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Parks & reserves: Lake Nakuru National Park


The lake and the city of Nakuru are located on the bed of the Rift Valley, 156 km northwest of Nairobi. The road connecting the two cities, the A104, is a paved busy route, since it is the main highway communicating the country's capital and the valley. Heavy traffic makes it also a dangerous road with a high accident rate, so if you drive, drive safely.

The Nairobi-Nakuru road is the starting route for many safaris. Therefore, plenty of visitors get their first sight of the Kenyan landscape from here. Not a bad place. Suddenly, at the turn of a bend at the highlands' rim, the earth opens up to the huge Rift Valley emptiness. Beside the stands offering their curios, a wooden lookout with a weak aspect displays a breathtaking view. Many visitors get here their first impression of the primary role of the Rift Valley in East Africa's physical geography. Some hundreds of meters below, the acacia-scattered Kedong Valley conveys a neat and archetypical snapshot of the African landscape. Farther away, you get a glimpse of dormant volcanoes on the Rift's bed.

From the viewpoint, the road falls down from the steep slopes of Kikuyu Escarpment. Meanwhile, trucks drive up slowly and heavily, and you will witness some impossible overtakings in which you'd better not get involved. Once down the valley, you will leave behind Mt. Longonot and Hell's Gate National Parks, then you will border Lake Naivasha, cross the town of Gilgil and get a glance of Lake Elmenteita before finally reaching Nakuru.

The town of Nakuru is well communicated with Nairobi. The city grew around its railway station and today the Port Florence Express train from Nairobi to Kisumu calls here, whenever it can call at all, since this service is continuously suspended and resumed due to the derelict railway lines. Other than this, plenty of buses and matatus cover the distance from Nairobi to Nakuru and back, as well as from the Rift capital to the most important towns in the valley and western Kenya.

Due to the proximity to Nakuru town, the lake is one of the only parks which can be visited in a taxi, though it is definitely not the best way to see a national park.

Naishi airstrip offers the chance to fly from Nairobi right to the heart of the park, but only during the dry season.

Obviously, Nakuru is accessible as well from Nyeri via Nyahururu, bordering the Aberdare Range (170 km), from Kisumu at the Lake Victoria shore (116 km), or from Naivasha on the main Nairobi road (65 km). If your trip includes a Nakuru-Masai Mara journey or viceversa, you can use the road that joins both towns via Mau Narok traversing the Mau Escarpment (100 km), though after heavy rains this track may become a quagmire.

The most frequent way for accessing the park is the Main Gate, 4 km south of Nakuru downtown, next to the park's headquarters, where you can get your Safari Card. From Kenyatta Avenue, take Moi Road and turn left to Stadium Road, which will lead you right to the gate. Here there is also a map showing the spots of the latest animal sightings.

If you come from Nairobi, you already got your Safari Card and you want to avoid Nakuru town, you can enter the park through Lanet Gate. Before reaching the city, take the left turn signposted "Lanet Gate", right in front of the Stem Hotel and ahead the railway bridge. Just then take the right turn-off that runs parallel to the A104. This track will lead you directly to Lanet Gate.

Finally, Nderit Gate lies at the east side of the park, close to Lake Nakuru Lodge. This is a suitable route for visitors arriving from Mau Narok or Lake Elmenteita.

The park's tracks are usually well maintained. Still, a heavy rain season may make many tracks almost impassable. The main road circles the lake completely. The north drive is very busy and is hence less interesting for wildlife viewing. The biggest stretch of land in the park is located south of the lake. There is a track network here which is much less visited and where you will have the chance to meet some of the park's herbivores, such as Rothschild's giraffes, the elusive black rhinos and the bulky elands.


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Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru NP
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Safari itineraries

Aberdare NP
Amboseli NP
Arabuko Sokoke FR
Arawale NR
Bisanadi NR
Boni NR
Buffalo Springs NR
Dodori NR
Hell's Gate NP
Lake Baringo
Lake Bogoria NR
Lake Elmenteita
Lake Naivasha
Lake Nakuru NP
Masai Mara NR
Meru NP
Mt. Kenya NP
Mt. Longonot NP
Nairobi NP
Samburu NR
Shaba NR
Shimba Hills NR
Tsavo East NP
Tsavo West NP