Lake Nakuru is among Kenya’s finest national parks and is dominated by one of Rift Valley’s most beautiful lakes. The park lies 140 km north-west of Nairobi. The ecosystem comprises of the lake, surrounded by mainly wooded, bushy grasslands and rocky escarpments. The park supports a wide ecological diversity with Flamingos (Greater and Lesser) and other water birds which at times give color and texture to the shoreline. Although rising water levels in 2014 forced the park’s famous flamingos to flee, a small number has returned, and the lake is now hauntingly surrounded by drowned trees.

The ecosystem provides for about 56 different species of mammals including both the white and black rhinos, buffalos and a variety of terrestrial birds numbering nearly 500 species.

Major attractions

  • Flamingos (Greater and Lesser) and other water birds including a variety of terrestrial birds numbering about 500 species in total.
  • Mammals: 56 different species including white rhinos, waterbuck, etc.
  • Viewpoints: Lion hill, Baboon cliff, and Out of Africa
View of Lake Nakuru from Baboon Cliff
View of Lake Nakuru from Baboon Cliff
  • Hills: Enasoit, Honeymoon, Lion Hill Ridge
  • Waterfalls: Makalia
  • Unique vegetation: About 550 different plant species including the unique and biggest euphorbia forest in Africa, picturesque landscape and yellow acacia woodlands.
  • Participate in the cycle with rhino event every September yearly.

Wildlife at the park

Includes Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelle, the rare long-eared leaf-nosed bat, colobus monkey, rock hyrax, hippo, leopard, lion, rhino, waterbuck, impala, gazelle, striped hyena, bat-eared fox, wildcat, reedbuck, and golden cat.

Restocked mammals include lion, black and white rhino and the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe.

Birdlife at the park

There are more than 500 species recorded at Lake Nakuru National Park. The soda lake is a birding hotspot and supports a lot of birdlife, including large flocks of pelicans.

Other notable species include the Abyssinian thrush, Arrow-marked Babbler, Bateleur, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-winged Lapwing, Brimstone Canary, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Crab-plover, European Roller, Grey-crowned Crane, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Great Snipe, Greater Spotted Eagle, Grey-crested Helmet-shrike, Hildebrandt’s Starling, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Kenya Rufous Sparrow, Lappet-faced Vulture, Lesser Kestrel, Long-tailed Widowbird, Maccoa Duck, Montane White-eye, Northern Puffback, Pallid Harrier, Red-capped Lark, Rufous-throated Wryneck, Rüppell’s Vulture, Rüppell’s Robin-chat, Schalow’s Wheatear, Shining Sunbird, Slender-billed Greenbul, Sooty Falcon, Speke’s Weaver, Western Reef Heron, White-fronted Bee-eater and the White-headed Vulture.

Unfortunately, flamingos are no longer the drawcard here as the unfavorable conditions have driven them to other Rift Valley lakes.

A White Rhino and a Flock of Pelicans at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

What to do at the park

  • Game viewing
  • Bird watching
  • Picnic
  • Camping

Where to Stay

  • Makalia Falls Public Campsite: From here you can walk to the Makalia Fall and check out the view. The site is a great place to spot leopards.
  • Wildlife Club of Kenya Guesthouse: This charming cottage inside the park is the best budget choice. It looks out towards the lake and often frequented by buffalos and zebras.
  • Lake Nakuru Sopa Lodge: Set on a high perch overlooking the lake, the lodge is excellent and takes full advantage of the views.
  • Lake Nakuru Lodge: The big draw here is the view, stretching outwards from the lodge down into the park.
  • Sarova Lion Hill Lodge: Sitting high up the lake’s eastern slopes, this lodge inhabits lovely, leafy grounds in a valley high above the lake.
  • Flamingo Hill Tented Camp: Flamingo Hill strikes a balance between accessible and wild, and offers a good deal.

Special Campsites: Naishi, Chui, Rhino, Soysambu, Nyati, Nyuki and Reedbuck

Best time to visit

Animal viewing is generally good year-round, but avoid the peak of the rainy season, from March to May.

Budget Tips

Stay outside the park and you’ll pay far less for accommodation, and won’t risk needing a permit for longer than 24 hours.

Getting there and around

Roads: The park has a tarmac road connection with Nairobi. The most commonly used route into the park is via the main gate, 4 km from Nakuru Town Center. It is also possible to enter the park from the main Nairobi-Nakuru highway at Lanet Gate. The Nderit Gate is used by people accessing the park from Maasai Mara or Elmenteita.

There is no public transport from the town into the park – contact your accommodation for a transfer from the town, or rent a vehicle in Nakuru.

Getting Around: The park is accessible in a 2WD, though most visitors stay in the park and take hotel-run safaris. You’re able to explore the park alone, but guides are available for KSh2500 per four hours.

Other Details

Park Size

188 sq. Km

Park Fees

Check KWS Website for updated fees.
You’ll need to pay KSh350 per car to bring your own vehicle into the park.

Climatic Conditions

Warm and dry