Nakuru National Park Day Trip: 1 Day Safari to Nakuru National Park- Sojourn Safaris Limited

Daily Tour 1 day
Lake Nakuru, Kenya Kenya

Nakuru National Park Day Trip – 1 Day Safari from Nairobi

Explore Nakuru in a full day-trip to Nakuru national park. 1-day Nakuru safari tour from nairobi includes a full-day game drive, transport in a safari minivan, services of a tour guide, and lunch at Sarova lion hill, drinking water and pick up and drop off. You can go on a solo, private or group joining budget Nakuru day trip.

Your Lake Nakuru national park day trip includes many highlights and tips as below.

  • Nakuru National Park Day Trip Experiences
  • Nakuru National Park Distance
  • Timing and opening hours of Nakuru day trip
  • The drive to Nakuru national park day trip
  • Why is Nakuru Park so special?
  • Animals to see in a Nakuru day trip
  • Birds to see in a Nakuru birding day trip
  • Sites within Nakuru national park
  • Where to eat in a Nakuru national park day trip
  • How to get to Nakuru national park
  • How to Book a Nakuru day trip

Nakuru National Park Day Trip Package – 1 Day Nakuru Package

1.      Nakuru National Park Day Trip Experience

Your 1 day Nakuru trip is a great way to escape from Nairobi for a full day watching great African wildlife and the Great Rift Valley along the way. The Nakuru day tour is very convenient as the roads are graded all the way and there are lots of wildlife to see en route. The rift valley lakes of Naivasha and Elementaita are along your way and if you are lucky might catch a glimpse of the pink flamingos along their shores. The nakuru national park day trip is the most visited of the great rift valley lakes in Kenya.

Although you don’t have the elephant in lake Nakuru, all the other big five animals are well represented here with lots of great birdlife to boot. There are also great attractions and sites inside the park to complete your dream of a short African safari when on a layover or transiting through Nairobi.

Lake Nakuru is lined with Acacia forest which provides a tranquil feel while driving under its canopy. Look up for the rare but occasional sighting of a sleeping leopard. If you are double lucky, then you could discern the bulky shape of an African rock python wound around the acacia tree branches. A Lake Nakuru national park day trip is one of the most peaceful and relaxing 1 day getaway from Nairobi.

The ease of doing game drives in Nakuru national park makes this park the go to park if you want a guaranteed sighting of black or white rhino or the rare and endangered Rothschild giraffe. If you are lucky in your Nakuru day safari, you might encounter the rare stripped hyena or the klipspringer antelope. Leopards too come out of their perches quite early and you might find one walking beside your game drive vehicle on the park roads.

2.      Nakuru National Park Distance

Lake Nakuru National Park is located some 160km north west of Nairobi city. This is following the main highway in Kenya, the A109 that traverses Mombasa to Malaba border. The driving hours from Nairobi depends heavily on the traffic which can sometimes be very heavy. It takes about 2.5hrs to 3 hrs to get to Lake Nakuru.

You are advised to have an early start at 5.00hrs or 0600hrs at the latest. This allows you to maximize on the time spent on the game drive. Nakuru national park is only 177sqkm in size and that takes you about 4hours to do a full game drive.  Since the park is fenced, game driving and wildlife viewing is pretty easy.

The Nakuru park roads are all weather and well maintained by the Kenya Wildlife service. However, the lake experiences occasional flooding and this floods all the road networks around the lake. These become impassable and you have to use the secondary lake circuit park roads. In some cases this park has been cut into two sections that can be only accessed using different gates due to the floods.

If you are on self-drive or a hired vehicle, you may need to account for the mileage to include the local game driving distances within the park. You would as such have to consider the 160km x 2 for the to and flo trip from Nairobi and an extra 70km inside the park. Depending on your estimated fuel consumption of your vehicle, it would be easy to calculate how much fuel you will need to do the entire Nakuru national park 1 day trip.

3.      Timing and Opening Hours of Nakuru Day Trip

To make good time, make sure to start early from Nairobi before dawn. Although that may deny you about an hour of countryside views, atleast you will get awesome views of the Great Rift Valley. Less than an hour from Nairobi, you will start your descent into the Great Rift Valley on the eastern escarpment. The views down below are just breathtaking.

Nakuru national park opens its gates at 0630hrs so you may not have a chance to make it there by dawn if you are on a day trip. Since the earliest you can depart from Nairobi is 0500hrs, this means you can only get to the park gate at 0730hrs at the earliest.

You have the full day to watch the animals in a game drive until 0630hrs when the Nakuru park gates close. Since you need day light time to drive back to Nairobi, you will need to depart Nakuru national park at 1530hrs at the latest. That allows a 3hr drive back to Nairobi in day light and allow for an extra 30 minutes for the traffic. Sometimes the traffic can be worse and you spend over 5hrs on your way back.

