​Overview – Lake Nakuru NP

Anthony Ham
Expert
By Anthony Ham

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Kenya.

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

Anthony is the author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

Scenic Lake Nakuru National Park is Kenya’s most popular national park and with good reason. It’s a fantastic place to see rhino and sightings of lion and leopard are possible. It’s also easy to reach: the entrance is very close to the city of Nakuru. Centered on a large, shallow lake that supports great birdlife, including pelicans and flamingos, the park has experienced dramatically fluctuating water levels in recent years. This can affect everything from flamingo populations to trail access.

Best Time To Go June to February (Best for wildlife viewing; little rain)
High Season July to February (The park gets very busy)
Size 188km² / 73mi²
Altitude 1,755-2,053m / 5,758-6,736ft

Pros & Cons

  • Easily accessible
  • Stunning Rift Valley scenery
  • Varied habitats support an excellent range of wildlife, especially rhino
  • Fantastic birding with pelicans and flamingos
  • The park gets very busy in high season
  • A limited game-drive circuit

Lake Nakuru NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Lake Nakuru offers easy wildlife viewing of most big safari animals with the exception of elephants. Black and white rhino were reintroduced in the 1980s and have bred to healthy populations. White rhino are usually easy to see on the western lakeshore. Rothschild’s giraffe, buffalo and hippo are numerous as well. Lucky visitors might see lions, which occasionally climb trees. Leopard are present, and if you’re lucky you’ll spot one.

Scenery

For a small park, Lake Nakuru really is breathtaking, with the Rift Valley escarpment, dotted with euphorbia trees, rising up from the lakeshore. Heavy mist sometimes shrouds the lake and yellow fever trees, which seem to glow in the early morning. The view from the Out of Africa Lookout is as close as you can get to the famous plane journey scene from the film ‘Out of Africa’.

Activities

The main activity in Lake Nakuru is the guided game drive, which allows you to explore the park for wildlife watching and birding. In the park’s south you can see moderately impressive Makalia Falls, where waters cascade through a cleft in the rock surrounded by acacia forest. If you’re staying at The Cliff, a luxury tented camp perched on the edge of the escarpment, you can also enjoy a boat excursion on the lake.

Weather & Climate

Despite being near the equator, it rarely gets hot at Lake Nakuru, with temperatures peaking around 28°C/82°F in the first few months of the year. It is the park’s altitude that cools everything down, particularly in the early morning when you’ll need your warmest clothing for game drives. The Dry season stretches from June to February, while the brief Wet season (March to May) is at its dampest in April.

Best Time To Visit

The usual problem with wildlife watching in the Wet season (March to May) is that animals disperse when the rains come. That’s not an issue at Lake Nakuru, though, because the national park is ringed by fencing. Still, the wet weather has been known to spoil more than a few game drives, so you might want to visit in the drier months of the year (June to February).

Want To Visit Lake Nakuru NP?

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Lake Nakuru NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Lizzie Williams  –  
South Africa ZA

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Rewarding game-viewing, even on a short visit, combined with great lake views
4/5

Lake Nakuru’s compactness and varied landscapes are instantly likeable, and it’s ideal for first-time safari-goers and families (even with small children). On my last visit, waterbuck, impala, buffalo and Rothschild's giraffe were right...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Kjerstin J.  –  
Norway NO
Reviewed: Jul 16, 2024
4/5

Great to see more birds, and also the rhino.Not the same panoramic view as in Masai Mara, but still wonderful!

Full Review