Stretching from the Red Sea to the Zambezi River the Great Rift Valley has natural assets that one must see to appreciate wild nature in its own settings. The Rift Valley floor supports a quintet of beautiful lakes, ranging from freshwater lakes such as Lake Naivasha and Lake Baringo. With their profusion of fish, hippo and birds, to alkaline Bogoria and Nakuru, whose hyper saline water host up to two million flamingos.
It is most rewarding over August –October when migrant wildebeest swarm across its hills, offers peerless big cat sightings, while Lake Nakuru National Park is a stronghold for flamingos and the endangered rhino.
The Mara Game Reserve
The Mara meaning spotted in Maasai is interspersed with rocky hills, acacia woodland and riparian forest. Covering a 1,510 -sq-km, the Mara is the most celebrated wildlife reserve and perhaps the best. This is because of the legendary wildebeest migration which streams across the Mara River from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania making it one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles.
Here in the Mara in a region known as the Mara Triangle exist healthy populations of 50 cheetahs which stalk the reserves open plains, and regular sightings are high. Game viewing is exceptional throughout the year, with peaks over August to October during the wildebeest migration.
Lake Naivasha is known for its shallow fresh waters. There are two rivers that flow in the Lake Naivasha that is the Gilgil and Malewa River although there is no known outlet. Most probably from the subterranean outlet that emerges at Lake Magadi the Lakes water remains fresh unlike waters in Lake Nakuru which are alkaline. The Lake extends over an area of 130 sq km.
Here one can spot the African fish eagle and around 500 bird species, with large flotillas of the handsome great white pelican being particularly conspicuous. The Oserian Wildlife Sanctuary offers the best game viewing around Naivasha, with naturally occurring populations of leopards, cheetah, plain zebra and various grazers. The white rhino and the Grevy’s zebra are also among the wildlife seen in the Oserian Wildlife Sanctuary.
Probably in East Africa no better place offers a much possibility to view the white rhino. Best known for its birdlife, with more than 500 species listed with the flamingo proclaimed “the most fabulous bird spectacle in the world” by renowned American ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson. Lake Nakuru is frequent by lesser and greater flamingos.
Here in Lake Nakuru one can spot millions of flamingos that gather along shore and the pelican that cluster on the southern flood plain. The big five are present here in Lake Nakuru alongside giraffe, waterbuck, gazelle, baboon and buffalo's.
The waters of Lake Bogoria are alkaline and rich in algae thus supporting a high density of flamingos. The Greater Kudu with its long spiraled horns can be seen on the shallow shores of Lake Bogoria. Covering an area 34 sq-km the lake is fed by the Sandai and Emsos rivers, together with at least 200 hot springs spread across three main sites. The concentration of geysers is one of the greatest in Africa.
The rapid rate of evaporation makes the water saline and cannot support fish, crocodiles or hippos.
From the recent tectonic activities on the Kenyan Rift Valley there is the presence of a hot springs and boiling geysers that erupt from the western shore of Bogoria.
Surprisingly despite the high rate of evaporation and no known outlet in Lake Baringo, the waters are fresh. Compared to other lakes in the Rift Valley, Lake Baringo is less prone to fluctuations and covers an area of 170sq-km.
The hippo been among the largest residents of Lake Baringo are seen and heard grazing nocturnally on the lawns of the lake shore. The red-and-yellow barbet is common around this lake.
The lake also supports a varied aquatic fauna, most strikingly the outsized crocodiles, gigantic monitor lizards and grunting hippos.