The Lake Bogoria National Reserve is located 220 kilometres north of Nairobi, at the bottom of the Laikipia Escarpment in the Rift Valley, 60 kilometres from the world-famous Lake Nakuru.
The Reserve, almost entirely occupied by the lake from which it takes its name, extends over an area of some 100 square kilometres, at an elevation that ranges from 1,000 to 1,600 metres a.s.l.
Lake Bogoria is a 30 sq km shallow alkaline lake whose maximum depth is only 9 metres. Due to the high concentration of mineral salts, no fish can live in its waters, whereas a blue-green algae, Spirulina platensis, flourishes there, attracting huge flocks of bright pink-feathered flamingos.
Enormous lava rocks, scattered along the banks of the lake, bear witness to the intensive volcanic activity in this region so full of natural attractions. Along the eastern shore, lofty hills covered with acacia woods drop steeply into the lake. On the western bank, spectacular geysers and numerous thermal water springs spout tall jets of hot water and columns of steam, which emit a pungent smell of sulphur.
The vegetation in the Reserve consists of shrubby areas, acacia woodlands, open plains and patches of riverine forest, while marshes covered with papyrus are found in the northern section.
When the climatic and environmental conditions are favourable, hundreds of thousands of flamingos, especially the Lesser Flamingo, gather along the shores of Lake Bogoria. In particularly exceptional periods it is possible to count over one million individual birds. The Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor) feeds almost exclusively on the algae Spirulina platensis and diatoms, microscopic life forms that thrive in the rich alkaline waters.
Besides flamingos, over 130 species of birds have been recorded in the Reserve. Some of the more commonly observed are: White Pelicans, Cormorants, Herons, Spoonbills, as well as large colonies of African Fish Eagles, Tawny Eagles and Steppe Eagles. These splendid birds of prey can often be watched while hunting. Flamingos are their favourite prey.
The forests and dense bushes that grow around the lake provide excellent shelter for the animals that populate this protected area, making it somewhat difficult to catch sight of them. One may encounter buffalos, impala, dik dik, klipspringers and leopards, or, more frequently, vervet monkeys and baboons, zebras and gazelles. The other animal that symbolizes the Bogoria Reserve, apart for the flamingo, is the Greater Kudu, a shy, imposing antelope with long, spectacular, spiral-shaped horns, now, sadly to say, found only in a few parks in Kenya.
The climate is particularly mild, though on sunny days temperatures can be quite high. April and May are the wettest months. The Reserve can be visited throughout the year, although bird-watching is most rewarding between November and March. From a photographic point of view, early morning is, in some ways, magic. Low clouds of steam cover the surface of the lake, providing a perfect setting for the already active flamingos which appear and disappear in the thick mist like fantastic spectral apparitions.