The history of Nakuru County is colourful and splendid. The county’s rich history is joined at the hip with that of the entire nation.
When the Kenya-Uganda railway line was constructed, although heavily criticized as the Lunatic Express or a road to nowhere, it had a profound impact in the creation the nation today known as Kenya.
As the nation grew, Nakuru Town also developed out of the activities of the railroad as it was one of the major stopovers that encouraged growth of business centres along the railway from Mombasa en route for Kisumu.
Nakuru County was among the area that was annexed as white highlands, where many colonialists chose to settle.
From then on, Nakuru quickly transformed into a big town which later was to become the headquarters of the Rift Valley Province, serving as the nerve centre for other 14 counties in the region.
Actually it is very much easy and convenient to get to any part of Rift Valley or the entire nation from Nakuru. From Nakuru Town to other regional headquarters in the country with the exception of Mombasa is two and half hours’ drive.
This quality makes Nakuru County the pearl of Rift Valley and indeed the entire nation.
The County sits at the centre of the great road from Mombasa to Nairobi all the way through Nyanza opening Kenya to East and Central Africa, thus Nakuru is strategically located and favorable for investors, a factor that gives this county a great impetus for great socio-economic growth.
Naivasha, for the last two decades is more associated with the flower farms than the pristine freshwater lake it is home to. Situated 90 kilometres from Nairobi, it’s an hour’s drive through the Great Rift Valley. Lake Naivasha is ideal for bird watching and exploring the shores where wildlife is found in private sanctuaries and Elsamere, once the home of Joy and George Adamson of the Born Free fame.
Common camping sites in Naivasha include:
Crater Lake camps
KWS Hippo Camp
Hell’s Gate National Park
A walk on the wild side Hell’s Gate National Park lies south of Lake Naivasha, Northwest of Nairobi. The stunning park is‘famous for its natural rock towers scaling high, cliffs, ﬂat plains and eroded gulleys.
Olkaria and Hobley’s are two extinct volcanoes located in the park. in the Hell’s Gate Gorge, lined with red cliffs are two volcanic plugs: Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower. The Central Tower is the smaller gorge, which extends to the south where a path descends into the hot springs.
It has abundant plains game such as buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, giraffe, baboons, Thomson’s gazelles, the rare Chandlefs mountain reedbuck, lion, leopard and cheetah. Over 100 species of birds have been recorded including vultures, Verreaux’s eagles, augur buzzard and swifts. The cliffs once hosted the now almost extinct population of the Lammergeyer or the bearded vulture that used the cliffs to drop animal bones from a height to break them open and scoop out the marrow. The cliffs are home to a shy antelope, the Klipspringer that is adapted to living on the rocks.
In June, KWS organizes the wheelbarrow race in the park as a fund raising activity. It is a fun day out for the family (check www.kws.go.ke for details).
How to get there
Road: The park is accessible via tarmac road from Nairobi (90km) via Naivasha Town on the Lake Road South at a junction 5km south of Naivasha.
Air: Naivasha airstrip
Temperature ranges from 20-30°C and rainfall from 200mm – 700 mm
Two rain seasons:
Long rains — March to April.
Short rains — November to December.
Game drives, hiking and cycling
Raptors nesting in cliffs
Spectacular Gorge walk
The Olkaria Geothermal Station
The Mervyn Carnelley Raptor Hide
Tourist circuits, nature trails and picnic sites.
Buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, giraffe, baboons, serval cat and klipspringer antelopes.
Proliﬁc birdlife features 103 species.
Where to stay
These is no accommodation in the Park; although a wide of accommodations options are available in Naivasha town and along Moi South Lake Road.
Oldubai campsite (on the cliff top south of Fischer’s Tower).
Endchata campsite (across the gorge on the northern cliffs).
Mt. Longonot National Park
The mountain park is coined “Sheer adventure”
90km from Nairobi enroute to Naivasha and close to Hell’s Gate National Park.
The park is the mountain, which rises 2,776m above sea level (9,l08ft). The dormant volcano on the ﬂoor of the Rift Valley has ridges with little vegetation but the yawning crater
How to get there
90km on tarmac road from Nairobi.
Temperature ranges from 20-30°C and rainfall from 200mm – 700 mm.
Extinct volcano and crater forest, scenic landscape, views of lake Naivasha, Mount Eburru, Mount Suswa and the Great Rift Valley.
Buffalo, eland, lion, leopard, bushbucks, common zebra, giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle and many other antelopes.
where to stay
In – Park Accommodation
There is no accommodation in the Park. A wide range of accommodation is available in Naivasha town and along Moi South Lake Road.
KWS Self – Catering Accommodation
There are no self-catering facilities at Hell’s Gate National Park.
Osotua Cottages and Campsite on the base of the lower escarpment road. Osotua means peace in Maasai language. It is a community initiative between the local Maasai and Kikuyu
Hiking on the mountain
Best Time To Visit
All year round
The freshwater lake northwest of Nairobi, outside the town of Naivasha, lies in the Great Rift Valley. The name is derived from the local Maasai name Nai’posha, meaning “rough water”.
