After exploring the accessible attractions in Nairobi, Kenya, it was time to go on safari. The first stop on my Kenya safari tour with GoAfrica Safaris was Lake Nakuru National Park, located about 4 hours North of the capital city.
Lake Nakuru is one of Kenya’s smallest national parks, measuring just 73 square miles. Despite its small size, the lake and surrounding forest are home to an abundance of wildlife, including four of the “Big 5” — the black and white rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and leopard. To see the elephant in the wild, you’ll need to visit a more expansive park such as the Masai Mara.
Recounting my safari was too much for one blog post, so I’ve broken it up into multiple articles. Here’s the table of contents and links to other articles in my Kenya Safari series:
Introduction: Planning A Wheelchair Accessible Kenya Safari
Tipping Etiquette: Guide to Tipping on an African Safari
Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Nairobi, Kenya
Wheelchair Accessible Places to Stay on a Kenya Safari
Exploring Kenya’s Lake Nakuru National Park in a Wheelchair
Spotting the Big 5 on a Wheelchair Accessible Tour of Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve
Lake Naivasha: The Perfect Pit-stop on a Kenya Safari
Lake Nakuru National Park Quick Facts
Here are some basic facts about Lake Nakuru National Park to get us started:
- Location — Rift Valley, Kenya
- Coordinates — 0°22′S 36°05′E
- Total Area — 73 mi2, 188 km2
- “Big 5” Representation — Buffalo, Leopard, Lion, Rhinoceros (4/5)
- Species of Interest — Baboon, Cheetah, Flamingo, Rothschild’s Giraffe, Waterbuck, Zebra
- Daily Admission Fee — $60 USD
Most Memorable Moment in Lake Nakuru
Some bloggers save the best for last, but I don’t like to do that.
Given that this was my first safari, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t anticipate seeing any of the big cats up close, but hoped I would get a decent view through the binoculars. Much to my surprise, my first big cat sighting was very close-up, and the subject was a beautiful male lion. “The King of the Jungle,”, as they say.
There was no zoom used on that photo, and it was taken at 1x on my iPhone X. I regretted not bringing a more powerful camera on safari, but the lion looks amazing on any camera when photographed at close range.
Game Drives in Lake Nakuru
During my two-night stay at the Flamingo Hill Camp, I had the opportunity to go on 3 separate game drives, each lasting 3 to 4 hours. We circled Lake Nakuru in beautiful, sunny weather and also on a rainy afternoon. It was interesting to watch the animals adapt to the different weather conditions.
My safari vehicle was a Toyota Land Cruiser, outfitted with a wheelchair ramp and four-point harness to secure wheelchairs. I had the option of staying in my wheelchair during the ride, or transferring into a seat inside the Land Cruiser. The transfer was lateral (side-to-side), and the seat was comfortable.
The safari vehicle also had a pop-up roof, and I often raised my wheelchair’s seat height to peek my head through the opening. This provided amazing views and I highly recommend investing in a height-adjustable wheelchair before going on safari.
The dirt roadways inside Lake Nakuru National Park were smooth, and the ride was comfortable save for a few potholes here and there.
The first animals that I encountered at Lake Nakuru were baboons, which traveled in large groups. It was amazing to see them going about their lives in the wild.
My first “Big 5” sighting was the buffalo. They travel in herds, and I watched as they sparred with one another. A brief clashing of horns, but I never witnessed a serious fight. They seemed much more interested in grazing and resting than picking fights with one another.
The impala was much smaller than I had anticipated, but they are still quick on their feet. They scared easily, and seemed to be very alert. Except during mating season, impalas separate into herds according to gender.
Zebras are noisy creatures, snorting, whinnying and barking. Their movements are strange, and they give off the illusion of being clumsy. I saw many different groups of zebras at Lake Nakuru, and they seemed comfortable being around the safari vehicle.
Lake Nakuru National Park is home to the Rothschild’s giraffe subspecies, which is one of the most endangered. Less than 2,000 of this species remain in the wild. That fact helped me to better appreciate the work done at the sanctuary I had visited in Nairobi.
I saw several giraffes at Lake Nakuru, but always viewed them from a great distance. I had much better luck getting close to giraffes at Masai Mara.
In addition to these animals, I also saw a black rhinoceros, but from great distance and with the aid of binoculars. After just two days in Lake Nakuru National Park, I had seen 3 of the 4 “Big 5” animals that reside there (the leopard evaded me).
If you’re new to safaris like I was, Lake Nakuru National Park is the perfect place to start your adventure. Due to its small size, visitors can explore the entire park in just a day or two. The overwhelming abundance of life present there makes spotting easy. Visitors quickly become familiar with many different species, as well as a number of different habitats. Get your feet wet in Lake Nakuru, then enjoy the rest that Kenya has to offer.