Lake Nakuru National Park Getaway Guide
For many Kenyans, Nakuru National Park holds memories of unique safaris and rejuvenating escapes into the wild. Lake Nakuru National Park is a National Park located in the Rift Valley region of Kenya, was established in 1960 as a bird sanctuary and formally gazetted into a national park in 1968. The lake is alkaline and 75 sq km in size. Three rivers drain into lake Nakuru and these are – Njoro, Enderit and Makalia.
Lake Nakuru is famously known as the bird watchers paradise and it is home to over 1.5 million pink flamingo and the location of Kenya’s first Rhino sanctuary. Lake Nakuru National Park is located close to Nakuru town that is busy and hectic filled with matatus (local public transport), roadside vendors, and narrow roads.
Getting to the entrance of the Nakuru National Park, you will be welcomed by warm Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) staff. In the Park you will encounter, Olea and Euphorbia forests that shade the landscape offering home and shelter to a wide variety of wildlife from the dik-dik, the colobus monkeys, to large troops of baboons and birdlife.
While planning your camping experience at Lake Nakuru National Park, you have to be wary of baboons. If you are not careful they will steal your supplies of raw food. Besides this, the air around the park is fresh and cool with huge scenic cliffs that can be seen over the lake. The air is filled with unmistakable voices of millions of pink flamingos who seasonally call the lake their home.
Try as much as possible to finish off your safari before nightfall to avoid being mistaken for being a poacher or poachers if travelling in a group. Nakuru is a park that is full of beautiful wildlife encounters. Driving through the thick forest or along open plains you are highly likely to come face to face with enormous herds of giraffes, dozens of gigantic buffalos, leopards, and lions.
Where To Stay
One of the popular hotels in the park is Sarova Lion Hill Lodge. The lodge feels cosy. From the lounge patio, you can see the lake from a distance. You will also see fellow guests enjoying and relaxing and some playing board games. The lodge has 78 rooms with three spacious two-roomed suites which also double up as family rooms. The lodge serves good food and has a conference centre, boutique, lavish wellness centre, swimming pool and sauna.
Dining at Sarova Lion Hill is a refreshing experience. The venue offers true African hospitality and you are immediately made to feel at home. The main dining offers a scrumptious buffet. Sarova also has a great option for a day only visitors with a sumptuous buffet lunch and day-long access to the pool, sauna, ground, games, nature walks and childcare if you travel with children.
Originally constructed as a tented camp in the 1970s the Sarova Lion Hill has metamorphosed into a stone-built game lodge and something of a Lake Nakuru fixture. So much so that many might be tempted to write it off as tourist haunt. This, however, is contrary. Just ten minutes from the park’s planet gate this park offers an ideal weekend getaway. The park is ideal for families looking to spend long weekends away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Lodge has trained animation team that keeps your children busy.
There are activities the children can take part in from supervised swimming, table tennis, mini-golf, face painting and a battery of games guaranteed to calm parents. For adult entertainment, the lodge offers everything from bush breakfasts and game drives, fully catered cocktails at any of the picnic spots around the park.
You can also organize your wildlife watching by taking in all or part of the 75 km circuit. Highlights of your circuit include the shady acacia picnic site, baboon cliff or try and take a dip at Makalia falls. The evenings are interestingly entertaining with a pay as you go bar facility that is available at Lion Hill lookout or you can also buy your supplies.
Nakuru National Park is 160km from Nairobi. The route is very good and should not take you more than two hours. Take the A104 highway out of Nairobi, pass through Naivasha and continue straight to Nakuru. There are three entrances to the park. The main gate and park headquarters are two kilometres south of Nakuru town. The second entrance is the Lanet gate which is ten minutes drive from the lodge and a couple of kilometres before Nakuru town, The Nderit gate lies on the southern end of the lake on the Elementeita road to Lanet.
Wild Facts – The Hyrax
While visiting lake Nakuru National Park, you can look forward to closing encounters to the Hyrax. The park is home to the Rock hyrax and tree hyrax. The most common however is the rock hyrax that lives in cliffs and is particularly fond of picnic sites. One of the best anecdotes of safari guides is that the hyrax is the elephant’s closest living relative. Whether or not this is true, remains a point of debate. The hyrax does, however, have close features to the elephant. They share features such as teats between their forelegs, a long gestation period of seven and a half months, blunt feet with rounded nailed toes.
The hyrax first appeared in the fossil records over 40 million years ago when unnervingly, some were seen as a horse. Today the hyrax reach about 24 inches in length and can weigh up to 10 pounds. While in the wild, it is difficult to differentiate between the rock and the tree hyrax. Hyrax spends much of their time in trees.
Hyraxes can be found in most of Kenya’s national parks but are best spotted at Hell’s Gate and Nakuru National Park. The best way to view hyrax colonies is by looking out for the white urine stains which streak the boulders around their habitat.
Hyrax is brownish-grey and lump with a stumpy to non-existence tail have sharp rat-like teeth which can deliver a ferocious nip and rubbery foot pads on their elephant toed feet. The pads generate sweat to allow them to stick to rocks and trees
Hyrax is aggressively territorial and live in colonies of 10 to 60 and spend most of their time sunning themselves due to their poor internal temperature regulation or chasing each other in play. Social and gregarious, they sleep together to keep warm and safe from predators. They are famous for their utter penetrating screams shortly after dark. They live for up to 12 years.
Hyrax is subdivided into small family groups which are dominated by a single male. The lucky males, however, get to dominate multiple groups of females while the weaker ones live solitary lives beyond the boundaries of the colony. Occasionally they may be all.
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