A Guide To Lake Kamnarok National Reserve

Lake Kamnarok National Reserve is the host of the only ox-bow lake in Kenya. The Lake Kamnarok National Reserve is located in Kerio valley in rift valley Kenya. The reserve is just next to Lake Bogoria. It was opened in the month of June 1983. The Lake Kamnarok National Reserve is a highly diverse landscape having a deep valley of 4, 000ft. The place is also covered with dry thorny bushes at the base and on the slopes of the valley is a totally contrasting scene having semitropical vegetation.

The Lake Kamnarok National Reserve is the home of various wild animals such as dik dik, bush pigs, waterbuck, elephant, buffalo, warthog, and Rothschild’s giraffe. Abundant varieties of birds are also found in Lake Kamnarok National Reserve mainly the water birds such as grebe and pelicans. Until five years ago the Lake Kamnarok National Reserve was well known for being the host of more than 15,000 crocodiles but now the lake is drying up and very few crocodiles still survive.

The Lake Kamnarok National Reserve was a place which attracted a lot of tourist. It was a place where elephants quenched their thirst and site which was famous due to bird watching. The lake is basically drying up fast and something has to be done to save the Lake Kamnarok National Reserve.

Those visiting the Lake Kamnarok National Reserve should be aware that there is no accommodation. The reserve is found 262 Kms from Nairobi. Access to the Lake Kamnarok National Reserve is by road though not all that smooth. The reserve has savannah landscape and spectacular mountains.

There is need to train and educate the locals on how to reserve the Lake Kamnarok game reserve because through their destruction, the reserve will be lost. Their lives will be in damage because they will lack water for their domestic use and for livestock.

Activities such as cutting down trees, poisoning of the lake, excessive irrigation and diverting the source of water to the Lake Kamnarok National Reserve has to be prevented. The local community has for since time immemorial relied on the treasured water of Lake Kamnarok game reserve but it is sad to witness how this lake has dried up so fast in the last five years.

The lake was the home of animal water like crocodiles and waster birds , it was also the source of water for other wild animals even from the neighboring Rimoi Game Reserve in Keiyo District and livestock of the local people. This is however not the case today. T

he lake has dried up and the crocodiles that ones lived there are no more. Therefore people have to be educated to stop tampering with the catchment areas especially among people who reside in the Turgen hills which is the major source of water for Lake Kamnarok National Reserve. These people are very much engaged in the burning of charcoal which is a common trend that has worsened the situation in the reserve.

Also other streams from, Pemwai , Seretunin and Morop forest have dried up due to deforestation yet they were the streams which feed Lake Kamnarok and Kirandich dam. It is mainly sad to see a lake which covered 13.5 square kilometers being reduced to nothing. It was the second largest lake with a high capacity of crocodiles in Africa.

Former Lake Kamnarok National Reserve
Former Lake Kamnarok National Reserve

Lake Kamnarok

Lake Kamnarok is a lake in Kenya, at the base of the Kerio Valley. The name originated from the word narok, which is a species of water plant that was widely found in the lake in the early stages of the lake formation.

The lake is 1 km² in size. It was in existence before 1961 but the flood rains of that year led to its enlargement. The flooding disaster saw people living in the area being evacuated in order to save lives. Helicopters were used during the evacuation exercise to airlift people to the higher ground of Maab Konga- a hill near Muchukwo trading centre.

The lake was gazetted in 1984, when Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve was created. This is the home of 500 elephants.

Lake Kamnarok used to be a swamp back in the 1890s. Great rains between 1901 and 1927 resulted in the rapid expansion of the lake which then dried up in 1935 due to drought. It is said that when the waters returned, they brought with them a new member of the community – the Nile Crocodile. The Nile Crocodile quickly adapted to this environment, multiplying in number.

During this period the lake housed an estimated 20,000 Nile Crocodile hence its other name, ‘The Place of a Thousand and One Crocodiles’. At that time Lake Kamnarok had the second highest concentration of Nile crocodiles in Africa after Lake Chad. Then came the drought of 2007-2008 and the lake dried up again and despite subsequent rains, it never recovered. There were images in the media of dead crocodiles scattered all over the bed of the lake – the famous Lake Kamnarok was no more!

The reasons that were cited for the death of the lake included the uncontrolled burning of charcoal and tree felling in the 21,933.9 ha Embobut forest which resulted to the degradation of the Lake’s catchment. The rapid dehydration of Kerio river, which was a main inlet for the lake, as a result of the drought, was a second contributing factor.

The fact that the surrounding community did not get adequately involved in the on-going conservation efforts such as the building of gabions, is thought to have also contributed to the demise of the lake. There was of course the unending dispute regarding the relocation of people out of the area to establish the Lake Kamnarok National Reserve (hence, perhaps, the reason for lack of community participation).

Facts About Lake Kamnarok National Reserve

  • Area- 87.7 Km2
  • Altitude- 1,520 and 1,680 M above sea level
  • Gazetted- 1983
  • Distance from Nairobi- 350 Km

What To See At Lake Kamnarok National Reserve

The Reserve, just like the Rimoi National Reserve, has a variety of birdlife including the African Jacana, grebe, hammerkop, heron, egret, ibis, tree duck and the Egyptian goose. Elephants which can be seen under the close cver of the bush during the day are in abundance – in fact at one point the elephant population in this reserve numbered over 500. You can catch thoe jumbos at dawn as they go down the banks of Kerio River to drink. Other wildlife to see here include the Bushbuck, dik-dik, Olive baboons, vervet monkeys, impala, leopard, hyena and waterbuck.

 Lake Kamnarok National Reserve Contacts

Attraction Type: Wildlife
Category: Game Reserve
Region: North Rift
City / Town: Kerio valley
Road / Street: Biretwo-Chesongoch Road
Telephone: 254 20 600 0800 254 20 600 2345 254 20 237 9407
Entrance Fee: Yes