Nakuru (Nakurro), ‘that which is bare, or grassless’, (and not the misconceived and popular ‘place of swirling dust devils’), in the language of the Maasai, is a shallow alkaline soda lake, famous for the flocks of flamingos that feed on its algae, which provides sustenance for up to 2,000,000 birds. This makes Lake Nakuru one of the largest and most colorful bird spectacle on earth.
Described as the most fabulous ornithological site on earth, flocks of 300,000 birds can be seen at one time, making the edge of the lake look frosted with pink.
Although the flamingo population fluctuates as they migrate up and down the Rift Valley to breed, there are other numerous species of birds on the lake shore, and the surrounding National Park is a rhino sanctuary with a healthy population of Black and White Rhino, and the Rothschild giraffe.
Kenya became a contracting party on 5 June 1990 through the designation of Lake Nakuru National Park, the 49th Important Bird Area in the country, as a Ramsar site.
Lake Nakuru National Park is ideal for bird watching, hiking,picnic and game drives.
Nakuru began with a shop in 1900 when the railwaymen paused before the climb to Londiani. The oldest town with settlers since 1903, Nakuru is Kenya’s fourth largest town.
It is the location of the largest single Euphorbia candelabrumforest in East Africa.
Lake Nakuru (188 km2) was named the first bird sanctuary in Africa in 1960; and was designated as a park in 1967.
Over 450 bird species have been recorded at the park.
The park is a sanctuary for black and white Rhinoceros, and one of the few places where you can encounter these threatened giants.
It is also home to the Rothschild giraffe and is also regarded as the park where visitors have excellent opportunities of spotting the leopard.
Over 450 bird species of birds have been recorded at Lake Nakuru, including flamingo, pelican, African fish eagle, goliath heron, hammerkop, and Verreaux Eagle.
Defassa waterbucks, grey-crowned cranes, and warthogs forage among plains zebras, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, Bohor reedbucks and buffaloes – oxpeckers picking parasites off their backs; and olive baboons fan out from cover while raptors such as bateleurs and vultures cruise overhead.
Rock hyraxes, rock pythons, and agama lizards frequent the Baboon Cliff where olive baboons loiter for picnic scraps.
Leopards are often seen draped over large boughs near Lanet Gate; impalas also favor this sheltered area and Rothschild’s giraffes browse on trees along the eastern shore.
Black-and-white colobus forage in the dense stand of candelabra euphorbias and vervet monkeys are virtually anywhere among fallen timber and in trees.
Waterbirds are abundant including both great white and pink-backed pelicans, greater and the more abundant lesser flamingos, and many storks, egrets, and heron.
At the water’s edge, ducks dabble among herons stalking in the shallows while cormorants rest on branches overhead.