In a continent crammed with beauty, it's hard to stand out in Africa, but Lake Nakuru in central Kenya is one of the continent's most amazingly beautiful places. The small and shallow alkaline-saline lake is on the Rift Valley's eastern side in a closed basin with no outlets. Its catchment area covers 1800 square kilometres and is used extensively for agriculture and raising livestock.
An absolutely outstanding feature of Nakuru is the vision of a vast, pink blanket around the edge of the lake. On closer inspection it turns out to be gatherings of long-legged, long-necked greater and lesser flamingos. The greater flamingo has a pink bill with a black tip and the lesser flamingo sports a deep carmine bill and has deeper pink plumage. There can be millions of them nesting along the shoreline, feeding on the lake's abundant algae, which is created by the birds' droppings. It has been described by ornithologists as the most fabulous bird spectacle in the world.
The landscape is made up of marsh and grasslands, alternating with rocky cliffs and outcrops, stretches of acacia woodland and scrub, covered rocky hillsides and forests. Surrounding areas feature dry savannah and grasslands.
Nakuru Town, capital of the Rift Valley, is a thriving centre with a bustling market and is the hub for local transport and travel. It is the fourth largest urban centre in Kenya with around 300,000 inhabitants.
The Great Rift Valley was formed between two and seven million years ago and is the longest rift on the surface of the earth. It runs from northern Syria in southwest Asia to central Mozambique in East Africa, a distance of around 6400km. It was formed through geological tension in the earth's crust causing deep depression and forcing the sides upwards.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park was created near Nakuru Town in 1961. In the early 1990s the lake's level dropped dramatically, but has largely recovered. It is Kenya's most familiar national park and has just on 500 species of bird and provides a sanctuary for warthogs, baboons, the Rothschild giraffe, lion, leopard, and the black and white rhino.
The area is fenced, more to keep out poachers than restrict the animals. There are 25 rhinoceroses in the park, so chances of spotting the survivors are good. The park's dense woodlands lying between the lake and cliffs are home to enormous python, which can be spotted crossing roads or just dangling from trees.
The dense bloom of the algae gives the lake its colour, and when a flock of flamingos takes flight, you are rewarded with pink skies over superb blue-green water. Flamingo numbers are determined by water and food conditions and the best vantage point is from Baboon Cliff.
Lake Nakuru, around 160km north of Nairobi, Kenya's capital.
Peregrine Adventures has 11-day Essence of Kenya safaris from Nairobi. It visits Lake Nakuru and tours include accommodation, most meals, transport and park entry fees. Prices start at $4360 per person twin share. The tours operate every month except April and May.
Emirates has flights to Nairobi.
- Perth $4053
- Melbourne $4244
- Brisbane $4254
- Sydney $4261
Valid for travel until April 30, 2010 and conditions apply.
Prices correct at March 5, 2009.
For further information
Ph: 1300 303 777
5/38 York Street
Ph: 1300 791 568
Visas: Visitors to Kenya are required to have valid passports, and visas are required for visitors who are not citizens of the Commonwealth countries.
Electricity: Voltage is 240V. Sockets have three pins of the square variety.
Time zone: Kenya's time zone is GMT +3 hours and there will be no daylight saving time in 2009.
Currency: The local currency is the Kenyan shilling.
International dialling code: +254.
It is recommended travellers to Kenya see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information visit www.welltogo.com.au.
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