Mountains and Lakes

Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Amboseli

Mountains and Lakes – Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Amboseli.

Fish eagle

Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru National Park (188 km², 73mi²), created in 1961 around Lake Nakuru, near Nakuru Town. It is best known for its thousands of flamingos gathering along the shores. The edge of the shallow lake is often hardly recognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. The number of flamingos on the lake varies with water and food conditions and the best vantage point is from Baboon Cliff . Also of interest is an area of 188 km around the lake fenced off as a sanctuary to protect Rothschild giraffes, Black rhinos and White rhinos. The park now (2009) has more than 25 black rhinoceros, one of the largest concentrations in the country, plus around 70 white rhinos. There are also a number of Rothschild’s giraffe, again translocated for safety from western Kenya beginning in 1977. Waterbuck are very common and both the Kenyan species are found here. Among the predators are lion and leopard, the latter being seen much more frequently in recent times, in fact Lake Nakuru has one of the largest densities of leopards in the whole of Kenya. The park is also very good for hyenahs, they can sometimes be seen hunting flamingos early in the morning along the lake shore. As well as flamingos, there are lots of other bird species that inhabit the lake and the area surrounding it, such as African fish eagle, goliath heron, hamerkop, pied kingfisher and Verreaux eagle.

Why I love Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru is often only viewed as a stopover on many safari itineries. However I have spent longer periods of time here and have always been rewarded. I have seen hyenah hunting gazelle, marabou storks hunting flamingos, tree climbing lions, Leopard with 2 cubs, numerous black and white rhino, the list is very long. Add to this the spectacular scenery of the large Yellow Fever Trees (acacia xanthophloea) and the beautiful thick woodland that surrounds parts of the lake then you have a photographic paradise. The birds here are amazing with thousands of flamingos and pelicans which you can walk towards on the lake shore and get some spectacular images of them splashing around.

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is a beautiful freshwater lake, fringed by thick papyrus. The lake is almost 13kms across, but its waters are shallow with an average depth of five metres. Lake area varies greatly according to rainfall, with an average range between 114 and 991 sq kms. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Naivasha completely dried up and effectively disappeared. The resulting open land was farmed, until heavy rains a few years later caused the lake to return to existence, swallowing up the newly established estates. Afternoon wind and storms can cause the Lake to become suddenly rough and produce high waves. For this reason, the local Maasai christened the lake Nai’posha meaning ”rough water”, which the British later misspelt as Naivasha.. The lake and its surrounds are rich in natural bounty, and the fertile soils and water supply have made this one of Kenya’s prime agricultural regions. Much of the lake is surrounded by forests of the yellow barked Acacia Xanthophlea, known as the yellow fever tree. These forests abound with bird life, and Naivasha is known as a world class birding destination. Highlights include the African Fish Eagle, which you can sometimes see swooping to catch fish, various kingfisher species including Pied and Malachite and various heron species including Goliath and Purple. The waters of the lake draw a great range of wildlife to these shores. Giraffes wander among the acacia, Buffalo wallow in the swamps and Colobus monkeys call from the treetops while the Lakes large hippo population sleep the day out in the shallows. The lucky observer can sometimes see Otters swimming through the reeds.

Why I love love Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is sometimes missed out as a wildlife destination, but a couple of hours out on the lake in a boat can reward you with some fantastic images. I have photographed Fish Eagles on several occasions here with them often swooping down close to the boat after fish. The hippos are usually quite active near the boats and its possible to get good eye level images. I’ve also photographed Otters and several different water birds. Its relaxing, peaceful and quiet out on the boat with some incredible wildlife. A perfect way to spend a couple of hours. Around the lake shore, if you look up in to the tree tops you can sometimes see Colobus Monkeys, on occasions they do venture down to the ground and great images can be captured of these intriguing monkeys.

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park is located in Loitoktok District, Rift Valley Province of Kenya and it covers an area of 3,810 square kilometres in southern Kenya. The ecosystem mainly savannah grassland spread across the Kenya-Tanzania border. The park is famous for being the best place in Africa to get close to free-ranging elephants. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, Maasai giraffes and buffalos are some of the big game you may see on a game drive. Plains game is prolific and includes Burchells’ zebra, eland, Coke’s hartebeest, white-bearded wildebeest, common waterbuck, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle and impala. Smaller mammals always in evidence include black-faced vervet monkeys and yellow baboon, black backed jackals and the extremely numerous spotted hyenahs. Other attractions of the park include opportunities to meet the Maasai and spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro. There are five main wildlife habitats, plus a generally dry lake-bed – Lake Amboseli – from which the park takes its name. Habitats range from open plains to stands of fever trees, thick thorn-bush and swamps and marshes. All support good wildlife densities. Bird life is abundant, especially in the vicinity of the swamps and lakes where you can see a large variety of water birds. There are pelicans, kingfishers, crakes, jacanas, egrets, hammerkops and the rare Madagascar squacco heron can sometimes be seen. So far, 47 raptors have been identified, including the rare taita falcon and southern banded harrier eagle.

Why I love Amboseli

Amboseli provides the perfect backdrop for wildlife photography with Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro providing a focal point that fills the horizon. Its a fun safari exercise to see how many different animals you can photograph in front of the mountain (my record is 7), the sunrises in Amboseli are spectacular, the elephants are massive with huge tusks, the landscapes are vast and interesting from desert to swamps. Add in to this the fact that Amboseli is a fantastic destination for lions (the maneless variety are found here) and hyenas then you really so have enough to keep your camera going for a few days. I’ve been lucky to see Elephants fighting here, hyenas with young, vervet monkeys fighting on the road, a pride of 14 lions sat out in the open with the palm trees as a backdrop, and a caracal walking in the open for nearly an hour. Some great memories.

