Nakuru for backpackers, how to see some wildlife in Kenya for free.

We went to Kenya in May 2015,
during a complete trip (8 months), 
through Southern and Eastern Africa.

If you are planning a budget trip in Kenya, here you can find useful information about Nakuru. 
We went there by public transport, slept and ate in local places. Even saw some wild animals for free!

NAKURU: once upon a time, there was a lake with flamingos and lots of wild animals around. Now, the lake is still there and so does the national park, a world apart to the city. It´s even a "premium park", more expensive fees (?).

Lake Nakuru from the town
City? Nakuru is mainly a big town, the most important in the Rift Valley, ugly and dusty on the main Nairobi Road (170 km west), with smoking factories around, very dirty! Terrible to see the out of control dumping ground north of Nakuru on the Marigat road, just a few km away of the lake and national park!
Just a few km around the lake are the protected area. The rest is really populated, with many villages and big farms around.

The weather can be cool, specially at night  (it´s 1.800 m high).

¿Where can you see wild animals for free in Nakuru?

You can see some wildlife for free in Nakuru!  
Just go the main entrance of the Nakuru National Park (surrounded by a big new fence). There´s a public corridor, where you can see some animals, for free. 
We saw buffalos, zebras, antilops, ostriches, and baboons. Not bad!

Many local visitors around. 
On the right side of the entrance, following the fence, there´s also a public corridor. But it´s not to safe to walk there, there´s a slum just next and it´s full of garbage and dirty waters. Terrible, this is Kenya!

You can reach the main NP entrance walking from the town´s center (3 km), but you can take a matatu (around 30 sh), mototaxi or tuctuc too.

   Public transport in Nakuru  

Many matatus connecting with all the main towns of southwestern Kenya, well connected town. Also a few buses, most of them going to Kisumu, Nairobi, Mombasa, Uganda.
There are different matatus stops areas in the center, in different streets, depending of directions, ask people. No real station.
Many tuc-tucs, mototaxis and bicycle-taxis. 
Marigat-Nakuru (100 km): matatu, 300 sh, 1h30.
Nakuru- Naivasha: matatu, 180 sh, 1h.

   Cheap accommodation in Nakuru   

Many local lodges in the center, mainly around the matatus stations and the mosque. Big buildings. 
Similar prices:
Single room: 600 sh, one bed
Double room: 800 sh, 2 beds
Quality and noise vary a lot, so check first.

Pandoria Hotel: where we stayed.
800 sh, self-contained room (hot shower), with a big bed. Views over the lake (building with 6 floors). Correct, not too noisy (for Kenya standarts).
On Mosque Rd.

Kivu Retreat resort: 
if looking for something cheap close to the NP entrance and outside the center.
They offered us (low season) a double room for 1.000 sh. Camping 600sh/tent
Popular with local people, they have swimming pools. Also restaurant-bar-discotheque, so better avoid  weekends if looking for a quiet place.

   Nakuru National Park   

Entrance fee: 80 $/pp/day!!! One of the most expensive parks in Kenya as it´s a "premium" park. 
We don´t understand why. 
Just on the edge of a big town, not so magic places in Africa, with garbage and dirty waters around. Quite small park. And the surrounding landscape is not so amazing and diverse. 
The good thing is that you can visit it by taxi (2WD), negotiate hard the price.
There are different gates, around the park perimeter. The main one is just 3 km south of Nakuru´s center.
The national park covers an area all around the lake (10 km diameter only), not too big. 
The park was famous for the flamingos (they told us most of them have left now) and rhinos; also lions, leopards, zebras, buffalos. 
Many visitors, as it´s in a very convenient location for organised tours around Masai-Mara and Nairobi area.

Accommodation inside Nakuru national park:
Most of it expensive and luxury (lodge concessions), except at Wildlife Club (around 25 $/pp). 
The NP campsites are 30 $/pp (normal) and 50 $/pp (special), premium park, crazy prices!
As the park is quite small, you can also sleep ouside, cheaper.

Menengai Crater:
From Nakuru´s center, it looks just like a small hill, northeast behind the center. We didn´t go. 
Famous for its big crater (view point). If you check with Google Maps (satellite), you will see mining extraction there! Not really a protected are!
Entrance fee: 600 Sh.
Access by road and car (3 km from the gate), the walk over the crater is long (6km).

Hyrax Hill:
It´s a museum, in a prehistoric site, 4 km east of Nakuru on the Nairobi road (matatus). 
Entrance fee: 1.500 sh. We didn´t go either.


  1. Thanks very much guys for all the useful I could find on this blog all along my trip to east africa, it was a great help !! For example I probably would not have tried to go the lake nakuru NP gate without yr advice, that turned out to be funny to see baboons playing around, as well as other animals from far.

  2. Thank u very much wonderful ladies!!!!!I am currently a solo traveller in Kenia and u are helping me a lot.
    The design of website is likewise wonderful, if the content u share with the rest of the world were not fab!Congrats!

    1. Thanks Almu! Our pleasure of sharing and helping other independent travelers!


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