Naivasha is situated in the Rift Valley basin which has attracted various tribes for settlement. The Maasai people were the first group to settle on the basin due to their quest for pasture and water for their livestock. This is rumored to have been around the 15th century when they moved down from the present day Sudan. Later in the 16th century, the Bantu people including various tribes started their migration into the basin from the Central African forests. The most populous tribe in Naivasha is the Kikuyu. European settlers are also major settlers in Naivasha. They arrived in the 19th century.
Naivasha is also a popular tourist destination. Hell’s Gate National Park (the main locations for The Lion King, including Pride Rock and the Gorge, are modelled after the park),Olkaria Geothermal Spa, Mount Longonot National Park and Mount Longonot are nearby attractions. Tours also have included Lake Naivasha, to observe birdlife and hippopotamus behavior, as well as other wild animals.
Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is named after a narrow break in the cliffs, once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans in the Rift Valley. Hell’s Gate National Park covers an area of 68.25 square kilometres (26 sq mi).
There is a wide variety of wildlife in the national park, though few in number. Examples of little seen wildlife include lions, leopards, and cheetahs. However, the park has historically been an important home for the rare lammergeyer vultures. There are over 103 species of birds in the park, including vultures, Verreaux’s eagles, augur buzzard, and swifts. Hyraxes, African buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, hyena, and baboons are also common. The park is also home to serval and small numbers of klipspringer antelope and Chanler’s mountain reedbuck.
The park is popular due to its close proximity to Nairobi and lowered park fees compared to other National Parks. Hiking, bicycling, motorcycling and even camping are encouraged within the park, one of only two Kenyan national parks where this is allowed. The Daily Nation praised the mountain climbing in Hell’s Gate as “thrilling.” It also recommended the Joy Adamson’s Centre and boating on Lake Naivasha. A Maasai Cultural Center provides education about the Maasai tribe’s culture and traditions.
The park is equipped with three basic campsites, camping is safe in the park even though there are no guns or fencing between you and wildlife. There are also several lodges around Naivasha Lake, popular among tourists for watersports, bird and game viewing in private ranches and walks along Crescent Island, Crater Lake, and Mt. Longonot.
The main setting of the animated film The Lion King (1994) is heavily modeled after the park, which several of the film’s lead crew members had visited in order to study and gain an appreciation of the environment for the film.
Crescent Island Game Park
This private island sanctuary can be reached by boat, or by driving across the narrow, swampy causeway from Sanctuary Farm. It’s one of the few places in the Rift Valley where you can walk among giraffes, zebras, waterbucks, impalas and countless bird species. Lucky visitors might even spot a leopard, but don’t count on it. Island walks, led by a guide, last between 90 minutes and three hours. It’s also a good spot for a picnic lunch.
Olkaria Geothermal Spa
Olkaria geothermal hot spa is a very unique spa located at the centre of Hell’s Gate National Park
The OlKaria geothermal Spa is the largest of its kind on the African continent.
The water that flows into the geothermal spa is all natural with no treatments or additives, its rich with several natural minerals that include silica and sulphur.
A visit to the Olkaria Geothermal Spa is a time mixed with a lot of emotions that culminate to a beautiful experience, the sight of the hot water, swimming in the hot water, the steam, the ambient surrounding; all these things bring different emotions in a human that make the visit to the spa wonderful.
Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake in Kenya, outside the town of Naivasha in Nakuru County, which lies north west of Nairobi. It is part of the Great Rift Valley. The name derives from the local Maasai name Nai’posha, meaning “rough water” because of the sudden storms which can arise.
The lake is home to a variety of types of wildlife including over 400 different species of bird and a sizable population of hippos. The fish community in the lake has been highly variable over time, influenced by changes in climate, fishing effort and the introduction of invasive species. The most recent shift in the fish population followed the accidental introduction of common carp in 2001. Nine years later, in 2010, common carp accounted for over 90% of the mass of fish caught in the lake.
There are two smaller lakes in the vicinity of Lake Naivasha: Lake Oloiden and Lake Sonachi (a green crater lake). The Crater Lake Game Sanctuary lies nearby, while the lake shore is known for its population of European immigrants and settlers