Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

Lake Nakuru National Park in southwestern Kenya boasts well-maintained roads, proximity to Nairobi and stunning fauna of flamingos, rhinos, giraffes and lions.

Lake Nakuru National Park is located on picturesque Lake Nakuru in southwestern Kenya, about 160 kilometers northwest of the capital Nairobi - ideal for a day safari. After the Masai Mara, it has the highest number of visitors in Kenya's national parks, with 200,000 annually. Lake Nakuru National Park is one of our 10 most beautiful national parks of Kenya and our top 10 sights of Kenya.


In the arid steppe of Africa, the large-scale Lake Nakuru provides an important source of survival for a variety of wildlife. Waterfowl in particular depend on the continued existence of the salt lake as a feeding and nesting ground.

Within Lake Nakuru National Park there are well maintained roads and several accommodation options: two lodges, Sarova Lion Hill and Lake Nakuru Lodge, seven campsites (Naishi, Chui, Rhino, Soysambu, Nyati, Nyuki, Reedbuck) and two tent sites (Makalia and Backpackers).

Creation of Lake Nakuru National Park

The first step to protect Lake Nakuru was taken in 1961, when about two-thirds of what is now the national park was declared a bird sanctuary, and six years later, Africa's first bird sanctuary.

A year later, Lake Nakuru National Park was expanded to cover an area of nearly 200 square kilometers across Lake Nakuru and beyond its shores. Today, Lake Nakuru National Park provides a protected habitat for 450 bird species, including nearly 100 waterfowl.

Perfect habitat for flamingos

Two rhinos in Lake Nakuru National Park in southwestern Kenya against a backdrop of flamingos in the lake, Kenya - © javarman / Shutterstock
© javarman / Shutterstock

Visitors to the park literally see pink above all else. Lake Nakuru is home to over 2 million flamingos, which cover Lake Nakuru like a fluffy pink blanket. Even from a distance, you can hear the wild clatter of their beaks as they fish for krill in the shallow water. During the breeding season from April to May, even the nests with the chicks on the ground can be observed. Between the flamingos, herons and pelicans also feast on the tiny crustaceans in Lake Nakuru.

Other wildlife in Lake Nakuru National Park

Besides the flamingos and other water birds, Lake Nakuru National Park also includes a population of over 50 species of mammals. Elephants will not be encountered in Lake Nakuru National Park, the park is too small for that, but antelopes, waterbucks, monkeys, buffalos, giraffes, rhinos and now and then even lions.

Especially the rare Rothschild giraffes and the rhinos have been specially introduced to Lake Nakuru National Park so that their population can recover after they were almost extinct. This has worked very well, especially the giraffes could already be reintroduced across the borders of Kenya to Uganda.


Rhinos are also found here in larger numbers. The approximately 60 black and white rhinos are easily distinguished by their characteristic snout and feeding behavior. The former pick leaves from trees and bushes with their pointed mouths and the latter graze the grass on the ground like cows. The rangers of the national park guarantee the safety of the giraffes and rhinos.

In addition to these specially protected species, lions, leopards, monkeys, hippos, antelopes, zebras and buffaloes can also be seen in Lake Nakuru National Park.

From Baboon Cliff (" Baboon Rock") you have a fantastic overview of Lake Nakuru and its breathtaking wildlife. Here you can also safely get out of the car, which is not recommended in the other regions of Lake Nakuru National Park. As the name suggests, baboons are often found on this cliff.

The Menengai Crater in the north of the park (one of the largest volcanic craters in the world) and the Makalia Waterfall are also popular destinations in Lake Nakuru National Park.

Kenya National Parks Safari Card

In certain Kenyan national parks, the electronic Safari Card (formerly Smart Card) has been introduced because cash has often mysteriously disappeared once it has left the hands of tourists. The Safari Card is usually available at the main gate in certain national parks and is valid (if not personalized) for 24 hours during which the national park can be visited.

Tip: Some travel guides write that you can't get into any national park without a safari card. This is not quite true. Often you are not allowed to pass the side gates without Safari Card, but you have to drive to the main gate. In some national parks you are not asked for a Safari Card, or you can pay the entrance fee in cash and get a paper ticket.

Related links:

Official website of Lake Nakuru National Park
Entrance fees to Kenya's National Parks
Info about Kenya's Safari Card