"Possibly the pinkest place on the planet!" Lake Bogoria by CatherineReichardt
Lake Bogoria Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 26 photos
Hot off the press at the time of writing (July 2011), the shallow saline lakes of the Kenya Rift Valley were among the newest inclusions on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. An extract from the citation justifying their recognition reads as follows:
"A natural property of outstanding beauty, comprises three inter-linked relatively shallow lakes (Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru and Lake Elementaita) in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya and covers a total area of 32,034 hectares. The property is home to 13 globally threatened bird species and some of the highest bird diversities in the world. It is the single most important foraging site for the lesser flamingo anywhere, and a major nesting and breeding ground for great white pelicans. The property features sizeable mammal populations, including black rhino, Rothschild's giraffe, greater kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs and is valuable for the study of ecological processes of major importance"
So, never let it be said that we're not topical in terms of our travel choices!!!
By now, it should be apparent that the major drawcard of Lake Bogoria are its flamingoes. However, whatever you are expecting, I doubt whether you will be prepared for the carpet of pinkness that confronts you as you first catch sight of the lake. I have never seen so many animals in one place at one time, and the fact that their colour is such a stark contrast to their surroundings adds extra drama to an already overwhelming spectacle.
Estimates of the number of flamingoes on the lake vary, but range up to 4 million. That's simply too large a number to comprehend, and whatever proportion of that number we saw in our all to brief visit, it was awe inspiring. The conditions in the lake are ideal for the tiny shrimp on which the flamingoes feed, and if the old adage of there being 'safety in numbers' is true, then these birds are very secure indeed!
The flamingoes migrated to Lake Bogoria in the 1990s during a particularly traumatic El Nino event which lead to the virtual drying up of their former habitat at Lake Nakuru. However, flamingoes are by nature a migratory species, and so it is quite possible that they will relocate again to one of the other lakes along the Rift Valley in the future if circumstances change.
The flamingoes are primarily lesser flamingoes, although there are quite a few greater flamingoes as well (easily identified by their larger size and paler plumage). Despite their enormous numbers, the lesser flamingoes don't breed here, but rather fly over the border to Lake Natron in Tanzania (which is one of only four breeding colonies in sub Saharan Africa).
The Rift Valley is a vulcanologist's paradise - even for a lapsed geologist such as myself - and when you throw in the added attractions of geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools, we could be excused for wondering whether we've died and gone to heaven!
If you have been fortunate enough to experience the extravagant geothermal delights of Rotorua, Yellowstone or Iceland, the hot springs of Lake Bogoria will probably seem fairly modest to you. However, that doesn't mean that the springs aren't intriguing and are well worth a look.
I found the interaction between the flamingoes and the hot springs fascinating. Considering the temperature at which the water emerges (see below for evidence), I would have thought that the flamingoes would have kept their distance for fear of being scalded. Yet the flamingoes were blithely feeding within a couple of metres of the geyser vent in a situation where I would have thought they run the risk of being parboiled, and they seemed utterly unperturbed by the risk.
I have to confess that I had a long standing desire to boil an egg in a hot spring! Heaven alone knows why I wanted to do this, as I don't even much like eggs, but having previously missed my opportunity in places like New Zealand, I was determined to make this happen in the Rift Valley!
So, just in case you have long been nurturing a deep seated desire to do something similar, here's the beginner's guide to geothermal egg boiling ...
- Pros:Gorgeous, rugged landscape and wonderful wildlife - and the quest for the greater kudu seems like excuse enough to justify a return visit!
- Cons:A bit off the beaten track, especially if you don't have your own transport
- In a nutshell:More pink than a little girl's bedroom!
You may or may not be aware that Kenya straddles the equator - and this happy quirk of geography is a golden opportunity... more travel advice
I think that flamingoes are at their most interesting when they're taking off, as it is them that you really get to... more travel advice
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