Fenced off in an attempt to protect its increasing rhino population, Lake Nakuru National Park (P.O. Box 539, Nakuru; tel. 051/221-7151; www.kws.go.ke) is spread over 188 sq. km (73 sq. miles) and is strictly managed -- this hasn't, however, prevented cases of poaching, instances of park staff being killed by lions, and rampant littering at some of the park's overcrowded viewing points. If you require information about the park in advance, try contacting the senior warden at email@example.com.
The quickest way to get in and out of Lake Nakuru National Park is to charter a plane to the Naisha airstrip, which is inside the park and operated by the Kenya Wildlife Service; this can be arranged through your tour operator. Charter arrangements can also be made through Sunworld Safaris (tel. 020/444-5669 or 020/444-5850; www.sunworldsafaris.com), which also conducts personalized overland packages. Offbeat Safaris, the owners of Deloraine House, will also make all travel arrangements if you are using their accommodations, although you'll be based some distance from the park itself. The drive from Nairobi to Nakuru takes around 2 hours; the main gate and park headquarters is 4km (2 1/2 miles) south of Nakuru town. If you're driving from Naivasha, you can bypass the town by entering Nderit Gate in the southeastern corner of the park -- however, you will not be able to obtain a Safaricard here, so make sure you have one (usually organized through your tour operator).
You'll be most comfortable exploring the park in a 4X4, although standard cars and taxis do manage on the decently maintained roads here. If you don't arrive in a chauffeured 4X4, you'll be able to sign up for guided drives around the park through the Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge.
When to Visit
If you want to see the flamingoes, avoid coming in March, April, or May, when the majority of the large birds head to Lake Natron in Tanzania. It's also worth noting that flamingo numbers can be unpredictable and depend on specific conditions in the lake. If seeing the birds is a priority, confirm their presence ahead of your arrival.
Entry to Lake Nakuru National Park is by Safaricard (if you don't have one, you can obtain one at the park's main entrance); as one of the country's most popular state-run parks, it's also one of the two costliest (the other is Amboseli), with adult admission a hefty $60 ($35 for each re-entry) and children paying $30 ($23 for re-entry). The park is open from 6am to 6pm. There are three entry gates; Main Gate (where Safaricards can be obtained) is near the edge of sprawling Nakuru town and is where you'll also be able to pick up freelance guides (their knowledge is hardly worth the effort, though). There are designated tracks for vehicular access, but areas exist along the lake's shore where it's permissible to drive off-track and even get out of your vehicle in order to better photograph the scene on the water; this should obviously be done only with extreme caution.