Kenya // The Rift Valley //

Lake Elmenteita

Often overlooked by people rushing from Lake Naivasha to Lake Nakuru, the area around Lake Elmenteita and up into the lower foothills of the Aberdare range offers some off-the-beaten-track destinations such as Kariandusi prehistoric site and other activities, including first-rate wildlife viewing, which take advantage of the pretty, lightly wooded hills and lush valley of the Malewa River. In addition, several top-end lodges provide an intimate alternative to their more touristy cousins around lakes Nakuru and Naivasha.

The shallow soda lake itself, which has been known to shrivel to a huge white salt pond, is a good site for flamingos when Lake Nakuru is out of favour, and always good for pelicans, along with an estimated three hundred bird species in all. Like Lake Nakuru, Elmenteita has no outflow, and its accumulated alkaline salts make it uninhabitable for all but one species of fish, the indomitable Tilapia grahami. Nearly all the land around the lake is now part of the private, fenced Soysambu Wildlife Sanctuary. In practice, the eastern shoreline is accessible if you’re staying at one of the small camps or lodges in the area, such as the Sleeping Warrior Camp or Oasis Eco Camp.

A number of prehistoric sites are scattered around the lake’s once-lush shores, of which Gambles Cave, 10km southwest of Elmenteita village at Eburru, is the most famous. The cave can be visited by making arrangements ahead of time – ask at the National Museum in Nairobi.

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