Stretching for more than six thousand kilometers from Mozambique to Syria in the Middle East, the Great Rift Valley is home to thousands of tribes and some of the most stunning landscapes anywhere in the world. Amidst this continuous marvel in East Africa, you will also find a region in Kenya where this spectacle is further heightened by a skyline dominated with rolling plains, towering volcanoes and a beautiful body of freshwater – Welcome to Naivasha.
Lake Naivasha and a slightly rough reputation
Lake Naivasha is central to the region and simply put, this lakeside retreat is a nature lovers paradise and the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding attractions. Home to more than four hundred species of bird, enormous troops of monkeys, giraffe, hyena and much more, the lodges beside this hippo infested lake are almost as popular with the locals in nearby Nairobi, as they are with tourists.
Deriving its name from the Maasai language, “Nai’Posha” translates as “rough waters” which feels very apt given how quickly the conditions seem to change in the area but at the same time, it does little to convince visitors that the weather is consistently pleasant around the lake, even during the winter.
Elsa the lion, Hells Gate and Crater Lake
However, Lake Naivasha is not just a peaceful hideaway and is best known for the National Parks and nearby attractions. Take Elsamere for example, the famous home of George and Joy Adamson who raised an orphaned lion cub back in the 1970’s which was also then the subject of a major movie “Born Free” and an invitation to visit the Queen of England at the time. Today this house is a museum where tourists can learn about a truly remarkable story and enjoy high tea in the gardens as colobus monkeys and colorful birds relax in the trees above.
Another highlight in the area is Hells Gate National Park which was the original inspiration for animation favorite “The Lion King” and later, the movie “Tomb Raider”. That being said, this stunning park is far from overshadowed by the movies and looks even more impressive in person. Furthermore, this is one of the only places in Africa where you can legally (and safely) ride a bicycle beneath towering rock formations with zebra, buffalo, and warthog running alongside.
And then there is Crater Lake National Park where you can opt for a walking safari in luscious surroundings. Although the walk does in fact end at a beautiful crater lake, the star attraction on this adventure is the wildlife that make the park their home and the opportunity to stand next to a giraffe as it keeps tabs on a nearby hyena. Yes, you can explore this natural haven on foot with an experienced guide and marvel at exotic animals without the noise of a safari vehicle.
Mount Longonot, Mount Suswa, and Eburu Forest
When it comes to active adventures and primitive experiences, few places in Kenya can offer the same appeal as the Naivasha regions. Just a short distance from the lake, you can stand at the foot of Mount Longonot with every intention of hiking to the top, and when you make it, you can then walk the entire circumference of the crater rim.
Mount Suswa is part of a Masaai Conservation area so interestingly; you pay this fee directly to the tribe who will then invite you to explore the mysterious region. Although there are campsites in the area, the highlight is undoubtedly “Baboon Parliament”, an imposing rock face on which many troops of baboon seek refuge for the night, away from the ominous leopard.
And then there is the lesser known Eburu Forest in which you can trek with a local guide deep into the forest in search of an elusive antelope known as the Bongo. These are not only an impressive sight but also endangered as there is estimated to be less than fifty left on the continent, all of which are in this particular forest. Whether you decide to camp overnight or spend a day on foot, Eburru Forest is the road less traveled and an incredible wildlife experience in the heart of the African wild.
Welcome to Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley
It seems wrong to describe Lake Naivasha as having “something for everyone” given how special it is, and a trip to this part of Kenya should need no sales pitch or further encouragement. However, the fact that Lake Naivasha is still a relatively quiet contender for the best place to visit in Kenya may not be such a bad thing, as hordes of tourists tend to retract from the experience in most travel destinations.
At the same time, there should still be plenty of time before the online world catches up with this hidden treasure in Kenya so time is of the essence – Welcome to Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley.