Chichen Itza
Gebel Berkal

World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Kenya Lake System

Kenya Lake System

The Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley consists of three lakes in basins on the floor of the valley, known for their high concentration of lesser flamingo, great white pelicans and migratory birds.

The lakes are:

- Lake Elementaita

- Lake Nakuru

- Lake Bogoria

All the three lakes are shallow, alkaline and are hydro-geologically connected through sub surface seepage of water. The alkalinity of the three lakes supports the abundant growth of the green algae (spirulina platensis) which is the food of the lesser flamingoes which congregate in the lakes in great numbers.

Map of Kenya Lake System


  • Natural

Community Reviews

Solivagant UK - 03-Jul-11 -

Kenya Lake System by Solivagant

Across the years we have visited each of the 3 inscribed lakes. The photo is of Lake Bogoria and our visit there in 1991 is the one we remember best – for the flamingos of course, but also for the active and regular geysers and volcanic fumaroles and, finally the road to get there!! We had rented a 4x4 and were rough camping. The so-called “road2 we took into the lake from the south (we wanted the more remote southern camp site) was VERY boulder strewn with sharp volcanic rocks and we acquired punctures in 2 different tyres at the same time. Unfortunately we only had 1 spare wheel and no air pump! Ah well, all part of the “adventure”! Unless they have improved the road we recommend taking the northern entrance. Flamingos move around and cannot be guaranteed in large numbers at all sites but we were pleased with the numbers when we were there – if you can only visit one lake try to find out before hand which lakes have flamingoes at that time. From what we saw, Bogoria didn’t really offer much else in the way of wildlife viewing beyond birds – Nakuru on the other hand is presented as more of general “Wildlife park” with a wide range of mammals including Lion, Rhino and Leopard. I remember it as a bit “zoo-like” compared with e.g the Mara and Samburu as it is situated just down the road from the busy town of Nakuru (pop 300k).

In 2008 we visited the rift valley alkaline lakes of Ethiopia (see my review of Abijatta-Shalla ). Ethiopia’s late 20th century history resulted in significant and possibly irreversible damage to those lakes which it had tried unsuccessfully to inscribe as early as 1981. It is good that Kenya has “done the necessary” to preserve its own. A visit to see the massed Flamingos at one or other of these lakes is worth fitting in if you can whilst in Kenya.

Share your experiences!

Have you been to Kenya Lake System? Add your own review!

Community Rating

Community Rating 3.25. Based on 2 votes.

Site Info

Full name: Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley

Unesco ID: 1060

Inscribed: 2011

Type: Natural

Criteria: 7   9   10  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2011 - Inscribed 


The site has 3 locations.

  • Kenya Lake System: Lake Bogoria
  • Kenya Lake System: Lake Elementaita
  • Kenya Lake System: Lake Nakuru


The site has 14 connections.


  • Rhino habitat: The park now (2009) has more than 25 black rhinoceros, one of the largest concentrations in the country, plus around 70 white rhinos. (wiki)
  • Critically endangered fauna species: Black Rhinoceros - "Population size collapsed during the last century, from an estimated 65,000 animals in 1970 to a mere 2,300 in the 1990s. Rhino numbers are now increasing, but recovery is slow" Link
  • Bovines: African Buffallo (UNEP-WCMC)
  • Endorheic Lakes
  • Bird Migrations: The African-Eurasian Flyway


Human Activity

  • Natural sites with indigenous human population: The Endorois people were forced by the Kenyan government to leave their traditional homeland around Lake Bogoria in the 1970s. See link for current state of their fight to gain recognition of their rights and criticism of UNESCO/WHC and IUCN for allowing the inscription  Link
  • Indigenous groups expelled: Bogoria: Endorois. “The Government of Kenya forcefully evicted them from their area of habitation on the shores of Lake Bogoria after the Lake Bogoria Game Reserve was created in 1973.” (WHS-IPR)


  • Eocene: The East African Rift came into being approximately 40 million years ago as the African tectonic plate began to split

WHS on Other Lists

  • Ramsar Wetlands: Lake Nakuru (1990), Lake Elmenteita (2005), Lake Bogoria (2001)

World Heritage Process