Exploring the Great Rift Valley: 7 Scenic Wonders

If you’re an adventurous traveller who loves exploring nature’s wonders, you’ll love the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. The Rift Valley region offers an unforgettable experience with its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and unique cultures.

Spanning more than 6,000 km, the Great Rift Valley is home to several scenic wonders that are a must-visit for any nature lover. From large water bodies and escarpments to diverse wildlife reserves and cultures, there is much to explore in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya.

Here’s a guide to exploring seven wonders and experiencing the beauty of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. Let’s dive into this wonderful nature exploration.

Exploring the Great Rift Valley: 7 Scenes

1. Lake Nakuru

Exploring the Great Rift Valley: Lake Nakuru National Park.

The first stop to explore the Great Rift Valley should be Lake Nakuru. Lake Nakuru is a world-famous soda lake renowned for its flamingos. The lake is at the bottom of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. It’s 159 km from Nairobi and easily accessible through the Nairobi-Malaba highway.

Lake Nakuru is surrounded by woodland and grassland, and it hosts the Lake Nakuru National Park. It is home to over 100 endangered black and white rhinos, endangered Rothchild’s giraffe and other wild animals, including some of the Big Five.

Lake Nakuru also has millions of pink flamingos that roam freely around the lake, making it one of the most beautiful lakes in Kenya. In addition, the park has over 500 bird species, such as the pelican, which you can explore with the help of a guide.

You can take a boat tour around the lake for a unique view of the wildlife and picturesque landscapes. A safari guide will help you make the most of your boat trip to the lake.

The Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the top camping sites where you can enjoy a sleep under the skies. The camps in the park provide a nice experience for nature lovers. In addition, while camping, you can spot various wildlife from your campsite.

However, if you need modern accommodation options in Nakuru, you can choose from various luxury hotels. Most of these hotels have safari packages where you can explore Lake Nakuru National Park with the guides.

The best time to visit Lake Nakuru National Park for wildlife viewing is during the dry season, which occurs between July and October Each year. This time is ideal because there is less vegetation, and it’s easy to spot the animals.

2. Exploring the Great Rift Valley: Hell’s Gate National Park

Hell's Gate National Park

The Hell’s Gate should be your must-see when exploring the Great Rift Valley. This park is located 101 km from Nairobi. The Hell’s Gate Park is in every hiker’s dream. With towering cliffs and hot springs, there’s no shortage of amazing sights to see.

Hell’s Gate Park is famous for the geothermal activities in the area caused by the Great Rift Valley. For instance, there are geysers, hot springs, and geothermal steam vents. In addition, the area has towering cliffs and rocks suitable for hikers.

Beyond the cliffs, the park has diverse savannah woodland grassland and volcanic rocks. From the cliffs, you can have breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

The Hell’s Gate Park has wildlife like buffalos, giraffes, zebras, and baboons. In addition, the park has over 100 bird species that bird enthusiasts can enjoy identifying. With the help of a guide, you can get the best experience exploring Hell’s Gate in the Great Rift Valley.

Furthermore, Hell’s Gate borders the Masai community, which has diverse cultural activities you can learn about during your stay. The Masai community is one of the most indigenous tribes in Kenya. And you will definitely like their cultural activities.

In addition, there is evidence of the early man’s remains in the park. There are also prehistoric rocks and archaeological sites within the park.

You can book accommodation in one of the hotels around the Hell’s Gate National Park. Most of these hotels have guides to help you navigate through the park.

3. The Maasai Mara National Reserve

Exploring the Great Rift Valley: Lions in Masai Mara National Park

You cannot stop exploring the Great Rift Valley without passing by Kenya’s most famous National Park—Masai Mara. Masai Mara is one of the world’s greatest wildlife reserves. The park is located 230km from Nairobi.

Masai Mara National Park is home to the famous ‘Big Five’ (lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalos), cheetahs, zebras, wildebeests, and more. Furthermore, the park is widely known for the Great Wildebeest Migration, which occurs between July and October each year.

