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south_africa_holiday The Rift Valley lakes in Kenya attract wonderful species of birds and animals.
south_africa_holidayThe famous haze of pink glistens on the lakes.
south_africa_holidayMany birds flock to the Rift Valley, it's a bird lovers paradise.
south_africa_holidayElegant pink flamingos, the picture Kenya is renowned for.

The Rift Valley Lakes

The Great Rift Valley is one of Africa’s most iconic and spectacular geological features.

Immense plate movement beneath the earth’s crust occurred over 20 million years ago which tore East Africa apart, bisecting Kenya and creating a deep tear with a wide valley floor that forms the characteristics of the country’s landscape we have today.

In this region the earth’s crust continues to move and there are as many as 30 active and semi-active volcanoes in the Rift Valley. The many hot springs and alkaline lakes are excellent conditions for the production of algae and the area is well known for the many thousands of birds that are drawn to the lakes to feed on it.

Throughout the valley there are very diverse landscapes – uninhabitable deserts, fertile farmland, flat plains and of course the steep escarpments of the volcanic mountains that rise either side of the valley floor. There are several large lakes each with totally individual character and wildlife.

Lake Turkana sits at the very north of the valley in the lowest region after which the valley floor rises as it reaches Lake Naivasha then descends again at the border with Tanzania. Each of the Rift Valley lakes is distinct with their own geographical features and different water compositions – freshwater and alkaline, highly saline and brackish.

Lake Naivasha lies just 55km from the capital, Nairobi and therefore a good starting point for a safari in Kenya, as after a stay in this area there is a local airstrip that has light aircraft connections into the Masai Mara Game Reserve where you can continue your game viewing. Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake frequented by over 400 species including water pelicans, cormorants and the majestic African Fish Eagle. Crescent Island sits in the middle of the lake and is accessed by short boat ride. The island has small populations of giraffe, gazelle, eland, zebra and antelope.

Hells Gate National Park is a tiny park located south of Lake Naivasha and is one of the only two Kenyan parks where climbing, walking and biking are permitted. The land is covered by ash from the Longonot eruption just 100 years ago which in geology terms is recent. The park is known for its hot geysers, geothermal station and spectacular scenery of Lower Gorge and cliffs with their waterholes and waterfalls.

The park has a variety of wildlife similar to that of Crescent Island plus lion, leopard and even the occasional cheetah; however, it is famously a breeding ground for vultures, Verreaux’s Eagles and Augur buzzards.

Lake Nakuru is situated north of Naivasha and is one of the most wildlife photographed places in Kenya due to the spectacular flocks of pink flamingos. The blindingly white soda lake is a perfect feeding ground for these birds which in the past have arrived in their millions. Climatic changes have been felt here and as a result the numbers are not as high as they once were but it is still a totally amazing spectacle to witness – a vivid pink horizon of feathers and noise.

The area was designated as Lake Nakuru National Park in 1961 and in addition to the famous Lake itself the park has over 500 different plant species and wildlife such as waterbuck, warthog, impala, lion, leopard, Rothschild giraffe and black rhino, which due to its protection, are now increasing in population.

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