Lake BaringoLake Baringo
Baringo’s Exciting Attractions
Within Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, at an 1100-metre altitude and approximately 290 kilometres to the north of Nairobi, lies the shallow 168km2 freshwater lake Baringo. The lake acts as an oasis within the arid plains. Baringo is the second largest and northernmost Great Rift Valley Kenyan Lake after Turkana. It is one of the two freshwater Rift Valley lakes, the second being Naivasha.
Volcanic hills, some rising to about 300 metres, surround the lake, thus making it truly scenic and a perfect destination for Kenyan safaris. Korosi, a dormant volcano with a 1449-metre height, lies at Lake Baringo’s northern tip. The numerous islands make Lake Baringo an ideal picnic site.
Lake Baringo’s outlet is yet to be located. This outlet prevents the water from undergoing continual evaporation and thus turning into soda. The outlet may be located at an underwater ravine at the lake’s northern tip which emerges 100 kilometres north at Karpedda.
Notable Tourist Attractions
The Lake Baringo area has a number of important entities that are of interest to tourists.
Key attractions include:
- The Lake Baringo Country Club
- Island Camp
- The various exciting islands
- The local Njemps, Tugen, Pokot and Turkana communities
- Year-Round Warm Climate
- Dazzling Wildlife
- Interesting Geographic Features
- Out-of-the-world scenery
- Alluring Exploits
- An Ornithologist Hotspot
The Lake Baringo Country Club
Lake Baringo Country Club, a splendid hotel, offers high-end singles and doubles accommodation facilities. The Club hosts dart boards, a badminton court, a library, a first-rate restaurant, and a swimming pool.
Island Camp Baringo is a fine tented lodge located on the remote, enchanted Kokwe Island. It offers full board low season and high season singles and doubles accommodation packages. Island Camp allows breath-taking views of the neighbouring Rift Valley. It is an ideal recuperation and relaxing place for visitors touring a number of national parks within the area.
Guests may travel by boat to nearby islands to watch crocodiles, hippos, local fishing communities and the birdlife. Guest may also be guided on bird viewing and nature strolls to the hot springs. Visitors who are more energetic enjoy swimming, water skiing, canoeing, boating, and windsurfing.
At Lake Baringo, morning views of the dazzling, ultra-marine Blue Mountains, adoring sun, tremendous earth colours, a sparkling lake, and a glossy sky are breath-taking. The lake rapidly shifts from mirror calmness to very violent tempests. A boat voyage up a meandering river or along the untamed shores is exquisite. Guests are sure to hear a Fish Eagle’s intimidating call, view malachite kingfishers in flight, and admire the rainbow’s furious hues in an explicit firmament.
Interesting Geographic Features
A number of rivers feed the lake including Perkerra, Ol Arabel, Chemeron, Ndau, Mukutan, and El Molo. The lake’s waters originate from the Tugen Hills and the Mau Hills. To the west are the Tugen Hills, a raised fault metamorphic and volcanic rock block, whereas the Laikipia Escarpment is to the eastern side.
Lake Baringo’s chocolate waters, due to the area’s soil, alter their tonality according to the colour of the sky and as the day progresses.
As a fresh water body, Lake Baringo hosts various wildlife including crocodiles, hippos, numerous other mammals, invertebrates, reptiles, many birds, and freshwater fish. Oreochromis alcalicus baringoensi, a freshwater fish, is prevalent in Lake Baringo. Many Cormorants, Fish Eagles, migrating flamingos, and Pelicans are found on the lake.
Visitors may enjoy a serene atmosphere different from Kenya’s crowded parks. At dusk, hippos emerge from the lake to graze under the moonlight in boisterous groups.
An Ornithologist Hotspot
The lake is reputed as the most famous ornithologist’s location, having 500 species of birds, majority very uncommon or only native to this area. A number of migratory birds are significant globally and regionally.
