Lake Elementaita Safari Facts
Lake Elementaita lies in the Great Rift Valley, and is between Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha. It is the shallowest lake in the Rift, going up to two meters deep. Without an identified outlet river, the lake, that upon my visit in Dec 2017 seemed dried up, is thus said to be salty/alkaline. But despite these features, it is an important lake that is considered a UNESCO heritage site as it boasts of an ecology of 450 birds – some of which are endangered species. According to the camp manager at the Oasis Eco Camp, a guide well known to him confirmed he has seen 370 of those birds. From the floor of the lake, one sees the rest of the Rift valley from a long way off, the hills seem to bulge off of the horizon, and the horizon itself is sort of misty so that one cannot see where the horizon ends and the sky starts.
- Bird Watching
- Hot Springs
- Views & Scenery
A well-made acquaintance in the office offered me his binoculars for bird watching when I mentioned that I would be spending part of my weekend visiting the lake. He had visited earlier, and stayed at the Sunbird Lodge, and had seen various birds. I, on the other hand saw 5 types of birds, the pelicans, the flamingos, a black feathered bird, a white bird with black legs wading in the waters, and another white bird that was flying right across the lake close to the flamingos. I am sure there were other birds it is just that I missed them.
The water birds know their territory – and were more than a throw’s distance from the area where lots of humans were. The flamingos move in large groups, keeping each other company, stopping to peck into the water, no doubt looking for the algae food that turns their feathers and skin pink. Still at one point and moving at another, as though they though were floating right across the water, no doubt moved by so gentle a wind that you did not feel it but knew it was well and alive when the water rippled in waves in this direction or that. Rarely did they fly, but when they did, the flap of their pink and black wings has such an effect that one cannot help but be in awe at their beauty.
Another important feature of the lake is the hot springs. They are at a segment of the lake, and we had to walk quite a distance from the Oasis Camp to reach them. When we got to the hot springs, there were other tourists and mostly local youth and children, washing their feet or bodies at the hot springs while being watched by their counterparts, who wer
e taking shade under acacia trees that have grown in parches sporadically across the land surrounding the lake. Some young boys ran into the lake, throwing their clothes off, and dived into the water and begun splashing about, much to the delight of their friends who were watching from the shores.
Views & Surrounding Scenery
You cannot fail to miss some patches of lake rocks, dry and white washed, no doubt from the saline water, which at the time had receded a bit further that you could walk close enough to see them well, and even step on them. When one walks on the grass, there are whitish residues that remain on ones shoes or feet if one is sandaled. I was sandaled and washed the residue off in the hot springs on my way back.
When you sit to look at the flamingos, you can feel the vegetation cover that looks like grass but is not grass prick right through the trousers if they are made of cotton, and they do not make for very inviting seats. I did not ask, but made a wild assumption that it was Lake Floor vegetation cover, now laid bare under the hot African sun. (Even though there are some who refute the reality of global warming, it is there and it is real, and this is one of its effects.) The same African sun that saw us take shade under the acacia trees like the locals we saw earlier.
One can do a variety of things at the shores. We decided to play some adult games that kids could join into and sing some songs. One can also picnic, though we had earlier picnicked at the Oasis camp where the grass was well-taken care off – green and soft, and the tree shade there was actually worth our while.
On the walk back, the sun was setting, and we enjoyed the backdrop of the hills, now magnified by their nearness that always seemed like small ridges to me while on the Nakuru -Eldoret highway. The lake is a simple lake, that lets you unwind from the pressures of everyday life and the busy working life, while reminding you of how tiny you are in the expanse of the Universe, how beautiful the world is despite human drudgery and horrifying acts of nature, and quite profoundly how wonderful is The Hand that guides all of nature.
Thank you for reading!