Lake Naivasha, at a glance

Located in Nakuru County, Lake Naivasha is a large freshwater lake which sits just outside the town of Naivasha. Situated at an elevation of 1,884m, Lake Naivasha is the highest lake within the Great Rift Valley.

With a surface area of 139km², Lake Naivasha dominates the landscape, and it is surrounded by a swamp which covers an area of around 64km². Beyond the swampland, the lake is encircled by forests of the fever tree.

Lake Naivasha’s surface area depends on rainfall and the lake dried up completely in the early c.20th.

Lake Naivasha

Where does Lake Naivasha fit into your Kenyan adventure?

Lake Naivasha is easily accessible from Nairobi and the 98km journey takes around 2.5 hours along the Old Naivasha Road and the C88.

Naivasha’s proximity to the capital makes it a popular day trip, and the lake can get busy at the weekend. If you want to avoid the crowds, you should visit during the week or spend a few days in the area during as part of a wider itinerary.

Lake Naivasha is a short distance from Hell's Gate National Park and a taxi journey should take less than an hour. Some travellers choose to pair these attractions.

Lake Naivasha is equidistant between Nakuru and Nairobi, and it is easily accessible from both cities or a suitable halfway point if travelling between Nakuru and Nairobi.

Lake Naivasha

Wildlife at Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is famous for its high populations of hippos and flamingos. There are over 1,500 hippos in the area, and you are almost guaranteed to see one.

The lake is a birder’s paradise as it is home to over 400 bird species. Lesser and greater flamingos flock to the lake, forming a wash of bright pink across the lake's surface.

Giraffes, zebras, impalas, and waterbucks can be sighted in the immediate vicinity of Lake Naivasha, around Crescent Island, Crater Lake Game Sanctuary, and Longonot National Park. Lucky adventurers may even glimpse a leopard.

Lake Naivasha

Activities at Lake Naivasha

  • Lake Naivasha Boat Safari

    Boat safaris are one of the most popular activities at Lake Naivasha.

    Jetting out onto the lake is the best way to get up close to the hippos and flamingos in the lake. If you look to the shores, you may see zebras, wildebeest, and giraffes.

    A typical both safari on Lake Naivasha takes around an hour, and the lake’s sheer size means that you will not be distracted by the rumble of other boat engines.

  • Crescent Island

    Crescent Island, aptly named because of its crescent moon shape, is found on the east side of the lake near the town of Naivasha. Most of the lake's accommodation options are found in this area.

    Crescent Island home to a game sanctuary. Tours of the sanctuary last between 1.5-3 hours, and highlights include walking amongst the resident giraffes and zebras.

    Crescent Island is one of the most popular attractions in the Lake Naivasha area, and it was the primary filming location for the 1985 romantic drama 'Out of Africa'.

  • Crater Lake Game Sanctuary

    On the other side of the lake, you will find the Crater Lake Game Sanctuary. This small sanctuary is a great destination for hiking and it is home to giraffes, zebras, and over 150 bird species.

    The sanctuary has walking trails which follow the rim of the crater, and these routes offer breath-taking views.

    Night game drives can be organised at Crater Lake, and they are a great opportunity to see leopards, aardvark, caracal, and many other elusive species.

  • Longonot National Park

    Longonot National Park just 20km from Lake Naivasha, and the road journey takes around 45 minutes.

    The park derives its name from Mount Longonot, a stratovolcano which towers over the park at an elevation of 2,776m.

    It takes around 4-5 hours to climb the dormant volcano, and the views from the summit are extraordinary.

    Despite its length, the trek is not too physically demanding. If you complete the hike in the morning, you can spend a relaxing afternoon on a boat trip or game drive.

  • Elsamere Conservation Centre and Lodge

    Elsamere is the former home of the naturist, artist, and author, Joy Adamson. Adamson is famous for her book Born Free which documents her experiences of raising Elsa, an orphaned lion cub.

    Elsamere can be paired with the Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi, the former home of Danish author Karen Blixen.

    The house and gardens are beautiful, and they have been converted into a museum which showcases Adamson’s life and work.

    Visitors can also see the colobus monkeys and have tea in the gardens. This is a great spot to relax after exploring the park.

Getting to Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is only a short journey from Nairobi, so it is easily accessible from the capital.

The 98km journey takes around 2.5 hours along the Old Naivasha Road and the C88. The cheapest way to travel is via a matatu, a privately owned minibus which seats 7 or 8 people.

The Mololine Express will travel from Nairobi to Nakuru and you should get off at Naivasha Junction.

Lake Naivasha

Accommodation at Lake Naivasha

Sawela Lodges

Sawela Lodges is one of the most popular hotels in the Naivasha area. Situated 85km from Nairobi, Sawela is a 90-minute drive from the capital.

The lodge offers 90 rooms, and you can choose between Superior Rooms, Deluxe Rooms, Business Deluxe Rooms, a Business Suite, and an Executive Suite.

The restaurant is run by Chef Kennethy and his team prepare delicious dishes with fresh produce from local farms. Grilled tilapia is the restaurant’s signature dish.

The lodge has excellent facilities, including an outdoor swimming pool, football pitches, and volleyball and netball courts.

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha Resort

Located on Moi South Lake Road, Lake Naivasha Resort is just metres from Lake Naivasha. The resort’s facilities include 3 outdoor pools, the Acacia Restaurant, a jacuzzi, 2 bars, and a gym.

The spa is the perfect place to relax after a game drive or a Mount Longonot hike. You can choose between a variety of massage treatments, hydrotherapy, facials, and more.

The resort even has a conference centre that can house up to 2,000 guests, and it is a great destination for training conferences and team building.


Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha FAQs

  • When to visit Lake Naivasha?

    You can visit Lake Naivasha at any time of the year, but we recommend visiting during the week if possible. Lake Naivasha’s proximity to Nairobi means that it is a popular weekend escape for city dwellers. If you visit between Monday and Thursday, the stunning scenery will not be interrupted by city dwellers.

  • What is Lake Naivasha famous for?

    Lake Naivasha is famous for its strong populations of hippos and flamingos. There are over 1,500 hippos in the area, and you are almost guaranteed to see one. The lake is a birder’s paradise as it is home to over 400 bird species. Lesser and greater flamingos flock to the lake, forming a wash of bright pink across the lake's surface.

    Giraffes, zebras, impalas, and waterbucks can be sighted in the immediate vicinity of Lake Naivasha, around Crescent Island, Crater Lake Game Sanctuary, and Longonot National Park. Lucky adventurers may even glimpse a leopard.

  • Are there crocodiles in Lake Naivasha?

    No, there are not any crocodiles in Lake Naivasha. The lake is home to an abundance of other species, including hippos, flamingos, and over 400 bird species.

  • Is Lake Naivasha worth visiting?

    Lake Naivasha is worth visiting for travellers who are looking for a day trip from Nairobi. Lake Naivasha is easily accessible from Nairobi and the 98km journey takes around 2.5 hours along the Old Naivasha Road and the C88. Naivasha’s proximity to the capital makes it a popular day trip, and the lake can get busy at the weekend. If you want to avoid the crowds, you should visit during the week or spend a few days in the area during as part of a wider itinerary.

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