The journey to the amazing lake started on Wednesday 9am with a one hour stop at Nakuru town for refreshments and lunch. Then using the Kabarak road all the way to Mogotio, Maregat the surroundings changed. Thorny bushes, rocky paths, growth of acacia and cactus plants welcomed us to the other side of Kenya. The semi-arid regions proved that the populations here depended on their livestock for survival with a number of zebu cows, goats and donkeys been the only animals I saw not forgetting the two ostriches in a bush. Muddy structures alongside grass thatched roofs shelters the people in this locality who are the Kalenjin (Tugen). As other parts of the country continue to receive heavy downpour, then in this side of the Sahara little or none had showered them. However, dam projects had been established with animals quenching their thirst in them.
Beehives mounted on the thick trees provided honey that was sold to tourists who toured this area with sacks of charcoal too. Sisal plantations seemed to be favoured by the hot-dry climate and the water melon fruit been the only horticultural crop grown by the communities. This was the best place to shop with one heavy melon retailing at 50shillings and a bottle of honey for 200shillings.
At 3pm we arrived at Lake Bogoria registration offices where Kenyan citizens have to pay 250shillings as entrance fee while international tourists pay 50dollars. With a resort and bar nearby then you do not have to worry about spending the night.
Upon paying, another 18km awaited us to view the lake. Our tour guide, Mr. Chepsoi was a nice gentleman who accompanied us and explained all about the lake and as we asked many questions he did not tire but diligently answered them.
Lake Bogoria is a salty lake occupying an area of 36.5km² with its deepest point been 16m. Found in the Rift Valley, it is unique from other lakes as it has hot springs boiling at 117 degrees. With a pH above 8, it does not support aquatic life and temperatures range from 39-40 degrees. Low rainfall is received however, every May each year there is plenty of rainfall received that communities take advantage of by planting millet and soya beans. Yearly, it opens its doors to 7,000 local tourists and 4,000 international tourists, the majority been Chinese.
Flamingos beautify the lake and are of different species. The greater flamingos are big, white in color and feed on aquatic animals like snails; while the lesser flamingos are small, pink in color and feed on algae. The bright colored been the males and dull color females in both species. Moreover, they migrate from different regions with the Madagascar highland species been the most common bird found at the lake. Pelican birds are also found within the lake. Breeding is common with the natron flamingos been the main bred.
When it comes to animals, the greater gulu antelope found in Kenya and South Africa has its habitat here not forgetting the leopards that are only active at night. The Mathenge plant is an exotic species found in the thick bushes that is notorious for taking out teeth mostly in goats when they feed on them. Unique anthills got be marveled all the way and as Chepsoi explained, the ants would make them according to the temperatures received. At high temperatures, big anthills are formed and at low temperatures they make small anthills.
Conservation measures have also been put in place for ecosystem diversity. Planting of acacia plants is done to protect the indigenous species. Lately, the lake has been swelling or increasing due to underground sources and siltation. That is why we used the rocky road as the tarmacked road had been covered by the lake.
The lake comes with its advantages to the neighboring communities by providing social amenities as a way of giving back to society. Movement of people and animals (since majority are herders/pastoralists) is encouraged as long as they do not destroy the ecosystem.
On arrival at the lake at around 4.30pm a stinky smell welcomed us. Sulphur oxide happens to be released by the lake. The steam produced by the lake is enough to burn one if not careful but coming to think of it this would be one place to do your facial therapy(by steaming to open up the pores)….just thinking out loud.
Did you know you can carry raw eggs and boil them at the hot springs? Yes, you can and that became our snack time as we boiled them. This was by wrapping them in polythene paper bags, with a long stick at hand and placing them at the hot springs gently. Within a minute they were ready for consumption.
The rift escarpments so near yet so far away border the lake.
We left at 6.30pm and arrived at 1am on Thursday. What a road trip.
Ps: Camping, research and sport tourism are also offered.