A Guide To Lake Bogoria National Reserve
In the past, Lake Bogoria National Reservewas called Hannington after a bishop who explored the area. When Bishop Hannington saw the lake, he described it as “the most beautiful view in Africa” With the backdrop of the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley, it is a stunning beauty that has always enchanted visitors. The contrast in colours from the grasslands into the lake and the sky can only describe the place as nature’s studio’.
Lake Bogoria was gazetted on November 20, 1973 as a national reserve. It is 10km north of the Equator and 285km north of nairobi. It sits on the floor of the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley at an altitude of 1000m above sea level from which the escarpment forms one of Kenya’s most pictures que backdrops.
It is 107km sq and most of the reserve is occupied by Lake Bogoria, a spectacular sight reflecting searing blue skies and the rose pink of flamingos. It is well known for its hot springs and geysers dotting thesouthern shore of the lake. In the steam jets, an egg can be boiled and cooked in seven minutes!
Sulphur water gushes out of the ground and it is known to have therapeutic value. The hot springs are natural spas and steam baths. The hot spring water geysers are extremely hot – the gushing out water is at boiling point and visitors are forewarned to be Careful.
Facts About Lake Bogoria National Reserve
Altitude: 1,000 – 1,600 meters above sea level.
Area: 107 sq km of which 34 sq km is water.
Location: Rift Valley Province, Koibatek and Baringo Districts.
Distance from Nairobi: 266 km.
Gazetted: November 1973.
Status: the reserve became Kenya’s 3rd Ramsar site in 2001 (Convention of Wetlands of International Importance), and has been designated a World Heritage Site.
Climate: a semi-arid area, the reserve’s rain falls April-May, July-August and October-November.
Vegetation: mainly thorny bushland dominated by species of Acacia, Balanites and Commiphora with patches of riverine woodland containing Ficus capensis , Acacia xanthophloea and Acacia tortilis . The open shore is dominated by alkaline- tolerant grasslands of Sporobolus spicatus with the sedge Cyperus laevigatus around the hot springs. The lower slopes of the Siracho Escarpment are covered by Combretum and Grewia thicket.
Wildlife: greater kudu, cheetah, hyena, jackal and leopard.
Birds: A birding paradise with over 222 species recorded.
Roads: the reserve’s only road is navigable (though potholed) with 2WD to Loburu Springs, thereafter 4WD is recommended and essential if you wish to access the road’s furthest point at Fig Tree Camp. The road used to circumnavigate the lake beyond Fig Tree, but is no longer in use.
Other facilities: there is a Community Environmental Education Centre located at Loboi Gate open 8am to 5pm daily (free of charge).
Accommodation: Lake Bogoria Hotel, Lake Bogoria Lodge.
What to see in Lake Bogoria
Lake Bogoria National Reserve is the home of Africa’s most magnificent antelope, the greater kudu, and of other savannah wildlife: Zebra, impala,Gra nt’s gazelle, Klipspringer, buffalo, dik dik and Patas monkey, among others. Predators include the leopard, cheetah, hyena, mongoose, jackal and Karakul cat.
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Lake Bogoria National Reserve has 135 species of birds. Like Lake Nakuru thousands of flamingoes, greater kudu, impala, buffalo, zebras, klipspringer and leopards attract visitors to the reserve. In the recent past, it has become most stable home of the lesser flamingo with a population approaching two million birds. This is in addition to more than 310 resident and 50 migratory species of birds – 374 bird species have been recorded.
Most animals are seen early in the morning or in late afternoon due to the hot weather conditions. It has a closed drainage system, meaning that the water is alkaline supports only microscopic algae with no fish. In 2000, Lake Bogoria was named the third RAMSAR site in Kenya
What To Do At Lake Baringo National Reserve
Birding, boat trips, game watching, picnicking, nature walking,
How to get to Lake Bogoria National Reserve
There are three gates to Lake Bogoria National Reserve, all of them accessible from by-roads off the B4 main road leading to Baringo. The main gate is Loboi Gate, at the lake’s north end. The detour eastward from the B4 is 4 km south of Marigat. A paved road, the E461, heads for Loboi and the gate after a 21 km stretch.
The two remaining gates are southward, taking the east turn off B4 at Mogotio, 59 km south of Marigat. This road covers some 20 km up to Mugurin. One kilometer ahead, the road branches in two. The left track heads on for some 20 km until a right turn-off which leads you to Maji Moto Gate, close to the hot springs. On the other hand, the track at the right, badly damaged and quite steep at some stretches, covers 14 km before reaching Emsos Gate, the southernmost gate, at the reserve’s forest area.
Finally, there is also a scenic route to reach Emsos Gate from Nakuru, climbing from the Rift Valley bed up the eastern escarpment to drop back down again to Bogoria. A good part of this way is only accessible to 4WD vehicles. Leaving Nakuru along the A104 to Nairobi, take the tarmac B5 road northeastward to Nyahururu. Along the way there are several detours heading northward for Bogoria, taking as reference points the towns of Subukia and Solai. If you are not self-driven, you can take a bus or matatu for the paved stretch, but afterwards you will have to walk and it can take as long as two days.
Accommodation And Hotels at Lake Bogoria National Reserve
There are no lodges at Bogoria, just a couple of hotel-style accommodations. Both are located outside the reserve, nearby Loboi Gate. The Lake Bogoria Hotel offers a hot water pool. Nearby is the Papyrus Inn, belonging to the same owner as the Papyrus Annex in Baringo. You may camp at the garden here for a modest fee.
If you prefer a lodge-style place, the best choice is to stay at one of the Lake Baringo lodges. From there you can arrange a day trip to Bogoria.
Camping at Lake Bogoria National Reserve
Lake Bogoria National Reserve hosts three camp sites, all south of the lake and all without facilities, so bring your own supplies. The one you will hear about is the Fig Tree Campsite, a place shaded by the figs, traversed by a clear water stream and with a natural jacuzzi, a cool haven within Bogoria’s high daylight temperatures. The access to the site is a winding rocky narrow track. The Acacia Campsite, obviously placed underneath the acacias, lies at the rocky lake shore and has latrines. Finally, the Riverside Campsite does not have even water.
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There is also the chance to camp by the Loboi Gate, as well as at the Papyrus Inn garden.
Lake Bogoria Hot Springs
Around Lake Bogoria are some 200 hot springs with water temperatures from 39 to 98.5° C. Nearly all these springs are very close to the lake or – even inside the lake.
There are several larger groups of hot springs around Lake Bogoria, in four of these groups are known geysers.
Lake Bogoria hot springs in general have high content of CO2 gas – this is one additional reason for wild boiling of the springs.
Some 60 hot springs with 6 geysers are located in Loburu. Further south is Chemurkeu group with 40 springs, including 4 geysers. At the south-eastern end are Koibobei springs with at least 3 geysers. At the eastern side are Losaramat springs with 17 springs, 3 geysers among them. Together – at least 16 geysers. Since 1975 here have been registered at least 18 geysers, but several have disappeared now.
All geysers are located very low – almost in the level of lake or even below it. As the level of lake changes, some geysers are inundated and stop their activity but some others start to explode. Whole colonies of specific microorganisms are linked to these hot springs and geysers.