Lake Baringo is the second most northern of the Kenyan Rift Valley lakes, after Lake Turkana. The beautiful water body lies 60 km north of Nakuru town and is surrounded by scenic semi-arid plains and extensive volcanic ranges. It covers approximately 130 sq. km and lies at approximately 970 meters (3,180 ft.).
Lake Baringo is one of the two freshwater lakes in the Kenyan Rift Valley, the other being Lake Naivasha. The water mass is fed by several rivers, Perkerra, Ol Arabel and Molo. It has no visible outlet; hence the water is assumed to ooze through the sediments into the faulted volcanic bedrock to maintain the lake’s fresh state.
The lake’s freshwaters are an oasis in the hot and dusty plains attracting over 470 bird species, including migrating flamingos.
The History of Lake Baringo
The first European to reach the lake was Joseph Thomson in 1883.
The marbled lungfish was introduced into the lake in 1974 and has replaced the declining number of the Nile Tilapia species. It now provides the majority of fish output from Lake Baringo.
Until the early eighties, the water was fresh, fish was ample, reeds covered the shorelines except for the steep rocky sides, and leeches were all over. In the mid-eighties, an increase in erosion led to siltation. The mudfish was ununiformly introduced into the lake and fed on tilapia. Years later, the water capacity reduced significantly, and some smaller islands on the northern shore became part of the mainland. Salinity increased, and water became inconsumable until the heavy rains of 2007, which saw the lake rise.
In 2013, heavy rains filled the lake, destroying homes and lodges along the shores and separating the community from schools, health centers, and workplaces.
At a Glance
The lake lies east of the Tugen Hills, an uplifted fault block of metamorphic and volcanic rocks, and west of Laikipia Escarpment. Its water flows from the Tugen Hills and Mau Hills. Lake Baringo is a vital refuge and habitat for myriad species of birds and fauna. It is also a precious habitat for seven freshwater fish species and animals such as the hippopotamus, Nile Crocodile, and many other mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
Lake Baringo has several small islands, fumaroles, and hot springs. Ol Kokwa Island is the lake’s largest island. A set of hot springs discharge along the lake’s shoreline at Soro near the island’s north-eastern corner.
Lake Baringo’s neighborhood is occupied mainly by pastoralist ethnic communities, including the Njemps (Il Chamus), Rendile, Kalenjin, and Turkana. It is the traditional home of the Njemps tribe.
What to do at Lake Baringo
Lake Baringo is a significant birdwatcher’s paradise. Fish at the lake attracts many Fish Eagles, Cormorants, and Pelicans. It is also ideal for crocodile and hippo spotting. Fishing, skiing, and surfing are other main activities at the lake. Boating services are also available near Kampi-ya-Samaki on the western shore and several islands in the lake.
Lake Baringo is a perfect site for a naturalist, photographer, or walker looking to relish the unique, serene, and completely undisturbed nature. Visitors can enjoy a magical sunrise, walk with Rothschild giraffes, visit the lake center’s remote islands, and associate with the exceptional Njemps and Pokot tribes.
Numerous salient palaeontological and archaeological sites are present in the Pleistocene and Miocene sedimentary sequences of the Tugen Hills.
How to get to Lake Baringo
The primary road access to Lake Baringo is directly from Nakuru town by bus or private means. Some hotels and lodges near the lake can organize transport from/to Nairobi or Nakuru. The main town near the lake is Marigat.
Getting around Lake Baringo
Private transport is the best way to get around and explore places of interest around the lake. Many hotels, lodges, and campsites arrange special local excursions. One can also hire a boat.
Where to stay at Lake Baringo
Baringo has a wide selection of exclusive accommodations to suit all tastes, budgets, and interests. They include luxury hotels and lodges, self-catering cottages, private guesthouses, and campsites.
Lake Baringo is a prime stopover on a Northern Kenya safari. It is a jewel of the Rift Valley!