Lake Naivasha National Park to a bird lover is what Masai Mara is to an animal lover. It’s a peep into God’s colourful creations and how they co-exist. The place is bird photographer’s delight. How close can you get to the birdie without scaring it? If you are on a boat in Lake Naivasha, the answer is real close… at times closer than 5 meters even!!!
If you love birds, including the pigeons and crows that have a nest on your window sil, and enjoy watching them soar, fly and glide, you must visit Lake Naivasha National Park. I spent about one hour sailing on a boat and didn’t want the boat ride to end… sadly, it did!Want to set sail? Here are a few things that you need to know as you include Lake Naivasha in your itinerary…
Lake Naiasha is an ‘optional activity’….
I did a 4 days trip to Kenya, which, as per the set itinerary shared by the tour company, included only Lake Nakuru National Park and Masai Mara National Park. Boat ride on the waters of Lake Naivasha was mentioned as an ‘optional activity’ and was charged over and above the tour cost. However, Lake Naivasha is en-route from Lake Nakruru to Masai Mara and the tour companies typically do not charge extra to drive you to the park and wait for a couple of hours.
What can be done at Lake Naivasha?
The answer is pretty obvious – boating! There are boat safaris conducted to allow one to get close to the birds. The lake is also renowned for a healthy population of hippos and it is common to sight them lazing in the swampy area of the lake. Sometimes, they seem to be too close to the boat… way too close for comfort!
Besides the boat ride/boat safari, one can go for a walk in the woods where the zebras, giraffes and water bucks are merrily snacking on grass. I preferred the boat ride and was happy clicking the mammals from a distance instead of trespassing over their property.
How much does it cost?
Almost every resort by the lakeside offers boating facility. Typically, it costs USD 100 for the boat per hour. If you are in a group, the costs get split and it is obviously, much cheaper. You may try your luck at negotiating a little if you intend to take a boat from a small hotel. I did not pay any additional park fee to any forest authority – USD 100 per boat was all that I shelled out.
I was provided with a life jacket as I made myself feel at home in the boat. I was pleasantly surprised that the jacket was clean and dry. While the boat was small, it was clean and fairly stable with three people (including me) on board. I felt comfortable with my treasured camera equipment on board. Everything stayed dry and safe during the boat ride.
What facilities are available at Lake Naivasha?
The facilities available at the lake side are a function of the resort/lodge that organises the boat safari/boat ride. I went to a four star lodge, where there was a lovely al-fresco restaurant/coffee shop, ample parking and clean washrooms. I really didn’t need anything more than this for a two hour break!
How much time should one budget for the activities?
One can visit Lake Naivasha between Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara. Considering that it is only 100 km or so from Nairobi and takes about 1.5 hours to get here by road from Nairobi, one can do it as a half day trip from the capital city as well.
I would recommend budgeting at least one hour on the boat, about 30 minutes for booking the boat, and finding a guide and about 30 minutes to sip on a cup of coffee while the birds swoop over head and the water bucks wade through shallow muddy waters, making it a total of about two hours at the lakeside.
What should one carry for the boat safari?
I would recommend that you reach the park by 8 am, when the sun is not too harsh. Check the weather conditions and try visiting on a bright sunny morning. Remember to take your sun hat, sun glasses and sunscreen. Wear a cotton shirt to keep cool in the heat and cover your arms to avoid a sun burn. I would recommend wearing loose bottom lowers which guard you from mosquito bites, but can be rolled up if you need to wade through water. Wear waterproof shoes or flip flops are good to have… you will be on a lakeside!
Carry your binoculars and a zoom lens. I used a 100-400 mm Canon lens and was fairly happy with the results. Ask your guide to call the African fish eagle and make sure that you get a shot of the bird ‘fishing’!
Any other queries…send me an e-mail! Glad to help!
Let the travellers’ tribe grow!