This circuit takes you through a breathtaking concentration of awe-inspiring lakes, each with its own unique charm. The crystal-clear waters reflect the surrounding landscapes, creating a mesmerizing scene that will truly leave you in awe. Prepare to be captivated by the tranquil beauty and serenity of this remarkable destination.
What is the Central Rift Circuit:
This is one of Kenya’s tourist circuits that will take you through the Great Rift Valley where you will be treated to breathtaking lakes, picturesque landscapes, and stunning displays of nature’s wonders, including mesmerizing geysers. Moreover, you will have the pleasure of observing a rich variety of birds and wildlife species, adding to the awe-inspiring experience.
Key Destinations in this Circuit:
Lake Nakuru is a picturesque rift lake with an abundance of wildlife. The lake is well known for its flamingos and is home to over 400 species of birds. It also offers great opportunities to spot rhinos, giraffes, and lions among other animals.
The Menengai Crater:
This breathtakingly beautiful crater is one of the largest in the world and is located in the Great Rift Valley. The crater offers an exceptional view of Kenya’s countryside, with an astonishing landscape postcard made up of rolling hills, lush green vegetation, and picturesque lakes.
This lake is home to several hot springs and geysers that erupt from the surface every few minutes. It’s also a bird watcher’s paradise, with over 300 species of birds living around the lake. The area is also a haven for hippopotamuses and other wildlife species.
The hike up Mt. Longonot is an amazing adventure with spectacular views of the Great Rift Valley and the surrounding landscape. At the top, you can enjoy breathtaking scenery of rolling hills and lush vegetation spreading for miles around.
Lake Naivasha is a beautiful freshwater lake with an impressive shoreline and stunning views of the surrounding hills. It’s home to a variety of wildlife, including hippos, giraffes, buffalo, and over 350 species of birds. The lake also offers excellent opportunities for canoeing, windsurfing, and sailing.
Mt. Suswa is an extinct volcano and the highest peak on the Central Rift Tour Circuit. It offers amazing views of Kenya’s central highlands and is a great spot for rock climbers and hikers looking for some thrilling adventure. The landscape at Mt. Suswa includes volcanic ash, cinder cones, lava fields, and stunning scenery.
Lake Elementaita is a shallow soda lake located in the Great Rift Valley. The area around the lake is rich with birdlife, and it’s also home to other wildlife species like antelopes, zebras, and giraffes. It’s a great spot for photography enthusiasts looking to capture stunning shots of wildlife in their natural habitat.
The Great Rift Valley Escarpments:
The Great Rift Valley Escarpments are the result of millions of years of erosion by the rivers that run through them. The escarpment’s steep cliffs and deep valleys offer breathtaking views of the African countryside and wildlife. It’s also a great spot for rock climbers looking to challenge themselves on the sheer walls.
Hells Gate National Park is located a few kilometers south of Lake Naivasha and offers a variety of activities. The park’s dramatic scenery includes massive cliffs, gorges, and hot springs. It’s also home to some incredible wildlife including giraffes, zebras, antelopes, impalas, and other animals. Visitors can take part in many activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, and game viewing.
How long to go on this circuit?
I recommend dedicating 3 to 5 days to fully explore the Central Rift Tour Circuit. This can even be extended to a week or more if you are looking for an extended safari experience. Depending on your interest and budget, there are plenty of options to customize this trip. You can also add activities like bungee jumping, horseback riding, camping, and hot air balloon rides for a truly unique experience!
How much will it cost me to go on Central Rift Circuit Tour?
The primary factor influencing your expenses on this journey is the choice of destinations and accommodations. For instance, Lake Nakuru National Park charges $60 for foreign visitors, while locals pay a mere $10 or less. If you’re a foreigner aiming to explore all the major tourist spots, you could easily spend over $120 per day on park entrance fees alone. When factoring in transportation and accommodation costs, the total expenses can quickly reach around $300 per person per day. However, sharing these costs among a group can reduce the amount per person.
