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Parks & reserves: Lake Nakuru National Park

Nearby sites


Nakuru is the fourth city in Kenya according to its population, but after Nairobi it is the most prominent in the inlands, since the second and third, Mombasa and Kisumu respectively, lie at the shores of the Indian Ocean and Lake Victoria. Therefore, Nakuru is the inland headtown, and its location at the Rift makes it the neural center of the valley.

The city was founded upon the railroad works. From the start it became the most important station in the valley, given that here the line branches to Kisumu and Kampala. In 1902 the tents began to be replaced by brick buildings and permanent settlings. One year after, Lord Delamere, one of the most prominent figures in the Colony days, purchased 400 km² at the slopes of Mau Escarpment, southwest of the city, as well as 200 km² more at Soysambu, at the other side of the lake. Delamere promoted a wide program for land sharing among the British.

When settlers populated the area, their attempts to breed cattle were unsuccessful: pastures in the region are low in iron. Thus, agriculture proved to be the only profitable activity.

At the town center there is a flea market selling lots of handcrafts. Objects manufactured with flamingo feathers are abundant. The city has some hotels, with the Midland Hotel, founded in 1906, being perhaps the most popular.


Menengai Crater belongs to an extinct volcano that escorts the city of Nakuru from the north side, though it does such in a very inconspicuous way, since from the town it is hard to appreciate the presence of this sleeping giant.

The road climbing to the cone's rim from the town of Menengai is passable by car. At the highest point, at some 2,300 m above sea level, a signpost erected by the Rotary Club shows the directions and distances to several places of the world. The greatest attraction of this site is the magnificent view, both toward the crater bed itself and toward the lake from the southern slope. Some figures: the crater has a surface of 90 km², a diameter of 12 km and a depth reaching 500 m in some places.

The place is legendary, since in the 19th century it was the scene for a fratricide battle between different Maasai clans for the pastures at Naivasha and the Rift slopes. The Laikipia rebels, who wouldn't recognise the authority of the laibon Mbatian and had also commited the crime of farming the land, were defeated by their southern neighbours, the Ilpurko Maasai. According to the legend, the Ilaikipiak moran (warriors) were thrown over the crater's rim, and so the fumaroles rising from the bed's gaps are the souls of the defeated that seek their way to heaven. This is the rationale for one version of the place's name, according to which it is named after the Maa word 'Menenga', meaning "the dead".


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Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru NP
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    Nearby sites

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Safari itineraries

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