Elmenteita is derived from the Masaai word Muteita, meaning “dust place”. A reference to the dryness and dustiness of the area, especially between January and March. Elmenteita is between Lake Naivasha, just after Gilgil town and Lake Nakuru. The lake is along the major Nairobi-Nakuru highway. The lake is a protected area due to its birdlife fame and also it has been named as one of the heritage sites together with the Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria by UNESCO.
At the southern end of the lake are the “Kekopey” hot springs, in which the Tilapia grahami breed. Very popular for bathing, the local Maasai claim that it can cure many ailments. The reed beds nearby are fishing grounds for night herons and pelicans.
Lord Delamere (1879) was the first white settler when he established Soysambu, a 48,000-acre (190 km2) ranch, on the western side of the lake. Delamere gifted the land on the other side of the lake to his brother-in-law, the Honourable Galbraith Lowry Egerton Cole (1881), part of whose “Kekopey Ranch”, where he is buried, is preserved today as the Lake Elementaita Lodge.
Soysambu ranch is still privately owned by Lord Delamere’s descendants. The conservancy covers 2/3 of the shoreline and is home to over 12000 wild animals. The lake is normally very shallow (less than 1 m deep) and bordered by trona-encrusted mudflats during the dry seasons.
Over 400 bird species have been recorded in the Lake Nakuru/Lake Elmenteita basin. Elmenteita attracts visiting flamingoes, both the Greater and Lesser varieties, which feed on the lake’s crustacean and insect larvae and on its suspended blue-green algae, respectively. Tilapia were introduced to the lake from Lake Magadi in 1962. Since that time the flamingo population has dwindled considerably. The tilapia attracts many fish-eating birds that also feed upon the flamingo eggs and chicks. Recently the lake level and a number of flamingoes has receded as increased human activity has dried up catchment areas. Zebra, gazelle, eland and families of warthog graze the lake’s shores.
Activities: A botanical hike from the lodge along a ridge that is home to unique indigenous tree species, bush/ savannah walking, bird watching, game drive, climbing peaks of Ugali hill and Sleeping Warrior christened as “Delamare Nose”, Swimming, Quadbiking among others.
Day 1: Leave Nairobi after breakfast and head towards the great rift valley making a stop at the viewpoint. After 125km, we check in at the Lake Elementaita Lodge for lunch. Soon after the day’s heat subsidises, you can either do a game drive or have a leisure walk along the botanical ridge to the shores of the lake. Dine and overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: A pre-breakfast birding can be done. The main events of the day may be visiting the Kikopey hot springs, quad-biking or bushwalking. Relax at the swimming pool after lunch before heading back to Nairobi.