Travel to Lake Magadi – Soda Lake for Flamingos
Deep in the heart of Southern Kenya’s Masai land is the unearthly Lake Magadi. This 104 sq km soda lake is completely surrounded by vast natural salt flats. These sweltering hot plains prevent any animals reaching the alkaline lake at its centre.
For this reason, thousands of flamingo descend on the lake each year to nest on elevated mud mounds at the lake’s edge safe from any potential predators. Freshwater springs at the Lake’s shore attract a host of other birds.
A journey to Magadi is to enter another world. The baking salt plains stretch into horizons of shimmering heat haze, while the shallow lake heaves with the pink waves of nesting flamingo. The otherworldly atmosphere is compounded by the intense heat and the isolation.
This region has been habitated by humans for at least 500,000 years. At nearby Olorgasalie, fossil evidence has shown that this was the site of intensive activity by early man. Magadi lies at the heart of Masai land.
This area is surrounded by many Masai settlements and grazing lands, both here and across the border in Tanzania. Many people pass by Magadi as part of a trek through Masai land, often descending the Nguruman Escarpment from Masai Mara or the Loita Hills. This is the perfect way to experience Masai culture at its best, on foot and visiting manyattas and meeting herdsmen along the way.
Any keen birder with an interest in Kenya’s world famous flamingo population should not miss the breeding grounds at Lake Magadi. A large seasonal population of flamingo come here to nest within the safety of these desolate salt flats. The surrounding baking hot salt flats, uncrossable by predators, offer total protection. The Flamingos are mostly found at the southern end of the lake, while the freshwater springs in the north attract a host of other birdlife.
On the plains, further away from the salt flats, other game including giraffe, eland and baboons, can be found.
Lake Magadi is the finishing point for treks from the Nguruman Escarpment and the Loita Hills. These lengthy treks wind their way down from these cool forested highlands to the sweltering plains of Magadi, often taking 5-7 days. These treks are a wonderful way to experience the southern Masai land, and present ample opportunities for game and bird watching, wonderful views and encounters with remote Masai villages.
The flamingo breeding grounds here are an important bird area, and are frequently visited by specialist birding safaris. Other species of interest recorded here include the African Spoonbill, Cape Teal, Great Egret and the Avocet.
This is real Masai country, and there are plenty of real Masai handicrafts on sale. When buying these goods, bargaining is the expected norm. The shukka is the blanket seen worn by most Masai, always red blended with black, blue or other colours. They are warm and functional blankets, ideal for the chill of early mornings on safari.
- Trek to the lake from the nearby Loita Hills or Nguruman Escarpment.
- Breeding ground for thousands of flamingos.
- Visit the local villages in the heart of real Masai country.