After four days of bush camping in the Masai Mara, we arrive at Naishi Guest House in Lake Nakuru National Park. Livingstone the caretaker waits for our arrival and welcomes us. The fire is stoked for heating our shower and the fireplace glows.

New born Rothschild Giraffe at Lake Nakuru
Lake Nakuru has more going for it than just flamingos.

Lake Nakuru

Famous for the millions of flamingos that once flocked to the shore, Lake Nakuru is one of Kenya’s smallest national parks and on the floor of the Great Rift Valley. Due to climate change, floods and extreme variations in the seasons the flamingo’s location can no longer be guaranteed. However, the park has more going for it than flamingos. Lake Nakuru is one of our most memorable places and we could easily spend more time here.

flamingos in flight
Famous for the millions of flamingos that once flocked to the shore.

Our Guest House

We love the guest house. Once the home of the park warden, the charming and rustic house is now rented out to guests. Two gorgeous, spacious bedrooms have their own bathrooms and at the back another two single bedrooms with their own bathrooms. The timber kitchen is fully equipped with everything that Sammy our cook needs to cook up a storm. The house has a traditional ‘makuti’ ceiling and slate tiles throughout. The living area features a wood fireplace and leads out to the veranda, which has views of the national park.

Naishi guest house
Naishi guest house

It is from the veranda that we see a lion. Unfazed by being so close to the guest house, he sits about 50 metres away and watches us. Due to his cub-chewed ears, scarred body and weary eyes it looks like he’s seen his share of battles. He’s probably on his own now after being ousted from the pride by younger males.

A beautiful old Lion near the guest house at Lake Nakurua
A beautiful old lion near the guest house

Acacia trees surround the guesthouse and from our bedroom, we watch the vervet and colobus monkeys climb the trees. The windows on the house have security bars to keep the vervets out. At night we sleep with the windows open to the ice-cold of the savannah and the deep, throaty roaring of the lions.

Leopard at Lake Nakuru
Our first leopard sighting

Our Days

We leave the cosy guest house at dawn for our first safari. With the chilly breeze blowing in our faces, it’s exhilarating watching the sunrise and our first wildlife encounters of the day. After a couple of magical hours, we go back to the guest house and have breakfast. Sammy cooks the most mouth-watering breakfast of freshly brewed coffee and pancakes with fresh fruit that we bought at the local markets. We do another safari after breakfast and return to relax around the guesthouse and have lunch during the hottest part of the day. In the afternoon, we do another drive and stay out in the park until after sunset. At night we relish Sammy’s cooking and afterward we all sit around the fireplace, reminiscing over the day’s safaris over local beers.

Giraffe and two babies at Lake Nakuru
We are not sure if these Rothschild giraffe babies are twins.

Rothschild Giraffes

We could spend days here driving around watching the Rothschild giraffes. Endangered and only a few hundred of them left, they were brought here from the west of Kenya in an effort to conserve them. Unlike the Masai and Reticulated giraffe, they have no markings on their legs but have cute ‘white socks’.

Newborn giraffe at Lake Nakuru
The baby is barely hours old.

When we see a giraffe herd with two babies who are no more than one month old and a newborn baby, we are spellbound and spend hours watching them.

Baby Rothschild giraffe
Mum is ready to kick with her powerful legs anything that comes close.

The two older babies run around and play. They are so cute with their long gawky and spindly legs. We are not sure if they are twins or with an adult on nursery duty, but whoever she is, she takes guard duty seriously and watches us closely.

Rothschild Giraffes at Lake Nakuru
Congratulations

Newborn Baby Giraffe

In the same group, a baby is born. At only a few hours old, she still has her umbilical cord and her little body is all out of proportion. Her beautiful dark chocolate eyes look over at us and she is aware of our presence. Mum’s long neck bends over and she tenderly licks her newborn’s orange-spotted coat.

Giraffes at Lake Nakuru National Park
Not much bigger than the newborn, the baby comes over for a look at his new playmate.

The mother bonds and guards her vulnerable baby, and she is ready to kick with her powerful legs anything that comes close. She makes an exception when receiving congratulations from other giraffes and the frisky older babies who want an introduction with their soon-to-be playmate.

Lake Nakuru Impala
This handsome Impala had to fight off a bachelor group who were trying to take over his harem of girls.

