Great Rift Valley Lake System, Kenya

Great Rift Valley, Kenya

The Great Rift Valley is part of the inland ridge systems that runs through Kenya from north to south. It is part of the Gregory Fault, an eastern branch of the East African Rift, which begins in Tanzania in the south and extends north into Ethiopia. It is a geographical upwelling created by the interaction of three major tectonic structures: the Arabian, Nubian and Somali plates. It used to be considered part of the “Great Rift Valley” that stretched from Madagascar to Syria. Most of the valley is in the former Rift Valley province.

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

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Functions

The valley is bordered by slopes to the east and west. The floor is broken by volcanoes, some of which are still active, and contains a number of lakes. Some of the soils are andisols , fertile soils formed by relatively recent volcanic activity.

Lake Turkana occupies the northern part of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. Lake Turkana also has volcanoes. The Suguta Valley , or Suguta Mud Plains, is the arid part of the Great Rift Valley immediately south of Lake Turkana . The Emuruangogolak shield volcano girdles the valley south of Suguta, and further south the Silali and Pak mountains rise from the valley floor. Paka is a shield volcano with widespread geothermal activity. To the south of Paka are Mount Korozi , Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria . Menengai is a massive shield volcano at the bottom of a fault with a caldera that formed about 8,000 years ago. It overlooks Lake Nakuru in the south. The region also includes Lake Elementaita , Mount Kipipiri and Lake Naivasha .

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In Ada National Park the gateway is south of Lake Naivasha . Mount Longonot erupted in the early 1900s, and ash can still be felt around Hell Gate. Mount Longonot is a dormant stratovolcano located southeast of Lake Naivasha . Mount Suswa is a shield volcano located between Narok and Nairobi . The lava flows from the most recent eruptions are still unvegetated and may not be more than a hundred years old. Lake Magadi is the southernmost rift valley lake in Kenya, although the northern end of Lake Natron in Tanzania extends to Kenya.

The Elgeyo escarpment forms part of the west wall. In the Kerio Valley lies between the Tugen Hills and the Elgeyo escarpment at an elevation of 1000 meters (3300 ft) There are major fluorite deposits in the Kerio Valley area. Further south, the Mau escarpment is a steep natural bluff about 1,000 m (3,300 ft) high, running along the western edge of the Great Rift Valley near Lake Naivasha . Further south the Nguruman escarpment is about 50 kilometers long and extends in a northwesterly direction. Its northern edge is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Nairobi, and its southern edge is near the border with Tanzania at the northwest corner of Lake Natron . The Aberdare Range forms part of the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley north of Nairobi. Mount Satima is on the northern tip of the Aberdars and is their highest point, while Mount Kinangop on the southern tip is the second highest. The mountains form a ridge between these two peaks. The Ngong Hills are the ridge peaks in the east of the Great Rift Valley, located in the southwest near Nairobi.

Lakes

The Great Rift Valley, Kenya is in Kenya.

Kenya has 64 (9.50%) of all the lakes on the African continent. Eight of them make up the main lakes of the Kenya Rift Valley. From north to south these lakes are called: Lake Turkana , Lake Logipi , Lake Baringo , Lake Bogoria , Lake Nakuru , Lake Elmenteita , Lake Naivasha and Lake Magadi . Of these eight, only lakes Baringo and Naivasha are freshwater.

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Lake Turkana at the northern end of the fault is 250 kilometers (160 miles) long, 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) to 30 kilometers (19 miles) wide, and 125 meters (410 feet) at its maximum depth. Most of the other lakes are shallow and poorly drained, so they have become alkaline. They have waters rich in blue-green algae, which feed on insect larvae, small crustaceans, and small flamingos . Larvae and crustaceans are food for fish and large flamingos . Massive flocks of these birds have also been found to affect coastal sediments. Their numbers lead to trampling of silt in certain areas, while the feeding grounds are oxygenated because of their probing beaks in the silt. Their mounds can also be preserved and cemented as the water level of the lake changes. They form irregularities in the relief of the lake shore.

