Lake Magadi and Shompole Conservancy are located in southern Kenya, around 2-3 hours drive from Nairobi, close to the the border of Tanzania. Lake Magadi is an amazing unique and serene destination for nature lovers, bird lovers and adventure camping tourists, in search of pristine camping grounds in this vast wilderness.
Lake Magadi is a shimmering expanse of nothingness and a mirage like lake in a kaleidoscope of differently shaded browns, wobbling in a wave of heat. This three-hour journey from nairobi through Kiserian one is ushered to breathtaking sceneries of the Ngong Hills (Another must do hiking trip) through severe countryside, sand and Acacia trees are your only companions for most of the potholed and dusty road.
On the way you can have a brief stopover at the Olorgesailie Prehistoric museum. Olorgesailie is a geological formation in East Africa containing a group of Lower Paleolithic archaeological sites. It is noted for the large number of Acheulean hand axes discovered there that are associated with animal butchering.
The lake is enclosed by the Aberdares, Loita HIlls and Mau Escarpment, it contains the most concentrated brine in the Kenyan Lake system. At times this salty lake turns bright pink due to algae bloom.
This saline lake is the southernmost lake in the Kenyan Great Rift Valley and occupies the lowest level of the valley measuring approximately 100sq kms. It is located in a semi desert area. Several streams of both hot and cold water flow into the lake. The hot water heavily impregnated with soda. During the dry season, the lake is mainly covered by soda (sodium carbonate).
Lake Magadi is well known for its wading birds, including flamingos and Pelicans. A number of wildlife is also found around the lake; this includes giraffes, antelopes, ostriches, zebras, wildebeests, hyenas, and a few lion families are only seen very early in the morning or at night when the temperatures are low.
Elephants and buffalos can be seen at the conservancy to the south of the lake although this isn’t a place for viewing animals this is a place to gaze in wonder at the scenery. To draw breath in Kenya’s raw nature, to marvel at the resilience of the life that exists here.
A single species of fish, a cichlid Alcolapia grahami, inhabits the hot, highly alkaline waters of this lake basin and is commonly seen in some of the hot spring pools around the shoreline, where the water temperature is less than 45°C.
A visit to Lake Magadi is worth it as it gives you the opportunity to glimpse inside the lives of one of the more famed Kenyan tribes, the Maasai. Peppered along the route are real Maasai Villages, (not tourist mimicry) but real people living real lives.
Life appears to have remained the same for centuries. Traditionally dressed villagers tend cows and babies, or in a nod to modern times wait at the roadside for boda bodas to bring cartons of water.
Lake Magadi Sports Club has a a swimming pool where visitors can cool off for a few hundred shillings and also serves hot and cold food all well flavoured and moreish.
While visiting the springs themselves it is a further drive on from the sports club, skirt the lake in the wet season. The hot springs are entirely natural and a dip in these springs is always best at the coolest time of the day. There are no facilities and no shade so lots of water is needed for everyone there. There are a group of local Maasai ladies who visit the springs to sells their crafts, a nice token to bring some money and buy some of their handiwork.
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