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Magnificent Rift Valley And Lakes Of Kenya
Kenya’s Rift Valley
Stretching across Africa like a giant scar, the Rift Valley is more than 6,430 km long and 1,520 meters low. It stretches from Jordan to Mozambique and, seen from space, is apparently the most recognizable geographic site on the face of the planet.
Intense volcanic eruption
Geologists believe that this is the result of intense subterranean tectonic pressures that essentially tore the earth’s crust apart and triggered the sinking of huge swathes of land along parallel fault lines. The rock was then brought to the surface in a series of volcanic eruptions.
About 40 million years ago, Africa began to separate along these large fault lines. The land in between slid down, creating the unique rift valley. This process, called rifting, is still going on as the steaming hot springs and hot springs seep.
These millions of years of tectonic and intense volcanic activity have essentially torn the land apart splitting the rift into 2 distinct branches. The largest and longest of these is the Eastern Rift, which divides Kenya from north to south into a series of fault lines that give this landscape its majestic shape.
Kenya’s Eastern Rift Valley
In Kenya, this Eastern Rift has massive cliffs, volcanic cones, lava flows and lakes. This section of the rift is up to 100km long and reaches its narrowest just north of Nairobi, where it is 45km across.
The valley is shallowest near Lake Turkana in the far north of Kenya, where there is practically no difference between the Great Rift and the desert bordering it.
split Valley Lakes in Kenya
Further south, the canyon walls form steep cliffs that rise to 1,800 meters where Lake Naivasha is located. It is the highest lake in the rift system. It is one of the few freshwater lakes in the Rift Valley. South of Naivasha, the rift drops again to 580m at the border with Tanzania.
Boiling, steaming geysers can be seen throughout the Great Rift. You will find them around many lakes that are filled with the thin, pink feathered bodies of numerous flamingos.
If you are adventurous enough to visit Lake Magadi, south of Kenya’s rift, you will witness a remarkable but hellishly hot climate that no living thing except the hardiest of Kenyans can endure.
Lakes – Nakuru, Naivasha, Baringo and Bogoria
The climate and conditions are much simpler on Lake Nakuru, where the alkaline-rich water creates an environment for special algae and animals such as tiny shrimps, which is why flamingos are attracted to these freshwater lakes in the first place. Lake Nakuru is one of the country’s favorite wildlife reserves, teeming with rhinos and large predators.
Among Kenya’s Rift Valley lakes, Naivasha and Nakuru are the easiest to get to. Including Lake Baringo, it is a great circuit and can be traveled in two days starting from Nairobi.
The extraordinary, mesmerizing Bogoria Lake, dotted with flotillas of anxious-looking flamingos and its pristine beaches, steaming springs and scalding geysers, is an easy drive from Baringo.
Lake Magadi is located just south of the capital Nairobi, adjacent to Lake Natron in Tanzania.
Northern Rift Valley and Lake Turkana
Lake Turkana, in the far north of the country, is also part of the Rift Valley system and one of the most remote regions in East Africa. It can only be described as a tortured desert landscape that is constantly punished by intense heat and strong winds.
Exploring the Great Rift the valley
Best bet is to use a 4 wheel drive jeep and driver (experienced local guide and driver). The Rift Valley and Lakes of Kenya can be traveled as a ferry starting from Nairobi.
Spend a night or two in Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru and spend several enjoyable days in the remote islands of Lake Baringo. From there, you can either drive or walk back to Nairobi through this magnificent landscape.
And if you can travel to northern Kenya with a visit to the town of Lodwar and two nights in the beautiful warm waters of Eli Spring on Lake Turkana, you will forever say “my heart is in Turkana.”
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