The lake has a high fish population that sustains the huge crocodile population as well as to the Njemps people. Its freshwaters sustain a variety of fish not found in alkaline lakes, thus attracting different birds.
Lake Baringo’s stunning islands include:
- Ol Kokwe
Gibraltar, a rocky island at the eastern shores has the biggest Goliath Heron population in East Africa.
Ol Kokwe, a barren rocky island inhabited by the Njemps, is Lake Baringo’s centrepiece, which boasts of a well-equipped camp. Ol Kokwe is a dormant volcanic hub and is associated with the Korosi volcano. A number of fumaroles, some having precipitated deposits of sulphur, are found on Ol Kokwe. Fumaroles are holes from which hot vapour and gases issue. The island also has several hot springs. Visitors can use Ol Kokwe as excellent base when discovering Lake Baringo. Boat expeditions are perfect for hippo and bird spotting.
Important Natural Features
Samatian is a minute private isle that allows awe-inspiring views across Lake Baringo’s bronze waters. The magnificence of the lake and its surroundings, including fantastic sunsets, a stunning range of birdlife, the majestic Laikipia Escarpment forming a splendid background to the lake, and Njemps fishermen carrying out a trade that has barely changed for more than 2 decades, is renowned.
Accommodation for ten to twelve visitors is available in airy, comfortable open-plan lodges each with a separate sitting and bathroom area, offering excellent views of Lake Baringo. One such unit is a family lodge with a downstairs and an upstairs bedroom, a shared sitting room, veranda and bathroom. The dining room offers a panoramic sight of the rough Rift Valley landscape and the lake. Additionally, it has relaxing cushioned lounge quarters, where guest may play board games, are also available. Visitors may also have a view over the huge swimming pool.
At the Samatian lodge, guests may take pleasure in canoeing for working out or for leisure. A canoe trip around Samatian Island takes between twenty and thirty minutes and it is an ideal way of sneaking up on crocodiles and birds.
Guests may either opt for Samatian’s free or paid-for activities.
Paid-for activities on Samatian Island include birding around Lake Baringo, canoeing, voyages to Lake Bogoria, boat journeys to Pokot and Njemps villages. Guests pay to take trips to various Pokot villages and to Lake Bogoria.
Free activities include canoe trips, voyages to indigenous Njemps residences, beach sun downers, bush breakfasts, leisurely walks, boat excursions, guided bird watching excursions.
Paleontological and Archaeological Sites
A number of significant paleontological and archaeological sites are in the Pleistocene and Miocene series of Tugen Hills. Fossils hominins and hominoids have been excavated from these sites.
Year-Round Warm Climate
The surrounding climate is temperate, with 25-35 degrees Celsius year round temperatures. Although visitors enjoy a cool breeze from the lake at dusk, coldness is alien here. Mean yearly rainfall is 640mm. The rainy season is from May to July and November to December.
The Local Njemps, Tugen, Pokot and Turkana Communities
Native peoples near Lake Baringo are the Njemps (Il Chamus) and the Tugen.
The Njemps are unique because they are the sole livestock-herder, pastoral ethnic group who also practice fishing.
The Pokots live fairly further to the north and occasionally bring their livestock for sale or to graze them in the region.
Few Turkanas have relocated to this area.
Natives’ Sustenance Activities
Minimal cultivation happens here due to extended dry spells that are succeeded by the habitually violent May rains, and many inhabitants subsist on sheep, cattle, and goat grazing with supplements from Tilapia and Catfish catches. Wild berry and fruit harvesting is another means of sustenance.
The major town in the vicinity is Marigat. Loruk and Kampi ya Samaki are minor settlements. Boats, Camping and hotel accommodation can be sought at Kampi ya Samaki.
The Baringo within Baringo County area is truly an interesting place for fun-loving visitors. Apart from the enchanting Lake Baringo and its terrific treats, guests will tour neighbouring rift valley lakes as well as parks and reserves from the Baringo vantage point.