Naivasha, lake, in the eastern arm of the East African Rift System, 35 mi (56 km) southeast of Nakuru, Kenya. It is flanked by the Ilkinopop (Kinangop) Plateau (east) and the Mau Escarpment (west). The lake lies on an alluvium-covered flat in the valley floor and is flanked on the north by an extensive papyrus swamp.
It is the highest of the lakes in the eastern part of the rift system, and is situated at 6,180 feet (1,884 m) above sea level. Its level and size fluctuate periodically; in the mid-1970s it covered about 81 square miles (210 square km). Its main tributaries are the Engare Melewa and Gilgil rivers.
Although it has no outlet, the lake’s waters are fresh. Several species of Tilapia and black bass (introduced) are the basis of commercial and sport fishing. Bird-watching is also popular. Lake Naivasha serves as a weekend resort for residents of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to the southeast
Hell’s Gate National Park
It’s one of the smallest National Parks in Kenya, but its unusual features and charm compensate for what it lacks in size. It covers an area of 68.25 square km and is situated in the environs of Lake Naivasha about 90km from Nairobi. The park is 14 km after the turnoff of the old Nairobi- Naivasha highway.
It is characterized by diverse topography and geological scenery. The towering cliffs, water formed gorges, a variety of wild animals (such as African Buffalos, Zebras, Elands and Thomson’s Gazelles), over 100 bird species including Vultures, Verreaux’s eagles, Augur buzzards and unique flora give this park an almost magical feel.
The park is also home to Olkaria Geothermal Power Station, the first productive geothermal installation in Africa.
Hell’s Gate has two gates – the main Elsa Gate and the Olkaria which serves the Olkaria Geothermal Station. Hell’s gate can be visited for hiking and cycling throughout the year, but wildlife viewing is best in dry months from June to October when the grass is short.
Activities include: Hiking through Hell’s gate Gorge, cycling tour of the park, Game viewing, Bird watching, Rock climbing, optional visit to the Geothermal Power Station and optional picnic or hot lunch.
Crescent Island Game Sanctuary
Inside Kenya’s Great Rift Valley lies Crescent Island Game Sanctuary, Naivasha’s best kept secret. Here, wildlife lives in relative peace and tranquility, a heaven and haven for herbivores, as there are no carnivores chasing after them.
With a higher population of animals than many other parks in the country, Crescent is an ideal spot to walk among the habituated herbivore wildlife. The island, in the shape of a crescent, can be accessed by boat or road. The area is unfenced and wildlife from the mainland freely goes in and out.
Although still referred to as an island, the sanctuary was created in 1988, when the island became a peninsula.
On Crescent Island, game viewing is pretty easy. You can spot a variety of animals from giraffes, elands, wildebeest, zebras, impalas, etc. There are also several avian species and aquatic habitat. The Lake is home to lots of hippos which can be spotted easily from the island. Some of the birdlife residents at the Crescent Island are the fish eagle, herons, ospreys, black crakes, and lily-trotters.
A good number of herbivores and mammals can be found grazing the surrounding areas of the lake. Some of the grazers include zebras, impala, buffalo, kongoni, giraffe and hippos at night. At Crescent island, you can see giraffes and other wildlife up close or simply set up a picnic and relax. There are no predators to intimidate or prey on them so they live freely. In addition to the walking safari experience, there are guided boat rides that let you see an assortment of birdlife from pelicans, cranes and smaller brightly colored birds on the banks.