When to go on this circuit:
You can go on this circuit any time of the year although the best time to go is during the dry months of July to September. During this period, you can easily spot wildlife and the terrain is more suitable for activities like hiking and mountain biking. Additionally, during the wet season (April-June), some of the parks may be closed due to flooding or access restrictions. So it’s best to plan ahead if possible!
10 Activities you can do in the Central Rift Circuit:
- Game drives in Lake Nakuru National Park: This is a must-do activity for any safari-goer. With its diverse wildlife and beautiful landscapes, Lake Nakuru offers an unforgettable game drive experience. I was very lucky to see two lions walking on the paved path of Lake Nakuru N. Park when I visited the past April (2023) and wasn’t bothered at all with our presence. We had to stop and wait for them to pass. You’ll also get to see rich and diverse avian life including flamingos, pelicans, and more. Additionally, within Lake Nakuru National Park, you will have the opportunity to encounter the captivating Rothschild’s giraffe, a remarkable and endangered species introduced in 1977. This park is also a sanctuary for the endangered white rhinoceros, diligently protected by armed rangers around the clock.
- Hiking in Hell’s Gate National Park: For adventure seekers, this is the perfect activity. You can hike through breathtaking landscapes and even explore the inside of a volcano! This park also offers opportunities for camping and rock climbing. Just walking on the narrow path by the cliffs was an exhilarating experience in itself.
- Bird watching in Lake Bogoria National Reserve: Known as a bird watcher’s paradise, this reserve is home to over 350 species of birds. You can spot everything from flamingos to eagles to the rare African Fish Eagle. You can also boil an egg on the hot springs if you’re feeling adventurous!
- Boat rides in Lake Naivasha: Take a boat ride on this beautiful freshwater lake and get up close and personal with hippos, crocodiles, and over 400 species of birds. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit Crescent Island, a private wildlife sanctuary where you can walk among zebras, giraffes, and more.
- Culture and history in Lake Baringo: This lake is surrounded by rich culture and history, with local villages offering cultural experiences such as traditional dances, storytelling, and handicrafts. You can also visit the Njemps tribal village, known for their unique fishing techniques using handmade rafts.
- Biking at Hell’s Gate: Another way to explore Hell’s Gate National Park is by bike. You can rent bikes at the park entrance and ride through the scenic landscapes, taking in the sights of zebras, giraffes, and other wildlife along the way. You can rent a bike close to the gate for about $3 and they’ll deliver it to the gate for you to pick it up.
- Hike Mount Longonot: For the more adventurous safarigoers, Mount Longonot offers a challenging but rewarding hike. This dormant volcano stands at 2,776 meters and offers stunning panoramic views of the Rift Valley once you reach the top. The hike takes about 3-4 hours round trip and is best done in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid intense heat.
- Explore the hidden Mount Suswa crater: Located in the Rift Valley, this secluded crater is often overlooked by tourists but offers a unique and off-the-beaten-path safari experience. You can hike down into the crater and explore its rugged terrain, or opt for a helicopter ride for an aerial view of the crater’s stunning landscape.
- Camp under the stars: Many of these destinations offer camping options, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Kenya. Imagine falling asleep to the sounds of wildlife and waking up to a breathtaking sunrise over the Rift Valley. Some campsites even offer luxury tents for those looking for a more comfortable camping experience.
- Explore the towns in the circuit: Nakuru City is located in the heart of the Central Rift Tour Circuit and offers a bustling market with local crafts, delicious street food, and cultural experiences. You can also visit nearby towns such as Narok or Naivasha to get a taste of rural life in Kenya.
How we can help you plan for this Circuit:
We have made it possible for anyone interested in touring this circuit to find suitable accommodation options, including budget-friendly camping choices. The region boasts over 50+ campsites, each with its own unique amenities and features. To help you plan your visit, our website offers detailed descriptions of all the National Parks included in this circuit, providing valuable insights into the wildlife and activities you can expect to encounter.
If you are interested in exploring this circuit during your Kenya safari, just reach out and we’ll share a quote.