The Great Rift Valley is part of an intra-continental ridge system that runs through Kenya from north to south. It is part of the Gregory Rift, the eastern branch of the East African Rift, which starts in Tanzania to the south and continues northward into Ethiopia. It was formed on the “Kenyan Dome” a geographical upwelling created by the interactions of three major tectonics: the Arabian, Nubian, and Somalian plates. In the past, it was seen as part of a “Great Rift Valley” that ran from Madagascar to Syria. Most of the valley falls within the former Rift Valley Province.

The valley contains the Cherangani Hills and a chain of volcanoes, some of which are still active. The climate is mild, with temperatures usually below 28 °C (82 °F). Most rain falls during the March–June and October–November periods. The Tugen Hills to the west of Lake Baringo contain fossils preserved in lava flows from the period 14 to 4 million years ago. The relics of many hominids, ancestors of humans, have been found here.

In March 2018, a giant crack in the Earth, measuring 50 feet deep and 65 feet across, opened in the ground just west of Nairobi. It is believed to not be of tectonic origin.

The Rift Valley in Kenya is a region known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. It offers a wide range of tourism attractions and activities that draw visitors from around the world.

Here’s an overview of the Kenya Rift Valley


The valley is bordered by escarpments to the east and west. The floor is broken by volcanoes, some still active, and contains a series of lakes. Some of the soils are Andisols, fertile soils from relatively recent volcanic activity.

Lake Turkana occupies the northern end of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. There are also volcanoes in Lake Turkana. The Suguta Valley, or Suguta Mud Flats, is an arid part of the Great Rift Valley directly south of Lake Turkana. The shield volcano Emuruangogolak straddles the valley to the south of Suguta, and further south Mount Silali and Paka rise from the valley floor. Paka is a shield volcano, with widespread geothermal activity. South of Paka are Mount Korosi, Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria. Menengai is a massive shield volcano in the floor of the rift with a caldera that formed about 8,000 years ago. It overlooks Lake Nakuru to the south. This region also includes Lake Elementaita, Mount Kipipiri and Lake Naivasha.

The Hell’s Gate National Park lies south of Lake Naivasha. In the early 1900s, Mount Longonot erupted, and ash can still be felt around Hell’s Gate.[9] Mount Longonot is a dormant stratovolcano located southeast of Lake Naivasha. Mount Suswa is a shield volcano located between Narok and Nairobi. Lava flows from the most recent eruptions are still not covered by vegetation, and may be no more than one hundred years old. Lake Magadi is the most southern rift valley lake in Kenya, although the northern end of Lake Natron in Tanzania reaches into Kenya.

The Elgeyo escarpment forms part of the western wall. The Kerio Valley lies between the Tugen Hills and the Elgeyo escarpment at an elevation of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) There are large deposits of Fluorite in the Kerio Valley area. Further south the Mau Escarpment is a steep natural cliff approximately 1,000 m (3,300 ft) high, running along the western edge of the Great Rift Valley about Lake Naivasha. Yet further south the Nguruman Escarpment is around 50 kilometers long and elongated in N-W direction. Its northern edge is about 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Nairobi, while the southern edge is near the Tanzanian border, at the northwestern corner of Lake Natron. The Aberdare Range forms a section of the eastern rim of the Great Rift Valley to the north of Nairobi. Mount Satima lies at the northern end of the Aberdares and is their highest point, and Mount Kinangop at the southern end is the second highest. The mountains form a ridge between these two peaks. Ngong Hills are peaks in a ridge along the east of the Great Rift Valley, located southwest near Nairobi.


Kenya is home to 64 (9.50%) of the total lakes found within the continent of Africa. Eight of these make up the main lakes in the Kenyan Rift Valley. From north to south, the names of these lakes are Lake Turkana, Lake Logipi, Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Elmenteita, Lake Naivasha, and Lake Magadi. Of those eight, only Lakes Baringo and Naivasha are fresh water.

Lake Turkana, at the northern end of the rift, is 250 kilometres (160 mi) long, between 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) and 30 kilometres (19 mi) wide and is 125 metres (410 ft) at its greatest depth. Most of the other lakes are shallow and poorly drained, and therefore have become alkaline. They have waters that are rich in blue-green algae, which feed insect larvae, small crustaceans and lesser flamingos. The larvae and crustaceans are food for fish and greater flamingos. Massive flocks of these birds have been found to have an effect on the lakeside sediments also. Their numbers cause trampling of the silts in certain areas, while the feeding grounds are oxygenated due to probing beaks in the mud. Their nest mounds can also be preserved and cemented as the lake’s water levels change. These form irregularities in the lakeside topography.

Trona, an evaporative mineral, used for sodium carbonate production, has been mined at Lake Magadi for nearly 100 years. It produces about 250,000 metric tonnes per year. Other precious minerals like rubies and pink sapphires have been found and mined from areas around Lake Baringo. In 2004, over 2 kilograms of Corundum were collected.

