Lake Naivasha - The Great Rift Valley, Kenya
The newly-built Lake Naivasha Sawela Lodge only recently opened and is still in the process of being added to in terms of amenities. The lodge stands on the shores of Lake Naivasha, surrounded by typically lakeshore lawns and acacia trees. Relatively economically priced, the lodge offers simple but pleasant rooms and exceptionally friendly service. Future plans include the provision of a spa, golf course and sporting facilities.
Location Lake Naivasha lies 89 kms north-west of Nairobi and can be reached by road within approximately 2 hours. The Lodge is on Moi South Lake Road, 18 km from Naivasha town.
The Background A freshwater lake, the highest of the string of lakes that glitter down the vast trench of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha is infamous for its rapidly shifting moods. One minute serene and calm, the next it will be whipped by swirling winds, waves and shadowed by storm clouds - hence its name, which means ‘the place of rough water'.
Enigmatic, and dotted with floating islands of Nile cabbage (water hyacinth) and papyrus, Lake Naivasha has no known outlet, and legends abound regarding the vast tunnels that supposedly run beneath its surface. Towered over by the brooding bulk of Mount Longonot (2,776 m), and featuring a submerged volcanic crater known as Crescent Island, this beautiful lake is best known for its high numbers of water birds. Also for the haunting cry of the fish eagles, which feed on the black bass and tilapia of its waters.
Kenya hotels and accommodation Amongst the wide range of Kenya hotels, some make the ideal Kenya safari destination. Choose a safari lodge, safari hotel, bush camp, luxury lodge, safari camp, tented camp or bush lodge. National park accommodation usually takes the form of a traditional safari lodge or tented camp, but numerous other options exist on the park boundaries. Luxury lodges and luxury camp options are also offered in the private wildlife conservancies.
Accommodation The lodge offers 24 ensuite rooms (satellite TV, WiFi) pleasantly presented and with private balconies. Additionally there is a suite (2 bedrooms) with central seating area, which is ideal for honeymoons or family visits.
Dining and bars The central Cheetah Restaurant serves both local and international cuisine on a buffet basis. The lodge also holds special BBQ events on the lawns. There is also the Buffalo Bar and the outdoor Pool Bar.
Conference and event facilities The lodge offers a conference room, which will accommodate up to 35 guests (AV services are supplied and packages are available).
Child-friendly The lodge welcomes children, offers a family suite and can provide babysitting services.
What to see and do Crater Lake, an extinct volcanic crater at Naivasha's western end is thickly wooded with yellow fever tress in which troops of black and white colobus, vervet monkeys and olive baboons disport themselves A total of 38 mammal species have been recorded here; buffalos, warthogs, Defassa waterbucks, bush bucks, Thomson's gazelles and impalas can be seen by walking around the crater, while night game drives allow sightings of spring hares, Senegal galagos, common gents, white tailed mongooses and predators such as servals and bat-eared foxes. Antelopes shelter in the dense vegetation (Kirk's dik-dik, steinbucks and elands) while the vivid green water offer sanctuary for lesser flamingos, duck and grebes.
Once the home of Joy Adamson of ‘Born Free' fame, Elsamere Conservation Centre offers a wide range of education facilities while hippos graze on the lawns at night and black and white colobus swing from the yellow fever trees. There are 200 bird species in its grounds alone. Crescent Island, the exposed lip of a submerged volcanic crater, is a good place to view zebra, waterbuck and gazelles. It is also home to the Naivasha Yacht Club. Boats can be hired at Elsamere, Fisherman's Camp and the Lake Naivasha Country Club.
Wildlife highlights: hippos, black and white colobus, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, buffaloes, Masai giraffes, kongonis, impalas and gazelles. Water birds are a highlight and include African fish eagles, pied kingfishers, yellow-billed storks, flamingoes and waterfowl.
Hell's Gate National Park A volcanic theatre Cleft deep into the floor of the Rift Valley, the towering cliffs and undulating grasslands of this relatively small park offer the only venue in Kenya where you can walk, or mountain bike, alongside herds of buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson's gazelle and giraffe; unaccompanied by a KWS ranger. A volcanic landscape of tortured basalt cliffs, circling raptors, winding water-gouged gorges, stark rock towers, scrub-clad volcanoes, sultry steaming vents, and belching plumes of geothermal steam, this park is pure theatre, and has provided the backdrop to many a Hollywood movie. Mountain bikes can be hired at the gate, community guides offer tours of the dramatic gorge (where boiling water spouts from the rock), and professional climbers offer climbing lessons on the parks two massive volcanic plugs. Words 126
Wildlife highlights: Eland, buffalo, lion, giraffe, zebra, leopard, impala, Grant's and Thomson's gazelle, klipspringer, hyrax and mountain reedbuck. Birds: 103 recorded species.
Mount Longonot National Park A sleeping giant born of fire Immediate adjacent to Hells Gate NP lies Mount Longonot, the mightiest of the Rift Valley volcanoes, which towers some 2, 776 m above the floor of the Rift, and broods over Lake Naivasha. Climbing up takes around an hour, to tour the rim 2-3 hours. Getting down is faster.
What to do and see A nature walk reveals a rich diversity of flora thriving on the edge of the lake, with a colorful range of over 400 bird species, making it a paradise for bird lovers and researchers. One can see the Brimstone Canary, Spectacled Weaver, the Yellow Collared Love bird, the Red-billed Finch and the Lammergeyer. The lake has a healthy fish population, which attracting the Cormorant, the Black Heron, and Pied Kingfisher. The lush vegetation supports a variety of wild animals such as buffalo, dik dik, giraffe, the back and white colubus monkey, and on any afternoon you are likely to catch sight of hippos lazily watching proceedings from the surface of the lake.
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