See Also: Lake Naivasha, Nakuru and Masai Mara safari tour.

In addition, if you visit during the wildebeest migration, you will have a chance to watch this famous annual event in Kenya. During the wildebeest migration, millions of wildebeest cross the Mara River in search of greener pastures and water. The attraction of predators in the river, such as crocodiles, makes this migration risky for them and, at the same time, an amazing view for the tourists.

You can also take a hot air balloon tour for a once-in-a-lifetime park view. The hot air balloon safari offers one of the best experiences in Masai Mara because the balloon can reach over areas that safari cars cannot.

Furthermore, don’t say you will finish exploring Masai Mara in the Great Rift Valley without visiting the Masai villages surrounding the park. Most hotels and camps in this area offer a visit to Masai villages at an added cost, depending on whether you have an all-inclusive pack.

Additionally, visiting Masai Village will give you amazing knowledge of the local traditions and cultural events. You will listen to their fireplace stories of how their warriors kill lions and other wild animals that attempt to attract their livestock.

4. Mount Longonot National Park

Mount Longonot

At 2,776 m tall, Mount Longonot is an impressive sight you shouldn’t leave while exploring the Great Rift Valley. This park is 76km from Nairobi and is a popular destination for hikers. This stratovolcano is believed to have erupted over 100,000 years ago.

Mount Longonot National Park is a popular hiking spot for visitors to the region. On top of the mountainsides, you can view the Great Rift Valley beneath you. In addition, it’s also a nice place to view Lake Naivasha.

The mount has a large crater on top of it, filled with small trees. If you are a hiking pro, you will likely reach this mountain’s top sides and explore the crater. However, be ready to climb and descend rocks on your way up.

You can also spot wildlife, such as zebras, gazelles, buffaloes, giraffes, and hartbeests. The park also has several bird species you can spot on game drives or walks.

Something else you can do in Mount Longonot National Park is biking. You can hire a bike from your hotel and accompany a guide as a group of tourists.

When exploring Mount Longonot in the Great Rift Valley, you can stay in Naivasha, just 26 kilometres apart. Most hotels here offer tour guides to visit nearby attractions, including Mount Longonot National Park.

5. Lake Naivasha

Exploring the Great Rift Valley: Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha should also be on your bucket list when exploring the Great Rift Valley. Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake in the Great Rift Valley. It is located 91 km from Nairobi and is accessible through the Nairobi Nakuru highway.

Naivasha is a popular spot for birdwatching, with over 400 species recorded in the area. Therefore, if you like watching and identifying birds, you will have a great time at Lake Naivasha. Pink flamingoes and other birds, such as pelicans, kingfishers, African fish eagles, hawks, etc, around the shores. In addition, most birds in Lake Naivasha are birds of prey.

See Also: Naivasha hidden treasures.

Most of these prey birds rest on the dead trees inside the lake, where they can conveniently monitor the fish’s movement. You will have a thrilling experience of watching them catch fish at the lake.

Lake Naivasha National Park is well known for its huge herds of hippos. They stay at the lake during the day and come out to feed at night. Therefore, you can go for a night game drive around the lake for an encounter with some of the hippos. In addition, there are other animals, such as zebras, giraffes, gazelles, etc.

The people of Naivasha also do fishing in the lake. Therefore, you can ask some fishermen whether you can accompany them during their catch if you like fishing. This will also give you further opportunity to explore the lake.

There are various accommodation options around Lake Naivasha, with all-inclusive packages for boat rides and safari tours.

6. Thompson’s Falls

When exploring the wonders of the Great Rift Valley, Thompson’s Falls should be on your list. They are located 3km from Nyahururu. Joseph Thompson, a Scottish explorer, discovered the falls in the late 19th century, hence the name Thompsom.

The falls drop 74 meters and are surrounded by lush vegetation and dramatic cliffs, making it a perfect picnic spot for visitors to the region. The falls are formed in the Ewaso Ng’iro River.

