Expert Reviews – Lake Nakuru NP

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Expert
Nana Luckham   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: July

Nana is a travel writer and author of multiple guidebooks, including the Lonely Planet guides to Africa, Zambia & Malawi and South Africa.

6 people found this review helpful.

The pink-tinged lake
Overall rating
3/5

Nakuru National Park is a short drive from Nakuru town, making it one of the most visited parks in Kenya. Whilst it doesn't rate highly as a true wilderness experience, that’s not to say that a visit here isn’t worthwhile. White rhinos are common here, and there are also large numbers of waterbuck, buffalo, impala, warthog and the odd lion.

This is also one of the best places in the country to see leopards and they can attract quite a crowd. On my last visit here my guide pointed out a leopard in the trees; within minutes it was surrounded by a gaggle of jeeps, and tourists’ cameras flashing brightly against the dusk.

The park is most famous for its flamingoes, however. There were once over two million but numbers have dwindled due to fluctuating water levels, pollution and drought, although there are still enough to create quite a spectacle. My overriding memory of the park is of a late afternoon at the southern end, the lake tinged pink with thousands of flamingoes, and rhinos quietly grazing in the foreground.

Expert
Stuart Butler   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: Multiple times

Stuart is a travel writer and author of numerous Lonely Planet guidebooks, including Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

5 people found this review helpful.

The Family Friendly Park
Overall rating
3/5

Lake Nakuru National Park is one of Kenya’s big ticket parks and, on the right day, one of the best places in East Africa to see flamingos, which sometimes occur in mind boggling numbers – well over a million isn’t unheard of. As well as blushing pink birds the park is a hot spot for rhinos, both black and white. Leopards are also seen with frequency and there are large numbers of pelicans, warthogs, waterbuck, buffalo and zebra. Throw in the namesake beautiful lake which is best appreciated from the top of the baboon cliffs at the park’s western edge, easy access from Nakuru town which abuts the park, a well-maintained road network and what emerges is one of the best family-friendly parks in the country.

But, what the park gains in user friendliness it loses in wilderness appeal. Fenced in its entirety, Nakuru National Park is home to so many rhinos (which have largely been brought in from less well-protected parks) simply because it’s not a remote and wild park and therefore they can be easily protected here. And, despite the density of wildlife here, this can make some people a little snooty about Nakuru. Before I first visited the park I probably fell into that category myself but when, eventually, I did get around to visiting and I first saw the lake tinged with the pink of flamingos, my opinion quickly changed. Sure, I’d seen flamingos before but never quite in the numbers that were present here and what made it better is that as I peered at them through binoculars my view was constantly being obscured by other animals: Rothschilds giraffes, rhinos and others, ambling through the foreground.

However, flamingos, being fussy birds, are reliant on just exactly the right depth of water in order to flourish. In recent years (from 2014) heavy rains through much of Kenya’s Rift Valley region have raised lake waters considerably and this means that right now there are far fewer flamingos present than five or six years ago. If flamingos are your big reason to visit Nakuru, then it would be wise to seek local advice before heading into the park.

Overlooking the current flamingo-less flamingo lake then, to summarise I would say that if you want a real back-of-beyond safari then Nakuru probably won’t do it for you, but if you were travelling here with children, or people with only a limited interest in wildlife, then Nakuru, which can be enjoyed over the course of just a couple of hours, before heading back into town, should be high on your list of parks to visit.

Expert
Mike Unwin   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: September

Mike is an award winning wildlife writer, editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.

5 people found this review helpful.

Pretty in pink
Overall rating
3/5

Lake Nakuru is world famous for its bird spectacle: namely the tens of thousands – occasionally up to one million – greater and lesser flamingos that turn the shores pink, plus a rich selection of other birds that share the water’s edge and surrounding savanna. Less well known is the impressive selection of mammal species, including big cats, buffalo, giraffe and both species of rhino, many of which have been reintroduced into a fenced area around the lake. The reserve’s relatively small size and its location in a populous region, just 160km from Nairobi, has necessitated the construction of these fences. This somewhat detracts from its wilderness vibe, and perhaps explains why many tour itineraries visit the lake on just a day-trip en route to Masai Mara or other wilder horizons.

The park definitely rewards greater exploration, however, and there are campsites and lodges for those who want to do so. During my day’s visit, I enjoyed an excellent leopard encounter – something for which the park is well known – and was also impressed by the high numbers of waterbuck, reedbuck and other antelope. You may also spot one of the park’s many large pythons. Either way, the flamingoes – part of a transient population that migrate up and down East Africa’s Rift Valley lakes – should not be missed.

Expert
Lucy Corne   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: October

Lucy is travel writer for a range of publications, including Lonely Planet's guides to Africa, Southern Africa and South Africa.

2 people found this review helpful.

Challenging game viewing
Overall rating
3/5

Once upon a time, people flocked to Nakuru to spot the flamingos that flocked here. Sadly, thanks to repeat floods in the Rift Valley, the flamingos no longer come, but happily the visitors do. The park is home to four of the Big Five (elephants are absent) as well as hippos, a wealth of antelope and the usual zebra and giraffe. Spotting the animals can be challenging and my personal wildlife-watching experience here was largely underwhelming. Scenically though, this park sitting in the Rift Valley is arresting, particularly the vistas from Baboon Cliff Viewpoint, which conjure up scenes from The Lion King.

Expert
Gemma Pitcher   –  
Australia AU
Visited: March

Gemma authored several Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

2 people found this review helpful.

A nice and scenic place for wildlife and flamingoes
Overall rating
3/5

I know it’s a bit cheesy, but I just love flamingoes. I can swamp my eyes with their pink gorgeousness for hours on end and never get tired of them. That’s why I love popping into Lake Nakuru National Park, which is often (but not always) the feeding ground of thousands of the leggy pink beauties and their accompanying pelican flocks. The rest of the park is nice, but not terribly extensive, and due to its small size game sightings can be thin on the ground.

The park’s advantages include its proximity to Nairobi, making it easy to visit for a day trip, and its introduced population of white rhino. If you don’t have long in Kenya (or are a flamingo nutter like me) Nakuru is a nice, easy and scenic place to spend a day or just a couple of hours.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.6/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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