Lake Bogoria, Rift Valley, Kenya

Lake Locations:

Kenya - Rift Valley -

Lake Bogoria in Kenya’s East Rift Valley has several natural phenomena that make it an ideal destination for eco-tourists. The extremely salty lake has a saline content about twice the density of sea water, making it devoid of most aquatic life. What does grow in this salty semi-desert lake near the equator are the algae that the Lesser Flamingos eat as the mainstay of their diet. Several hundred thousand of the lovely birds wade in the shallows, taking wing in unison in a giant pink cloud when startled. But this is only one of the main attractions at Lake Bogoria; the second are geysers. More geysers and bubbling hot springs rim the lakeshore than any other place in Kenya. Tucked neatly beneath a rift escarpment, the lake has no outlet so all water escapes through evaporation. Water is fed into the lake primarily by rainfall, seasonal streams, and the waters bubbling from many springs. The shoreline and surrounding area are stark and arid with low brush and scrub, except for an acacia woodland at the south end and a papyrus swamp north of the narrow lake. The expanse of water and its ever-present flamingos provide an unexpected and welcoming scene after traveling across the arid landscape.

One of the large ‘soda lakes’ making up the Kenya Lake System of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Bogoria is less well-known than Lake Nakuru to its south. Bogoria, Nakuru and Elementaita are all saline lakes that provide food and refuge to the Lesser Flamingo. All three lakes lie along the rift and share some water via underground fault lines. Lake Bogoria lies farther to the north and is more out-of-the-way for travelers. It also has less tourism-related development than Lake Nakuru, having been proclaimed a national reserve in 1970. The Lake Bogoria National Reserve is managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service and encompasses the entire lakeshore. One State-owned lodge has been opened, and three camping areas are provided, but few other amenities have been offered in the immediate area until recently. As more facilities are being developed in the area, more commercial safari treks are coming to Lake Bogoria to view the flamingo, buffalo, zebra, impala, leopard, warthog, dik dik, and the rare kudu antelope.

The geysers and hot springs are a marvel to behold. Some of the geysers send hot water up to 17 feet into the air. At least ten geysers are active most of the time, while up to 18 have been recorded. Unfortunately, these geysers are not as reliable as ‘Old Faithful’; their activity is sporadic and appears to depend on lake levels and resulting water pressure. As the lake expands with the rainy season, some geysers and springs are covered by the lake, while others may become more active. Many of the springs are underwater most of the time, with their location only revealed due to the high levels of carbon dioxide producing a patch of tell-tale boiling water. Some of the geysers and springs are very hot; others are safe to touch but appear to boil because of the carbon dioxide in the water. A couple of the springs areas are marked as safe for bathing, which visitors enjoy immensely. Recently, a lodge near the lake bored a well to access the hot springs for a spa, and scientists noticed that even that small disruption affected the volume of the springs. The hydrology of the rift region is continuously under study to better understand exactly how these eruptions occur.

The Lesser Flamingo is not the only birdlife frequenting Lake Bogoria. A total of over 500 species of birds have been recorded near the lake. The large population of raptors stands out: steppe eagles, fish eagles and tawny eagles are present in large numbers, feeding on the abundance of weak or disabled flamingos. The cycles of nature, life and death are apparent in this harsh and unique landscape, and opportunities for nature photography are everywhere here. Because Lake Bogoria is about 150 miles north of Nairobi, the reserve is seldom crowded. As more lodging facilities are built near the entrances, this likely will change. Some have already established a reputation for excellent facilities with all amenities, such as the spa facility previously mentioned. Others are attempting to develop natural history tours in the area among native people. Many indigenous people have been crowded into smaller areas by the increasing numbers of wildlife and nature preserves and parks, living in poverty with few resources. Several international groups have mounted efforts to see that native people benefit from the tourism dollars generated by their former tribal lands.

Several other reserves and parks are located near Lake Bogoria. Lake Baringo is a large freshwater lake less than 40 miles to the north. Lake Baringo National Park offers several lodge facilities, with fishing and boat excursions available on the lake. Not far away, the Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy protects a large number of native wildlife, while several forest preserves extend to the edges of the Aberdare National Park. Aberdare covers the highlands of the Aberdare Mountains and offers extensive wildlife viewing, camping, trout fishing and bird watching. A lodge or camp near Lake Bogoria is perfect for branching out into the surrounding area to view the unusual topography and animals of the Great Rift Valley. The area can easily be reached by car, and plenty of tourist services are eager to arrange both lodgings and day excursions. Some tour services make a special attempt to provide a part of their profits to improving the living conditions of the native people. Kenya and Lake Bogoria await your exploration.

*Statistics listed are estimates as lake size and depth change frequently.

Things to do at Lake Bogoria

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Lake Bogoria

  • Trout

Lake Bogoria Photo Gallery

Lake Bogoria Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Saltwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 25,000 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,150 feet

Maximum Depth: 33 feet

Drainage Area: 270 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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