Nakuru County

Discover Nakuru County

View of Lake Naivasha from an outdoor sitting area.  Photo Courtesy
View of Lake Naivasha from an outdoor sitting area. Image Courtesy

Brief Overview of Nakuru County

Nakuru County is situated on the flat country embracing the two flanks of the Gregory Rift Valley, with Kinangop Plateau on the east and Mau escarpment on the west. On the Rift’s floor there are Lakes Naivasha, Elementaita and Nakuru, the Njorowa Gorge, Eburru mountains and Mount Longonot, besides numerous volcanic craters and steam-jets all of which make this region of considerable scenic attraction. It owes its diversity entirely to the tectonic disturbances of the Rift Valley which has dislocated the peneplained surfaces of the African shield forming separated ridges and troughs, trending for the most parts north-south, and piling up great masses of picturesque volcanic masses and other structures.

At most times of the year, Nakuru County hosts many visitors from Nairobi and its environs seeking a weekend or longer away from the city. Part of its winsome charm is a wildly beautiful drive. Just 30 kms from Nairobi, beyond the turn off to Limuru, is one of the most majestic and outstanding sights of Kenya.  This, of course, is the breathtaking view of the Great Rift Valley. ​Here, for thousands of feet below, stretching as far as the eye can see, the floor of the valley transforms with the changing light. A display of nature’s brutal subterranean forces hewing out in the rugged terrain of the Rift Valley many features of astounding beauty. Generally speaking, Nakuru County is of immense importance – both nationally and internationally – with tremendous opportunities for tourism development.

​From the Rift Valley Viewpoint most opt to use the main Nairobi-Nakuru Road, turn left and drive into Naivasha, or proceed to Nakuru. The latter choose to take the fascinating Mai-Mahiu-Naivasha Road on a narrow and winding route down the escarpment before arriving at Naivasha. Either way, many assemble on the vantage points that its triad of lakes provide – in tented camps or hotels. At Naivasha, there is the option to take the scenic road right over the Aberdare Range that drops down into Nyeri. This means passing through the moorlands and forests of the Aberdare National Park. From Nakuru Town, its on into the green highlands around Njoro and Molo before dropping into Narok, and Mara.

Salient Features of Nakuru County

  • County Number 32
  • Area – 7497 km2
  • Altitude – 6070 ft
  • Major Towns – Naivasha, Gilgil, Nakuru
  • Borders – Nyandarua, Laikipia, Kericho, Narok, Bomet, Baringo

Brief History of Nakuru County

With several roads radiating out of Nakuru Town, its importance as a local communication centre was only improved when the station for the Mombasa Railway reached it in 1901. The main line of the East African Railways passes through the eastern part of the township. It also originally passed through the northern part of the region, skirting around the southern edge from Gilgil to Elementeita, but was later realigned. Historically, the more fertile lands around the Njoro, Elburgon and Mau Summit, as you rise toward the Mau Escarpment, played an important part as an agricultural settlement; while the lower and less fertile areas were more suited for ranches. With the exception of the Kamasia Native Reserve to the north and large areas of forest around Mau and Bahati Escarpments, Nakuru was almost entirely alienated for European resettlement.

View of the picture-postcard Mount Longonot National Park.  Photo Courtesy of EA Retreats
Mount Longonot National Park. Image Courtesy of EA Retreats

Places of Interest in Nakuru County

1. Rift Valley Viewpoint

Although this sits in Kiambu County, the Rift Valley Viewpoint is fabled as the universal welcome to Nakuru County – Kenya’s unofficial playground – loved for its enormous touring resources. To most people who live in or have seen this memorable vista, its physiography and scenery are impressive and beautiful for its exuberance, magnitude and aspect. This structure that is part of the greater Rift System extending from Syria to the Zambezi, is a complex fault trough with a general north to south orientation. Every hour of day rejigs this extensive and ever-changing landscape with dazzling scenery. Nakuru County no-doubt has a prodigious line-up of unique geological and biotic spectacles of cosmic natural grandeur to include lakes, falls, geysers, hot springs, forests, and vast grassland. The Rift Valley Viewpoint is also known to geologists as the Gregory Rift Valley.

2. St. Mary of the Angel Church

Listed as a National Monument for its historical value, this pocket-size Church sitting only twelve when fully patronized commemorates the Italian Prisoners of War captured during World War II. Built in 1942 under the strict supervision of the British forces, the pentagon-carved Church was an “asylum of hope” for the Italian Prisoners of War working on the road building enterprise. “The main reason behind the building of the Church was that the Italians were Catholics and the British Anglicans, so the former needed their own place of worship. In turn, the British allocated them a small piece of land to built a Church in groups during breaks from road construction” – Standard Group. The first service was held on Christmas Day of 1943. Today, this vestige and its relics serve as a great historic connection to the 1940’s-Era. Saint Mary of the Angel is also arguably one of the smallest Churches on earth, measuring 15 ft x 8 ft with four wooden pews and an alter with a pulpit. It’s found along the Mai Mahiu-Naivasha Road.

3. Mount Suswa

Locally known as “Ol Doinyo Nyukie”, the dormant volcanic mound of Mount Suswa best-known for its 12 kms double crater rises to nearly 8,000 feet at the summit. 16 kms north of it sits Mount Longonot, another volcanic dome with an impressive 9 kms wide caldera reaching 9,000 feet. Mount Suswa’s vegetation, generally speaking, is semi-arid, composed of stunted thorn bushes (whistling thorns and Acacia) and patches of grass; but, river and stream beds are often marked by lines of trees and seasonal rivers, such as, the South Ewaso Nyiro, Siyabei and Kedong which have thicker vegetation along their banks. On the central island block and in the annular trench, the vegetation consists of more evergreen dense woodlands. Mount Suswa is shared mainly by Narok, Nakuru and Kajiado Counties. A tiny part of the eastern side lies inside Kiambu County.

It is possible to drive up Mount Suswa as far as the foot of the outer caldera wall, although a four-wheel-drive vehicles is necessary. The main Nairobi-Mai Mahiu-Narok Road which winds across the northern part of Suswa is the most popular approach. Mount Suswa has many memorable sights that include Ol Doinyo Nyukie, or the ‘red mountain’, which is a remnants of the highest point of Suswa – a separate cone on the southwest side of the inner caldera. On the eastern side of Mount Suswa are located its famous lava tunnels and geysers, first reported by Hobden in 1962, which extend for several kilometres into the mountain and provide a rare audit of mountain geology. North of Suswa sits the mystifying Mount Longonot along with several ash and cinder cones and hills rising above the Akira Plains. Wildlife is plentiful here, particularly on the flush savanna around Suswa where many varieties of antelope and zebra can be seen.

Mount Suswa and Beyond with Allan Gichigi

4. Mount Longonot National Park

As alluded to, the Rift floor commencing in the Naivasha area forms part of the structurally and topographically diverse Great Rift Valley. Among the numerous volcanic cones and craters, scarps and studs, the highest tip is formed by Mount Longonot which rises abruptly to 9,107 ft (2776 ms) to exemplify the contrast of scenery and ecology. The fetching landscape of this bulky and pitted dome lying isolated in the spacey Rift Valley also doubles as the most exalted hiking-trails in Kenya. Longonot is derived from the Maasai idiom “Oloonong’ot” translating to “the mountain of many spurs or steep ridges”. All in all, 52 km2 around the Mount Longonot was gazetted, in 1993, as the Mount Longonot National Park. It offers the avid hiker a breathtaking experience culminating at its crater forest with unbridled views of Lake Naivasha, Njorowa Gorge and outwith. It takes on average 6 hours (round-trip) to scout Mount Longonot. Major wildlife sighting includes buffaloes, elands, bushbucks, zebra, giraffe and gazelles. A small cover charge (Citizens – 300, Residents – 600 and Non-Residents – USD 26) is paid to enter the park. It is found 90 kms from Nairobi via Mai Mahiu-Nairobi Road.

Spatial Location of Mount Longonot National Park in Nakuru County
Spatial Location of Mount Longonot National Park in Nakuru County

5. Longonot Earth Station

Unlike going to the zoo, going on safari odds-on entails adventure to booay and difficult to access places. The Mara is no exception! The 250 kms journey from Nairobi to Masai Mara National Reserve takes up to 6 hours. The first 150 kms, from Nairobi to Narok Town, is a smooth drive of absolutely beautiful scenes. About 30 kms from Nairobi City, as the road descends to the floor of the valley on the hair-raising winding road to Mai-Mahiu Town, one of the most dazzling views of Kenya unfold before you. The knockout view of the Great Rift Valley. In the distance are Mount Suswa and the peculiar chain of ground satellites rising mysteriously in the middle of a bare and deserted plain. The ground satellites at Longonot Earth Station have aroused the imagination of many a traveller, with many suggestions of their existence. Commissioned in 1970, Longonot Earth Station was the first specialized terrestrial terminal in Kenya primarily used to communicate with its counterpart in-space satellites.  In 1968, Kenya and her neighbours became members of Intelsat – Global Satellite Consortium – which offered the right to set-up earth-stations and access Intelsat’s chain of satellites.