Trona , an evaporite mineral used to produce sodium carbonate, has been mined at Lake Magadi for almost 100 years. It produces about 250,000 metric tons per year. Other precious minerals such as rubies and pink sapphires have been found and mined in areas around Lake Baringo. More than 2 kilograms of corundum were collected in 2004 .

Three shallow alkaline lakes and their adjacent 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 bird populations in the world and is home to thirteen globally threatened bird species. It is an important nesting and breeding ground for great white pelicans, as well as the most important feeding ground for lesser flamingos in the world. The system is home to globally significant populations of the black-headed grebe, African spoonbill, pintail, little grebe, yellow-billed stork, black-billed stilt, gray-headed gull and gull tern.

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Kenya’s lake system is a key location on the West Asia-East Africa flyway through which vast numbers of birds migrate annually from their breeding grounds in the north to their wintering grounds in Africa. The lands around the lakes include large populations of black rhino, Rothschild’s giraffe, great kudu, lion, cheetah, and wild dogs. Kenya’s lake system is surrounded by the steep Rift Valley escarpment, which provides a spectacular backdrop.

Other lakes are Lake Chu Bahir in the northeastern part. This lake is mostly in Ethiopia, but extends into Kenya during the rainy season. Lake Kamnarok is another small lake.

Lakes of the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. UNESCO Item 1060.

The scenery of the Great Rift Valley may seem monotonous only at first glance.

Sometimes you are traveling by the dirt track and from some hill all of a sudden a view of the lake opens up.

And not just any lake, but one of the Great Rift Valley Lakes!

Of course, everyone guessed (even looking at the title of the post) that far from accidentally opened this very view. Lake Elementita is one of the three UNESCO-designated lakes in the region, and of course there was a desire to visit it.

In our program of Kenya trip was to visit the “Stormy” Naivasha – one of the lakes of the Great Rift Valley, it is interesting and there is a tourist infrastructure. Fortunately, the group is small, and expedition leader was set up to take into account to the maximum the wishes of participants, so at my request was able to calculate time, so as not to lose points of the main program still have time to go at least one of the three (and that Bogoria, Nakuru and Elementita) lakes from the World Heritage list. The closest was the smallest of them – Lake Elementaita.

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What to do on this lake I did not know, and could not intelligibly answer. For me it is the sum of two desires: to see and to add to my list of UNESCO sites. And for others? After all, the lake can not be ugly.) And with that thought, barely down to the shore, I asked to stop.

What can be the first impression in such a place?

We got there all right, we took a few pictures and then we moved on)).

The more so that we met only a herd of domestic cows)).

And it would be, if I traveled alone, but our local guide-driver, who agreed for only 50 dollars from the entire group to add a hundred extra kilometers to our route, he knew what to show us at the lake, just immediately did not hurry to open maps.

After waiting for me to take some pictures in a random spot, he took us another kilometer or so. And there were the hot springs that feed the lake.

Near the springs we found a dozen local guys and girls, and, quite unexpectedly, a mention of the UNESCO designation of this lake.

Such an original “World Heritage” sign I had never seen in my life.

The main thing is that here was also written detailed information about the lake itself (it is not very clear for whom, there were no other tourists here, and from the information field you can conclude that the traveler is a rare guest here).

I will not try to translate the text from the stone. There is an official site of the organization, I suggest by tradition to use it.

The Great Rift Valley Lake System became a World Heritage Site in 2011, numbered 1060. You can read on the official website. The Great Rift Valley Lake System, a natural site of exceptional scenic beauty, was first inscribed on the World Heritage List at this session of the Committee. Kenya’s Rift Valley has three relatively shallow lakes (Bogoria, Nakuru, and Elementaita) with a total area of 3,034 hectares. It is home to 13 bird species that are threatened with complete extinction outside the reserve. Here is the most representative variety of birds in the world. The area is the largest known breeding ground for lesser flamingos and one of the most important nesting and rearing grounds for great pelicans. The preserve is home to significant populations of mammals, including black rhino, Rothschild’s giraffe, great kudu, lion, leopard, and wild dog. The site is of great value in terms of being able to study critical ecological processes. (whc.unesco.org/en/list/1060)

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So, the main ones here, of course, are the birds.

True, the birds were a bit far away from us, but I did manage to shoot some through a TV lens. They were flamingos.

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