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The Great Rift Valley Circuit

Lakes Elementeita and Nakuru offer some of the most spectacular bird watching in the world.

Best time to visit: September, October, January to March

Safaris: Action Packed Adventure Safari, Woman to Woman Safari, Amateur Photographer Safari, Village Immersion, Safari Introduction, Wilderness Adventure, Adventure Camping, Bird Watching Safari

Activities: Game Walking, Biking, Canoeing, Hiking, Bird Watching

Accommodation: Mundui Estate, , Adventure Camping

Temperatures:
Day: 28-33° C, 82-91° F
Night: 17-20° C, 63-68° F

The Rift Valley is one of the wonders of the world, stretching from the Middle East, down through Africa to Mozambique. The staggering view, as you approach from Nairobi, Kenya is quite unbelievable. The ground suddenly disappears from you to show the huge expanse of the great rift, stretching for thousands of miles in either direction. Whilst this stunning introduction to the Rift Valley is amazing in itself, actually descending and exploring Kenya's Rift Valley lakes is a "not to be missed" opportunity.

The first lake approached is the beautiful, deep-green Naivasha. Whilst not a National Park or Reserve itself, the Lake Naivasha Basin holds two small National Parks, both of which are well worth a visit. Excellent bird watching, a large population of hippo, good fishing and a wide range of superb hotels, camps and lodges make Lake Naivasha a favored spot.

The Mount Longonot National Park is the first park in the area and based around a young volcano, which rises up to 2,776 meters. Created amongst the massive eruptions that formed the Rift itself, Longonot has beautiful V-shaped valleys and ridges covered in forest, which are a haven for a variety of birds and animals. With hiking, rock climbing and biking joining the more normal game viewing activities, this park is perfect for the more active visitor.

A vulture in a dead tree oversee the Rift Valley.

The second park is Hell's Gate National Park. It is possible to walk, game drive, camp, cycle and rock climb within this park, famous for its natural hot geysers, eagle and vulture breeding grounds, obsidian deposits and extinct volcanoes. Beautiful rock gorges and natural steam vents add to the beauty of this 68 square km. park. Game to view includes: hyrax, buffalo, giraffe, eland, hartebeest, lion and leopard. As with all of the Rift Valley parks, Hell's Gate is also an ornithologist's dream with the cliffs acting as the breeding grounds for vultures, Verreaux eagles, Auger buzzards and thousands of swifts.

Flamingos on Lake Nakuru, Kenya.

Heading further northwest, Lake Nakuru is the next stop. This world famous park was created to protect its stunning flocks of lesser flamingo, which literally turn the lakeshore pink in color. Notable game within the lake area is hippo and the diverse bird life. Both black and white rhino reside in the sanctuary and Rothschild giraffe, buffalo, impala, eland, warthog, mountain reedbuck, klipspringers and black and white Colobus monkeys are all plentiful. This park is world-renowned as a beacon for ornithologists, scientists and wildlife filmmakers.

The next lake jewel scattered along the Rift Valley floor is Lake Bogoria. Most of this reserve is covered by the lake itself, a spectacular sight. With over 135 species of bird recorded, the area is of significant ornithological interest. As does Lake Nakuru, Bogoria's waters grow rich blue-green algae, which seasonally attracts thousands of flamingos. The surrounding bushed grasslands are home to a number of animals, most notably the rare greater Kudu antelope.

The tiny Lake Kamnarok Reserve is the last stop on this circuit. Lake Kamnarok has a diverse landscape centered around a 4,000-foot deep valley with semi-tropical vegetation on the sides contrasting with the dry thorn bush at its base. Here you can find bush pigs, waterbuck, buffalo, elephant, pelicans and grebes.

With a huge variety of landscapes, activities, accommodation and wildlife, the Rift Valley Lakes area is an excellent part of any safari holiday.

Copyright Melinda Rees of Eco-resorts

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