Lake Nakuru National Park Safari Guide
Scenic Lake Nakuru is Kenya’s most popular national park. The park’s main feature is a large, shallow lake supporting great birdlife, including big flocks of pelicans and variable flocks of flamingos. The lake was once famous for its flamingos, however, since 2012, conditions have become unfavorable for these birds and most have moved to other Rift Valley lakes
Pros & Cons
Good wildlife viewing
Stunning Rift Valley scenery
Varied habitats support an excellent range of wildlife
Excellent birding with big flocks of pelicans and flamingos
The park gets very busy in high season
A limited game-drive circuit
Wildlife & Animals
Most big safari animals are present in Lake Nakuru NP with the exception of elephants. The park is known for its populations of black and white rhino. White rhino is particularly conspicuous, and different groups can be encountered throughout the day. Hippo, waterbuck, Burchell's zebra and Thomson's gazelle are common on the floodplains.
The park is an important stronghold for the rare Rothschild's giraffe. It was introduced to the park in the 1980s and has now become locally common. Aside from the widespread vervet monkey and olive baboon, the beautiful black-and-white colobus monkey can sometimes be found in the acacia forest. A highlight, if you’re lucky enough, are the tree-climbing lions – Lake Nakuru NP is the best place in Kenya to see them.
Lake Nakuru is a great birding destination with more than 500 species recorded. The soda lake is a birding hotspot and supports a lot of birdlife, including large flocks of pelicans. Unfortunately, flamingos are no longer the drawcard here as unfavorable conditions have driven many of them to other Rift Valley lakes. Nakuru is also one of the best places in Kenya to see the striking long-tailed widowbird. There is a good variety of raptors including Verreaux’s and long-crested eagle.
Best Time to Visit
Lake Nakuru offers good wildlife viewing throughout the year, but the rains might interfere with your game drives in the wettest months, April and May. Although there is great birdlife at the lake, conditions in recent years have become unfavorable for flamingos, which used to be a real attraction here. As a result, the flamingos have moved to other lakes in the Rift Valley.
June to February – Dry Season
It is sunny and dry, but it rarely gets hot
Short grass and few water sources make animals easy to spot
The park gets very crowded and good sightings tend to attract a lot of vehicles
March to May – Wet Season
Less crowded and low season rates may apply
The park is green, the skies are clear, and there are lots of flowers
Newborn animals can be seen
Wildlife viewing is still fine in the Wet season as the park is fenced and animals can’t move out
Best time for bird watching with migratory birds present
April can be very wet and rain might interfere with your game drives
Grass is long and animals are more difficult to spot
Weather & Climate
Lake Nakuru’s climate is mild and temperatures are consistent year-round. Daytime temperatures are pleasant in the mid to upper twenties, although it is much cooler at nights. Warm clothing for early morning game drives is a necessity. The wettest months are April and May. The rest of the year is relatively dry with some rain throughout.
Dry Season – June to February
The pleasant days are usually sunny, but do not get too hot. It rarely rains, although don’t be surprised if there is an occasional shower at any time. It is recommended to wear warm clothing on early morning game drives.
June, July, August, September, October, November & December – Conditions are sunny with the occasional shower. Temperatures climb to around 25°C/77°F in the afternoon, but the beginning and the end of the day is cold with the temperature hovering around 9°C/48°F.
January & February – These months, before the rains break, are the driest and warmest in the calendar. Temperatures climb to 28°C/82°F and push higher. Be aware of the chill factor in the early morning when the temperature only crawls up to 9°C/48°F.
Wet Season – March to May
There are many overcast, cloudy days in the Wet season, but it rarely rains all day. Temperatures in the afternoon are pleasant at around 27°C/81°F. Early mornings are a bit milder at 11°C/52°F. April is the wettest month.
March – March or April see the beginning of the rains, although it is rare for March to see much rain. Expect temperatures in the afternoon to reach around 27°C/81°F.
April – The wettest month, but it doesn't rain for long stretches very often.
May – The rains are already tapering off, but afternoon showers are still common.
Lake Nakuru is located 155km/96mi northwest of Nairobi and 5km/3mi from Nakuru town. Nakuru is an easy destination by car via a tar road from Nairobi.
International flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi.
Lake Nakuru can also be reached from several other parks. The distance from the Masai Mara is 235km/150mi and the driving time is about six hours. The distance from Samburu in the north is 300km/190mi and the drive takes about five and a half hours. Driving time from Laikipia Plateau hugely depends on which reserve you are coming from, but should be between three to seven hours.