Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha

Things to do - general


Lake Naivasha is characterized by picturesque views, from volcanic landscapes to papyrus swamps, wild game and over 450 bird species.

Mount Longonot and Olkaria Geothermal Complex are visible on the south and Crater Lake lies on the west side of the lake.

Naivasha is derived from the Maasai word, ‘Enaiposha’ which means ‘heaving’ or ‘rough water’. The Maasai named it so because the waters tend to be unpredictable – afternoon wind and rain storms cause the lake to produce high waves.

Its shores provided lush pasture for Maasai cattle herds until Laiboni Ole Gilisho gave it up to the British. What followed was an influx of white settlers who used the lake as a landing for their flying boats.

This freshwater lake has never gone back to the Maasai; it is now protected and serves as a tourist attraction to locals and foreigners alike.

It is nestled above the Kenyan Rift lying at 1,890m above sea level and surrounded by volcanic rock and sedimentary deposits. The area surrounding the lake has two smaller lakes – Oloiden and Sonachi, the latter being a bright green crater lake.


Things to do at Lake Naivasha

  • Birdwatching: Watch the teeming herds of pelican, kingfisher, cormorant, bearded vultures and other fowls
  • Camping: Pitch your tent in the wild and wake up to animal calls and bird song every morning
  • Bush picnic: Take in views of the lake and wild game as you enjoy your mealtime with your loved ones
  • Nature walks: Take a stroll through the woods to see giraffes, zebras, waterbucks and other herbivores grazing.
  • Horse riding: Explore the shores of the park and lake on horseback
  • Hiking: Climb up the craggy rocks at Hells Gate National Park
  • Game viewing: Watch buffaloes, giraffes, antelopes and other wild game against the backdrop of the glistening waters of Lake Naivasha
  • Boating excursion: Take a boat out into the lake and watch birds fly, soar and glide on the waters below
  • Tour the greenhouses in different flower farms and watch these beautiful plants in bloom
  • Wildlife photography: Take beautiful shots of hippos and birds up close
  • Elsamere Museum: Enjoy high tea and learn about George and Joy Adamson’s conservation efforts
  • Fishing: Dip your hook, line, and sinker into the lake to catch the black bass and tilapia


Lake Naivasha flamingos

Flamingoes usually visit Lake Oloiden which forms part of Lake Naivasha. Currently, the two lakes are separated by an elevated piece of land and the former has an underground inlet that contains volcanic ash.

This results in the blue-green algae that both the lesser and greater flamingos relish. These birds come to Lake Oloiden during the long rains when water levels in Lake Nakuru rise.

Other birds in this region include goliath herons, eagle owls, brimstone canaries, woodpeckers and spectacled weavers.


Lake Naivasha boat ride

Boat safaris on Lake Naivasha allow you to get really close to the different bird species. Once in a while, you will see hippos lazing in the swampy areas.

A boat tour costs about KSh 3,000 per person per hour and is offered by most of the resorts found by the lakeside like , Crayfish Camp, and Camp Carnelly.

For sport, the guide will bring a fish and toss it into the water so that you can witness the eagle catching it. Boating mishaps are common so ensure that you wear your life jacket and that your guide has radio contact with the shore.

It is best to start this 60-minute ride at 8:00 am before the sun gets hot. Slather on some sunscreen and insect repellant to keep mosquitoes away and enjoy the trip.


Lake Naivasha National Park entrance fee

Lake Naivasha National Park offers superb game viewing: Hippos, the long-tailed mongoose, bush babies, zebras, bat-eared foxes and other wildlife may be found here because they are drawn to its shores.

Apart from the lake, one can take an excursion to the Hell’s Gate National Park which sports a pair of massive red tinged cliffs that gave it its unsettling name. These water and weather-worn rock formations host unique fauna and flora such as the bearded vulture and rock hyrax.

Walking is allowed at the park as well as hiking, biking, and rock climbing.

Park fees are as follows:

  • Adult citizen: KSh300
  • Child citizen: KSh215
  • Adult resident: KSh600
  • Child resident: KSh300
  • Adult nonresident: USD26
  • Child nonresident: USD17


Lake Naivasha Crescent Island

Crescent Island is Naivasha’s best kept secret and is accessible by boat and road across the swampy causeway from Sanctuary Farm. In 1988, the water in Lake Naivasha dropped significantly which allowed the creation of Crescent Island.

Because this animal and bird sanctuary has more animals per acre than any other Kenyan park, a lot of films have been shot of waterbucks, wildebeests, and zebras at this location.

Giraffes, hippos, pythons, buffaloes, and hyenas frequent Crescent Island, some to graze and others to calve.

This sanctuary opens its doors from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and guided walks take about 3 hours.


Lake Naivasha hotels & lodges

  • Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge
  • Lake Naivasha Simba Lodge
  • Lake Naivasha Resort
  • Lake Naivasha Country Club
  • Kongoni Lodge
  • Sawela Lodge
  • Chui Lodge
  • Loldia Lodge
  • Eseriani Hotel
  • Sweet Lake Resort
  • Fish Eagle Inn
  • Hippo Point & Dodo’s Tower
  • Sanctuary Farm
  • Olerai House
  • Malewa Wildlife Lodge
  • Kigio Wildlife Camp
  • Kiboko Luxury Camp
  • Crater Lake Camp


When to visit Lake Naivasha

Dry seasons from December to March and July to early October are the best time for game viewing.

If you’re interested in calving of new animals, you may visit during April to June.

Resident bird species are found all year round but migratory birds flock to the lake from October to March.


What to pack for a Lake Naivasha safari

  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Insect repellant
  • Antihistamines (for insect bites)
  • Camera
  • Fleece or warm jacket
  • Travel journal
  • Wet wipes
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Light raincoat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Wide-brimmed hat


If magnificent volcanic landscapes, birds, and acacia woodland are on your wish list, check out the Lake Naivasha tour packages available or call an agent to customize your trip.


Country Kenya
Languages spokenEnglish, Swahili
Currency usedKenya Shilling (KSh)
Area (km2)139
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