Lake Naivasha National Park

Lake Naivasha National Park is a small picturesque national park with a freshwater lake, Lake Naivasha, which is surrounded by hills that host a variety of wildlife. Lake Naivasha is located in the Great Rift Valley floor, northwest of Nairobi the capital of Kenya. The National Park derives its name “Naivasha” from the Masai word “Naiposha” which means rough water in English. Lake Naivasha was given this name because of the lake’s unusual and sudden storms that always rise. 

Lake Naivasha National Park

Established on the 10th of April 1995, Lake Naivasha National Park is one of the youngest national parks in Kenya that tourists can visit while on a Kenya safari tour. The National Park is a small national park that covers only 140 square kilometres, with the biggest part of the park being covered by the fresh water lake, Lake Naivasha which is rather shallow and seasonal, with water levels reducing significantly during the dry season. 

The Park asides from Lake Naivasha is surrounded by two other lakes, Lake Oloidien and Lake Sonachi. Lake Naivasha National Park is a unique park with unique features like the extinct volcano Mount Longonot which last erupted in the 1860s, thick forest, fresh water lake, two other lakes, wildlife including birds and now flowers which are grown at the reserve. 

Attractions of Lake Naivasha National Park

There are a number of attractions that Lake Naivasha National Park has to offer for travellers to enjoy while on their Kenya safari tour visiting this park in particular. The Park is a popular en-route destination when heading to Lake Nakuru National Park as well as Hell’s Gate National Park. Below are the top attractions of Lake Naivasha Park;

Lake Naivasha: Lake Naivasha is the top attraction of the park, from which it derived its name. This shallow and seasonal fresh water Lake Naivasha has its banks covered by papyrus, various forest tree species that attract a variety of birds and primates including monkeys and baboons. A number of wildlife species including gazelles, giraffes, and buffaloes can be seen taking a drink of the fresh water. Lake Naivasha has schools of hippos that busk in the waters all day long, giving travellers a wonderful sight.

Mount Longonot: Mount Longonot with a height of 2776m is an extinct volcano that last erupted in the 1860s. Mount Longonot has a large crater rim on top, though without water. The name Longonot comes from a Masai word Olo Nongot which translates to a mountain with many summits. Hiking Mount Longonot can take anything between 2-4 hours, depending on one’s hiking abilities.

Birdlife: Lake Naivasha NP has over 350 species of birds recorded. The thick papyrus and a wide range of vegetation favours the birdlife species inhabiting of the park. Some of the many species of birds travellers are sure to see include the gonolek, African fish eagles, flamingos, African spoonbill, Palearctic duck, and the red-knobbed coot.

Wild animals: The wildlife in Lake Naivasha Park is very diverse. There are a number of wild animals that travellers can spot, including giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, hippos, and so many more. These animals can be seen while on a game drive through the park, or walking safari or even biking and on horseback. 

Crescent Island: Crescent Island is a private island sanctuary that is unfenced and thus allows free movement of the wildlife. Nature walks are allowed in Crescent Island and not elsewhere in Lake Naivasha. Accessing Crescent Island is by boat or on a 4WD passing a narrow swampy road that is usually used by animals like buffaloes. 

Elsamere: Elsamere are stippled trees with sisal that form a forest at the banks of Lake Naivasha. There are a number of tree species in the forest that include the yellow fever trees which are named after the colour of their trees, among so many others. These tree species inhabit various bird species and animals.

Activities in Lake Naivasha National Park

With a variety of attractions in Lake Naivasha, there are a number of activities to be done so as to encounter and experience them. Though small and without the Big five common in most Kenya national parks, Lake Naivasha National Park is a great park to visit for it has a lot to offer. It can also be supplemented by a visit to Lake Nakuru National Park, Masai Mara National Park which is the hotspot and probably top national park in Kenya, as well as Hell’s Gate National Park which are easily accessible from the park. Below are the activities travellers can take part in while in Lake Naivasha Park;

Game viewing

With over 100 wildlife species in L. Naivasha National Park, game viewing is a very rewarding activity that has travellers seeing a variety of wildlife species roaming in the park. Game viewing in Lake Naivasha National Park can be done with game drives or walking safaris, and be rewarded with plentiful sights of animals. Some of the animals to be seen while game viewing include hippos, giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, waterbucks, and so much more. Game viewing can be done all the day long, with the early morning being the best time.

Horseback riding 

Horseback riding is done in a few Kenya national parks. Horseback riding in Lake Naivasha Park is a great way to enjoy game viewing in park, as you ride along with the animals and even get up-close with them. You will see a number of wild animals while on horseback. A game ranger is usually part of the party, to protect you in case of any trouble. 

Boat cruise

A boat cruise allows travellers to experience and feel the fresh air of Lake Naivasha, as they look out for wildlife including birds. A serried range of hippos can be seen busking in the water and mud nearby, as well as a number of other animals like zebras and giraffes as they take a drink of the fresh water, or lazily walk at the shores of the lake. 


Hiking in Lake Naivasha National Park can be done on Mount Longonot, which gives a relative mountain hiking experience. It takes only about 2-4 hours to hike Mount Longonot. A little bit of fitness is all that it takes to hike Mount Longonot. A number of animals can be sighted while hiking Mount Longonot and they include buffaloes, hartebeests, and zebras, among others. At the summit of Mount Longonot, there is a crater though without water, which is a great sight. While at the summit, travellers are also rewarded with an extensive scenic view of Lake Naivasha National Park.

Getting to Lake Naivasha National Park is not so hard, and it takes only about one hour and a half to get to the park by road. The Park is only 110km from Nairobi, making it possible to do a 1-day safari. 

Accommodation in Lake Naivasha Park is available and can cater for all kinds of travellers. From Luxury to midrange and to budget, travellers are sure to get their preferred and budget-friendly accommodation option. 

Lake Naivasha National Park
Lake Naivasha National Park

When to visit Lake Naivasha National Park

The Park can be visited all year long. The best time to visit though could be during the months of December through March and July through October for they are dry months. The rest fall in the rainy season but some travellers prefer to travel then.

Lake Naivasha Park is a beautiful and scenic place to visit, even if for a short time. A 3 days Lake Naivasha safari is perfect to explore the park extensively and also get to relax. Combining a visit to Lake Naivasha National Park with Masai Mara National Park is a very wise decision. Get in touch with a reputable tour operator to help you plan a wonder Kenya Safari tour.

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