Visit Lake Naivasha In the Great Rift Valley, Kenya
Lake Naivasha is a large lake to the northwest of Nairobi. It is a part of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. This freshwater lake is located at the highest point in the Great Rift Valley at 1884m. The forest surrounding the lake is home to over 400 bird species. So, it is making it the perfect destination for birdies from all corners of the world. It is the main bread and butter of Naivasha and other small towns of the regions. Tourists can find a lot of activities while their stay in Naivasha. The activities like Hell’s gate Safari, Visit Crescent Island, and Hike to Mount Longonot are the other bonuses that you can get while visiting Lake Naivasha.
How to Get To Lake Naivasha?
Lake Naivasha has located 94 Km from Nairobi. It takes about a 2-hour drive to reach there from Nairobi. You can take a direct matatu from Nairobi to Naivasha. One side fare is 200~400 KES($2~4) per person. The fare difference I found at different Matatu stations. At one time I found a fare of 400 KES($4) per person near the Odeon Cinema. On the other times, I traveled for 200KES($2) from Accra road/River road junction.
To reach there by bus is another good option. While Easy Coach and other bus companies run their routes to this destination. In some cases, you have to take the ticket for Nakuru too. However, it can be reached from Nakuru or from Masai Mara too.
How to Reach NAivasha to Lake Naivasha?
There are three types of conveyance you can find to reach the lake from Naivasha Town. A taxi can cost you from 1000 to 1500 KES($10~15). Alternatively, a Matatu will take you to the lake in half-hour for 100-200KES($1~2). Moreover, you can take the Boda Bodas as a third option for 500 to 700 KES($5~7).
How I reached to Lake Naivasha
I get up early in the morning as I hadn’t pinned the place of Naivasha Matatus. However, it was near Accra Road beside the Bakers Inn. Finally, I reached Accra road which was full of matatu vehicles. While going towards my actual place, I noticed big cardboard with the writing “Naivasha 200 KES” on a matatu. Furthermore, it was almost full of passengers. So, I instantly got a ticket and saved 200 KES($2) as last night I read 400 KES($4). Indeed, you can check with both the options to decide.
On the way, a few passengers dropped at their respective destinations. Finally, in 2 Hours we reached Naivasha town. Importantly, the Naivasha town is on the east side of the lake and most of the lodges are on the south side which is about 20km away from the town.
While I wanted to take a matatu to reach my campsite( Camp Carnellys). Whereas, I opted for a Boda Bodas, as there were a lot of Moto Taxi riders at the Naivasha Bus Terminal. Inevitably, I picked up one of them for 500KES($5). However, if you want a matatu then the fare is 100 KES($1). In less than 30 minutes we reached our campsite. On our way, we spotted a few zebras and giraffes that was a pleasant moment.
How to Get Around Lake NAivasha?
As all the activities center around Lake Naivasha, so to get around by foot is a more convenient way. Alternatively, we can use a cycle, a Boda Bodas, a taxi, or a boat as some other means of transport around Lake Naivasha.
Where to Stay in lake Naivasha?
The city of Naivasha is located just east of the lake. Most of the accommodations and hotels at Lake Naivasha are on the south side of the lake that is around 25km from Naivasha town. So, most of the tourists stay on the south side of Lake Naivasha.
In lake Naivasha and Hell’s gate side, I stayed in Camp Carnelley’s. It was a budget option with nice lake views. I couldn’t find its listing on famous booking sites. Another campsite which I have visited was Fisherman’s camp. So, if you want to stay there, then you have to book from their website.
Particularly, I book at Booking.com or book directly at the property. However, When you’re looking for a stay, do your research first. Finally, read the reviews to get a feel for the place and then book somewhere that suits you.
Entrance Fee to Lake Naivasha?
There is no entrance fee to Lake Naivasha. However, you have to pay a 20$ entrance fee to Hells Gate which is about 4km to Lake Naivasha.
Things to Do At Lake NAivasha
Boating into the Lake
You are here to spend time with Lake Naivasha, so Boating in its freshwater must be your top-end activity. You can take a boat ride for 3500KES($35) per boat that can hold up to 7 persons. So, if you can make a group of seven, the cost will be much reduced to 500KES. The Boating time will be from one hour to two hours. You can see a different perspective of the town from the lakeside and spot the flora and fauna of the Great Rift Valley. You can spot many groups of Hippos while boating near to them. Furthermore, you can go to Crescent Island by boat too.
Camping has an increasing trend alongside the lake. Especially, on weekends, it becomes hard to find a place for camping. Many local Kenyan families and Kenyan residents gather on the shore of Lake Naivasha on weekends and on public holidays. The shoreside resorts offer day passes or charge a nominal camping fee for each camp. Both the Camp Carnelly’s and Fisherman camp offer budgeting camp options. Furthermore, there are plenty of other places for camping in the Region. There are almost three designated camping places in Hells Gate too.
