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Lake Bogoria Home To Beautiful Flamingos
Lake Bogoria is scenically the most spectacular and dramatic of all the Rift Valley Lakes, long, narrow and deep. It is alkaline and has no outlet. It is surrounded by a dense almost impenetrable thorn bush. Lake Bogoria was made a national reserve in 1981 as a means of protecting the greater Kudu area. Before this, it was known as Lake Hannington named after the first Bishop of East Africa who camped here on his way to Uganda.
Lake Bogoria is also known as ’the place of the lost tribe’, local legend dictating that it was formed when the god Chebet punished the Kamale tribe for the inhospitality by invoking a deluge which drowned the village.
Lake Bogoria is fed by the Sandai River which rises on the eastern scarp of the Rift Valley as well as by its hot springs. Like most of the Rift Valley, Lakes Bogoria has no outlet and is coupled with the searing heat, causes intense evaporation. The resultant alkalinity of the water provides the ideal habitat for blue-green algae cyanophyte spirulina sp, the staple food of flamingos.
The Eastern shore lies close to the foot of the massive Siracho Escarpment which rises at 2,000ft above the lake. Around the lake’s shore are several hot springs, geysers, some shooting jets of hot spray to a height of 6 metres. At down these shooting jets form a mist.
When standing near the geysers looking across the lake through the clouds of steam towards the towering wall of the escarpment, it is easy to imagine how the earth split apart to form the dramatic sweep of the Great Rift Valley.
The geysers and hot springs should not be approached too closely as the surface around the area is very thin and fragile and can easily collapse. The Lake Bogoria is also home to about 1.5 million flamingos. The lake’s warm alkaline waters are an ideal breeding ground for the blue-green algae spirulina platensis on which the lesser flamingo feed.
The lake is an important site for bird species, often holding about 80-90% total species of flamingos. There are two types of flamingo species found in Lake Bogoria, the lesser and the greater flamingos. The lesser flamingos lay their eggs here but have never been known to successfully breed here. Their usual breeding ground is Lake Natron in Tanzania.
Lake Bogoria is also home to a variety of wild animals such as Leopard, olive baboon, zebra, Grant’s gazelle, impala, dik-dik and the greater kudu. The greater kudu can be seen to mingle with flamingos. An extraordinary sight. Baboons in this area are adept at catching flamingo.
Lake Bogoria has around 200 hot springs but the largest and the most spectacular collection erupt along the lakeside of Loburu, about 9kms from the Loboi Gate. Characteristically a sign of declining volcanic activity, hot springs are an indication that molten rock lies not far below the earth’s surface.
Boiling up from beneath the precariously shallow crust of the earth at temperatures 94-104 degrees the diamond clear water is scalding hot to touch and wreathed in billows of steam.
Bursting into bubbling pools and boiling waterfalls, many of the ochre-brown depression’s centre on sulphurous which geysers blow jets of boiling water several meters into the air.
Lake Bogoria is one of the few sanctuaries in Kenya where you can catch a glimpse of the rare Kudu. The numbers have declined over the years. Extremely shy and prefer to rest in the shade during the heat of the day, Kudus can best be spotted amid the acacia groves of the Sogomo Causeway immediately adjacent to the Acacia Campsite.
Where To Stay In Lake Bogoria
When visiting Lake Bogoria there is a choice of where to stay at the Lake Bogoria Lodge that has an enticing hot spring swimming pool. You can also choose to camp in one of the campsites along the western shore. The Fig Tree Campsite is set among magnificent fig trees by a freshwater spring at the southern end of the lake.
There are two stunning campsites. The most popular being the Fig Tree Campsite. It is located 3 kilometres from Emsos Gate and 15kms from Loburu springs. Under a shady grove of fig trees near a perennial stream, the site offers super lake vies and shade. Closer to the Loburu springs and set on a beautiful private bay near and acacia woodland is Acacia Campsite.
Although lacking in ambience, the campsite is near the Loboi Gate.
Campers are also welcome to stay at the Bogoria Spa Resort at Kenya Shillings 500 per person per night and this includes the use of the hotel room facilities.
The resort is conveniently located 5 minutes from the Loboi Gate. The hotel offers a pleasant selection of cottages and standard rooms. It also has the only naturally heated spa pool in Kenya as well as a half Olympic size cool pool, bar and restaurant.
Need To Know
The lesser flamingo (phoeniconaias minor) is the smallest of the world’s six flamingo species. The lesser flamingo is considered a threatened species and dies in large numbers at irregular intervals. The exact causes of death are yet to be known.
During non-breeding periods, these lakes often hold the entire population estimated to be between 2 and 4 million birds. Huge feeding flocks of up to 1.5 million birds regularly gather on Lakes Bogoria and Nakuru, some of the worlds most stunning spectacles.
Lesser flamingo filters their microscopic food spirulina plantesis near the surface of the water with a very specialized bill that contains up to 10,000 microscopic platelets called lamellae.
They swing their bills back and forth through the water while their tongues move in and out about 20 times each second like pistons, filtering up to 20 litres per day through the lamellae to net 60g of the spirulina their daily requirement.
A flamingo nest is a cone of mud standing up to 45 cm high and one or two whitish eggs are laid in a shallow depression at the top of the cone. The young hatch after about a month and have a straight bill which beings to develop a behind within a few weeks.
Lake Bogoria Fact File
- Altitude: 1,000-1,600m above sea level
- Area: 107 sq km of which 34 sq km is water
- Location: Rift Valley – Kenya
- Distance: from Capital City Nairobi – 266 km
- Status: The national reserve became Kenyans third Ramsar site in 2001 (Convention of Wetlands of International Importance) and has been designated a World Heritage Site.
- Climate: A semi-arid area, the reserve’s rain falls April- May, July – August and October – November.
- Vegetation: Mainly thorny bushland dominated by species of acacia balanites and Commiphora with patches of riverine woodland containing ficus capensis, Acacia xanthophloea and A.tortilis. The open shore is dominated by alkaline-tolerant grasslands of Sporobolus spicatus with the sedge around the hot springs.
- Wildlife: includes greater kudu, cheetah, hyena, jackal and leopard.
- Birds: Over 222 species have been found here.
- Roads: The reserves only road is navigable with a 2WD to Loburu Springs after here, a 4WD is recommended and essential if you wish to access the roads furthest point at Fig Tree Camp.
- Gates: Emsos and Maji moto lie on the south, Loboi to the north
- Other Facilities: There is a community environmental Education Center located at Loboi Gate that is free of charge and opens daily between 8 is and 5 pm
The reserve opens daily between 6 am – 7 pm including public holidays. Visitors are allowed on foot as far as the Labour hot springs.
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