The Rift Valley of Kenya stretches from the Dead Sea in the Middle East, south through the Red Sea. The range of scenery in this area is mainly due to variety of landscape from semidesert in the north to lush hills in the west. The lakes and volcanos attract large numbers of tourists each year. There are several national parks in the Rift Valley region including Aberdare, Lake Bogoria and Lake Nakuru. The Rift Valley is also well-known for its soda lakes, such as Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria. Hell's Gate National Park is famous for the hot geysers, eagle and vulture breeding grounds as well as cycling and rock climbing opportunities.
Hell's Gate National Park
Hell's Gate National Park is famous for its natural hot geysers, eagle and vulture breeding grounds. Driving, walking, camping, cycling and rock climbing can be enjoyed within the park.Bird and animal life abound in Hell's Gate National Park and birds of prey are of special interest especially the lammergeyer. Zebras, baboons and gazelles are common sights and occasionally cheetahs, leopards and ostrich are encountered. Hell's Gate is one of the few game reserves where visitors can explore by foot and walk amongst the elands, zebras and hartebeest.Fischer's Tower, formerly a volcano's plug, is a column of volcanic rock named for a German explorer who explored the Hell's Gate area in 1882. The Central Tower and Njorowa Gorges are popular spots for viewing the surrounding scenery.Natural steam vents rise from fissures in the volcanic rock and obsidian, a black glassy rock formed from cooled molten lava, is a common feature of the landscape in Hell's Gate. Olkaria Geothermal Station, the first of its kind in Africa, is located within Hell's Gate National Park. Olkaria generates power from underground with super-heated pressurized water and is expected to eventually supply half of Kenya's energy requirements. .In the park, close to the Central Tower ranger station, is the Oloor Karia Masai Cultural Center. The center features singing, dancing and jewelry making demonstrations by local Maasai people.
Mount Longonot National Park
Mount Longonot National Park has formed around Mount Longonot, a young dormant volcano. Mount Longonot was created during the volcanic eruptions that formed the Great Rift Valley.Visitors can travel to the rim of the crater or inside to the bottom. As you climb, you will pass herds of grazing wildlife or watch buffalo and other animals as they cross the crater floor.Activities within Mount Longonot National Park include hiking, rock climbing, biking and observing birds and wildlife. Views of Lake Naivasha and the valley itself are not to be missed. Hot springs and steam seep through vents in the solid lava.
Olorgesailie is the site of people from the Acheulian or hand-axe culture. A variety of tools have been found at Olorgesailie including hand axes and other stone tools such as cleavers for skinning animals, heavy axes for digging, and round ball like tools used for crushing bone or hurling. Thousands of the uncovered tools have been left undisturbed under protective roofs.The area was originally discovered in 1919 and then excavated by Louis and Mary Leakey in the 1940s. Fossilized skeletons of extinct forms of baboon, hippo, elephant, zebra and giraffe were found but to date there are no human remains. The most interesting find is the leg bone of a gigantic elephant that dwarfs the bone of a modern elephant.Originally Olorgesailie was thought to be half a million years old but the site has recently been redated placing it between 750,000-1 million years ago.
Lake Bogoria National Reserve
Lake Bogoria is another soda lake that is still volcanically active. Along the western shore, geysers, steam vents and bubbling geothermal pools can be seen. Fresh water springs at the edge of Lake Bogoria attract birds including pink flamingos and Fish Eagles as well as wildlife such as leopards, klipspringers, gazelle and the rare greater kudu.Lake Bogoria National Reserve is in the shadow of the walls of the Siracho Escarpment on the eastern side of the lake. The southern portion of the reserve is an isolated wooded area that is perfect for spotting wildlife.Kesubo Swamp, north of Lake Bogoria National Reserve, is the ideal location for bird enthusiasts. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded in this marshy area.
Subukia Valley, Kenya
Subukia Valley is at the edge of the Rift Valley and was once the Maasai's 'Beautiful Place' until their eviction in 1911. The lush pastures and fertile land can be seen at the Subukia Viewpoint. From the Viewpoint it is 6 km downhill to the village of Subukia.Overlooking the Subukia Valley is a towering white cross that marks the sacred grounds of the Catholic Church National Village of Mary Shrine. The shrine stands on the Equator at the meeting point of the Northern and Southern hemispheres. A statue of the Virgin Mary is housed in a little hut and a clear stream wells up from the ground under the statue.Within Subukia Valley is Lake Solai, an isolated soda lake.
Lake Baringo is a freshwater lake that is well stocked with fish, and attracts Pelicans, Cormorants and Fish Eagles.Bird walks and boat trips for hippo or crocodile spotting are the two most popular activities at Lake Baringo but fishing and water sports are also offered. Ol Kokwe Island, a stark rocky island at the heart of Lake Baringo, is home to Njemps villages and a camp. The rocky island of Gibraltar has the largest Goliath heron population in all East Africa.The volcanic ranges and quaint islands provide a spectacular sight. The remains of Fort Baringo, dating back to the end of the 19th C, are still visible.
Mount Suswa is not as popular with visitors but offers a better climbing experience. Several eruptions have created interesting features on the now dormant Mount Suswa including an inner crater with a raft surrounded by a deep moat. It appears that the volcano exploded leaving part of crater floor intact as the raft.The east side of the mountain has unexplored caves and within the crater are diverse lava formations and tubes. Hiking, climbing and cave explorations are the main activities on Mount Suswa.
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