The Nakuru national park day trip works best if you have an early arrival flight into Nairobi before 0600hrs and a late departure flight from 2100hrs. This takes into consideration of any traffic gridlocks that may occur to ensure you don’t miss your evening flight.

4.      The Drive to Nakuru National Park Day Trip

Your drive to Nakuru national park day tour is very dramatic both in terms of the scenery and the wildlife. On leaving Nairobi, you will climb into the lush green kikuyu highlands. Here you will see children going to school predawn while their mothers are taking milk silver cans to milk collection centers. Men on foot and on bicycles and motorbikes are rushing to work or to their businesses. It always amazes guests just how early Kenyans wake up to go to work.

Once you start the descent into the floor of the Great Rift Valley, you driver will give you a pit-stop at a view point. Here you can see the entire valley below with the volcanic mount Suswa and mount Longonot. Driving along the sides of Mt Longonot is such an awe-inspiring adventure en-route to Lake Nakuru. The latter is still active to date and intermittently spews ash and smoke. Further afield you can see the vapor plumes shooting into the sky from the Hells gate geothermal wells.


5.      Why Is Nakuru Park So Special?

Why would you chose to go for a Nakuru national park day trip as opposed to other parks? Nakuru national park is one park that has it all. This park is fully fenced with electric fence to keep the wildlife in, keep out the poachers and reduce human encroachment. The park is surrounded by a heavy human settlement and this has for a long time created ugly human /wildlife conflicts. The bottom line is that Nakuru is one of the most secure parks for wildlife.

This park was started as a sanctuary for the pink flamingos. For the longest time, the park has been considered as the greatest bird spectacle in the world with its over 2 million flamingos lining its shores. Not only will the flamingos serenade your view, but the great white pelicans will perform a synchronized fishing dance for you as they swim in unison and dive their beaks together in the water.

The views of the lake and the surrounding shade provided by the acacia forest offers one of the most exciting sceneries of African wilderness. You will also have an opportunity to drive to the baboon cliff to have that magical view of the lake from atop.

Nakuru is also known for great sites like the Makaila water falls that roar ever so loudly during the wet season when the river is flooded. The euphorbia candelabrum forest is the largest in Africa. Wildlife in Nakuru is easy to view since the park is fenced up and a 4hr game drive is enough to see them all.


6.      Animals to See In a Nakuru Day Trip

A Nakuru day trip game drive is very rich in wildlife abundance due to the fact that the park is only 177sqkm wide and all the animals are fenced in. Although there are no elephants in Lake Nakuru, there are plenty of other animals to see here, making a one day trip to Lake Nakuru worth your time.

Here you will see plenty of lions, rhinos, giraffes, hippos, leopards, baboons, cheetahs, buffalos, hyenas, elands, zebras among others. The lions are especially interesting as they have mastered the art of climbing trees. The leopards can in the early evening and mornings be seen walking along the game drive tracks just next to your vehicle. The white rhinos, for some reason like to lie down afew feet from the game drive tracks and are unbothered by the vehicle traffic. Your Nakuru national park day trip is the only 1 say safari from Nairobi that guarantees you a sighting of a rhino.

Some of the very rare animals you will see in Lake Nakuru national park include the striped hyena and the klipspringer antelope. This antelope resides on cliffs and never ventures into the savannah. The Rothschild giraffes aka white socks, can only be found here and they are the most endangered species of giraffes in Kenya.

An occasional hippo, will come out of the water if the weather is cool enough and if you are very lucky, you may see an African rock python wrapped around an acacia tree or making an antelope kill. The opportunistic hyena, will always grab a sickly flamingo from the shores of the lake and can be seen running off into the woods with a bird dangling on its mouth.

A menacingly staring buffalo male will be half way deep in the mud on the lake shores. This is the single most dangerous animal to approach in the African savannah. Make sure to alight on the shores if the coast is clear of lone buffalo males.


7.      Birds to See In a Nakuru Birding Day Trip

This park was originally started as a sanctuary for birds. Lake Nakuru is the most ideal place for bird watching and is one of the top 10 important bird areas in Kenya. A 1 day Nakuru bird watching safari will introduce you to over 450 species of different birds found here.

Of course the main bird of interest here is the flamingos. These birds form a pink ribbon around the lake which can be seen from miles away. There are so many other water birds like the cormorants, herons, ibis, hammerkorps, kingfishers, African fish eagle, and giant white pelican among others.

Birds found in the savannah include the kori bustard, the secretary bird with its knack for snakes and small rodents, go away bird, Madagascar bee eater, plovers among others. We also have lots of birds of prey including the martial eagle and the tawny eagle.

The list of birds is concluded with the scavengers including the vultures and others.