6. Moi South Lake Road

Naivasha, notably of Moi South Lake Road, is perhaps the only place outside of the Coast Region of Kenya that can be properly called a resort hub. Circling the eastern half of Lake Naivasha, the Moi South Lake Road is now well known as a middle-market destination location with no less than two dozen resorts where holiday-makers can enjoy comfort in a familiar ambiance. More recently, many camping grounds and self-catering villas have been opened up to cater for the ever-growing demand. It is the location of Masada Hotel, Yellow Green Hotel, Sweet Lake Resort, Hexagon Farm, the Lake Naivasha Resort, Enashipai Resort and Spa, Otter Cottage, Cray Fish Inn, Fisherman’s Camp and the Wileli House. Access to Moi South Road is via Mai Mahiu-Naivasha Road, or Naivasha Town.

7. Lake Naivasha

Renamed as Lake Suess by renown British geologist and explorer J. Gregory, in 1893, on his maiden visit to the Rift Valley travelling through the Kedong Valley and climbing Mount Longonot, it later reverted to its original name Naivasha or Naiposha, which is the Maasai equivalent of “the rough water”. The growing of vegetables was also formerly carried out on a fair scale along the shores of Lake Naivasha, but was restricted greatly at the start of 1956 in order to deny food to Mau Mau fighters who frequented the papyrus swamps around the periphery of the lake at that time. Since then the level of the lake has been rising and many acres of land in the littorals swamped. The 139 km2 papyrus-fringed shallow fresh-water Lake Naivasha harbours a prolific avi-faunal biosphere supporting hundreds of bird. It has amusing wildlife too. There is a sure delight of walking among wild animals on Crescent Island. Significantly, the Lake was among the first globally nominated wetland locations for Ramsar Status under the Ramsar Convetion of Wetlands of International Importance. Nearby famous Hell’s Gate National Park makes a fine day’s walk for the young and the fit. In fact the track in never arduous, and once in the taper gorge the exploring takes an hour or so.

8. Naivasha Water Resort

Trippers who prefer day-outings at Lake Naivasha rather than an overnight or weekend stay-cation will find that Naivasha Water Resort makes this possible with little advance preparation. Situated at the waters edge, visitors cannot fail to absorb the sights, sounds and beauty of Lake Naivasha. Sometimes known as Tilapia Beach, it has a spacious open restaurant which is a wonderful place for enjoying views of the Lake and a meal of tilapia. Within the resort, the generous garden interspersed with flat-topped Acacia trees offers a great area for walking and games. In addition, there are plenty of hop-on hop-off boat taxis for hire and a well-stocked watering-hole. It is located near Naivasha Rocky Eco-Lodge.

9. The Maa Museum at Enashipai

The Maa Museum, housed at Enashipai Resort and Spa along Moi South Lake Road, is the first privately run museum in Kenya. It is a tribute to the cherished Maasai culture and expositions why the Maasai people continue to fascinate the world. Experienced curators spent over 6 years visiting the communities to put together a pukka-authentic museum. Along the gallery walls and display spaces are bona-fide Maasai artefacts, relics and motley traditional objects depicting the Maa Culture – from shelters, livestock, to families. Originally launched as Holiday Inn and reestablished as the Enashipai Resort and Spa, the resort has 40-rooms; all with a private bath and private veranda, with many overlooking Lake Naivasha. Amenities available: swimming pool, gym, spa, boating, birding, nightclub and a children’s play area. It is located next door to Wildfire Flowers.

10. Naivasha Owl Centre

Established in 2003, to rehabilitate harmed and orphaned birds of prey and to raise awareness on importance of birds, Naivasha Owl Centre at Kijabe Farm is one three such centres in Kenya along with Falconry of Kenya, in Malindi, and Raptor Rehabilitation Trust Kenya, in Nairobi. The Naivasha Owl Centre is one arm of the Kenya Bird of Prey Trust. The other arm is the Raptor Camp found at Soysambu Conservancy. A day trip here provides visitors a singular insight into the almost mythical birds of prey, which include, the fairly large Augur Buzzard, Ruppell’s Griffon vulture, yellow-beaked hawk, the ferrocious African fish eagle, and the traditionally feared owl. Over the years, the Naivasha Owl Centre has cared for more than 190 birds. It is located off Moi South Lake Road, taking the turnoff across from South Lake Naivasha Shell Petrol Station into Kijabe Farm.

11. Crescent Island Game Sanctuary

If you have never done this you will find it a totally different experience from game watching from a vehicle. To reach the Island, turn into Moi South Lake Road 5 kms east of Naivasha Town and after 5.2 kms turn right at the Sanctuary Farm. Once on the farm follow the signs for “Crescent Island” which is 2.8 kms from the main road.  It’s peninsular is accessible by boat from east or west, with many hotels including Naivasha Country Club, Hippo Safaris, Naivasha Resort, Sopa Lodge, Simba Lodge, Carnelleys, Elsamere and Fisherman Camp offering boating trip. There are many budget-friendly hop on hop off boat taxis that take to the island. A small entry fee to Crescent Island is charged on arrival (Citizens and Residents – Shs 800 and Non-Residents – USD 30. Child rate are half the rates). Crescent Island is in excellent surroundings and on the Island there are many varieties of game and over 300 species of birds. It has more animals per acre than any other game sanctuary in Kenya. Located on the eastern fringe of Lake Naivasha, it was separated by declining water-level, in the 1930’s, to form the partially submerged island. At low water levels it gets increasingly isolated. 

12. Naivasha Yacht Club

This is found at the eastern edge of Crescent Island Game Sanctuary, on an area known as Lotus Island. Naivasha Yatch Club has for many years run a sailing program, established in 1939, to encourage yacht racing by the promotion of regattas. The members-only club holds a tradition in promoting sailing as a sport and holds a racing event every month. The star attractions here are sailing on the lagoon at Crescent Island and the clubhouse set on a hill and engulfed by water on all-sides offering wondrous views. It has a lounge, bar and kitchen too.

13. Sanctuary Farm

The 400-acres family-run dairy farm and wildlife conservancy abutting with Crescent Island Game Sanctuary and with sights of Lake Naivasha has been a revered adventure haven for the better part of 40 years. Originally owned by the Erskines family who were very passionate about horse-riding, its tradition as a horse-stud is to date one of the farm’s biggest trump cards, on a very impressive list of to-do’s. Its 10-rooms accommodation is a uniquely converted stable yard designed with modern rooms. All rooms have private bathrooms and verandah overlooking the farm roamed by lots of wildlife and a gaudy of birds. Sanctuary Farm is a perfect jumping off place for hiking Mount Longonot, rock climbing and gorge walking at Hell’s Gate National Park, exploring Lake Naivasha and game viewing at Lake Nakuru National Park. It is found along South Lake Road.

Spatial Location of Sanctuary Farm near Lake Naivasha
Spatial Location of Sanctuary Farm near Lake Naivasha

14. Acacia Campsite at Sanctuary Farm

A number of pleasant camping sites are situated along the eastern shore of Lake Naivasha, most with toilets and water points. The Acacia Campsite at Sanctuary Farm along Moi South Lake Road is available to the public with flush toilet and shower, refuse disposal and also incorporates the game viewing and expeditions at Sanctuary Farm. “I zipped open my tent and was greeted by a most peculiar scene. Beyond the rickety bamboo fence that encompassed the camping site, a podgy pig nuzzled up to a pair of tall grey horses. In an adjacent field, a handful of zebras and wildebeest grunted and grazed, and on the edge of the acacias a motionless giraffe stood camouflaged in the dappled light. The pig, I found out, is called Henrietta, and she was doing her morning rounds on Sanctuary Farm” – Jan Foxx. For further information, contact –

15. Kedong Ranch

Also known as the Longonot Ranch, the 75,000 acre Kedong Ranch serves as a lovely place to begin or renew your romance with nature: a natural landscape in which to walk and absorb the remarkable rock scenery of Njorowa Gorge which runs across the property. The cottage boasts of a full span glass wall overlooking the charming view of Lake Naivasha. Kedong also practices mixed ranching and farming, especially horticulture and livestock rearing. Quite an impressive array of game can be seen – duiker, gazelle, ostrich and zebra. It is a crucial wildlife migratory zone aptly linking Hell’s Gate and Mount Longonot National Parks. The cozy 5 bedroom Kiira House with a blissful pool overlooking Mt. Longonot and Lake Naivasha offers a restful abode for overnight guests. Kedong Ranch is located about 2.5 kms from the turnoff to Moi South Lake Road, near Naivasha.

16. Hell’s Gate National Park

Just 10 kms from the turnoff to Moi South Lake Road the first of two entrances to the favoured Hell’s Gate National Park is reached, along Gorge Road. The 68 km2 park, more proper the Njorowa Gorge, typified by sheer faces carved from sheets and plugs with steep and deeply incised stratified rock faces and steam-jets, is a most picturesque place. On arrival, Fischer’s Tower at the northern end of the Njorowa Gorge, from which Stone Age man hewed blocks for the making of his obsidian implements, offers a remarkable rock sight. Scenically, some of the most impressive features of the Njorowa Gorge are two lava plugs known as Fischer’s Tower and The Horse or El Barta (its original Maasai name). Fischer’s Tower is roughly conical, terminating in a point, while El Barta is cylindrical with a blunt rounded crest. Other notable geological features include: Hobley’s volcano and the dandy column cliffs at the northern edge of the Njorowa Gorge.