The Wildlife

Zebras, impalas, waterbuck, buffalo and rhino graze in the golden grasslands. A group of bachelor male impalas try unsuccessfully to take over a harem of girls. From the open grasslands, it changes to more dense forest and bush landscape. Cheeky baboon gangs look for trouble while sitting on the roads and watching the vehicles go by. Two lionesses intently watch us while they laze in the tree branches and cute jackal pups poke their heads out of their den beside the road. A leopard lazily reclines in a yellow barked acacia tree unaware of the excitement he’s caused. The rare Rothschild giraffe chomps on the leaves in the acacia tree forest, shadowed by rocky cliffs and hills.

Lionesses on the prowl
Lionesses on the prowl

The park has the largest population of rhinoceros in Africa which includes the black and white species translocated here in an effort to protect them and monitor for poaching. We see many white rhinos beside the road and near the lake. The black rhinos are more difficult to spot as they are secretive and solitary. They prefer the dense bush area whereas the white rhinos prefer the open plains.

Rhinos at Lake Nakuru
We couldn’t believe the cute squeaky sounds they make.

One morning we were so close to a group of five rhinos that we could hear them communicating each other. Squeak. Squeak. When you are that huge you can get away with sounding like a squeaky toy.

Ray photographing the rhinos from the back of our landcruiser.
Ray photographing the rhinos from the back of our Landcruiser.

Lake Nakuru is also one of the best parks to spot leopards and we see two during our visit. One was up a tree and the other hiding in a bush. He watched impalas play right in front of him while they were oblivious to his presence. These leopard encounters were a real bonus because they were the most unexpected of all our sightings.

Leopard at Lake Nakuru national park
The park is one of the best places in Kenya to spot leopards.

Lake Nakuru National Park is a small park, but it has a lot going for it. Most tourists visit here on a day trip and overnight en route to Masai Mara without spending much time. This is a shame because though different, we see just as much wildlife here as in the Masia Mara. Because Lake Nakuru is fenced to protect the endangered giraffes and rhinos, there are no elephants here.

Impalas at Lake Nakuru
Impalas are the most common antelope species at Lake Nakuru.

Though the park doesn’t have the flamingos it once had, hundreds of species of birdlife and other wildlife still flock here. It also has the added bonus of being away from the crowds which makes all our sightings crowd-free and mostly on our own.

Naishi guest house at Lake Nakuru
Sue, Ray, Sammy & Martin. We will always have great memories of our trip.

Our guide and driver was Martin Maina from Nairobi Specialist

Naishi Guest House is self-catering and owned by Kenya Wildlife Service.

Camping is also available in the National Park

Our room at Naishi guest house at Lake Nakuru
Our bedroom in the Naishi Guest House

Lake Bogoria

The flamingos at Lake Nakuru weren’t accessible during our visit. Martin our guide makes a phone call and confirms they are at Lake Bogoria, one of the lakes they have migrated to which is a couple of hours away.

flamingos at lake bogoria
Flamingos at Lake Bogoria

We have the option of leaving Lake Nakuru in the early morning for a day trip or camping overnight at Lake Bogoria, so we decided to camp at Lake Bogoria. This makes it possible to visit the Pokot tribes around the Lake Baringo area.

Girls from the Pokot Tribe
The gorgeous girls from the Pokot tribe

Rarely visited by outsiders, it is a unique cultural insight because they have mostly stayed with their traditional ways. It’s an interesting and humbling experience to visit the village and learn about the tribe’s culture and how they live their daily lives in the harsh arid land.

Pokot lady in traditional tribal dress
The Pokot tribe have kept their traditional ways.

Though the flamingos are nowhere near the numbers they once were, the sight of these leggy, pink birds on the shoreline is enchanting as they come together from all directions in a display of colours from candy pink to burnt orange.

flamingos on the shoreline at Lake Bogoria
Though not in the numbers they once were, it is still a sight to behold.

If spooked, the sky becomes a shimmering pink congregation when they flock together as one to the middle of the lake. Once settled and assured there is no threat, they begin the process of marching in unity back to the shoreline.

A newborn Rothschild Giraffe was a highlight for us at Lake Nakuru
A newborn Rothschild giraffe is a highlight for us.
Lake Nakuru 2 nights & 1 night camping at Lake Bogoria for Flamingos and Pokot tribe price inclusive for 3 nights

Lake Nakuru Park Fees $160pp
Vehicle 4 days $560
Naishi Guest House $500
Martin’s Fees $200
Sammy’s Fees $100
Lake Bogoria Park Fees $50pp
Lake Bogoria Camp Fees $10pp
Fuel $140
Our Groceries, Beer & Misc. $100
The total price per person is about US $1020

a shy female waterbuck
A shy female Waterbuck. One of the many different wildlife in the park.
Lake Nakuru 3 nights & morning visit to Flamingos at Lake Bogoria price inclusive for 3 nights

