Lake Baringo

 

A part of the Earth's great scar, the Rift Valley, Lake Baringo is largest the largest amongst the sting of lakes across the valley floor. Together with Lake Naivasha, these are the only two fresh water lakes in the Rift. Though not officially ranked as a protected area, it is the shelter for more than 400 bird species that give the area its main attraction.

The lake is a quiet and solitary oasis embedded in the abrupt and arid land that foresees the northern deserts. Until the end of the 19th century, only slave caravans visited Baringo and Bogoria; the remains of Fort Baringo, dating back to those years, are still visible. At the lake's shores you can enjoy a peaceful mood very different from most crowded parks. Its chocolate waters, stained with the region's soil, change in tonality along the day and depending on the sky's colour. After the sunset, the visitor can watch the hippos emerging from the water to graze in noisy groups at the moonlit pastures.

The lake is also populated with crocodiles, considered harmless by the local Njemps people, paranilotic fishers and shepherds related with the Maasai that speak a dialect of the Maa language. The Njemps sail the lake in small boats and dip into the water for fish, while crocodiles wander about with the same purpose. The locals state that fish abundance has supported the croc population in such a way that the reptiles have forgotten the taste for mammal's meat. In fact, the high fish concentration has accustomed the Njemps themselves to this kind of food, which is not very frequent among the pastoral tribes.

The rocky isle of Gibraltar, at the eastern shore, is blessed with the largest Goliath heron population in all East Africa. Another place of interest is the escarpment, which lies next to the town of ‘Kampi ya Samaki’, at the western shore, where a lucky watcher could find Verreaux eagles, Hemprich's hornbills and bristle-crowned starlings.