This place along with other prominent lakes of the Great Rift Valley is heaven for bird lovers. In the Birding season, you can find millions of flamingos and other birds on the shore of Lake Naivasha, Nakuru, Elementita, and Bogoria. Although you can spot the uncountable birds in any season of the year. With over 400 bird species, Lake Naivasha is a world-class destination for bird watchers.
Undoubtedly, it is the topmost activity specifically at Lake Naivasha. However, if you visit Africa then you must match your pace with the African Pace. it means you haven’t hurry while visiting Africa. So, I have plenty of time to relax at the lakeside to absorb the songs of birds. While laying down, I used to spot different birds and tried to differentiate among their voices. Whereas sunset and sunrise offer surreal feelings while relaxing.
Cycling is a common means of transportation for locals as well as for visitors. Here I will discuss its impact and usage regarding tourism. Cycling into the Hells Gate is a lifetime experience. While paddling beside countless zebras and impalas is an unforgettable experience. There is nothing as amazing as riding your bike past grazing zebras and giraffes. In addition, you can stop paddling and locate giraffes or wild buffaloes on your way. Remember the terrain is ups and downs and you have to overcome the hardships while cycling on this terrain.
Finally, you can cycle from one end to the far end of the lake. We saw many people come in their cars while hanging their cycles on them. I was lucky to tick this activity from my bucket list. You can take a cycle for 800KES($8) per day from your hostel. Please check the bike before you rent. Furthermore, you can get a cheaper rental from the spots near the Elsa Gate towards Hells Gate.
Hiking, Trekking, and Walking
Well, this valley provides many hiking options to travelers. The hiking grades are from easy to moderate. If you want to do a flat walking, then you can take a stroll around the lake. For some gorge hiking, you can take any of the treks from Hells Gate National Park. Gorge trekking in Hell’s Gate is not only interesting but much rewarded too. There are three different hikes in the canyons of the Hells gate.
It is advised to take a guide while hiking. However, you can quite easily do the hike as per your own. There are some good places for mountain climbing. Fischer’s Tower is a famous one, Although it is not too difficult to climb. However, it might be a challenging task to climb it to the top. Avoid visiting the hiking gorges in the rainy season. The giant gorges are prone to flash floods and may become dangerous to trekkers.
If you want to take a moderate trek then Mount Longonot is definitely for you. So, a full/half-day trek makes the worth of your time.
Spotting Wild Animals
This is the activity for which you come to Lake Naivasha. Imagine you were sitting beside your campsite and spotted bloat of hippos. Most of the campsites leave a place beside the lake for hippos. So, it is common sightseeing of hippos, especially in the evening. Alternatively, you can spot different species of Monkeys. Especially the black and white Colobus are jumping around from tree to tree. Moreover, you can spot Zebras, Giraffes, Warthogs, Impalas, and wild Buffalos at Hell’s gate and at Crescent Island.
A day Trip to Hells Gate
Kenya is a country of stunning natural beauty, with 22 National Parks and 28 National Reserves. Hell’s Gate is a rather small park that covers an area of 68.25 square kilometers, This National Park is approximately 10 kilometers away from Lake Naivasha. Hells Gate is an inexpensive national park in Kenya. You can see Zebras, Giraffes, and countless species of Birds. It is famous for its terrain and canyons. To do this adventure on a cycle is out of the other world experience.
A day Visit to Crescent Island
Crescent Island is a small private island in Lake Naivasha. It is a peninsula and it is among the cool things to visit this island. Again, here you can find many wild animals like Zebras, Giraffes, and Impalas. It is also one of those places in Kenya where you can walk through between Zebras, Giraffes, and other animals. The island is also ideal for activities such as hiking, biking, walking, and weekend retreats. However, at present, it is accessible only from Waterside. It has an entry fee of 30$
Other Important Places Near Lake naivasha
Lake Naivasha is an important place in the Great Rift Valley and an ultimate destination for bird-lovers in the early months of the year. Above all, you can visit many other spots of the same or variable nature if you like lakeshores.
An important and biggest lake in the region is Lake Nakuru, about 70km from Lake Naivasha and 160km from Nairobi. It is famous for millions of pink flamingos here.
Lake Elementieta is another prominent lake that is about 40km from Lake Naivasha. Nowadays, it is the major hub of birds. In recent years, due to the change of water level in Nakuru/Naivasha, most of the birds migrated to lake Elmentieta.
Lake Bogoria is another lake that lies in the north of Kenya. It is located further ahead of Lake Nakuru. Furthermore, you can combine Lake Naivasha with the Masai Mara Safari option too.