Most notable as the only park in Kenya where callers may opt to walk, ride, hike or drive, it offers quite a lot of thrilling activities. Most popular is trekking the alluring Njorowa Gorge that runs across the park. Here, the fine-textured gorge wall aiming for the south-end alters colour from purplish, maroon and reddish brown. The reddish colour is due to erosional oxidation hastened by the large surface areas of these porous rocks. Other interests include the Obsidian Caves, Central Tower, Hell’s Gate Viewpoint, Observatory Tower, Mervyn Carnelley Raptor Hide and wildlife viewing. There are three camping sites in the park: Endachata Campsite, Naiburta Campsite and Oldubai Campsite. The popular Ol Karia Geothermal Spa is located on the western end of the Hell’s Gate National Park at KenGen Olkaria Geothermal Plant II. It is easier to get here through the Olkaria Route located 20 kms from the turnoff to Moi South Lake Road, passing Fisherman’s Camp, the Elsamere Nature Reserve and the Oserian Flower Farm.

Kenya on Air – Naivasha. Folklore

17. Olkaria Geothermal Spa

The earliest description of steam-jets in the Naivasha area was recorded by G. A. Fischer in 1885. Traversing the Njorowa Gorge he discovered large jets and collected a sample of condensed steam for analysis. While the presence of the steam-jets was undoubtedly known to a number of early travellers, settlers and administrative officials, they aroused little comment until Gregory’s account, in 1921. These steam-jets were mainly concentrated in two areas: the one north of Lake Naivasha on the eastern and northern slopes of Eburru Mountains and the other in the Olkaria-Njorowa area south of the lake. In 1972, the Government of Kenya concerned about the falling action capabilities of hydroelectric power granted licenses for geothermal resources devilment. Up until 2014, the use of geothermal energy at Olkaria-Njorowa was “restricted” to electricity generation. At a cost of $286,000 and set within the Hell’s Gate National Park the Ol Karia Geothermal Spa is a rare treat, as visitors soak in the brine with pristine views of the rugged landscape. It is one of those rare destinations that brings together man, wildlife, and machine in a perfect harmony. Soaking in the balmy-waters from hot-springs may not be a novel idea but few places have refined the idea to the scale of Olkaria. The set-up is fantastic and the location priceless. There are three cascading lagoons. These lagoons receive geothermal brine, collected in a system of lagged pipes from various wells within the Olkaria Geothermal Fields in a set-up that is focused on making the spa a fun and safe activity. There is a cafe catering to guests visiting the spa. Charges applicable: Accessing the Hell’s Gate National Park (Citizens-350, Residents-700 and Non-Residents-USD 30), and accessing the Olkaria Spa is 400 per person. It is accessed via Olkaria Gate.

Today geothermal energy accounts for 13% of Kenya’s installed electricity capacity, a statistic the government is determined to change. The country certainly needs to adapt to the shifting economies of electricity generation. KenGen

18. Kilimandege Sanctuary

In 1962, British-born filmmaker Alan Root who worked on nature documentary series such as Survival acquired the 88-acres plot that now forms the beautiful Kilimandege Sanctuary – set between Longonot Farm and Simba Lodge along South Lake Road. Alan’s repute as a pioneer and icon of nature documentaries speaks for itself, and original narrative style characterized much of Survival’s output and helped shape a sophisticated genre known as Blue Chip films. The Year of the Wildebeest was the epic story of the thundering migration of the gnu across the plains of Serengeti. Mysterious Castles of Clay, by contrast, showed wildlife in intricate detail in and around termite mounds, revealing the insects’ highly organised society and skills of construction. It received a nomination for an Academy Award. Until 1990 Alan was married to Joan Root, a Kenyan-born conservationist, murdered at Lake Naivasha in 2006, just days before her 70th birthday. Before that tragedy, the couple had done ‘Nat Geo’ articles together from 1963 to 1971 on Galapagos Islands and African wildlife. Although Alan and Joan went their separate ways in mid 1980s, Joan remained on the sanctuary to pursue her conservation work. Her work focused on protecting the environment and lake resources. The sanctuary was created under protection of a foundation to continue her noble effort. Hosting almost 250 species, Kilimandege or ‘Hill of Birds’ in Swahili, offers an opportunity to enjoy a colourful birding world, with plenty of game like giraffe, zebra and gazelle. Otter Cottage sleeping 8 and the historic Kilimandege House sleeping 12 are sited on the shore of Lake Naivasha.

19. Fisherman’s Camp

Also known as Carnelly’s, this is a camping ground intended mainly for fishing and boating enthusiasts. There are plenty of boats and fishing tackle for hire. Its lodge with luxury cottages, restaurant and bar is popular as a weekend getaway.

Spatial Location of Fisherman's Camp along Moi South Lake Road
Spatial Location of Fisherman’s Camp along Moi South Lake Road

20. Elsamere Nature Reserve

This is one of the oldest establishments in the Lake Naivasha’s hotel catalog and is accessible via the Moi South Lake Road, near the Kengen Olkaria Geothermal Plaza. “2010 marked the centenary of the birth of Joy Adamson – a pioneer in the field of conservation. With her husband George, a Senior Game Warden for Kenya’s untamed Northern Province, she founded one of the world’s foremost wild animal appeals which in 1963 became the Elsa Conservation Trust”. Once a holiday home and later a retirement home for the Adamson’s, Elsamere Nature Reserve remains a cherished destination. In the house, there is a room that now acts as the museum. Up until now, Elsa Conservation Trust perpetuates the life long conservation efforts founded by Joy and George Adamsom. The lodge has 10-double rooms (all en-suite with private verandah facing the lake). For those who wish to visit the museum on a day-trip, Elsamere is open from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. Elsamere is found 22 kms from the turnoff into Moi South Lake Road.

21. Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary

Formerly known as the Oserian Ranch, the 18,000-acres private sanctuary and adventure site has for years focused on extenuating the age-old human-wildlife conflicts in Lake Naivasha Ecosystem. Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary works to guard and conserve endangered wildlife through sustainable programs centered on preserving and perpetuating a natural balance. It has two luxury properties – Chui Lodge and Kiangazi House. The wildlife sanctuary surrounding Chui Lodge was created in the mid 1990’s with the sole purpose of giving the resident wildlife a place of safety and refuge. Over 18,000-acres is girded by an electric fence, as much to keep illegal cattle grazers out as it is to keep the wildlife from straying into the nearby farmlands. Within the sanctuary and game corridors there are over 50 mammal species, that include, leopard, topi, zebra, serval cat, impala, warthog, and lesser galago. All year round, there are over 400 species of birds that thrive in the different ecosystems. On the other hand, Kiangazi House offers pretty views of the Great Rift Valley and the shimmering Lakes Oloiden and Naivasha. Kiangazi House is located 5 kms from Elsamere Nature Reserve.

22. Djinn Palace at Oserengoni

With its Moroccan antiques, even the architecture of a royal palace, spotting the true-to-type curved doorways and striking arches on a brimming white-washed facade, the audacious build is exotic, elegant, luxurious and dramatic all in one, and few other old country homes in the area can shimmer so close to the beauty of this one. Naivasha (and Nakuru County in general) is rich in baroque houses left behind by colonial settlers, and Djinn Palace, on Oserengoni Conservancy, is worlds apart from the common classic English countryside houses. Under the directions of Major Cyril-Hill, a rancher, former officer in an Indian regiment, and sometime Hollywood actor, the magnificent site was completed in 1927 as a country home. Like many things “Happy Valley”, Djinn Palace bore its share of sagas. “During the colonial era, “The Djinn Palace” was “where things usually were very lively” for the Happy Valley set, according to Ulf Aschan. It was built for Ramsay-Hill’s wife, Molly (née Edith Mildred Maude; 1893–1939), who had an affair with and later married Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll. Legend has it the name comes from the copious amounts of gin that was drunk there. Even more than that, it’s said that the famed Lady Diana Delamare, a key character in the Happy Valley Set, once tenanted the house. The current owners of the conservancy, the Zwagers, reside there now after painstakingly rebuilding and renovating the house. Decades later, in 1969, Oserian was established as a small vegetable growing farm. In 1982 it became the pioneer flower farm in Naivasha.

23. Hippo Point

Situated on a narrow tract of land separating Lakes Naivasha and Oloiden, near Oserengoni’s Kiangazi House, this private wildlife sanctuary is ordered among the top-rate wildlife retreats in the world. Hippo Point offers wonderful scenery and an abundance of big game. What is more, its iconic eight-story 120 ft tower, built in 1993, has priceless views of the rolling glassland intersected by strips of woodland and thicket patches. By night, it offers a useful lookout to the cosmos. Its 1932 Manor House, a classic British country house, is both elegant and cozy. Over 350 species of birds and plenty of wildlife can be easily sighted. “Plans are underway to develop a highly restricted number of beautiful modern ecological villas for sale to vetted conservation friendly individuals – tucked into the hill side and each with private pool overlooking Lake Oloidien, these high end villas represent a mix of urban African sophistication and wilderness” – Hippo Point.

24. Lake Oloiden

Lake Naivasha comprises of three lakes: Crescent Lake (varying in drop from 18 ms at Hippo Point to 8 ms), Crater Lake or Lake Sonachi (found near the south western edge of Lake Naivasha but is independent of the main Lake Naivasha) and Lake Oloiden (sometimes inter-connected to the main lake). It is a smaller lake at the the southern end of Lake Naivasha and depending on the water level may be detached from the main lake.  This semi-separated sodic extension lake is equally shallow averaging 5 ms. It is more alkaline that the main lake. “In the mid-1800’s, Lake Oloiden dried up but a few years later, Lake Naivasha’s levels rose so high that it interconnected with Oloiden, which turned it fresh. In 1982, when Lake Naivasha’s water levels began to fall, Lake Oloiden steadily became separated from Lake Naivasha and slowly turned saline again” – Nation Media. The fully serviced Oloiden Camping Site is the best place to enjoy the lake. It is located 27 kms from the turnoff, along Moi South Lake Road, nearby Kongoni Center. Look out for a large white tire with ‘Oloiden Camp’ written in black ink.

