is a major Rift Valley lake in Southwest Kenya
, the first that one encounters when travelling out by road from Nairobi
During the Colonial Era, this lake was used as the main airport for the country, an essential stop on the flying boat mail service which connected London with Cape Town. Soon the aristocratic settlers were building fabulous mansions around the shoreline, becoming the infamous 'Happy Valley Set', renowned for their debauched lifestyle which has since been immortalised by Hollywood.
These days Naivasha is a considerably less salubrious location, with the local village having grown into a sprawling town straddling a major highway and huge industrial flower farms and budget tourist lodges now dominating much of the shoreline. Up to around 1995 this area was considered to be a near essential component of a trip around Kenya, but these days it most commonly tends to feature in low quality and budget safaris.
However if you are looking for a very high end trip, then there are still some interesting options, with a handful of genuinely high class small lodges being clustered around the relatively unspoiled northwestern side of the main lake and around the shores of the Little Lake to the southwest. These places are able to deliver a strong and varied range of activities and really provide a deep sense of this remarkable period of history.Loldia House
... is a lovely old Colonial Era house in a wonderful private area on the lake shore, still capable of delivering a relatively clean and high quality experience.Ajabu House
... is another lovely old Colonial Era properly very close by and offering a similarly high quality experience.Olerai House
... is a very pleasant private estate on the western shore, a very intimate and pleasant place to stay, owned by renowned conservationists the Douglas Hamilton family.Hippo Point House
... is a ridiculously magnificent Colonial Era mock Tudor mansion in a gorgeous private estate alongside the Little Lake, a very high class place to stay.Hippo Point Tower
... is a folly of the highest order, with seven floors of accommodation for a handful of guests, immediately overlooking the Little Lake.
We tend to most commonly include Naivasha in trips for guests who specifically want to return here after many years away, although this needs to be done with great care in order to avoid disappointment. The infrequency with which higher quality trips include Naivasha these days means that it is no longer even included in the regular morning flight schedule between Nairobi and Maasai Mara, which often necessitates driving out from Nairobi on the very busy main road, which can be quite tiresome.
Most visitors to this Lake Naivasha area tend to stay for 2 to 3 nights, usually in combination with popular Kenyan safari areas such as Maasai Mara
, as well as time down on the Kenya Coast