Lake Naivasha Budget Travel

Lake Naivasha is an easy drive from the hustle-and-bustle of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. It’s an incredibly beautiful place with amazing birdlife, loads of hippos, and a smorgasbord of other animals. There is very little more magic than the call of an African Fish Eagle across the lake.

Highlights of Lake Naivasha

  • Beautiful scenery
  • A plethora of birds
  • Crescent Island Animal and Bird Sanctuary
  • Boat trips on the lake
  • Hippos, hippos, and more hippos
  • Elsamere

Geography of Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake that covers about 140 km2. In rainy seasons, it can be much bigger! It is situated at the highest elevation of the Kenyan Rift Valley.


The lake is made up of volcanic rock and sedimentary deposits, making its soil fertile. This accounts for the beautiful flora of the area. It’s mostly shallow, with an average depth of 6 m, but gets deeper around Crescent Island.

Fed by the Gilgil and Malewa Rivers, its outlet is unknown. It is thought that the water flows out through a fissure in the bottom of the lake somewhere.


Due to the lake's proximity to the equator, the climate is relatively consistent throughout the year – warm and wet. Average maximum temperatures are in the high 20’s (Celsius) and minimums in the teens.

Rain occurs all year, usually in the form of cooling afternoon showers.

Beware: Storms!

Visitors are warned of the temperamental weather, especially when going out on the lake. Sudden, dramatic changes – from sunshine to wild storms can occur on the lake. It is for this reason that the lake gained its name. It was initially called Nai'posha, which means ‘rough water’ in Maasai.

Crescent Island

The ‘island’ in Crescent Island is a little sneaky – the area is actually a peninsula, reachable by boat or car. The ‘island’ is a spectacular private game park which offers guided walks, allowing you to get as close to nature as is physically possible.

The park is home to hundreds of bird species and many mammals, including giraffe, buffalo, waterbuck, wildebeest, leopard and jackal.

Fauna & Flora

The soil is fertile here and the fauna and flora follows suit.


The banks of the lake are mainly grassy with yellow fever tree forests and euphorbias.

The area around the lake contains many flower farms, where flowers are grown to be exported to the flower markets of Europe.


Hippos live on the lake. Many, many hippos. The lawns of many of the lodges along the shore are kept trim by these hungry hippos, who amble up at night. They’re not alone, though. There are also giraffe, antelope, monkeys, buffalo that wallow in the swamps, and over 400 species of bird.


Joy and George Adamson’s home, Elsamere, is situated on the lake.  First their holiday home, then their retirement home, it is now a museum, lodge and conservation centre.

Joy Adamson wrote Born Free (amongst other books), the incredible story of Elsa the orphaned lion, who was hand-reared and then released into the wild. Watch the documentary, visit the museum and support the Elsamere Conservation Trust and Centre for Education in Sustainability in this beautiful, tranquil spot.

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Google Map of Lake Naivasha

Use the Google map to explore Lake Naivasha. Feel free to Print the Street Map when you're ready.

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