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February 19, 2018

Travel Review: Birding and horseback riding at Lake Elmenteita

Horseback riding at Lake Elmenteita
Horseback riding at Lake Elmenteita

The soda-rich waters of Lake Elmenteita, situated in Soysambu Conservancy, are home to a huge diversity of birds and the endangered Rothschild giraffe.

Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp is one of only two hotels inside this 45,000-acre private wilderness. An afternoon walk along the lake with Serena’s naturalist, Richard Kipngeno, was a chance to learn about waders and water birds. We saw Egyptian geese, spoonbills, egrets, a fish eagle, grey-headed gulls and three-banded plovers.

The lake is home to hundreds of greater and lesser flamingos. They gather in noisy congregations in the shallow water to feed on tiny blue-green algae that turns their plumage pink. 

Every evening, great white pelicans return from feeding in Lake Naivasha and bathe where the fresh waters of the Mbaruk River flow into the lake. This is the first year of breeding among pelicans since 2013, when floodwaters buried the nesting grounds. Small islands near the lake edge are now crammed with young pelicans still learning how to fly. On a nearby island, grey-headed gulls are also sitting on nests.

Horse riding is an enjoyable way to experience the conservancy and view animals close up. Beginners take a leisurely stroll on the outskirts of the hotel, and experienced riders can go on longer excursions, where you are likely to see eland, buffaloes, waterbucks, impalas, zebra and giraffes.

In the acacia forest, we came across a rare brown snake eagle one morning. West of the lake, the open woodland spreads into short grass savannahs that attract ground-feeding birds, such as red-capped larks, black-winged lapwing and grassland pipits. We also sighted a group of grey-crowned cranes, which are a threatened species. Over 140 bird species spotted in two days.

For the activities closer to home, Serena Camp organises archery, yoga, a session of cookery and water colours painting. On a nature walk around the hotel, you are likely to spot small, green lovebirds, hadada ibis and fork-tailed drongo, which like to imitate other bird calls. Breakfast served on the lakeside looking across to Sleeping Warrior Hill is a wonderful start to the day. 

 

LOCATION: Rift Valley, Nakuru county

ACCESS: 2 1/2hour drive along the A102/Nairobi-Nakuru highway

CONTACTS: L. Elmenteita Serena 020 2842400, 0732123333, [email protected]

 

Star Rating: 4.5/5

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