Thompson Falls is located near the equator. In addition, the falls are 2360m above sea level. This makes it a great spot for hikers to view the falls from Nyahururu town. You can go for a nature walk with local tour guides, who will guide you to the best viewpoints of the falls.

The area has several bird species you can watch and identify with the help of local guides. Around the falls are the Columbus monkeys and baboons that inhabit the green plantation.

Furthermore, you can engage in fishing below the falls to catch various fish. You can also swim beneath the falls and experience the falling waters firsthand.

While exploring the Thompson Falls in the Great Rift Valley, you can stay in Nyahururu town, where there are affordable accommodation options.

7. Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park with Mount Kilimanjaro views.

The Amboseli National Park is one of the best destinations for exploring the Great Rift Valley. It’s located at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro and is perfect for experiencing the best of Africa’s wildlife. The park is well known for its great herds of elephants. In addition, you can also spot lions, giraffes, zebras, impalas, and other animals.

You can take a safari tour through the park for the best wildlife sightings. You can spot four of the Big Five family without the rhinos in the park. Most camps and lodges around this park have game drives where you can explore the park. In addition, some offer hot air balloon safaris where you can explore wildlife from above.

If you are a hiking enthusiast, you can go for an organized hike on Mount Kilimanjaro and experience what it is like to be on the highest peak in Africa. Nevertheless, you can comfortably view Mount Kilimanjaro from your tent in Amboseli National Park.

A nature walk through the bushes will be a nice experience to be closer to nature. However, you should always go with a guide to help you follow the less endangered trails.

Amboseli National Park also borders the Masai community, which comprises pastoralists. It will be a nice experience visiting some of their homesteads and realising their living nature. This community has the most traditional way of living, from their clothes to the means they eat.

For instance, the Masais mostly feed on milk, meat, honey, and wild herbs. In addition, they hardly visit hospitals because they know how to make their own herbs to cure common diseases. And apparently, they have a high immunity, so you cannot compare them.

Exploring the Great Rift Valley: Summary

Forget the coast. Exploring the Great Rift Valley is one of the most fulfilling phenomenons you can encounter as a tourist in Kenya. From Lake Nakuru’s flamingos to Amboseli National Park’s incredible wildlife, the Great Rift Valley is an unforgettable destination for nature lovers.

With seven different scenic wonders to explore, there’s never a shortage of amazing sights in the region. So, if you’re looking for an adventure that will leave you awe-inspired, pack your bags and head to the Great Rift Valley!

Exploring the Great Rift Valley: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Great Rift Valley?

The Great Rift Valley is a vast geographical trench, approximately 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) in length, stretching from the Middle East to Mozambique in East Africa. It is characterized by a series of interconnected rifts, faults, and escarpments.

  1. What geological processes formed the Great Rift Valley?

The Great Rift Valley was formed by the tectonic movements of the Earth’s crust, primarily due to the separation of the African and Arabian tectonic plates. This geological activity has led to the creation of deep rifts, escarpments, and volcanic formations.

  1. What wildlife can be found in the Great Rift Valley?

The Great Rift Valley is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including iconic African species such as elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, rhinoceroses, and numerous bird species. National parks within the Rift Valley, such as Masai Mara and Amboseli, offer safaris and wildlife viewing opportunities.

4. What is the best time of year to visit the Great Rift Valley?

The best time to visit the Great Rift Valley depends on your interests and activities. Generally, the dry season (June to October) is ideal for wildlife viewing and outdoor activities. However, different regions within the Rift Valley may have varying climates and optimal times for travel.

5. Are there any conservation efforts in place to protect the Great Rift Valley?

Yes, numerous conservation organizations and national governments are actively involved in preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the Great Rift Valley. Efforts include establishing national parks, wildlife reserves, and community-based conservation initiatives to protect biodiversity and promote sustainable tourism.

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