Lake Baringo

The main hotels for visitors to Lake Baringo are located half-way up the western shore. Get there by driving 17 km north of Marigat to Kampi ya Samaki.

Lake Baringo (168 km2) is 30% larger than Lake Bogoria and of very different character; most significantly it is only very slightly alkaline and supports a freshwater fauna, including a variety of fish species, hippos and large crocodiles. But, just how is it possible for this lake to be essentially fresh water? Like its close neighbour to the south, it is fed by a number of rivers (Perkera, El Molo, and Ol Arabel, flowing down from the forests of Marmarnet and Timboroa) but has no visible outlets. Why is it not highly alkaline like its neighbour? Scientists believe the answer is sub-surface drainage; they believe water flows out through faults in the strata underlying the lake. These ‘underground rivers’ could be the source of hot springs such as that of Silali which generates the Suguta River.

Baringo is a RAMSAR site, because of its vital importance as a wetland. It is a bird-watcher’s paradise: over 460 species have been recorded at the lake and within the hot, dry habitats immediately around it. Some of the larger include Hemprich’s Hornbill, Verreaux’s Eagle, the Madagascar Squacco Heron and the Goliath Heron. The latter congregate and breed on a small, rocky, lake island, Gibraltar Island, which is said to be the biggest heronry of this species in East Africa.
To visit the heronry, or any of the other 8 islands in the lake, you may hire a boat at the main hotels or negotiate for one from the local community. Make sure you pick a good one provided with sufficient life-jackets.
The largest and most-visited island is Kokwo Island. It is the location of a tourist resort called “Island Camp”. Another island with tourist-class accommodation is Samatian --- which requires a much longer boat ride to get to.
When out on the lake, you may visit the hippo area, glide along scanning the shoreline for crocs or try your hand at fishing. If it is the fishing you go for, you are unlikely to be as successful as the Il Chamus fishermen and their methods which have little changed for over 200 years.
Out on the lake, you may meet a lone fisherman balanced precariously on a one-man raft. The rafts are so very characteristic of Baringo; they are made from “ambatch” ---- a light reed with a density similar to balsa wood. Your boatman might borrow a fish from the fisherman and then whistle-up a Fish Eagle from the top of a distant tree. The take off, the approach, the turn, the swoop and the grab of the eagle, as it zeroes in on the bait, will be the memory of a life time. Other memories will certainly be the spectacular sunrises and the warm, languid, Baringo days.