The lake is approximately 139km2 and is the highest of the Rift Valley lakes at 1,884m (6,180ft). Much of it is surrounded by flower farms and increasingly, by fewer swamps. It is nevertheless pristine and rich with birdlife.
The lake has an average depth of 6m (20ft), with the deepest area being at Crescent lsland, at a maximum depth of 30m (100ft). Njorowa Gorge used to form the lake’s outlet, but it is now high above the lake and forms the entrance to Hell’s Gate National Park.
The lake is home to a variety of wildlife with over 400 species of bird. There is a sizeable population of hippos in the lake. There are two smaller lakes in the vicinity of Lake Naivasha: Lake Oloiden and Lake Sonachi (a green crater lake).
Located eight kilometres from Nyahururu – Nakuru main road.
Menengai Crater, a dormant volcano is the second largest crater in the world and plunges 483 metres from the rim.
The volcano was formed about 200,000 years ago. The 12 x 8 km caldera formed 8000 years ago. Menengai is one of the best-preserved calderas in the world. The crater floor is ideal for hiking. The summit is accessible by foot or vehicle. There is geo—thermal prospecting in the crater for energy.
Few places in Kenya to see the South African National flower, the Protea growing wild
Where to Stay
Maili Saba on the rim of the crater – a simple tented camp with stunning views of the crater
Located 40km from Nakuru along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway. It is a World Heritage Site since the year 2011.
The alkaline lake is i8km2 in size and lies on the eastern side of the Great Rift Valley. Most of it is in the Soysambu Conservancy. The lake is an important site for Great white pelicans, flamingos and other waders. The conservancy has the biggest population of the endangered Rothschild giraffe.
Great white pelicans
Great crested Grebe
Visit to the natural hot springs
Where to stay
Lake Elementeita Lodge
Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp
The Sleeping Warrior Camp
The Sleeping Warrior Lodge
Two kilometres east of Lake Elementeita skirting the diatomite mine along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, the acheulian site has hand axes and cleavers including fossils of extinct animal species. A nature trail leads you through the site once part of a bigger lake.
Hyrax Hill Museum
The museum atop a hill was once a colonial farmhouse. Ancient dwellings of the Sirikwa people now extinct are found in-situ the oldest dating to 3,000 years and the youngest to possibly 300 years. The museum displays ethnographic materials of the people in the Rift Valley, archaeology and local ecology. The nature trail is a must-do for an aerial view of Lake Nakuru and the town.
Olorgesailie Prehistoric site
This acheullian site is 90kms southwest of Nairobi on Magadi road. Its in-situ displays of pre-historic materials including numerous hand axes, fossilized skeletons of extinct species of elephants and hippopotamus dating back from 1.2 million years ago. Other attractions include a museum, campsite, bandas and nature trail.
Lake Nakuru National Park
140km northwest of Nairobi, the park lies in Central Kenya in Nakuru district of the Rift Valley Province. The alkaline lake has a crusty shoreline, surrounded with wooded and bushy grasslands. Famous for its flamingos (Greater and Lesser) that turn the shoreline crimson including 450 species of birds. The park is rich in wildlife with both species of rhinos (the black and the white), buffalo, lion, leopard, Spotted hyena, baboons, Vervet monkeys and wildebeest.
Lake Nakuru lodge.
Sarova Lion Hill Lodge.
Flamingo Hill Tented Camp.
Wildlife Clubs of Kenya hostels and house.
KWS Naishi house.
Naishi, Chui, Rhino, Soysambu, Nyati, Nyuki and Reedbuck.
Wildlife Clubs of Kenya campsite.
Makalia and Backpackers.
Flamingo (Greater and Lesser), Great white pelicans and other water birds including a variety of terrestrial birds numbering about 450 species.
Mammals: 56 different species including black rhinos, white rhinos, lions.
View-points: Lion hill, Baboon cliff and Out of Africa..
Hills: Enasoit, Honeymoon, Lion hill ridge.
Vegetation: About 550 different plant species including the largest euphorbia forest in Africa; yellow acacia woodlands.
Cycle with Rhino fund raising event every September.
How to get there
Road: 156km northwest of Nairobi, the park is on the main A104 tarmac road. The most commonly used route into the park is via the main gate, 4km from Nakuru town centre. It is also possible to enter the park from the main Nairobi-Nakuru road, or Lanet Gate. The Nderit Gate when driving in from Masai Mara or Elementeita.
By Air: Naishi airstrip
The park has three gates: Main Gate and Lanet Gate that link the park with the Nairobi-Nakuru highway and the less used Nderit Gate.
Lord Egerton Castle
The castle at Ngata, 14km from Nakuru town is on a 100- acre piece of land. Built by Lord Egerton for his bride-to- be in 1938 it was completed in 1954 after she rejected his wedding proposal stating that the house he lived in then (a six bedroom house) was as small as a chicken coop. The heart-broken Lord Egerton never married, never wanted to see another woman and banned all women on his property.
He died in 1958. The castle was built by 100 lndian labourers using imported material and some local from the nearby Kedowa and Njiru. The marble and tiles were imported from Italy and England. Today the castle belongs to the Egerton University and is open to tourists.