Travel to Lake Elementeita – Rift Valley Soda Lake
Lake Elementeita is a small (18 sq km) soda lake, nestled in the eastern sweep of the Great Rift Valley. The Lake is surrounded by spectacular country that played an important role in the early colonial history of Kenya. This was the estate and stronghold of Lord Delamere, the builder of the Kenya colony.
Today Elementeita is a peaceful and low-key place, lying in the shadow of an impressively peaked hill known locally known as the ‘Sleeping Maasai’. The lake attracts many visiting flamingo, and its shores are grazed by zebra, gazelle, eland and families of warthog. The lake and its surrounding forests are perfect for long walks and birding.
Excavations at the Kariandusi Prehistorical site near Elementeita suggest that this has been an area of human habitation for more than 200,000 years. Like nearby Naivasha, this area is traditionally Maasai land.
In 1908 this area was settled by Lord Delamere, who was considered by the British to be one of the principle architects of the Kenyan colony. He was certainly the driving force behind the settlement of this area, and after acquiring large tracts of land from Soysambu north to Nakuru, he campaigned for the land to be offered free to British settlers. Soon adventurous farmers, mostly from his home territory of Lancashire, were arriving by Ox wagon to stake their claims.
Dairy farming proved to be very successful, and today Delamere’s family still runs the large scale dairy that bears his name. When he died he was buried alongside his wife at Ndabibi, in a position with a commanding view of the surrounding plains and hills.
The quiet shores of Lake Elementeita are an ideal place to relax and discover the local wildlife. Birding is particularly rich. The acacia forests are good for Starlings, Hoopoe, Woodpeckers, Rollers, Shrikes, Hawks, cuckoos and much more.
Species of interest recorded here include both Lesser and Greater Flamingo, the remarkable Jackson’s Widowbird and the Grey crested helmet Shrike. Both Martial and Crowned Eagles have also been sighted here. A walk along the shore will let you see the masses of flamingo that line the lake, as well as Bee eaters, Weavers, and African Fish Eagles.
The Lake and the nearby Soysambu area have large herds of Buffalo, Waterbuck, Eland, Zebra, Giraffe, Gazelle and other plains game.
Walking around the lake in the morning or afternoon is great for birding. There is always a high concentration of flamingo on the shores, with Fish Eagles and other birds in the forests. Zebra, giraffe, gazelle and other plains game are often seen here.
Malewa River Lodge, on the banks of the Malewa River, organize floating trips down the river in inner tubes, a pleasant drift along the winding course of the river, which is a wonderfully relaxing way to take in the scenery and do a spot of birdwatching.
Lake Elementeita Lodge in this area can organise horse riding here specialising in game viewing rides. There is a good stable of horses and excellent guides available.
The local Maasai population makes this a good place for buying Maasai handicrafts. An excellent buy is the shukka, which is the blanket seen worn by most Maasai, always red blended with black, blue or other colours. They are warm and functional blankets, ideal for the chill of early mornings on safari.
Main road access to Elementeita is directly from Nairobi by bus/Matatu or private transport. The main highway continues to Nakuru. The nearest town is GilGil. Elementeita is a one and a half hour drive from Nairobi.