirts of the park.
Bird watching is another interesting activity that is carried out in Lake Nakuru national park. This is because of the various bird species which can be seen in the different birding spots around the national park. Lake Nakuru is a great birding paradise destination for all bird watchers and enthusiasts, with more than 500 species of birds recorded at this park.
Lake Nakuru is a soda lake, which is a hotspot and supports a lot of birdlife, including large flocks of pelicans, and flamingos, amongst other popular bird species such as the striking, Long-Tailed Widowbird and a good variety of raptors including Verreaux’s and Long-Crested Eagle. The best time to visit is from November to April, as this is also breeding season, and many species are nesting at this time.
Of course, the best thing to do at Lake Nakuru is to go on a safari. Join a game drive to truly experience this stunning part of Africa. Game drives are among the ways of experiencing Lake Nakuru national park. Exploring in the early morning or late afternoon will give you the best chance of seeing the most wildlife, as this is when the animals are most active.
These game drives take place at different times of day which provides unique experiences during safaris at this destination. All of the big five with the exception of elephants can be found within the park, as well as other classic African wildlife such as white rhinos, zebra, leopards, lions, giraffes, hippos, impalas, waterbucks, and cheetah.
Many people will visit just for the opportunity to see the white rhino in its natural habitat, an opportunity found in a few other places on the continent.
Hidden on the southern end of the park are the supremely graceful Makalia falls, they are at their best between April and August when they swell after the rains. During the dry season, the falls can empty completely, leaving a dry, hot basin. This spectacular natural wonder features a 10m drop off a sheer cliff and a large plunge pool.
There’s nothing more relaxing and calming than meditating on the echoes of the falls. The falls attract an unusual array of wildlife whatever the season and you can never be sure what will be waiting for you here in this hidden corner of Lake Nakuru in Kenya.
This is the highest point at the Lake Nakuru National Park; it offers the most spectacular aerial views of the entire park with its absolute natural beauty, like the tropical forests, the yellow fever trees, the blue waters of the lake shining in the sun and the small hills in the background. It’s most beautiful at sunset as the light reflects off the water.
Visitors have to share the experience with the resident population of baboons who also enjoy the surroundings. While most are harmless and used to safari-goers, the larger males can occasionally be aggressive, so take care when visiting.
The out of Africa Lookout
Pink Flamingos on the Lake
The sight of thousands of pink flamingos feeding on the surface of Lake Nakuru is one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles. A few years ago, millions of these elegant, colorful birds could be seen at any one time on the lake.
Then, mysteriously, they disappeared altogether. Now they’ve returned again, but in diminished numbers, as they migrate out to other lakes across the Rift Valley too. At Lake Nakuru though, there are still thousands of flamingos to be seen. This majestic sight is best observed at the height of the dry season in January and February when the birds are at their most numerous.
Boat Safaris at Lake Nakuru National Park takes you on a discovery tour through the rich bird sanctuary, dramatic scenery, and ever-changing landscape of Lake Nakuru National Park. Lake Nakuru National Park is renowned as a bird sanctuary with over 400 bird species, including huge flocks of flamingoes and many other water birds.
It is an excellent park for wildlife spotting and is home to many water-loving animals such as hippos and waterbucks.
Lake Nakuru Rivers
Lake Nakuru is fed by four seasonal rivers and the permanent Ngosur River. The seasonal rivers are the Njoro, Nderit, Makalia, and Lamudhiak, all of which originate in the Eastern Mau Forest. The Mau Forest is also part of the catchment basin for several other Rift Valley lakes.
How to get to Lake Nakuru National Park
Roads: The park has a tarmac road connection with Nairobi, a distance of 156 km northwest 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.
The Nderit Gate is used by people accessing the park from Masai Mara or Elementaita.
Airstrips: The Naishi airstrip services the park for tourism and KWS activities.
Park Roads: The park has adequate and well serviced motorable roads that make most parts of the park accessible.
Park Gates: Lanet and Nderit gates are located on the Larger part of the Park on the Eastern side. The old Main gate is located on the Northern Western side of the Park and is still accessible but due to the rise in water level, you cannot make a full circuit to connect to the Eastern side. Visitors with tickets are allowed to access both sides of the park without paying extra charges.
2022 Lake Nakuru National Park Entrance Fees
Citizen/ Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
Non-Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
|Adult||800 Kenya Shillings||70 US Dollars|
|Child||215 Kenya Shillings||20 US Dollars|
* Child refers to persons from three years but below 11 years
* Resident refers to persons of other nationalities residing in Kenya with valid documentation from the Kenyan government
* Citizen – A native or inhabitant of East Africa Countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and SouthSudan) with valid identification documents or passport
* Daily – Fee paid for a single entry to a National Park, National Reserve, or Sanctuary and which shall be valid for no longer than twenty-four hours
Lake Nakuru National Park Accommodation | Hotels | Lodges | Camps
Lake Nakuru National Park lodges and camps located inside the park include Sarova lion hill lodge, Lake Nakuru Lodge, Lake Nakuru flamingo lodge, The Cliff at Lake Nakuru National Park, and Lake Nakuru Sopa Lodge among others.
Self-Catering accommodations include Naishi Guest House while campsites include Makalia Campsite, Reedbuck Campsite, Naishi Campsite, Rhino Campsite, Chui Campsite, Baboon Cliff, and Out of Africa. Hostels include Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK) Hostels.