Lake Victoria KE - Properties

Lake Victoria KE - Properties

Lake Victoria or Victoria Nyanza (also known as Ukerewe, The Eye of the Rhino, Nalubaale, Sango, or Lolwe) is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, by John Hanning Speke, the first European to visit this lake.

With a surface area of 26,600 sq mi, Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by area, and it is the largest tropical lake in the world. Lake Victoria is the world's second largest freshwater lake by surface area (Only Lake Superior in North America is larger.)

Lake Victoria, which is twice the size of Wales, forms a natural boundary between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The lake is the heart of the African continent, the source of its mightiest river, the Nile. In the 19th century the riddle of the Nile was one of the great enigmas of African exploration. After many expeditions failed, John Hanning Speke finally reached these shores in 1858. The Nile flows northwards, carrying the waters of Nyanza to Egypt and beyond into the Mediterranean.

This mighty body of water is rich in fish life, with shimmering shoals of colourful cichlids and large Nile Perch. Nyanza province is the heartland of the Luo, a tribe known as formidable fisherman. Fishing brings many visitors to this lake, mainly in search of the Nile Perch, considered a world class game fish. There are three separate fishing lodges on islands within Victoria.

Attractions and Activities:

Fishing: Troll for enormous Nile perch along the shores and in the shallow waters of Lake Victoria, or cast for tilapia at sunset from the jetty.

Boat rides: Traditional excursions in a boat on the Lake.

Bird watching: Various walking trails or boat excursions along the lake shore for bird watching (Black headed gonolek, Double toothed barbet)

Culture: Visits to nearby local villages and school.

Water sports: Waterskiing, water sports and swimming either in the lake or pool

Active: Trail walking or jogging on Island paths, visit prehistoric cave paintings

How to Get There

By Air: Scheduled flights daily from Nairobi to Kisumu on Kenya Airways (45 minutes). Road transfer to lodge

 

By Road: Approximately 6 hours’ drive from Nairobi.

LAKE MAGADI

Overview

Often overlooked by tourists because it is located in a remote area at the Kenyan south border with Tanzania, Magadi area is known for being one of the hottest and driest places of Kenya and for its pinkish mirror-like soda lake.

A visit to Magadi lake is a nice one-day safari from Nairobi and it is worth a visit for its general landscape, for the wonderful colors of its soda water and for its birdlife.

The town of Magadi as well as the soda lake are owned and exploited by a multinational company who export the valuable sodium carbonate.

At only two hour’s drive from Nairobi and located in the heart of Maasai land in southern Rift Valley, Magadi is a perfect one-day excursion to see how a semi-solid soda lake looks like.

Attractions and Activities:

The Lake: Located at the base of the Rift Valley, Lake Magadi is a vision in pink. As you approach the lake, the views are splendid and you will probably see the Maasai grazing their cattle. At an altitude of 580 m, this is the second-lowest of the Rift Valley lakes. It is 20 miles long and 1.8 miles wide and is the most alkaline of all the Kenyan Rift Valley lakes. The highly alkaline water, with its accumulated minerals and salts, makes the surrounding soils near the lakes alkaline. This has the knock-on effect of turning ivory and bones into fossils. The high rate of evaporation is the only way by which water escapes from the lake. Several hot springs, mostly at the southern end of the lake, bring to the surface a continual supply of magadi(soda), which evaporates forming a crust of sodium carbonate. It is only 68 miles from Nairobi but the climate - semi-desert with temperatures around 100°F - is very different to that of the capital. A soda ash factory has been built on the lakeshore, and the town of Magadi has grown up around this.

Birdlife: Any keen birder with an interest in Kenya's world famous flamingo population should not miss the breeding grounds at Lake Magadi. A large seasonal population of flamingo comes here to nest within the safety of these desolate salt flats. The surrounding baking hot salt flats, uncrossable by predators, offer total protection. The Flamingos are mostly found at the southern end of the lake, while the freshwater springs in the north attract a host of other birdlife.

The flamingo breeding grounds here are an important bird area, and are frequently visited by specialist birding safaris. Other species of interest recorded here include the African Spoonbill, Cape Teal, Great Egret and the Avocet.

On the plains, further away from the salt flats, other game including giraffe, eland and baboons, can be found.

Trekking: Lake Magadi is the finishing point for treks from the Nguruman Escarpment and the Loita Hills. These lengthy treks wind their way down from these cool forested highlands to the sweltering plains of Magadi, often taking 5-7 days. These treks are a wonderful way to experience the southern Maasai land, and present ample opportunities for game and bird watching, wonderful views and encounters with remote Masai villages.

Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site: A trip to this important prehistoric site can be combined with a visit to Lake Magadi. The site covers an area of 21 ha, and is the largest archaeological site in Kenya. It was discovered in 1919 by geologist JW Gregory and later in the 1940s excavated by Kenya's most famous archaeologists, Mary and Louis Leakey. A team from the Smithsonian Institute in the USA continues to work here. In 1947 it was given national heritage status.

It is believed that a lake covered the present site of the mountain in prehistoric times, and that various mammals, including elephants, hippos, crocodiles and giraffes, lived near or in the lake. The abundant presence of game attracted hunters to this area. These early hunters are believed to have fashioned stone tools and axes. Fossilized remains of prehistoric animals, some gigantic compared to their descendants, and an abundance of Acheulean hand axes and other stone tools were uncovered here. A small, raised wooden walkway has been built around the display of prehistoric animal remains and tools, enabling the fossils to be exhibited where they were found; a guide is on hand to take you around.

The People and Cultural Visits: This is real Maasai country, and there are plenty of real Maasai handicrafts on sale. When buying these goods, bargaining is the expected norm. The “shukka’ is the blanket seen worn by most Maasai, always red blended with black, blue or other colors. They are warm and functional blankets, ideal for the chill of early mornings on safari.

How to Get There:

By Road: Access to Magadi is directly from Nairobi (68 miles).