Lake Bogoria is a caustic cauldron fringed by geysers and populated by over a million flamingos.

Three shallow alkaline lakes and the surrounding lands make up the Kenya lake system: Lake Bogoria at 10,700 hectares (26,000 acres), Lake Nakuru at 18,800 hectares (46,000 acres) and Lake Elementaita at 2,534 hectares (6,260 acres). This system has one of the most diverse populations of birds in the world, and is the home of thirteen globally threatened species of bird. It is an important nesting and breeding site for great white pelicans, and is the most important feeding area for lesser flamingos in the world. The system is home to globally important populations of black-necked grebe, African spoonbill, pied avocet, little grebe, yellow-billed stork, black-winged stilt, grey-headed gull and gull-billed tern.

The Kenya lake system is a key location on the West Asian-East African Flyway, a route followed by huge numbers of birds in their annual migration from breeding grounds in the north to wintering places in Africa. The lands around the lakes include large populations of black rhino, Rothschild’s giraffe, greater kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs. The Kenya lake system is surrounded by the steep escarpment of the Rift Valley, which provides a spectacular backdrop.

Other lakes are Lake Chew Bahir, in the northeast extension. This lake lies mainly in Ethiopia but extends into Kenya in the rainy season. Lake Kamnarok is another small lake.

Lake Nakuru National Park:

Lake Nakuru, located in the Rift Valley, is renowned for its abundant birdlife, including thousands of flamingos that flock to its shores. The national park surrounding the lake is home to various wildlife, including rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and lions. Game drives, bird watching, and nature walks are popular activities in the park.

Lake Naivasha:

Another scenic lake in the Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha offers opportunities for boat safaris, birdwatching, and fishing. The lake is surrounded by lush vegetation, and nearby Hells Gate National Park provides a unique experience with its towering cliffs, geothermal features, and walking and cycling trails.

Maasai Mara National Reserve:

While not located directly in the Rift Valley, the Maasai Mara is easily accessible from the Rift Valley region. It is one of Africa’s most famous safari destinations, known for its vast savannahs, abundant wildlife, and the annual wildebeest migration. Visitors can enjoy game drives, hot air balloon safaris, and cultural encounters with the Maasai people.

Hiking and Trekking:

The Rift Valley region offers fantastic opportunities for hiking and trekking enthusiasts. Mount Longonot, a dormant volcano, is a popular hiking destination with its challenging but rewarding trails and panoramic views of the Rift Valley. Mount Suswa and Mount Menengai are other notable hiking spots in the area.

Lake Bogoria:

Located in the northern part of the Rift Valley, Lake Bogoria is known for its hot springs and geysers. The lake is a haven for flamingos, and visitors can take a walk along the shores to witness the vibrant birdlife and stunning landscapes.

Cultural Experiences:

The Rift Valley is home to several ethnic communities, including the Maasai, Samburu, and Kalenjin. Visitors can engage in cultural experiences, such as visiting traditional Maasai villages, witnessing traditional ceremonies, and learning about the unique way of life and customs of these communities.

Scenic Drives:

The Rift Valley region offers breathtaking scenic drives, with panoramic views of the valley, mountains, and lakes. The escarpment viewpoints along the Great Rift Valley provide spectacular vistas and photo opportunities.

Spa and Wellness:

The Rift Valley boasts several luxury lodges and resorts that offer spa and wellness facilities. Visitors can indulge in rejuvenating treatments, enjoy yoga sessions, or simply relax amidst the tranquil surroundings.


For golf enthusiasts, the Rift Valley is home to some world-class golf courses, including the Great Rift Valley Lodge & Golf Resort, which offers stunning views of Lake Naivasha and the Aberdare Mountains.

The Rift Valley in Kenya is a diverse and captivating region that offers a blend of wildlife, natural beauty, adventure, and cultural experiences. Whether you’re interested in wildlife safaris, outdoor activities, cultural immersion, or simply enjoying the stunning landscapes, the Rift Valley has something to offer for every type of traveler.



A 10-day safari in the Kenya Rift Valley will take you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes and wildlife-rich areas in Kenya. The Rift Valley is known for its stunning lakes, dramatic escarpments, and diverse ecosystems.


Here’s a suggested itinerary for your 10-day safari:


Day 1: Arrival in Nairobi

Arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and transfer to your hotel. Take the day to relax and prepare for your safari adventure.


Day 2: Nairobi to Lake Nakuru National Park

After breakfast, depart Nairobi and drive to Lake Nakuru National Park, located in the Rift Valley. Arrive in time for lunch at your lodge or camp. In the afternoon, embark on a game drive in the park, famous for its large population of flamingos, as well as rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and various bird species. Enjoy dinner and overnight stay at your accommodation.


