Kenya the Great Rift Valley
The Rift Valley was initially formed 20million years ago when continental drift was taking place. Violent sub terrainian forces prised the earth’s Crust apart, causing the collapse of the land between parallel fault-lines running 6,440 km (4000 miles) from Jordan to Mozambique, slices through Kenya from North to South. A Scottish geologist, John Walker Gregory, was the first to recognize the Rift Valley: he came across it in 1893, near lake Naivasha.Where the rift valley enters Kenya, the floor lies at an altitude of 198m (650 ft) with a little sign of steep escarpments, but lake Baringo to the south, the valley rises to 914m (3000ft) and is just over 16km (10 miles) wide. To either side, spectacular escarpment rises several thousands. The valley floor continues to rise till it reaches just over 1829m (6000 ft) in the central highlands before dropping down again to lake Magadi, on the Boarder of Tanzania.
With a length of 318 km (198 miles) and a width of around 35 miles, its one of the largest alkaline lakes in the world. Turkana often referred to as the ‘jade sea’ because of the blue-green jade-like colour of its water. It’s surrounded by harsh, rugged, dry desert country with spectacular scenery that’s almost constantly whipped by strong winds. The lake’s waters are only slightly alkaline (the water is drinkable) and as a result support some aquatic vegetation and a large population of fish and birds, as well as crocodiles, which prey on them.
Huge Nile – some as large as 90kgs (200kb)- occur in the waters proving that at one time the lake was connected to the Nile System. Tiger fish and Tilapia species are also present in the lake.
A fresh water lake and now a major tourist resort lying deep in the valley.
When Gregory explored the lake in 1893, he concluded that lake Baringo was at one time connected to lake Turkana but the volcanic activity had lifted the northern end of the lake cutting off its outlets. Baringo is regarded as the bird watching center of Kenya with over 450 species recorded. Not only is there a proliferation of water birds, but there is also a wonderful variety of birds in the acacia bush bordering the lake, its hard to see many of them elsewhere whether you are a bird watcher or not. An early morning walk there should really not be missed. Other activities here are fishing, water-skiing and wind surfing.
Lying close to the base of the Ngendalel Escarpment, which rises 610m (2000 ft) above the lake, Bogoria is scenically the most spectacular and dramatic of all the Rift valley Lakes, long, narrow and deep. It is strong alkaline and surrounded by dense, impenetrable thorn bush. Around the lakeshore are a number of geysers and hot springs, which at dawn can sometimes form a thick mist. There are times when lake Bogoria is home to millions of flamingoes: to watch skeins of them flying along the lake towards the geysers and hot springs where they drink and bath is a wonderous sight not easy to forget. There are varieties of animals like dik dik, which is both prolific and tame.
Covers an area of 180 km (73 sq miles). Its known all over the world for its flamingoes, it is also Alkaline as is recognized as being one of the natural wonders of the world.
In 1961 the southern two-thirds of the lake was established as a sanctuary to protect the flamingoes and in 1967 Nakuru was declared a national park, the first one in Africa to be set aside for preservation of bird life and its now a Rhino sanctuary.
Smallest of all Rift Valley lakes, shallow and alkaline. It has two small seasonal rivers flowing into it. The lake is surrounded by an almost lunar-like landscape of extinct volcanoes and lava flows. Its also very attractive, its waters often edged with pink flamingoes.
The highest and the most beautiful of rift valley lakes at 1910m (6200 ft). The water is fresh and the lake is fringed with dense clumps of papyrus. Naivasha is yet another area popular for bird watching (over 400 species have been recorded).
There are no crocodiles in the lake as the water is too cold for them due to altitude, but there are a number of Hippos.
The most southerly lake in Kenya’s rift valley, a masaai word which means; - soda lake at an altitude of 579m (1900ft).
Magadi is one of the most inhospitable lakes, a shimmering pink- coloured hells cape of overpowering heat and smell, with temperature well over 38 degrees centigrade (100degrees farenheight). The lake is the second largest source of trona (sodium carbonate) in the world. Although the vegetation around the lake is desert scrub.