A one day Nakuru birding trip will easily allow you to identify over 100 bird species. You will need to be guided by an experienced bird guide to be able to make a great bird watching trip in Nakuru national park.

Most tour companies will insist you carry along your binoculars but will offer a guide book to east African birds for reference. If you are a birder, a Nakuru 1 day bird watching trip is a must if you have a full day at your disposal in Nairobi.


8.      Sites within Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru biggest attraction if definitely the lake itself. The lake occupies about one third of the park area. It’s a shallow lake with its deepest point at 7 meters deep. This alkaline lake is fed by 1 river and has no known outlet. This alkaline nature of the lake promotes growth of algae which is the primary food for the flamingos.

There are hundreds of birds including the flamingos on Lake Nakuru and you are allowed to make stops at certain points on the shores. You can actually alight from your safari vehicle and walk to the shore to see the flamingos at a closer view and take photos.

The yellow fever acacia forest is next to the lake and is a beautiful scene where most of the forest wildlife reside. The impalas, black rhinos, leopards, wildebeests, cheetahs will at times be seen taking cover from the sun under the acacia tree canopy.

The savannah grasslands near the airstrip is also a great scenery where you will find the lions, impalas, zebras, buffalos and many other plains game. It’s here that you can witness a lion pride hunting or a cheetah chase.

There are also several camp sites and picnic sites that have great views. You can take your packed lunch at any of these sights and take in the view only 2 hours from Nairobi. Nakuru national park day trip is one of the best one-day safaris from Nairobi if you have more than 12 hours to spare.


9.      Where to Eat In a Nakuru Day Trip

Most Nakuru day trips include a lunch break from the game drive in one of the few lodges in Nakuru national park. One of the best lodges for a buffet lunch during your 1 day Nakuru safari is the Sarova lion hill lodge. The location on a hill offers un-paralleled views of the lake below. Their buffet lunch is very expansive and caters more than one types of menus including vegans. The buffet lunch is also a highlight in a nakuru national park day trip.

Sopa lodge is among the new additions of lodges in the park and offers large views from the restaurant. This lodge has a great menu with fresh meats, vegetables and fruits. You can also decide to go for a 1hr swim to wash away the dust from your 1 day Nakuru game drive.

Another great place to go for a one day Nakuru safari lunch is the lake Nakuru lodge. This is the oldest lodge in Nakuru national park. The lodge is built in the old colonial fashion and offers great views and expansive grounds. Their food is great and at great prices too.

If you are on a budget Nakuru day trip, you can carry some packed lunch from Nairobi and take it from one of the picnic sites in the park. The baboon, cliff, Makalia falls and the airstrip are great places to eat your packed lunch as you gaze fixedly at the savannah or the falling water for that matter.

10. How to Get To Nakuru National Park

If you are on a planned day tour to Nakuru national park, your tour driver will pick you from your Nairobi hotel for the drive. You will drive along the A109 due north westwards and through the rift valley floor. This gives you up close views of the Great Rift Valley from the eastern escarpment.

Your driver will make a bathroom it stop at the rift valley view point and you will get to know how the valley below was formed. The Mt Longonot and Mt Suswa are easily visible and at one point you will be driving along the Mt Longonot on the floor of the rift valley.

The departure is at 0500hrs to allow you to get to Nakuru in good time for the morning game drive. Arrival at Nakuru for your 1 day trip is at 0800hrs. The view is also littered with lakes and wildlife roaming from private ranches.

You can do a one day Nakuru self-drive trip from Nairobi by hiring a 4×4 or a small saloon car from any one of the many car hire companies in Nairobi. The one day car hire can cost you $30 for the day excluding fuel. For the 4×4 vehicle the charge for a one day hire starts from $150 excluding fuel. The advantage of a 4×4 is of course the fact that it’s higher and you are able to see wildlife in the tall grass as opposed to the smaller low clearance salon vehicle.

11. How to Book a Nakuru Day Trip

Booking your Nakuru national park day trip is easy. I have on several occasions used Robert of sojourn safaris. He is great on planning safaris from Nairobi and makes it easy to plan everything from whatsapp. You are able to plan the day trip in a record 10 minutes of back and forth whatsapp messages with him.

He takes last minute bookings since the tours don’t need any prior accommodation reservations. He will assign one of his great tour guides like Mike and David who are super friendly, very patient and knowledgeable. Book your Nakuru national park day trip with ease via whatsapp.

You can reach Robert on his direct whatsapp on +254722661827 or email him on his personal email at

Lake Nakuru National Park Day Trip

0700 HOURS: Pick up from Your hotel in Nairobi. Drive to Lake Nakuru National Park


1000 HOURS: Arrive and enter the Nairobi National Park. Game Drives


1200 HOURS: Drive to a lodge inside the lodge for lunch


1430 HOURS; Further game drive in the park


1600 HOURS: Depart for Nairobi

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