25. Mundui House

One of the oldest houses around Lake Oloiden, Mundui House has a diverting history, and visitors the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill have stayed on this historic property – an elegant and historic home in a gorgeous lakefront setting. “The Earl of Enniskillen owned the Mundui Estate for many years before it was sold to its current owner Margaret Zak, who created the Animal Rights Reserved foundation and conservancy in 2010. The conservancy, comprising 2,000 acres of Kongoni Game Valley and Mundui Estate, both with varying landscapes and a wealth of wild game, serves as the ideal location to reintroduce many rescued or relocated animals” EA Retreats. It is situated on the shore of Lake Oloiden within the ARR private wildlife conservancy, nestled in the volcanic hills and open grasslands on the western edge of Lake Naivasha. The fairly large house, of an old English country home design, has seven double rooms and two single rooms all looking out to the garden that rolls down to the lake’s edge. It has a detached guest wing separated from the main house by a swimming pool and lovely gardens. Kongoni Game Valley, Oserengoni Wildlife Conservancy, Elsamere Nature Reserve and Hell’s Gate National Park are just off the road to Oloiden and can be visited within a day from the Mundui House.

Spatial Location of Mundui House along Moi South Lake Road
Spatial Location of Mundui House along Moi South Lake Road

26. Kongoni Game Valley

Moi South Lake Road terminates at Kongoni Centre. Thence, a road taking left signs to Kongoni Game Valley. An all weather road travels west to Crater Lake, Ndabibi Centre and outwith to the boundary with Narok County, 35 kms away. Kongoni Game Valley is a 2000-acres private wildlife ranch at the edge of Lake Naivasha, with the classic safari lodge and pretty gardens. Its open-game policy which allows wildlife to roam within sight of the lodge is one of the most-liked features of this beautiful game valley. The main house, a generous colonial-style country home, is a living ‘history-lesson’ in architecture. The main house has 6 en-suite rooms with double occupancy and a one bedroom annex whose entry is at the terrace. The Ranch also has 26-deluxe suites, at their Ole-Itiko Cottages.

27. Crater Lake

Crater Lake, or Lake Sonachi, is set at the southwestern part of Lake Naivasha and, in its own distinct volcanic crater, is a soda lake fully independent from the main lake but its levels are believed to oscillate in harmony with the main lake as a result of groundwater connection. The striking 1 km2 pickle-green lake is a small paradise by its own, with a singular micro-climate. A dense forest covers the steep walls of the crater lake which often hosts flocks of flamingos. Crater Lake is encircled by a 10 km2 game sanctuary, with a plentiful array of wildlife. Other interest include the beautifully-appointed 11-rooms Crater Lake Camp at the base of the hill overlooking the lake, the happy valley’s tragic heroine grave (Corville Cemetery) and “Caves of God”. It is found 7 kms from Kongoni Centre.

28. Crater Lake Camp

The Crater Lake Camp is a magical escape set inside a bush in the private Crater Lake Sanctuary. The camp, located at the bottom of the hill overlooking Crater Lake, comprises of eight double rooms and two permanent family bandas, all en-suite. A honeymoon suite with a large bush pole bed and a double jacuzzi is also available. In addition, there are 13 tents posited by the emerald-green lake. Activities at the camp are centred around nature and wildlife. There are guided nature walks at the crater and the sanctuary. The bird list is over 400 species, of which it is easy to spot more than 100 species in a day. There are 30 species of wildlife in the sanctuary. At night, hippos come out of the main Lake Naivasha to graze, and it is possible to see the aardvarks and spring hares on night game drives. There is a colony of almost 70 Colombus monkeys existing here. What’s more, for most times of the year, are flamingos covering almost the entire Lake.

29. Colville Cemetery

Surprisingly little-known considering its much in evidence location a top a hill in the unvisited backwoods near Ndabibi Centre, Corville Cemetery is certainly worth a visit by the history buff. The brazen cemetery, in the peripheral area of Crater Lake Game Sanctuary, consists of a stone wall enclosure with towering fig trees growing over three graves. This is the final resting place for Lady Diana Delamere, buried between her last two husbands – Gilbert Colville and Thomas Cholmondeley Delamere. Popular as the “happy valley’s tragic heroine”, Diana Caldwell had been a main suspect in the mystery of Lord Erroll’s (Josslyn Victor Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll) death in 1941, in company with her first husband Sir Jock Delves Broughton. In late 1940, Lord Erroll met Diana, Lady Delves, the new, pretty and young wife of Sir Jock Delves Broughton, 11th Baronet. Lord Erroll and Lady Delves Broughton soon became lovers. “Happy Valley Set was a group of hedonistic, largely British settlers and adventurers who settled in the “Happy Valley” at present day Wanjohi Valley, at the footslopes of the Aberdare Range, in colonial Kenya – 1920’s to 1940’s. In the 1930s, they became famous for their decadent lifestyle and plush”. Ndabibi is located 12 kms from Kongoni.

30. Barons Park and Golf Centre

Once the utmost stopover on the journey from Nairobi to Nakuru, the Delamere Kobil Service Station Shop along Naivasha to Nakuru Road existed as one the most endorsed shops in Kenya. This has all changed. Nakuru County is now a rapidly developing outward-looking county, and many modern stretch and rest stops have taken root. Even so, Nakuru, whose splendid lakes have lured many from far and wide, is still largely a transit county, and chains of hotels and malls are attractively sited throughout its road system. Up until now, Delamore shop is a liked half-way stop. Among its recent attractions, established in 2015, is the Barons Park & Golf Centre. Here, it’s hassle-free. Young and old, pay and play. Open till late, this site indiscriminately allows anyone to have a go at the driving range and, true to course, “it’s meant to demystify the belief that the sport is a rich man’s-game”. It also targets young and upcoming golfers who cannot afford the high club fees. Professional and upcoming golfers can complete its 9-holes.

31. The Pot at Panda

Travellers to Naivasha may stay at the Pot at Panda which is operated by Panda Flower Farm within Naivasha Flower Business Park. The Lodge has 12 rooms – double rooms with balcony, family rooms with shared bathroom, double rooms and twin – and stands on a hillside overlooking Lake Naivasha across which can be sighted the twin-peaked Eburru Mountains. The Pot at Panda commands a fetching view. From its porch visitors can take in a wide variety of the geological marvels. At the western side of the property, among the sloping foothills, is an explosion of greenhouses in the thriving flower farms, covering an area which carries a great variety of some of the best flowers in Kenya’s floriculture. The Pot of Panda is an exceptional place to spend an afternoon and enjoy a sunset toast. It is particularly popular with families and couples as a weekend getaway. Into that bargain, its has a dozen secure, raised, and equipped tents to enjoy a different living experience. Other amenities include: a swimming pool, gardens and play area, billiard table, fully-stocked bar and restaurant, gym and fitness centre. The main gate to Flower Business Park is located off Naivasha-Nakuru Highway before the turnoff to Naivasha Town. An excellent road takes from the gate of Flower Business Park up the hill. It terminates at the site; at the summit.

Spatial Location of The Pot at Panda near Naivasha Town
Spatial Location of The Pot at Panda near Naivasha Town

32. Morendat Farm

For wine and beef-steak lovers, Morendat Farm found along Naivasha-Nakuru Road provides interesting opportunities for exploration. The 3,000 acres cattle ranch, owned by the Kenya Nut Company, is world famous for its prized aged beef; plated-up in many top-rated hotels in Kenya. The husbandry, feeding and beef aging processes are quite something to behold. It is a lesson in the care and pre commission of producing top-tier beef. Its latter day attraction – Leleshwa Wines – started out as a hobby, something fun and exotic, in the early 1990’s. The 40-hectares vineyard now produces about 80,000 bottles of wine annually, and in 2015 it won its very first Gold Medal in the International Michelangelo Wine & Spirits Awards. A word of advise is necessary here. Excepting business meeting, visitors to the farm are required to make prior arrangement. Get in touch with Tom on 0712-122475 or Rosemary on 0723-179292. The Morendat Farm is past the first turnoff to Naivasha Town and not far past the Delamere Fuel Station and Barons Park Golf Centre. On the left, and over the railway line.

Leleshwa Vineyard Farm Tour. Published by James Gachago

33. Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort

While Nakuru County is more popular for its National Parks and superb wildlife resources, it is only in the past decade or two that the world has become aware of the fact that Nakuru has some of the most transcendent resorts and camping grounds in Kenya. An increasing number of travellers, already in the thousands every year, are coming to these resorts primarily for a weekend or longer stay, with trips to National Parks thrown in as extras. One such establishment, whose popularity has soared through the roof in the past decade, is the revered Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort. Both the Lodge and the Club are beautifully situated, the lodge itself raised on the Eburru Mountains, at 7000 ft, with eye-catching outlooks of Lake Naivasha, Mount Longonot, and the Aberdare Range. Accommodation is provided in 21 twin and nine double rooms, all with private balconies overlooking the spectacular expanse of the Rift Valley. The rooms are located in spacious two and three storey houses which are beautifully furnished with large four-poster beds, handmade wooden furniture, and modern en suite bathrooms. Several of the rooms have interlinking doors that convert them into spacious family suites. Alternative accommodation is available at the Longonot Villas; 40 modern three-tier three-bedroomed houses. Other amenities include the 18-hole championship golf course – voted Africa’s Best Golf Hotel in 2016, swimming pool, tennis courts, bar and restaurant, conference facilities and its own airstrip connecting with Samburu, Masai Mara or Nairobi. It is located 24 kms from Naivasha Town and 12 kms from A104 Nairobi-Nakuru Road turnoff.