The Photographic Tour

I will be leading various small group (maximum 8 people) Photographic Tours throughout 2016. Join me on a scheduled departure, or contact me for a privately guided tailor-made tour. Or if you prefer to travel independently with one of our very knowledgeable guides then also get in touch. With Touch the Wild we will travel in landcruisers, with pop up roofs and   wind down windows for easy photographic opportunities. I will split my   time between vehicles to advise and help with any photographic needs.

The itinerary for this trip is as follows:

Day 1

Pick up from Nairobi Serena Hotel. (Please note that Serena will be included in the cost of your trip for the nights at the beginning and the end of   the safari) Additional nights can be booked if required. We will have a morning briefing in the Serena Hotel and then will start our drive   South to Amboseli. We will drive through several small villages and towns and through some lovely scenic parts of Kenya. We will do a short drive in Amboseli enroute to Serena Lodge. Dinner and Overnight Serena Lodge.

Day 2 – 4

After  an early breakfast we will set out to explore Amboseli. We will try to cover as much of Amboseli as we can, splitting our time from the dry  lakes, open planes and the swamp area. We will aim to get the key images of the maneless lions, Mount Killimanjaro, Mount Killimanjaro with   elephants and then see what other delights we can find. Generally we will rise early to make the most of the coolest time of day, when the   predators are at their most active, we will stay out for as long as we need, looking for all of the key species that we have come here to   photograph, then we will return to our lodge where there will be time to rest and relax following lunch, when the sun is at its highest and   relatively little wildlife is stirring.  Heading out once again in the mid to late afternoon, we have an opportunity to see the day’s other period of transition as the sun drops and nocturnal species start to emerge. It’s at this time that most predators start to become active again rising after relaxing in the shade. We can be flexible with   the above itinerary and can go out before breakfast and return for a late breakfast and stay in the lodge until after lunch. Or if the   sightings are good and the group want to we can leave after an early breakfast and spend full days in the reserve with a packed lunch, we will review and discuss this as a group daily and can make arrangements to suit everyones needs. Dinner and Overnight at Serena Lodge.

Day 5.

After an early breakfast we will pack and leave Amboseli for our drive back to Nairobi. We will stop at intervals on the way to break up the journey. We will arrive at Serena mid afternoon. Dinner and Overnight Serena.

Day 6.

After a later breakfast we will leave for our drive North to Lake Nakuru. We will aim to arrive for early afternoon and will have lunch at the park  gate. We will enter Lake Nakuru after lunch and will drive straight down to the lake shore. We will try to see flamingos and pelicans on the lake and capture images of these beautiful birds. We will then take a drive around part of the lake looking for rhinos and buffallo on the   lake shore. We will then drive towards our lodge. Our home for tonight and tomorrow will be Sarova Lion Hill.

Day 7.

After an early breakfast we will drive in to the park. We will be focusing on the predators for the first few hours and will be looking particularly for hyena along the lake shore, leopards in the thick wooded areas and lions around the thickets surrounding the lake. We will then drive to the baboon cliff lookout point and capture some spectacular landscape   images from the top. We will then spend the day exploring Lake Nakuru and the surrounding areas, we will be looking for Black and White rhino, Rothschilds Giraffe and both species of Waterbuck found here. We will have lunch at the lodge and will spend the afternoon searching for any species we haven’t already seen. Dinner and Overnight at Sarova Lion Hill.

Day 8.

We will get   up early and go for a pre breakfast game drive. Returning to the lodge for a late breakfast. After breakfast we will pack and leave for Lake   Naivasha. We will have lunch when we reach Lake Naivasha and then after a few hours relaxing we will go on an afternoon boat trip. The boat trip lasts for around 1.5 hours and we will be looking in the main for Hippos   and Fish Eagles, however there is the chance to see numerous water birds, otters, waterbuck and other antelope. Overnight will be in Fish Eagle Inn. We have dinner in another local restaurant.

Day 9.

We  will have most of the day in Naivasha at leisure. There are numerous optional activities – walking, cycling, elsamere visit, or another boar   trip to name a few. These can be organised with our help locally. The other option is to spend the day enjoying some relaxation time at the   hotel, the hotel gardens are amazing for birds, butterflies and colobus monkeys so it can be rewarding spending some time here. We will leave   Lake Naivasha late afternoon to return to Nairobi. Dinner and overnight  will be at Serena. We advise all clients to book flights for the day  after the safari ends.

Touch the Wild Tours

Prices are from £2900 per person (based on 2 people sharing – single supplement available on request).

 The price includes.

  • 4 nights accommodation in Amboseli Serena Lodge. Full board
  • 2 nights accommodation in Nairobi Serena Hotel. Bed and Breakfast (night before and after safari)
  • 1 nights accommodation in Nairobi Serena Hotel. Full board (night in the middle of safari)
  • 2 nights accommodation in Lake Nakuru Sarova Lion Hill. Full board.
  • 1 nights accommodation in Fish Eagle Inn. Full Board
  • All meals whilst on safari.
  • All park fees and government taxes.
  • Transport in landcruiser (as described)
  • All services from tour driver/guide.
  • All services from photographic guide.
  • Bottled Water whilst on safari
  • Boat Trip in Naivasha

The price excludes.

  • Any flights
  • Tips and Gratuitees
  • Any drinks other than water.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Optional Excursions in Lake Naivasha on day 9.

(Please Note accommodation options detailed above are subject to availability and may be changed)

To book a place we require a £800 deposit paid at time of booking. The balance is paid 2 months before departure.

(Want to spread the payment costs. Monthly no interest payment scheme available)

Mountains and Lakes Tour Enquiry

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Your Touch the Wild Guide:
Paul McDougall

Wildlife Tour dates:
Various 2017