Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is one of the freshwater Lakes in Kenya, based within the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley. This Lake derives its name from a local Masai name “Nai’posha”, to meal “rough water” due to the sudden storms that arise within the Lake. Naivasha has a Total surface Area of over 139 square kilometers, deepest place being Crescent Island at over 30 meters deep and is surrounded by a wetland that extends for over 64 square kilometers (area).

Location of Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is set outside Naivasha Town, within Nakuru County and north-west of Nairobi City. At over 1884 meters (6181 feet), this beautiful Lake sits within the highest altitude of the Kenyan part of the Rift Valley in a composite geological combination of sedimentary deposits as well as volcanic rocks from the extensive Pleistocene Era Lake.


Lake Naivasha used to be a landing place for flying boats on the imperial Airwards passenger as well as the most-used mail route from Southampton within Britain to South Africa between 1937 and 1950. The Lake is said to have connected Nairobi and Kisumu and also, Joy Adamson-the author of Born Free once occupied the lush shores of this Lake in the mid-1960s. Naivasha was designated a Ramsar wetland on 10th April 1995.

Wildlife and Bird species

Lake Naivasha and its verdant surroundings are abundant in natural endowments and the fertile soils favor growth of lush forests of the yellow-backed Acacia Xanthophlea (popularly known as Yellow fever tree). The waters of the Lake draw wide range of wildlife species to its pristine shores. For instance, large Hippo populations live in the shallow waters on the shores of this Lake while Cape buffaloes wallow in the wetlands. Also, Masai giraffes, common elands, Defassa waterbucks and zebras roam among the acacia woodlands while the black and white colobus monkeys call the branchy treetops of different tree species.

The verdant forests, luxuriant shores and surrounding swamps of Lake Naivasha abound with numerous bird species totaling to over 350 species that include Hadada Ibis, Giant and pied kingfishers, grey-crowned cranes, grey-capped warblers, Nubian woodpecker, Baillon’s crake, Great-crested grebe, Black crake, cormorants, hawks, grey-backed fiscals, African fish eagles, white-fronted bee-eaters, African jacana, Little egret, saddle-billed storks, Maccoa Duck, red-billed fire finches, Great white egrets, Basra Reed warblers, African darter, grey herons, Grey-crested helmeted-shrike, secretary bird, lesser flamingos, African spoonbills, white-backed duck and Red-knobbed coot among others.

Tourist Activities in/around Lake Naivasha

Game drives

Undertake game drives along the shores of Lake Naivasha as well as the surrounding private conservancies of Oserian and Loldia where you will encounter different wildlife species emerging from the Lake, surrounding wetlands and grasslands. You are like to see Hippos, zebras, buffaloes and Defassa waterbucks in addition to the rare leopards that can be spotted during night game drives.

Bird watching

The freshwater Lake, its pristine shores, surrounding papyrus swamps, forests and high cliffs are excellent birding spots if you wish to see cormorants, grey-backed fiscals, weavers, African fish eagles, white-fronted bee-eaters, African jacana, Little egret, saddle-billed storks, Maccoa Duck, red-billed fire finches, Great white egrets and many others. As you move through the acacia forest, you will spot hawks and woodpeckers among others.

Walking safaris

Participate in walking safaris to bring you up-close to the unique wildlife, bird species and habitats around Lake Naivasha.

Boat cruises

Boat cruises on Lake Naivasha are the highlight of Lake Naivasha excursions, leading to the beautiful Crescent Island and other parts of the Lake

Horseback rides

Horseback rides involve riding among wildlife species and the jaw-dropping landscape, with popular Horseback tours conducted at the beautiful Sanctuary farm. This is a 500 acres’ dairy farm on the pristine shores of Lake Naivasha and owned by Francis Erskine that also breeds and trails horses. The activity is conducted under the guidance of well-trained guides and involves encountering several wildlife species such as zebras, Hippos, Masai giraffes, Defassa waterbucks, impalas, and many others.

Other tourist activities around Lake Naivasha include flower farm trips, community/village walks, day excursions to the nearby Lake Nakuru and Hell’s Gate National Park as well as Elsamere and Lake Elementaita.

Best time to visit Lake Naivasha

Activities and everything else considered, the dry season-June to September as well as December to February is the best time to visit Lake Naivasha. However, the destination is open to visitors all year round.

Where to stay

There are a number of accommodation facilities around Lake Naivasha and they include Olerai House, Loldia House, Sweet Lake Resort, Burch’s Resort Naivasha, Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort, Naivasha Kongoni Lodge, Enashipai Resort and Spa, Hippo Point and Dodo’s Tower, Lake Naivasha Simba Lodge, Malewa Wildlife Lodge and many others.

How to get there

Lake Naivasha is situated in Central Kenya, along the Eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley. It is also about 56 kilometers south-east of Nakuru and over 100 kilometers from Nairobi City. This amazing tourist site can be reached by air, with flights being only 15 minutes’ away from Nairobi City. For road transport, the Lake is only 2 hours’ drive from the Capital City.

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