Nakuru Tourist Attractions
Nakuru is Kenya's fourth largest town but most tourists only spend a short time before traveling to nearby Lake Nakuru National Park, Menengai Crater and Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site. The town has a very relaxed atmosphere with a busy local market where locally grown Kenyan coffee beans can be purchased.Menengai Crater is a dormant volcano that provides views of the crater and the surrounding countryside.Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes. Thousands of flamingos nest along the shores of Lake Nakuru.Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site, discovered in 1926, is considered a major Neolithic and Iron Age settlement.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Established in 1961, Lake Nakuru National Park is an area of grassland, bush and rocky cliffs. Hundreds of birds and mammals have made Lake Nakuru National Park their home. Waterbucks, warthogs and buffaloes are common at the water's edge. Between three and four hundred buffalo inhabit the park and the best time to see them is at dusk or dawn in the forested area.Lake Nakuru is world famous for the multitudes of bright pink flamingoes whose numbers often total more than two million although these numbers are diminishing. The best place to watch the flamingoes is from Baboon Cliff. Lake Nakuru became Kenya's first bird sanctuary in 1960 to protect the estimated 450 species and then it was upgraded to National Park status in 1968. Lions and leopards are often seen as well as large sized python snakes, the cliffs make an ideal home.Lake Nakuru National Park, which surrounds the lake, was enlarged to provide a sanctuary for the white and black rhinos. This healthy population of rhinos means that visitors will most likely come across a few of these endangered animals.About 550 different plant species are found within Lake Nakuru National Park including the biggest euphorbia forest in Africa. The euphorbia plant is also known as the candelabra cactus.
Lake Elmenteita is a soda lake in the Rift Valley that lies in the shadow of a peaked hill known as the Sleeping Masai. This area was the estate and stronghold of Lord Delamere, the builder of the Kenya colony. Several camps and a lodge are located on the lakeshore.Flamingos visit Lake Elmenteita in droves while zebra, gazelle, eland and families of warthog graze the shores. Elmenteita has become one of the main breeding grounds in Kenya for the great white pelicanKariandusi Prehistoric Site is near Lake Elmenteita. The Leakeys discovered Stone-Age hand axes, obsidian or black volcanic glass knives and a molar of the straight-tusked elephant between 1929 and 1947. Gambles Cave, located southwest of Lake Elmenteita, is another well-known archeological site.Another interesting attraction that is close by is African Diatomite Industries. Diatomite "wells" are mined for an accumulation of microscopic algae skeletons, white plaster-like powder currently used for paints, insulation and as a face decor by the Maasai.
Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site
Hyrax Hill is an archeological site that has been home to three settlements, the earliest about 3,000 years ago to the most recent at about 200 years ago.First discovered in 1926 by paleontologist Louis Leakey, while excavating a nearby site, he found evidence of prehistoric habitation at Hyrax Hill. Eleven years later, his wife, Mary Leakey, noted several more sites, including a stone walled fort and a group of pits.A large collection of items were found in the burial pits at Hyrax Hill on and around the hill including pottery fragments and Indian coins, one of them 500 years old, two of them dating from 1918 and 1919.
Menengai Crater is an extinct volcano with striking views of Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria as well as the crater itself.Menengai Crater is a large Caldera, formed by millions of years of volcanic activity. The highest point, at some 2,300 m above sea level, has a signpost erected by the Rotary Club that shows the directions and distances to several places in the world.Legend has it that the Menengai Crater is home to many demons and ghosts and so the crater is referred to as Kirima kia ngoma, "the place of devils". Since the 19th C, it has been the scene for battles between different Maasai clans for the pastures at Naivasha and the Rift slopes.