34. Eburru Mountains

The 3,220 ft. tall Eburru Mountains, a double-peaked ridge which straddles the north and west peripheral area of Lake Naivasha, provides an exciting challenge for the nature-lover, and rewards the avid hiker with remarkable vistas. Its Maa sobriquet Ol Donyo Eburru, mountain of smoke, answers to one of the Eburru’s most interesting spectacles, that of the presence of steam jets – reminiscent of those seen at Olkaria (Hell’s Gate National Park) on the south and east of the lake. Unique to the Naivasha area is that “there is no basin of heated ground-waters, but that juvenile fluids are escaping from depth at places and mixing with the ground-water, conditions being suitable at certain places where there are fissures for the production of steam, which escapes at surfaces”. The small Eburru Wellhead Geothermal Power Plant by KenGen is set-up on the northern foot-slopes. The Eburru Mountains, a part of the active complex of volcanoes in the Great Rift Valley system, is typified by Cedar hills, deep-valleys and rolling foothills. The 8,715-hectares skeletal and indigenous Eburru Forest resembles that seen on the younger Mount Longonot, and on the badlands of Elementaita.

35. Kigio Wildlife Conservancy

Kigio Wildlife Conservancy is located at Gilgil area midpoint between Naivasha and Lake Elementaita. The 14 km2 rangeland comprises of a symbiotic working cattle ranch and wildlife sanctuary. All in all, there over 3,500 heads of wildlife that roam across the conservancy to include Rothschild’s giraffe, gazelle, hyena, hippos, leopard, and buffalo. It has over 250 species of birds too. Founded as a noble initiative to revive the population of the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe in Kenya, Kigio is now home to many of them. Up to date, “there are about 39 Rothschild giraffes, nine more than the Kigio Ecosystem can handle efficiently. When they are too many, we give them out to the neighbouring conservancies or to the giraffe centre” – Business Daily. From its two lodges: Malewa Wildlife Camp and Kigio Luxury Camp, it’s easy to wander to the banks of Malewa River which has an ever-presence of a variety of wildlife. This is located 28 kms from Naivasha Town, then 7 kms to its lodge along an earthen road with gravelly soil.

36. Kika Lodge, Gilgil

If the tiny road signage to Kika Lodge has once caught your attention and twice you heed the wanderlust call, you’ll arrive at an awesome and enchanting lodge, much to your delight. Kika Lodge, with eleven detached cottages all with pretty view over the hillside and valley, and commanding the chartered for mountain chalets, is one of the latest cozy hideout in this region, yet, most-up-to-date and uniquely located. All cottages are of stone and wood construction with canvas roofing, their rural aspect contrasting beautifully with the internal appearance of comfort, with private verandas, outdoor private shower, large poster-beds, rustic furnishes and en-suite bathroom with a bath. All these cottages are set on the brow of a wooded hill overlooking the 100-acres property, if only the perfect setting for an indulging sunset. The common areas – dinning, terrace, lounge and bar – are of a modern design, all having a panoramic view of the country. An evening tet-a-tet bonfire offers an intimate setting to unwind and chat up. Other interests include lazy frolic walk to the calming River Gilgil, horseback rides and golfing at the nearby Gilgil Golf Club. It is located next to Pembrooke School (near Gilgil Town) and 400 metres before the turnoff to Gilgil Golf Club.

37. Gilgil Golf Club

Driving past Kigio Wildlife Conservancy and Gilgil Weigh Bridge the turnoff to C77 Gilgil-Nyahururu Road is reached. A good bitumen road connects Gilgil and Thomson’s Falls taking a fascinating route over the Aberdare Range to drop down into Nyahururu, the jumping-off town to Laikipia. This means a scramble up an unrelenting steep from the floor of the Rift Valley to the higher highlands of Nyandarua, an area covering part of Aberdare Forest and farmlands. It is a wildly beautiful drive of stack ecological contrast. Just 5 kms from the junction, Gilgil Golf Club is reached. Founded in 1928, the 9-hole golf course which has more browns than it has greens is scenically pleasing and inviting for a round of golf. The course, found next to Pembroke School, offers a nifty mix of play, with its back-nine-play differing significantly from the front-nine; with some of the pars changing.  The original club house was raised down by a fire in the 1940’s that gave way for its current one. Great Rift Golf Course is located 20 kms away.

38. Gilgil War Cemetery

Found in the small but growing town of Gilgil, about 120 kms from Nairobi, on the A104 Road to Nakuru, Gilgil War Cemetery contains 224 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. There is also one First World War burial and 31 non war graves. On entering Gilgil Town take the turning right at the Petrol Station and drive for 2 kms. Take the dirt track left at the Railway Crossing and the Cemetery is 400 metres down on the left. The cemetery is signposted from the centre of the town and it’s open Monday-Friday 06:00-18:00. Outside these hours the cemetery’s kept locked with a coded padlock under the care of CWGC.

Spatial Location of Gilgil War Cemetery near Gilgil Town
Spatial Location of Gilgil War Cemetery near Gilgil Town

39. Kariandusi Museum

Nakuru is rich in the remains of prehistoric man, and Kariandusi Museum, 7 kms beyond Gilgil and passing Kekopey Centre, is one of the most important in Kenya. It was first excavated in 1928 under the guidance of Dr. L.S.B Leakey yielding numerous links in the chain of human evolution, with abundant fossil remains dating back 700,000 to 1 million years. Kariandusi is plausibly the first Acheulian Site to have been found in Situ in East Africa. Thereafter, excavation progressed almost continuously for two decades, and it is possible to visit these sites and stand where these discoveries, so important to the history of mankind, were made. Key interest for visitors include the museum exhibition hall, field archaeological site, nature trail to the gorge and Church of Goodwill. Kariandusi also lies just east of Lake Elementaita and is flanked by Menengai Crater on the north and Eburru Mountains found on the south. It is located just 2 kms off the Gilgil-Nakuru Road and can be explored in combination with Lake Elementaita.

40. Church of Goodwill

Raised in 1947, nearby Kariandusi Museum, the antiquated Church of Goodwill kick-started by Lady Eleanor Barfur, of then 38,000-acres Kekopey Ranch, is a beguiling and timeless paragon. Lady Eleanor, Daughter of 2nd Earl of Balfour, first arrived in Kenya (British East African Protectorate) in 1916 where she met Galbraith Lowry Egerton Cole, son of 4th Earl of Enniskillen and brother-in-law to 3rd Baron Delamere. They married in 1917. Their residence was the present day Jacaranda Lake Elementaita Lodge. In 1929, just 48 years of age, severely crippled with arthritis, Galbraith felt euthanasia was the only avenue he had left to ease his unbearable pain. His Somali servant wheeled him to the spot where he wished to end his life and assisted with holding his gun, so that he could pull the trigger. A stone obelisk with its plaque quoting from Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceaser”, still stands, overlooking Lake Elementaita, at the place where he died. After World War II, Lady Eleanor built the Church of Goodwill in Galbraith’s memory, as well as, in gratitude for the safe return of her two sons from WWII. She continued to live at Kekopey Ranch, becoming one of the first Europeans to take up citizenship after independence. She died in Nairobi, age 89. In many ways, the Church of Goodwill is a reflection of Eleanor’s unbending devotion to community, faith and God’s mercies – investing her time and resources to bring it to fruition. Morosely, it memorialized Galbraith’s death. Although its rounded facade conforms more with the native traditional rondavels, in contrast with the English Gothic style of sharp angular walls, it retained many beautiful elements of the classic rural English Churches, like, its high-pitched wooden-tile roof, its roughcast rubble with ashlar exterior dressings, heavy timber, and a bell-tower.

41. Jacaranda Lake Elementaita Lodge

A drop in at Kariandusi Museum and the Church of Goodwill should not omit a visit to Jacaranda Lake Elementaita Lodge, to admire the quintessentially old-world country home architecture and espy the obelisk shaped cairn in honour of its original owner – Galbraith Egerton Cole, son of 4th Earl of Enniskillen. After resigning from army duties serving in the 2nd Boer War in South Africa, Galbraith Cole decided to settle in Kenya, where his sister Lady Florence Anne Cole had married Hugh Cholmondeley, 3rd Baron Delamere (more popular as Lord Delamere), the most influential settler in pre-independent Kenya. In good time, Delamere gifted him with a 30,000-acres ranch adjoining his 100,000-acres Soysambu Farm, on the western side of Lake Elementaita. Cole named it ‘Kekopey’, Maasai equivalent of ‘the place where green turns white’ in reference to the pale soda dust around the lake. In 1917, when he married Lady Eleanor, Daughter of 2nd Earl of Balfour, this brick abode with a generous sun-awning pillared verandah and a pleasant courtyard overlooking Lake Elementaita was almost completed. A century later, its romantic beauty is undeniable. The cairn, erected by Lady Cole in honour of her husband is not far from “the farmhouse”.

