Lake Nakuru Budget Travel Guide

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Situated a two-hour drive north-west of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Lake Nakuru is a bird- and animal-watcher’s haven. The alkaline lake, which is surrounded by the Lake Nakuru National Park, is home to a huge number of bird species and 56 species of mammal, including a healthy population of the highly endangered rhino. Be sure to look into the trees here, too, where tree-climbing lions are often spotted taking an afternoon nap.

Highlights of Lake Nakuru

  • Prolific birdlife – over 400 species. Depending on water levels, millions of pink flamingos may be seen here
  • Mammals galore, including four of the Big Five (all, except elephant)
  • Rare, tree-climbing lions
  • Makalia Waterfall
  • Beautiful scenery – rocky escarpments, forested areas and, of course, the lake itself
  • The biggest Euphorbia forest in Africa

Birds of Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru is a treat for birdwatchers, with 400 species of birds. Spend an hour with your binoculars and you’re likely to see a plethora of water birds. These include flamingos, herons, pelicans, storks and the iconic African fish eagle.

Lake Nakuru has always been most well-known for its flamingos. Literally millions of these gorgeous pink birds used to flock to the lake to feed on its algae and breed, turning the lake into a mirage of pink.  

Unfortunately, due to rising water levels over the past few years and loss of the algae that they eat, most of the flamingos have left and moved to other lakes. Water levels do, however, fluctuate, so check before going to see if the flamingos are there.

Animals of Lake Nakuru

While the full Big Five don’t call Nakuru ‘home’, four of them do. Only the elephants don’t roam here, as the park is too small to support them. Expect to see Rothschild’s giraffes, zebra, hippo, many antelope including impala and waterbuck, plenty of baboons and monkeys, and more.

Keep your eyes peeled because, if you’re lucky, you may see the more shy leopard, cheetah, pythons, hyena and jackal!

The Tree-Climbing Lions

The lions of Nakuru are spotted regularly but, unlike other areas, these ones are often seen in the trees, not on the ground. The forested area below Flamingo Hill is a favourite spot, so be sure to take a drive through there and keep your eyes on the trees!


Both white and black rhinos live in the park. In fact, the park was originally a rhino sanctuary and it boasts one of the highest concentrations of black rhinos in the world.

Geography of Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru is situated 160 km north-west of Nairobi, a two-hour drive, making it an easy day trip from the capital. The lake itself is alkaline and, depending on water levels, can cover up to 40 km2. The Lake Nakuru National Park covers 188 km2.

Geology and Flora

Located in the Southern Rift Valley, the lake is alkaline and very salty. The area of the park includes numerous hills and rocky outcrops, forests and grasslands around the lake. This provides the habitat for the wide range of animals found in the park.


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

Rain occurs all year, usually in the form of cooling afternoon showers. December to March (summer) are considered the ‘drier’ months, but rain still falls during these times.

History of Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru National Park was first declared a conservation area in 1957. It was first a bird sanctuary and then was made a national park in 1968. Numerous Rothschild giraffes were brought in from western Kenya n 1977. In the 80’s, the area was electric-fenced and declared a rhino sanctuary. In 2011, it gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Viewpoints and Picnic Spots

Due to the hills in the area, there are numerous viewpoints which provide spectacular views across the lake and the park (and herds of buffalo, if you're lucky.)

Pack a picnic and enjoy it at one of the designated picnic spots.

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Google Map of Lake Nakuru

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Tours Focused on Lake Nakuru

5 Day Masai Mara & Lake Nakuru Safari

Duration 05 Days, Travel Style Exclusive Small Group Camping Safaris
Priced from pps R20447 $1416 £1088 €1260 A$2010 C$1900 NZ$2081 Full pricing info
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Nakuru zebras A scenic Budget Masai Mara & Lake Nakuru Safari exploring Kenya's top game parks on game viewing drives over 5 adventure-filled days.

Trip Style Lake Nakuru Budget Safari Packages

4 Day Masai Mara & Lake Nakuru Luxury Camping Safari

Duration 04 Days, Travel Style Exclusive Small Group Camping Safaris
Priced from pps R15956 $1105 £849 €984 A$1568 C$1483 NZ$1624 Full pricing info
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Rhinos-in-nakuru-national-park Four adventure-filled days of game viewing and camping on a budget safari in Masai Mara & Lake Nakuru National Parks, Kenya's top game parks.

Trip Style Lake Nakuru Budget Safari Packages