Lake Bogoria is one of Kenya’s lesser celebrated Rift Valley lakes which provides as much beauty and inspiration as few other dramatic lakes in the region. Formerly known as Lake Hannington, the lake is located at 0˚ 11” – 0˚ 20” N latitude and 36˚ 07” E – 36˚ 15” E longitude.
It is one of the series of alkaline lakes in the Eastern Rift Valley, covering an area of approximately 34 sq. km, and has a catchment area of 1,207 sq. km. The Lake’s salinity is generally about 35 %, conductivity ranges from 10 mS/cm to 70 mS/cm with average alkalinity of 133.9 meq/l, and the pH range falls between 9.8 and 10.3.
Such importance is the lake that it was declared a Ramsar Site and the Lake Bogoria National Reserve has been a protected area since the early 1970s. The saline lake lies just south of Lake Baringo. It offers ideal conditions as a home to the world’s largest populations of lesser flamingoes (Phoeniconaias minor).
Due to the lake’s alkalinity, blue-green algae grow well, this, in turn, feeds the flamingoes. At times the number of flamingoes feeding in the lake may be as many as two million – creating a wonderful undulating blaze of pink as the flamingoes go about their feeding.
This scene of brilliant pink flamingoes by the millions is only found in the Rift Valley Lakes of Kenya, with a similar experience to found at Lake Nakuru, and so is not replicated anywhere else in the world, due to the very specific environment needed by the birds.
Aside from the flamingoes, there are many other birds and animals to see at Lake Bogoria such as buffalo, zebra, baboon, warthog, caracal, spotted hyena, impala, and dik-diks.
Lake Bogoria is an endorheic soda lake with hot springs, geysers, and fumaroles along its shore. It is fed by the hot springs, the geysers, four seasonal rivers, and numerous seasonal streams. The rivers are Waseges-Sandai, Loboi, Emsos, and Mogun. The Waseges River, which enters on the northern edge of the lake from the Nyandarua Plateau, changes its name to Sandai River in the section between the escarpment and the lake.
Geysers and Hot Springs
The ground in the area where Lake Bogoria sits was formed geologically from the recent volcanic rocks from the Miocene – Pleistocene era. There are about 200 hot springs with water temperatures from 39 to 98.5C close by or inside the lake. It is said that the hot springs, in general, have a high content of carbon dioxide, causing them to boil wildly – making this place one of the best tourist destinations in Kenya.
There are also many geysers found spouting here, formed by the vents in the earth’s surface by the volcanic activity. There have been a couple of major hydrothermal changes that have occurred over the last decade, caused by frequent fluctuations of water level of Lake Bogoria. Even slight changes in the water level in this shallow lake can impact geyser behavior. Some geysers that were active during 2001 and 2005 have become weak hot springs or steam vents by 2006 with the fall in water level due to drought, whereas activity on other springs increased.
On the western shore of the lake lies the Loburu Delta. This is where the geyser activity is increased. One of the geysers here – the KL30 erupted on a regular 45-minute cycle up to a height of 5 m. When active, the KL30 is probably Africa’s highest natural geyser.
Unfortunately, the majority of geyser activity, including the KL30 was suppressed when the lake flooded in 2007.
The main appeal of the Lake Bogoria National Reserve lies in the scenery and the flamingoes. At times, the movement of the flamingoes can be affected by the water levels and algae concentrations.
The reserve is also home to a number of wild animals including warthogs, Grant’s gazelles, Kirk’s dik-diks, and impalas. It is also a refuge for greater kudu, but these stately animals may sometimes be rare to spot.
The scenery of Lake Bogoria is breathtaking. Loburu Hot Springs is an interesting landmark and a reminder of the tectonic activity in the area that shaped the Rift Valley. The road climbs up to viewpoints from where the dramatic scenery can be observed on a larger scale.
Weather & Climate
A trip to Lake Bogoria can be planned at any time of the year. Consistently warm temperatures are the norm at Lake Bogoria, thanks to its equatorial location. However, it does get colder higher up the escarpment, but this area is off-limits to visitors.
Best Time to Visit
Flamingoes can be seen at the lake throughout the year. But it’s probably best to see them in the Dry season (September to February) when you can avoid the overcast skies and rain interruptions of the wetter months. The only drawback is the dust that can cloud the air at this time.
Where to Stay in Lake Bogoria
Not unless you can go towards Kabarnet or near Lake Baringo, the best place you could get accommodation near Lake Bogoria is the Lake Bogoria Spa & Resort. This is the only proper lodge which we may recommend that can cater to international tourists.
However, you can still get affordable accommodation in Baringo in Marigat. You can check out Skieview Plaza in Marigat as the facility offers cheap accommodation in Baringo for as low as only $10 (Ksh 1,000).
As you explore Lake Bogoria, you may want to try out other tourist attractions near Baringo.