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Crater Lake Camp - Rift Valley, Kenya

Crater Lake - Naivasha, the Great Rift Valley, Kenya

A luxury tented camp with superb views from ten secluded, yellow-acacia-shaded bandas, Crater Lake Camp lies at the foot of a mysterious green volcanic crater a few kilometres from Lake Naivahsa. Around the camp black and white colobus monkeys swing from the trees, walks lead off into the acacia forest and, if you scale the sides of the crater and sit on its rim, you can see all the way across the lake and towards the Mau Escarpment. Beautifully presented, the camp features luxurious furnishings and all the elegance of the colonial era. 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 can be seen. 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.

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.

Lake Naivasha lies 89 kms north-west of Nairobi and can be reached by road within approximately 2 hours.

The Background
Formally known as Green Crater Lake, the camp is 17 kms beyond the main strip of Lake Naivasha. Now a formal game sanctuary if offers various driving and walking tracks, some of which encompass its jagged rim. The brilliant, jade lake is breathtaking and the local Maasai consider its deep alkaline waters good for sick cattle; they also believe it to be a sacred place.

Lake Naivasha
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.

History is everywhere at Crater Lake. The 10,000-acre game sanctuary houses the famous hilltop grave where Happy Valley's tragic heroine, Lady Diana Delamere, is buried with her last two husbands, Gilbert Colvile and Thomas Delamere. For the truly intrepid, there are the mysterious 'Caves of God' in the golden wheatfields of Ndabibi, reputed to be an inspiration for H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quartermain.

As the custodian of an important swath of African wilderness, Crater Lake strives to uphold the highest social and environmental standards. The Camp employs its staff from neighboring communities, and leases part of its game sanctuary for sustainable woodlots. A dedicated team of rangers working in close cooperation with the Kenya Wildlife Service strictly monitors the sanctuary itself. The camp recently established its own community development trust, the Crater Lake Action Network (CLAN), which is raising funds to fence the sanctuary as part of the wildlife corridor around Lake Naivasha.

There are ten spacious tents, each in its own secluded lakeside clearing with sweeping views. Each tent is furnished with a giant four-poster bed, the finest furniture and an ensuite bathroom with hot shower. The new 'honeymoon tent' offers a sumptuous bedroom and a deep sunken bath looking over the lake through a giant stained-glass window.

Dining and bars
All meals are served in the main mess tent; the camp prides itself on the high level of its cuisine.

Conference and event facilities
The camp can be taken in its entirety as a conference or wedding venue.

The camp welcomes children.

What to see and do
The lake has a large population of hippos, which are regularly to be seen snorting and laughing in the shallow waters. At night, they troop out to feed on the lawns of the hotels and the lush grass of the riparian fringes. Vervet monkeys and olive baboons live in the woodland adjoining the south-western shore and the game corridors that run from nearby Hell's Gate NP allow buffaloes, kongonis antelopes and Masai giraffes to access the shores. As for birds, there are plenty of cormorants pelicans, herons, jacanas, long-toed plovers and weavers, while numerous warblers breed in the papyrus reed beds.

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.

Elsamere Conservation Centre
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 birds 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.

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.

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.

• At Crater Lake you are at peace with nature. The alkaline lake changes from blue to emerald green and back again with each passing hour, and is the nesting place for a myriad of birds - majestic fish eagles, busy weavers, cheeky robin chats, as well as ibis, kite, ducks, sunbirds, fire finches, and the tiny and colorful cordon bleu.

• During the day, or game drives at night: You could see giraffe, eland, bush buck, jackal, baboon, colobus and vervet monkeys, hyena, warthog, hippos, dik-dik, kongoni, duiker, serval, aadvark, badger or even leopard.

• Enjoy escorted walk safaris and nature walks around the crater or across the plains.

• Sundowners at Leopard Rock overlooking Crater Lake.

• Visit to Lake Naivasha, Naivasha town, or to other local attractions such as the Elsamere Conservation Centre, Elmenteita W eavers, Campbell Clause Gallery or the Cave of God.

Crater Lake offers special escapes for a wide variety of visitors. Bird-watchers will thrill (and trill!) to the 170 species of birds that live in and around the crater. The Camp runs regular painting weekends with famous local artists, as well as stargazing evenings with heaven-sent astrologers. Their lakeside conference room has been a source of inspiration to countless companies and incentive groups.

Things to do at Crater Lake
• Escorted game walks
• Boating on the lake
• Horse riding
• Night drives
• Bird walks
• Stargazing
• Crater rim sundowners
• Candlelit "lake dinners"
• Historical tours
• Absolutely nothing

Day Excursions from the Crater
• Joy Adamson's home at Elsamere
• 8-hole golf course at Great Rift Valley Lodge
• Game drives in Hell's Gate National Park
• Climbing and hiking on Mount Longonot
• Dinghy sailing on Lake Naivasha
• Black Bass fishing on Lake Naivasha
• Tea at the Edwardian manor of Lentolia
• Fly camping on the crater floor

Crater Lake Camp - Rift Valley • Naivasha Eco Camp • Kenya Hotels, Safari Lodges & Tented Camps
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