Lake Elementaita is derived from the Maasai word Muteita, meaning ‘dust place’, a reference to the dryness and dustiness of the area. It is set within the Eastern portion of the Rift valley in between lake Naivasha and Nakuru along Nairobi – Nakuru highway. Lake Elementaita was designated an Important Bird Area in 1999 by Birdlife International and a Ramsar Site in 2005 by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, an intergovernmental treaty that pushes for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was named a World Heritage Site in 2011 by Unesco World Heritage Centre.
Lake Elementaita boasts as the most critical breeding ground for the Great White Pelicans, and has over 450 species of birds. It is also a haven to thousands of both greater and lesser flamingoes who flock during favorable conditions. Pelicans often breed in large colonies of 40,000 to 50,000 pairs. Nests are usually just a rough pile of twigs on the ground. Two eggs are laid, which both parents keep warm by taking turns to rest them on their feet. After 29-36 days, the eggs hatch into bald, helpless chicks which the parents feed from a special liquid that runs down their beaks. The chicks are able to fly when they are 10 to 12 weeks old. The presence of spirulina algae in the lake are also of international scientific value, and provide critical support to birds, which visit the lake in large numbers as part of their migration in response to seasonal and episodic changes in the environment. Breeding is high during the wet season as the water levels of the Lake are high and rocky outcrops in the eastern sector are flooded to form islets which are ideal for safe nesting.
Parts of Lake Elementaita are largely fresh water that has entered through rivers like River Mbaruk and springs while other parts are alkaline like the other Rift Valley lakes. Great white pelicans spend a great deal of their time in the water. They usually choose large, freshwater lakes that have small islands that can be used as safe places to nest in thus the reason for the large number of pelicans on the lake.
Although the lake region has fewer mammalian species than other areas in East Africa, more than 15,000 animals roam the conservancy property. You may see Rothschild giraffes among the acacia trees removing tender leaves from branches while adeptly avoiding the treacherous thorns. Many species of plains game are commonly sighted, and you may have a fortuitous experience of sighting steenboks, duikers, bush pigs, bushbucks and also other elusive fauna. Lake Elementaita is also home to the tufted-eared caracal, golden and striped jackals and other smaller predators.