Giraffe and pelicans in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya.

© Pierre-Yves Babelon/Shutterstock

Lake Nakuru National Park

Southern Rift Valley

Just two hours' drive from Nairobi, Lake Nakuru is among Kenya's finest national parks. Flanked by rocky escarpments, pockets of forest and at least one waterfall, the park is gorgeous year-round and is home to black and white rhinos, lions, leopards, hippos and giraffes. Rising water levels in 2014 forced the park's famous flamingos to flee, as well as the park authorities to move the entrance gate – the old one now stands submerged along with hundreds of now-dead trees, a haunting first impression.

The southern end of the lake is the best place to see wildlife, away from the busy city of Nakuru, which borders the park's northern extent. The forested area below Flamingo Hill is a favourite lion-spotting point – lionesses love to sleep in the trees – while leopards frequent the same area, and are also seen around Makolia camp.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southern Rift Valley attractions

1. Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site

2.98 MILES

This archaeological site, 4km outside Nakuru, is a great spot for a peaceful amble away from the rhinos and tourists. It contains a museum and the remains…

2. Murals


Lining the western side of the road on the approach to Lake Nakuru if you're coming from town, these eye-catching murals depict everyone from George and…

3. Baboon Cliffs


This popular viewpoint and one-time lunch spot has superlative views out over the lake, with some fine aerial vistas down onto the flooded lake shore…

4. Menengai Crater

6.57 MILES

With transport and 15 minutes to play with, you can be out of the grimy streets of Nakuru and standing on the rim of Menengai Crater, a 485m-high natural…

5. Out of Africa Lookout


To get the best view that takes in much of the park, head up to the rocky Out of Africa Lookout. Less frequented by tour groups than the lower Baboon…

6. Lake Elmenteita

10.8 MILES

Serene and framed by shaggy hills, Elmenteita is quieter and prettier than the lakes to its south, although its relatively open surrounds ensure that it…

7. Egerton Castle

11.01 MILES

If you want to muse on lost love and where it goes, visit Egerton Castle on the outskirts of Njoro. A replica of Tatton Hall in England, the castle was…

8. Makalia Falls

12.14 MILES

The modest Makalia Falls, at the extreme southern end of the park, swell after the rains when they're at their best. You can camp at the nearby park…