Situated 158km from Nairobi, Nakuru is the capital of Nakuru County. Formerly, Nakuru Town was the capital of the Rift Valley Province. Accessing Nakuru from Nairobi by a car at an average speed of 122km/hr means that you will take approximately 1.5 hours. There is a flurry of activities that one can engage themselves in while in Nakuru. Having lived in Nakuru City for a period of 4 weeks now, I believe the following are some of the places to visit in Nakuru when you have the privilege of visiting this one-of-a-kind city in Kenya.
This is one of the biggest tourist attraction in Nakuru County. When you mention the name Naivasha, many people tend to associate it with flower farming. Flower farming is however not the major tourist attraction in this town. Naivasha is also known for being the home to the only freshwater lake in the vast Rift Valley province. The weather in Naivasha is usually a chilly one and as a result, you should always arm yourself with warm clothing to avoid any problems. Lake Naivasha is home to hundreds of birds thus making it an ideal place to go and watch the various types of birds. There are also many private sanctuaries where one can visit to see different types of wildlife. Some other important places that you need to visit in Naivasha include Crayfish, Fisherman’s camp, Hippo Camp, Crater Lake Camp, and Camp Carnelleys.
Hell’s Gate Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is unique for its cliffs, galleys that are eroded, flat plains, as well as the rock towers that scale high up the sky. The Hell’s Gate also hosts two extinct volcanoes namely Hobley and Olkaria. Along the gorge of the Hell’s Gate, there are volcanic plugs with paths that extend to the hot springs. All these are wonders that you cannot afford to miss while on a visit to Nakuru County. There is also numerous game like eland, zebra, buffalo, baboons, gazelles, lion, reedbuck, and giraffe among others. It also boasts of over 100 different bird species. Some of these birds include swifts, vultures, augur buzzard among others. In the past, it is also believed that the lammergeyer found homage in the cliffs. The vultures used to drop bones on the rocks to make them break then scoop the bone marrow. The cliffs are also currently home to a species of an antelope that is referred to as the shy antelope. This type of antelope is adapted to staying on rocks. To conserve the park, the organization tasked with managing and protecting national parks in Kenya, KWS, usually organizes wheelbarrow races within the park that are meant to raise funds. This usually happens during the month of June. The event is always fun-packed. You should, therefore, consider visiting during the month of June.
Menengai Crater is found on the Northern side of Nakuru town. It is, in fact, the largest volcanic crater in the whole world. The crater is 90 square kilometres and has a depth of 485 metres. The volcano is however extinct and offers an exceptional view of the Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru as well as the crater itself. Historically, the crater is important to the local communities around as they used it to graze their cattle. Its name Menengai is believed to have originated from the Kikuyu, one of the ethnic communities that live around the crater. The word means a place of many gods. There is also a legend that claims that the crater is a home to many ghosts and demons and that’s why the locals refer to it as Kirima kia Ngoma
, implying a place of devils. The locals who stay around the place still believe that the crater is haunted by devils to date. Despite all these claims, Menengai Crater is still one of the most attractive places in Nakuru. Some of the activities that one can engage in include biking, camping, picnicking, trekking, as well as hiking. When visiting, expect to get tired and dusty. It is however not advisable to visit the crater during the rainy seasons.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Mention the word Lake Nakuru and what goes on in the mind of the locals are the flamingoes. This lake lies 140km North West of Nairobi. It is one of the salty lakes in the region and is surrounded by bushy grasslands. There are over 450 bird species in this region. The park also hosts hundreds of wildlife. It is the only park in the county that has both white and black species of rhino. In addition to the rhinos, it also boasts of lions, baboons, wildebeests, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, as well as the Vervet monkeys. Lake Nakuru National Park has a number lodges including Lake Nakuru lodge, Flamingo Hill, and Sarova Hill lodges. Some other special places to visit in Nakuru within the park include the Soysambu, Naishi, Chui, Nyati, Reedbuck, and Nyuki. The public campsites include the Backpackers and Makalia. While in the park, some of the activities that you can engage yourself in include game drives, birdwatching, as well as camping. The best viewpoints include the Lion hill and Out of Africa. There are 3 gates to the park. These include the Main Gate, Lanet Gate, and Nderit Gate.
Lord Egerton Castle
This is also another interesting place that you should consider visiting should you find yourself in Nakuru town. The castle is located 14km from Nakuru town. It was built on a 100-acre piece of land. Lord Egerton built this castle for his bride to be between the periods of 1938 and 1954. The castle was built using imported materials with the help of locals and Indians. The marble that was used was imported from England and Italy. The bride to be refused Lord Egerton’s wedding proposal claiming that the room he was living was too small. Lord Egerton was heartbroken and as a result, never married again. He, in fact, went ahead and banned any woman from accessing the property. Today, the castle belongs to Egerton University and is always open to tourists.