The park’s relatively small size (180 sq km, depending on the reach of the lake) makes it easy to get around the Lake Circuit in a day. The forests anywhere in the park are good for leopards and rare tree-climbing lions imported from eastern Kenya (although sightings of the latter are uncommon). The park’s black and white rhinos (around 60 altogether) tend to stick fairly close to the lake shore and sightings are common. The elephant is the only member of the Big Five not present in the park.
The health of the white rhinos in particular is monitored carefully by the rangers; coloured patches on the skin are likely to reflect recent medical treatment. Warthogs are common all over the park, as are waterbucks, elands, zebras and buffaloes, while Thomson’s gazelles, impalas and reedbucks can be seen further into the bush. Around the cliffs you may catch sight of hyraxes and birds of prey amid the countless baboons; the latter are by no means shy about enthusiastically reproducing in public.
Since the park’s creation in 1961, the population of lesser and greater flamingos has risen and fallen with the soda lake’s erratic water levels. When the lake dried up in 1962 (happy first birthday!), the population plummeted, as it later did in the 1970s when heavy rainfall diluted the lake’s salinity and affected the blue-green algae – the lesser flamingos’ food source. Over much of the last decade healthy water levels have seen flamingo numbers blossom again. If future droughts or flooding make them fly the coop again, you’ll probably find them at Lake Bogoria, with smaller populations at Lake Oloiden and Lake Magadi.