42. Lake Elementaita

It may have lost some of its glamour when the flamingos flew and hardly came back but its magic lives on. In 2015, it was named fifth Ramsar Site in the Rift Valley owing to its importance as a birding area: an average of almost 610,000 birds having been counted in the area during the annual census, belonging to more than 450 species of which 80 are waterfowl.  The surface increment of the shallow 13 km2 Lake Elementaita is from the Kekopey, Mereroni, Mbaruk and Kariandusi streams, and like Lake Nakuru it is also fed from the water tables. Evaporation accounts for its high salinity. The flora around the lake is mainly Acacia that hosts multitudes of bird species. It is bounded to the south by the volcanic pile of Eburru and to the north by the Bahati Escarpment. Between Eburru and the Lake are many prominent volcanic cones which form a “pock-marked” rocky wilderness known as the Elementeita “badlands”. These cones stand up as striking features from the plain. The most prominent of these is, of course, the Sleeping Warrior massif. About 2/3 of the shoreline sits within the Soysambu Conservancy and there is an impressive catalog of hotels around the lake. A viewing slip-road off the Gilgil-Nakuru Road for viewing the Lake has been in existence for many years. Lake Elementaita is found 12 kms from Gilgil.

43. The Sleeping Warrior

Humorously awarded the epithet ‘Delamere’s Nose’, a formal appellation given to the high-ranking owner of Soysambu Conservancy where it sits, the Sleeping Warrior volcanic pile, as the name suggests, resembles ‘the face and a body of a reclining human’. On arrival, any skepticism about the profile of the Sleeping Warrior is quickly dispelled. Various interpretations of the particular profile of the figure exist although ‘the sleeping warrior’ is arguably the most convincing. This oddity is part of the broken basalt craters rising from the dry Elementaita alluvium. It can be easily spotted from several resorts around Lake Elementaita and more exceptionally on the camel-tours around the Soysambu Conservancy.

44. Soysambu Conservancy

The 48,000-acres Soysambu Conservancy, hived-off the vast Soysambu Ranch in 2007, aims to conserve the beauty, in perpetuity, for generations to enjoy its sights and sounds. It spreads around most of Lake Elementaita and is loved for its dramatic scenery, its natural geological marvels which include the Sleeping Warrior, Kekopey geysers, and a slew of caves. Other interests: birding, nature walks, horse and camel riding, speleology, game drives, bush-dining and sun-downers. Its cattle and hay farming occupy the grassy plains in the vicinity of Lake Nakuru and Elementeita. Wheat, maize and hay are the main crops grown while coffee thrives in the Solai Valley. In 1905, the 100,000-acres Soysambu Ranch was bought by Lord Delamere, turned base address for his burgeoning agricultural enterprise. He had walked across it during his mind-blowing 1,000 kms trekking odyssey from Somalia to Kenya, in 1896, and found it enchanting.

Delamere arrived in Kenya on foot after a 1000 mile walk from Somalia – and fell for the country. He returned to settle in 1903 with his first wife Lady Florence, daughter of the Earl of Enniskillen, and their son Thomas, who was born in 1900. Their initial home was at Njoro, but in 1906- after suffering heavy losses of livestock and money – they moved most of their livestock to the Soysambu Ranch.

45. Heaven’s Gate Prayer Mountain

Heavens’s Gate Prayer Mountain, not related to Hell’s Gate National Park, is a singular touring attraction, just outside L. Elementaita a top a hill overlooking it. It is a well-thought complex of buildings and outdoor spaces which offer luxurious comfort for Christians who love fasting and praying. The outstanding feature of ‘Heaven’s Gate’ is its serenity and pleasing panorama. “Complete with beautiful lawns, guest houses, a hall for prayers, watch towers and the beautiful landscaping, the place is like a magnet to pilgrims in search of a calm spot to pray or fast” – Daily Nation. The road up to the ‘Prayer Mountain’ is fairly good.

46. Lemon Valley Farm

If all the resorts and lodges around Lake Elementaita were not sufficient, the appeal of this budget-friendly bush and camp holiday foxhole is capped by the stunning scenery of the lake. Within the vantage of the Kasambara Hill, 4 kms from the A104 Gilgil-Nakuru Road, guests can enjoy splendid vistas, take walks through the countryside, take horseback rides or take a self drive through the farm. The best way to spend an afternoon at the Lemon Farm is enjoying a dip in the swimming pool overlooking the valley and outwith to Lake Elementaita. It offers unique and elegant accommodation in shabby chic style which blends into the farm surroundings without sacrificing comfort – ranging from single bed cabins to a 20-beds hostel-style cabin. The Frog and Toad Canteen is the epicentre of Lemon Valley where guests enjoy a range of exquisitely prepared intercontinental dishes, all with a local twist. To get there, take the turnoff into Lake Elementaita Serena Camp and drive for 4 kms (on an all-weather road) towards the hill following directional signs to Lemon Valley Farm Estate. For more details, get in touch at: or, 0778 915 880.

47. Hyrax Hill Museum

North of Lake Nakuru National Park, shortly before arriving at Nakuru Town nearby Shree Jalaram Aradhana Temple, sits the Hyrax Hill Museum, a former farmhouse containing an interesting display of stone age utensils and tools. It is named after the hyraxes living in cracks within its hill. It was established, in 1943, to depict the lifestyle of seasonal settlement by prehistoric people at least 3,000 years old. The compact museum exhibits the artefacts excavated from the Hyrax Hill archaeological site and from other sites in the Central Rift Valley. For nature lovers, a day at the Hyrax Hill overlooking Lake Nakuru is one of the finest viewpoints provided the weather is good. Other areas of interest include the Sirikwa Holes, the nature trail and picnic site, and camping ground. Hyrax Hill Museum is located 4 kms from Nakuru Town along Nakuru-Nairobi Road.

48. Bomas of Nakuru

Akin to its opposite-number in Nairobi, Bomas of Nakuru is an expo of cultures and heritage of diverse Kenyan communities. In fact, the facility is a replica of the Bomas of Kenya, a popular site in the outskirts of Nairobi City near Nairobi National Museum, which displays communities traditional villages with the aim of preserving and promoting the rich and varied cultural core of Kenyan tribes. At Bomas of Nakuru are to be found, in traditional artefacts, houses and diverse mementos, the cultural heritage of Kalenjin, Kamba, Luhya, Mijikenda, Luo, Teso, Embu, Kisii, Kikuyu and Masai communities. “Traditional tools including horns for communication, gourds, grinding stones, traditional stools and pre-colonial identifications and money are all displayed at the facility”. It also has: a well-tended flower gardens and gorgeous botanical gardens with more than 22 indigenous and medicinal trees adorning the beautiful expansive lawn; a reptile and bird pen; and a restaurant serving nyama choma. It is located 27 kms from Nakuru Town along the B5 Nakuru-Nyahururu-Nyeri Road at the Berea Village.

49. Mariam National Shrine

A 30 kms drive from Lake Elementaita brings one to the junction of B5 Nakuru-Nyahururu-Nyeri Road, just 2 kms before arriving at Nakuru Town. Along this route the views are quite breathtaking. Near Subukia Town, the steep slope falls away into the valley and in the distance rises an embracing belt of green county. At the base of the valley, astride Subukia Town, is the Village of Mary Mother of God, where the Mariam National Shrine is situated. Many who visit this place know it as the Subukia National Shrine. Gazetted in 2010 as a National Shrine, for its distinguished values in spiritual nourishment, it attracts pilgrims and trippers from far and wide. Christened Mary Mother God Chapel, its small but iconic Church set at the foot of a scenic hillside has been an extoled sanctum for devotion and meditation for many decades. Higher up the hill is the ‘Statue of Our Lady’ – the miraculous-spring of water, and also the Crown of Mary Shrine.

Spatial Location of the Church at Subukia Shrine in Nakuru County
Spatial Location of the Church at Subukia Shrine in Nakuru County

50. The Subukia Valley

End to end, the 11 kms drive along the winding road across the Subukia Valley – trending north-west to south-east – is one of exceptional and engrossing views. Also dubbed as the Bahati-Subukia Horst, the valley is considered an outlying spur of the Rift Valley’s eastern wall, both from a tectonic viewpoint and from the nature of its component rocks coinciding with part of the main eastern wall of the Rift Valley. By the same token, it is a result of major faulting, originating the Rift Valley, which caused the enormous displacement along the escarpment. The actual faults are mostly obscured by later eruptions and faults that include the Subukia earth quake of 1928 measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale, that is the largest recorded seismic event in the Kenya rift; and rather unorthodox to the cast of Rift Valley’s character in which large earthquakes are rarely anticipated.

51. Nakuru North Cemetery

The Nakuru North Cemetery is situated just outside the main Nakuru Town, nearby Nakuru War Memorial Hospital and the ASK Nakuru Showground. Just before entering Nakuru Town (if approaching from Nairobi) and about 500 ms ahead of the first roundabout, take the right turn into B4 Nakuru-Sigor Road indicated by the direction sign just before the railway bridge. This road curves around behind railway housing until it reaches the cemetery. The entrance to the large civil cemetery is indicated by a direction sign, and the war graves will be found mostly within, or close to, the two main burial plots on the southern side of the cemetery. Most of the First World War burials in Nakuru North Cemetery date from November 1918 and were made from the convalescent camps at Nakuru. “During the Second World War there was a Royal Air Force Flying Training School at Nakuru and various camps and establishments in and near the town. These included an OCTU at Njoro and another at Londiani. The cemetery now contains 27 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 45 from the Second World War. There are also two non-war burials found in the cemetery”. Nakuru North Cemetery is open daily between 06:00 and 18:00.

52. Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park is on account of its beauty, diversity and popularity the upcountry counterpart of Nairobi National Park. At 188 km2 – enclosing the lake bed and the 60 km2 surrounding riparian – it’s a fairly small park but far important than its size suggests. The Lake itself, 45 km2 at 5,776 ft. lying in a graben bound by the Lion Hill and the Mau Escarpment, is one of the world’s great attraction for ornithologists. Its parkway runs through the lush woodland before emerging at the lakeshore marked by a shimmering pink band, about 20 yards wide. It is the epic line made by hundreds of thousands of flamingos. And these are by no means all. More than 300 other species have been classified in the park, all which combine to make a unique and gratifying birding experience.

Lake Nakuru is a shallow pan which never fills to a depth of more than a few feet. The lake is a little deeper at the “Hippo Pools” at the north-eastern corner allowing the precarious survival of a small hippo population. The water is saline in the extreme, due to the rapid evaporation of the shallow water body. In fact, “there have been prolonged periods in this century when it contained little if any water at all. The whole of the alkaline lake bed was exposed to the sun and formed a blindingly white expanse. Daily, for months on end, this was swept by strong southerly winds which picked up the dust and drove it as a dense white soda smog across Nakuru Town and right up the Rift towards Solai”. There are three useful observation points – Lion hill, Baboon cliff and Out of Africa hill – overlooking the lake. They offer lovely scenery and game viewing opportunities.

To enjoy its wide ranging beauty and ecological diversity – from its lake, forests, marshlands, open grassland, its cliffs and bush habitat, with over 70 mammal species and 300 bird species – trippers can choose to camp at one of thirteen camping sites operated by Kenya Wildlife Service, or, for a touch of class and luxury, stay at the Sarova Lion Hill Lodge or at Lake Nakuru Lodge. The latter, located at the south-eastern corner of the lake offers accommodation for 120 in family rooms, cottages or suites. Park entry fees: Citizens – Sh. 800, Residents – Shs. 1030 and Non-Residents – USD 60. The most common route into the park is via the main gate, 4 km from Nakuru Town Centre. It is also possible to enter the park from the main Nairobi-Nakuru road via Lanet Gate. The Nderit Gate is used by trippers accessing the park from Masai Mara or L. Elementaita.

53. Makalia Falls

Makalia Falls, in the extreme southend area of Lake Nakuru National Park, also offers good sightseeing, and can be accessed 30 kms from the main gate along the motorable parkways. Makalia Campsite, with a capacity of 300 people and overlooking the Kiwi Plains, is a great launching point for adventure-makers to this park. Especially worth a visit soon after the rains – in May and December – Makalia Falls has a drop of about 10 m off a sheer cliff and a large plunge pool. For day-visitors to the Lake Nakuru National Park, a visit to Makalia Falls can be easily combined with visit to the three of its great viewing points: Lion hill, Baboon cliff and Out of Africa hill. Well-known as a rewarding birding locale, there’s a good chance to sight around the falls the Southern Ground Hornbill, Slender-billed Starlin, Horus Swift, Plain Martin and the White-fronted Bee-eater. In the woodlands at the opposite corner of the park, there is also a good possibility of sighting rare birds like Black Cuckoo, the Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Broad-billed Roller, Nubian Woodpecker, Scimitarbill, and Stripped Kingfisher.

54. Menengai Crater

On a long day out in Nakuru you can combine visits to Lake Nakuru National Park, Hyrax Hill Museum and Menengai Crater. The latter, north of Nakuru, can be accessed from either east or west. In the former case access is from the Nyahururu-Nakuru Road and in the second from Nakuru-Kabarak-Sigor Road. Either way, a visit here brings one to a site of romantic beauty. The views, once you reach the rim of the caldera, are well worth the effort. The highest ground is situated to the south and north-west of the caldera – an immense pit 56 km2 in extent which is bounded by an almost vertical wall only absent in a few short sectors of the caldera’s perimeter. To the south, the volcanic pile of Menengai rises, the country becoming less broken as the caldera is approached and the fault scarps gradually die out. The caldera floor itself is filled with a confusion of slaggy bouldery lava flows and cinder cones piled up to form a central eminence at 6,858 feet. Menegai Crater is East Africa’s second widest following the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. The slopes of Menengai are in general fairly gentle, and while most people come to enjoy the sight from the viewing point, a select band of plucky hikers, every now and then, attempt the arduous walk down to the cauldron’s floor. Menengai is located 10 kms north of Nakuru.

55. Lord Egerton’s Castle

As you leave Nakuru westerly heading on Nakuru-Uganda Road, the flat terrain of the valley gives way to the forested sloped of the Mau Escarpment which are a haunt of beauty and variety. Just 7 kms from Nakuru Town the turnoff to the farmland area of Njoro is reached. 6 kms later at the small centre of Ngata the turnoff to Lord Egerton Castle is reached; located 3 kms from here. Set on 100-acres, this architectural colossus, built between 1952 and 54, still appears larger than life six decades later. The grandeur and extent of this 53-rooms castle is so far-removed from its surrounding rural countryside that on arrival it evokes in equal parts awe and shock. As the story tells, Lord Egerton (Maurice Egerton, 4th Baron Egerton) had raised this castle to impress his fiance, but, she was not impressed!, and declined the offer to live in it. Earning it its famous nickname as “the place where the suitor missed the target”, or again, “the castle without a princess”. Bizarrely, despite its air of melancholy and heartbreak, Lord Egerton Castle is a popular wedding destination. Just the same, it has a romantic milieu.

Spatial Location of Lord Egerton Castle at Ngata in Nakuru County
Spatial Location of Lord Egerton Castle at Ngata in Nakuru County

56. River Njoro Caves

An essential part to remember is that Njoro is in the Rift Valley, so volcanicity is an important element in its physical geography. It does means the soils derived from volcanic rocks are rife for farming. Njoro is situated at the western edge of the floor of the Rift, at the very base of Mau Escarpment. At Njoro, the topping height of the contour lines rises rapidly towards the escarpment from 7000 ft to 8100 ft (2140 ms to 2440 ms) over a distance of 8 kms. As such, this part of the valley is much higher, wetter and cooler than parts further north and south and, in the same way, the greater part of Njoro area is farmed; agriculture and stock farming being often carried out side by side. The greater part of the agricultural farmlands, chiefly wheat and barley, is farmed on the higher ground near Molo and Elburgon. Hidden within the boonies of Njoro, at Njokerio Village, are the little-travelled Njoro Caves, a traditional pilgrimage shrine that was thrust into the limelight in 1938 when Dr L.S.B. Leakey excavated a vast prehistoric burial shrine dated back to 850 B.C. They offer rare insight on the connection between traditional religion and science. There is also a tiny waterfalls near Njoro Caves.

57. Kenana Farm

Established in 1963, the 345-hectares Kenana Farm (10 kms north of Njoro) is one two major sizeable in the Njoro-Elburgon area, in company with Menengai Farm. The latter is situated about 15 kms northeast of Kenana and is reached along the Njoro-Elburgon-Molo Road. They are not completely separate farms since they are both operated by one family. Kenana Farm is located in an area of loam soil and particularizes in crop growing and dairying, while Menegai Farm is located on unmixed volcanic ash and specialized in beef production. At Kenana, the primary cash crop grown is wheat which covers about 81-hectares, and another 28-hectares are under maize. Although both crops and animal products are sold, it is the profit obtained from the animals that is important. In the spirit of community empowerment, Kenana Knitters was begun in 1998, “to help rural women find some much needed form of income using their spinning and knitting skills. It was founded on the aim of changing lives stitch by stitch.” Now a full-blown company, deserving of a visit by trippers to Nakuru County, it produces an impressive catalog of knitted items. “Each distinctive design is a hand-crafted Kenyan creation and bears the signature of the woman who made it”. Moreover, it not only provides fair wages but regular steady employment. It has created a space where the women are able to take charge of their own lives and build a brighter future for themselves and their families. Kenana Knitters now employ over 200 knitters, 250 wool spinners and many other individuals who help dye, pack, sort and develop the woolen toys and garments they keenly produce. They recently branched into organic cotton farming in collaboration with a second womens’ group in Uganda. It is located 10 kms from Njoro Town.

58. Kembu Farm

Midway between Njoro and Elburgon (nearby Kenana Knitters), at the base of Mau Escarpment sits the pretty Kembu Farm, more popular as Kembu Cottages and Campsite. Beautiful woodland, therefore, dominates part of the landscape of this area, which is an added extra since the world of savannah is surpassing. Because of this, Kembu Farm offers a unique experience of the Rift Valley. Run by the Nightingales Family, it offers a most impressive range of unique cottages, to include, Beryl’s Cottage. It was the childhood home of the feted aviator Beryl Markham. This quaint wooden home, originally built in 1914, was relocated and restored for its centenary as a live-in shrine to the icon. It consists of a double bedroom, a twin bedroom with an open plan lounge with fireplace, kitchen and dining room. A lovely verandah overlooks stunning views of the Rift. Another sumptuous Cottage is the Powys Cobb, a converted hardwood railway carriage jazzed-up with electricity, a bathroom and a covered cooking and picnic section.

