LAKE NAIVASHA & HELLS GATE NATIONAL PARK
Though not a national park, Lake Naivasha is a popular tourist location for people looking for their resident hippos and over 400 bird species that call the lake home. Nearby, Hells Gate National Park also has a variety of animals and is one of the only national parks within Kenya that you can camp in. The landscape of Hells Gate played a role in inspiring the setting for the Lion King. Both of these parks are within the Great Rift Valley and support amazing wildlife viewing within very different ecosystems from much of the other landscapes within Kenya.
While Naivasha is a beautiful place to visit with many animals to see up close, a visit to the park has raised some concerns with tourists. When on the boat tour, the guides buy fish that have been caught from the lake and toss them into the water calling the fish eagles down to feed. While this creates wonderful photo opportunities for tourists, it is not something that should be done as it habituates wild animals, potentially leading to injuries to people, and other wild animals down the line. Additionally, feeding wild animals can disrupt natural behaviour patterns and alter population levels. The tour operator also know that many people come visit the park to see hippos, as such they end up banging on their boats and revving their engines in order to encourage the hippos to surface while they are sleeping, potentially altering their daily patterns.
Getting to the park takes about an hour and half if you are driving from Nairobi. There are many tour operators that will take you to visit the lake, which is typically paired with Hells Gate National Park where you can do a walking, bike or driving tours. These parks have plenty of animals to see, however take caution when booking tours so as to avoid participating in these negative practices.