Lake Nakuru Park Fees $240pp
Vehicle 4 days $560
Naishi Guest House $750
Martin’s Fees $200
Sammy’s Fees $100
Lake Bogoria Park Fees $50pp
Fuel $140
Groceries, Beer & Misc. $100
Total price for this package about US $1215

mum and baby giraffe at lake nakuru
Some of our best memories of our Kenya trip are the giraffes at Lake Nakuru.
Read More of our Kenya Blogs

Nairobi Elephant Orphanage
Elephants of Ithumba
Masai Mara: Our Ultimate Camping Safari
The Perfect 14 Day Kenya Itinerary
Practical Tips for Visiting Kenya: Guide for First-time Visitors

20 Responses to “Lake Nakuru National Park: Falling in Love with Rothschild Giraffes”

  1. Absolutely amazing! I actually have a friend looking at going over to visit the giraffes and I was wondering if you’d be able to reccomend the best places to go?

    Reply
    • Ray & Sue

      Thanks Braeden. There were Giraffes at both the Masai Mara and Nakuru. Masai & Reticulated Giraffes at the Masai Mara and the Rothschild at Lake Nakuru. During a few days stay you will see them for sure.

      Reply
  2. Samantha

    Absolutely amazing and beautiful photography! I love to follow your adventures through your photos!

    Reply
  3. Diannr Bach

    You really do a wonderful job Of describing everything . Your photography is always so amazing. I love to see your photos after every trip you do. Keep it up. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Ray & Sue

      Hi Dianne. We try and describe it exactly how it was – magical. Thanks for reading our blogs.

      Reply
  4. Vicky Schell

    What a special experience to capture a baby giraffe. Thank you for opening my eyes to a “different” perspective of Africa. This national park looks so different and lush. Amazing.

    Reply
    • Ray & Sue

      Hi Vicky. Lake Nakuru shouldn’t be left off the itineray for a trip to Kenya. It is a beautiful little park. All the parks are different and can’t be compared. We found you could get close to certain wildlife in Masai Mara that you couldn’t in Nakuru and vice versa. Make sure to put it on your list! Thanks for visiting our site and your comments.

      Reply
  5. GiselleandCody

    Wow, you two take such incredible photos. It was such a pleasure having the opportunity to meet you while in Thailand. That Waterbuck is so beautiful. Hopefully our paths will cross again sometime.

    Reply
    • Ray & Sue

      Great to hear your comments Giselle and Cody. We were just talking about you the other day, saying exactly the same thing. We hope our paths cross again soon in our travels. Thanks so much!

      Reply
  6. Julie Mirdoch

    Thank you for taking me on this adventure with you through your photos! I was unable to visit Lake Nakuru when we were there. We had wanted to go and see the flamingos as well. With photos like these, this area is definitely on my list for my next visit!

    Reply
    • Ray & Sue

      Hi Julie. Thanks once again for your comments. We were lucky the Flamingos were at Lake Bogoria and also lucky that we had Martin for our guide because he tracked the Flamingos down! On your next visit definately leave a day open for the possibility of sighting them.

      Reply
  7. How intimate and beautiful You make any part of the world you are in. But you have outdone yourselves this time! It is so special! And easy to see that this is a dream trip for you. Your intro blog shows the anticipation of discovery, the love! And the photography unfolds it brilliantly (and wouldn’t disgrace even the famous Attenborough shoots). It is a very real gift to those of us who will never see such wonders in the flesh. Not sure I would have the fibre to ‘relax’ in a (ground floor!) residence with wild lions roaming the yard! But it is brilliant to share the experience through your eyes. I doubt I would see the souls of the animals as you do, through my own. Aww the baby giraffe is so precious! Well done. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Thanks Marie! Lake Nakuru is a special place to visit and it’s not hard to make it look beautiful. Once you are there listening and seeing the Lions and other wildlife it is very exciting and you don’t worry about it at all.

      That is one memory that stands out to us, the Lions so close to our guest house and listening to them roaring at night from our cosy bedroom!

      Reply
  8. Such GREAT pics – so wonderful – thanks guys — do you sell images so I can use online ?

    Reply
    • Ray & Sue

      Hi David. Thanks for your comment & visiting our website. All our images are for sale in digital format too. Please get in touch with us, as we would love to work something out with you.

      Reply
    • Ray & Sue

      Thanks William. The Leopard is one of our favourites too! Lake Nakuru is beautiful & worth putting on your list.

      Reply

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