Beryl Markham (26 October 1902 – 3 August 1986) was a British-born Kenyan aviator, adventurer, racehorse trainer and author. She was the first person to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic from east to west. She wrote about her ventures in her memoir, West with the Night – Wikipedia.

59. Remembrance Church

“With its 45-foot-tall square tower, high-pitched roof, arched windows and weather-beaten appearance, the yellow-grey stone Church of Remembrance could fool casual observers into thinking it dates back to Norman times. Except that the Normans never went to Mau Narok, the town 9,000 ft. above sea level on the western edge of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya that the church looks down on” – John Aglionby. Redolent of the ACK All Saints Church in Limuru, the ACK Remembrance Church adopt an almost mirror-like ‘classical Victorian architectural style’. The easy-on-the-eye edifice completed in the early 1960’s was raised in honour of Edward Powys Cobb, memorialized as “an amazing pioneer and a man of great vision”. He arrived in Kenya in 1909 and settled at then 30,000-acres Keringet Farm in Mau Narok, an estate he named after the Keringet River flowing nearby. It is found in Mau Narok, 31 kms south of Njoro.

60. Mau Escarpment

Mau Escarpment forms the western wall of the Rift Valley in the Naivasha area. It is composed largely of soft volcanic ashes and tuffs with only rare outcrops of agglomerate and lavas. Parts of the escarpment rise to over 10,000 feet (3,050 metres) in the region west of the Eburru volcanic pile, which is linked to the escarpment by a ridge standing about 8,500 feet above sea-level caused by the pilling up of pyroclastics from Eburru against it. The ridge, like the escarpment, is deeply incised by vast water-courses. The slopes of the Mau escarpment are heavily forested as well as portions of the highest parts. On the western dipping slopes the forests open out into grassy glades in the lower reaches, and on the lower ground the forest is largely confined to the valleys. The 11 kms ascend of the Mau Escarpment is scenically-flick with the views of Lake Nakuru and the savanna-dotted plains disappearing in the background. Mau Escarpment which averages an altitude of 2,400 ms (above sea level) is very important as most of its forests are located herein. The Mau fault scarp runs along the western end of Kenya’s Rift Valley. The Mau reaches approximately 3,000 ms at the summit.

61. The Deloraine House

As it were then “if you had enough money, Kenya was a very pleasant place to wait out World War II. The conflict’s horrors appeared very far away from this rural and unpeopled savanna”.  The ‘settlers’ of upper-crust English expatriates had little-to-do but enjoy life. The “Happy Valley Set”, as they would later be famed, offers us a sincere lesson in the life and times of that era. Although there are mind-blowing mansions to choose from, that exude the ‘decadent lifestyle’ of Nakuru and its environs, few can top the grandeur and splendor of the lofty and magnolias Deloraine House, build in 1920 by Lord Francis Scott. The main house consists of just five elegant bedrooms, while an adjacent cottage offers an additional three en-suite rooms. This charming colonial abode is surrounded by fine matured gardens and horse stables which house about 80 horses, croquet lawns, polo grounds, tennis courts, and 5,000 acres of undulating countryside. It is found 43 kms from Nakuru, taking a turnoff into Rongai just before Salgaa.

Deloraine House, Nakuru. Published by Offbeat Adventures

62. Mau Forest Reserve

On any given day, hundreds of people descend on the Mau Forest Reserve in search of its riches. In recent times, some have found themselves permanently attached to the forest, even living in it, in line for a salutory supply of its stocks. Off to one side, the Mau Forest Reserve supports the livelihoods of millions of people in Rift Valley and Western Kenya. In the tea sector alone, about 35,000 jobs and the livelihoods of 50,000 small farmers, along with 430,000 indirect beneficiaries from its ecological services. It also forms the upper catchments of 12 main rivers that drain into 5 major lakes (Baringo, Nakuru, Natron, Turkana and Victoria) and supplies the Masai Mara National Reserve. The landscape of the Mau Reserve – the largest closed‐canopy forest in Kenya and the largest of the country’s 5 watersheds – is eminently salubrious, yet, in reality, it is a pain to come within doors of the Mau Forest Reserve without putting nature on one side and civilization on the other side. A symbolic relationship that answer to the frantic deterioration of the Mau, where some 1077 km2 representing 25% of the forest has been depleted in the past 15 years. In 2001, 61 km2 was converted to settlements. One is capacity, another is increased pressure on land for tillage.

63. Masaita Forest

At Masaita, 4 kms from the B1 Kericho-Kisumu Road en route Londiani, stand in the rural monastic setting enclosed by pretty hills the Masaita Forest Station, and home to the Kenya Forestry College. The place is conducive for study and research, and with the beautiful mountainous scenery rather pleasant for site-seeing, camping, mountaineering, bird-watching and other game and general recreation in a cool forest biome. Masaita Forest Station is part of West Mau Forest Complex with an area of 41 km2, and its forest block was formally part of the Londiani Forest which was gazetted as Forest Reserves in 1962. In 1972, the Masaita Forest Block was handed over to the Kenya Forest College (KFC) so as to be under one administration. Today, it’s used for technical training of Forest Managers and for testing of new forest practices for the benefit of Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Kenya Forestry College (KFC) itself.  The stocked sections of the Masaita Forest comprises substantially of Cypress, Pine and Eucalyptus as major commercial planting tree species that constitute 82%. It is a major source of Kipchorian River and its tributaries.  Masaita Forest also is home to fine flora and fauna. It harbours Colobus monkeys, rare moths, wild hare, some species of antelope, wild pigs, porcupine, ant-bears, squirrel and bushbucks, among more.

Lord Egerton's castle still looks ominous in its strength 60 years later.  Photo Courtesy
Lord Egerton’s Castle. Image Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Geography of Nakuru County

The foremost topographic features in Nakuru County are the Mau Escarpment covering the Western part of the county, the Rift Valley floor, Ol Doinyo Eburru Volcano, Akira Plains, Menengai Crater, its elaborate drainage and relief system and the various inland lakes set on the floor of the Rift Valley – where nearly all the permanent rivers and streams in the county drain into. These rivers include: Njoro and Makalia which drain into Lake Nakuru; Malewa which drains into Lake Naivasha; and Molo River draining into Lake Baringo. These topographic features are an interesting niche for scientific research, as well as, great touring destinations. The most predominant is the Hell’s Gate Park, in Naivasha, which is a sought-after touring area. The land topography in Naivasha and Gilgil Sub-Counties is typified by varied precipitous ranges and open savannah vegetation.

Land Use in Nakuru County

The proportion of households which have title deeds around the County is low, a higher proportion of the non-poor compared to the poor own title deeds. The numbers of parcels held by the poor stands at 1,565 while those of the non-poor stands at 6,944, and 1,565 parcels operated by the poor have no title deed.  This situation is partly fueled partly by historical land injustices, land grabbing and a great influx of unskilled and semi-skilled job seekers from rural areas to the townships. Of these, about 100,000 households thrive in informal settlements.

Highlights of Nakuru County

Nakuru County has three National Parks – Mt. Longonot National Park, Hell’s Gate National Park and Lake Nakuru National Park. Into that bargain, the hot springs at OlKaria, in Hell’s Gate, are an important source of geothermal power that serves not only the county but also provides power supply to the national grid. Further explorations are underway at Menengai Crater and at Ol Doinyo Eburru with a view to generating more electricity. Nakuru County is estimated to have about 220 tourism-rated hotels with a capacity of 12,000 beds. Tourism is the most important sector in the growth and development of Nakuru County.

Population of Nakuru County

Nakuru County’s population projection in 2012 was estimated to be 1,756,950, comprising of 881,674 male and 875,276 females, with a population density of 234 people/km2. With a county population growth rate of 3.05% per annum, its population was projected to increase further to 2,046,395 in 2017 assuming constant mortality and fertility. Nakuru County’s population is predominantly youthful with about 51.87% aged below 20 years and about 71.63% of the total population aged below 30 years. The labour force was estimated at 968,745 in 2012 comprising 484,378 males and 484,366 females. About 62% of the total population lives in the rural areas. The rate of unemployment is about 24.52%.

View of the self-catering Kiira House within the Kedong Ranch.  Photo Courtesy of Trip Advisor
Kiira House within the Kedong Ranch. Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor

Airports in Nakuru County

Nakuru County has two major airstrips, at Naivasha and Nakuru.

Roads in Nakuru County

Nairobi County has about 912 kms of roads under bitumen surface, 1,110 kms are under gravel surface and 2,326 kms of earth surface roads. Nairobi-Uganda Road runs across the county, promoting cross-border interconnections within the three East African countries. Nakuru County has a quality network of roads.

Climate in Nakuru County

Temperatures in Nakuru County range from a high of 29 Degrees C between the months of December to part of early March to low temperatures of up to 12 C during the month of June and July. Molo and Kuresoi are are relatively cooler while Naivasha, Gilgil and parts of Rongai experience comparably hot weather.

Nakuru County Distance Chart
Nakuru County Distance Chart

Aerial view of the Olkaria Geothermal Spa in Hell's Gate National Park.  Photo Courtesy
Olkaria Geothermal Spa in Hell’s Gate National Park. Image Courtesy

National Monuments in Nakuru County

  1. Lord Egerton’s Castle
  2. Hyrax Hill Museum
  3. Kariandusi Museum
  4. The Kilombe Site
  5. Lanet Prehistoric Site

Nakuru County Map

Nakuru County Map