Day 3: Lake Nakuru to Lake Naivasha

After breakfast, leave Lake Nakuru and proceed to Lake Naivasha, another beautiful Rift Valley lake. Arrive and check in at your lodge or camp. In the afternoon, enjoy a boat ride on Lake Naivasha, where you can spot hippos, diverse birdlife, and perhaps even some giraffes along the shoreline. Return to your accommodation for dinner and overnight stay.


Day 4: Lake Naivasha to Maasai Mara

After breakfast, depart Lake Naivasha and head to the iconic Maasai Mara National Reserve. Arrive at your lodge or camp in time for lunch. In the afternoon, embark on your first game drive in the Maasai Mara, renowned for its incredible wildlife population, including the annual wildebeest migration. Keep an eye out for lions, elephants, cheetahs, and other wildlife species. Enjoy dinner and overnight stay at your accommodation.


Days 5-8: Maasai Mara National Reserve

Spend the next four days exploring the vast savannahs of the Maasai Mara. Start your mornings with early game drives when wildlife activity is at its peak. Witness the incredible wildebeest migration if you’re visiting during the migration season (typically July to October). Explore different areas of the reserve, such as the Mara River, which is famous for dramatic crocodile and wildebeest interactions. Enjoy picnics in the bush and capture amazing wildlife moments. In the evenings, return to your lodge or camp for dinner and relaxation.


Day 9: Maasai Mara to Amboseli National Park

After breakfast, depart Maasai Mara and fly to Amboseli National Park, located at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. Arrive and check in at your lodge or camp. Enjoy a late afternoon game drive in the park, known for its large elephant herds and stunning views of Kilimanjaro. Dinner and overnight stay at your accommodation.


Day 10: Amboseli National Park

Spend the day exploring Amboseli National Park. Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives, observing the park’s diverse wildlife, including elephants, lions, zebras, wildebeests, and numerous bird species. Marvel at the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, which provides a picturesque setting for wildlife photography. In the evening, transfer back to Nairobi or continue with your onward travel arrangements.


This itinerary provides a fantastic overview of the Kenya Rift Valley, showcasing its diverse landscapes and wildlife. The itinerary can be customized according to your preferences and the available accommodations. Enjoy your safari adventure!



A 21-day safari in the Kenya Rift Valley followed by a beach holiday will give you a comprehensive experience of both the stunning wildlife and landscapes of the Rift Valley and the relaxation of the Kenyan coast.


Here’s a suggested itinerary for your 21-day adventure:


Day 1: Arrival in Nairobi

Arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and transfer to your hotel. Rest and prepare for your safari and beach holiday.


Days 2-4: Lake Nakuru National Park

After breakfast, depart Nairobi and head to Lake Nakuru National Park in the Rift Valley. Spend three days exploring the park and its diverse wildlife, including flamingos, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and various bird species. Enjoy game drives, nature walks, and breathtaking views of the lake. Stay at a lodge or camp within the park.


Days 5-7: Maasai Mara National Reserve

Leave Lake Nakuru and drive to the iconic Maasai Mara National Reserve. Spend three days immersing yourself in the rich wildlife and vast savannahs of the Mara. Witness the incredible wildebeest migration (if visiting during migration season) and spot lions, elephants, cheetahs, and other wildlife species. Enjoy game drives, bush picnics, and cultural interactions with the Maasai people. Stay at a lodge or camp within the reserve.


Days 8-10: Amboseli National Park

Fly from Maasai Mara to Amboseli National Park, known for its majestic views of Mount Kilimanjaro and abundant elephant herds. Spend three days exploring the park, enjoying game drives, and taking in the stunning scenery. Capture amazing wildlife and landscape photographs. Stay at a lodge or camp within the park.


Days 11-13: Tsavo East National Park

Drive to Tsavo East National Park, one of the largest parks in Kenya. Spend three days exploring the diverse landscapes, including the Galana River and Aruba Dam. Enjoy game drives, spot elephants, lions, giraffes, and other wildlife species. Stay at a lodge or camp within the park.


Days 14-20: Beach Holiday in Diani

After your safari adventure, fly or drive to Diani Beach on the Kenyan coast. Spend seven days relaxing and enjoying the beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and warm tropical climate. Engage in water sports activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, or deep-sea fishing. Explore the vibrant coral reefs, visit nearby marine reserves, and indulge in delicious coastal cuisine. Stay at a beachfront resort or hotel.


Day 21: Departure

On your final day, check out of your beach resort and transfer to the airport for your departure flight.


This itinerary provides a comprehensive experience of both the Kenya Rift Valley’s wildlife and the relaxation of the Kenyan coast. The itinerary can be customized further based on your preferences, accommodation choices, and available activities. Enjoy your safari and beach holiday!


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