I think there are probably not that many Nairobians who haven’t heard of lake Magadi. In fact, if I remember correctly, it has always been a popular tourist spot for international and domestic tourists, including school or family trips. It’s an interesting site because it appeals to lots of different types of travelers; its exciting for adventure travelers and campers but also nature lovers and bird watchers and if you prefer a bit more luxury, there are hotels and tented camps around the lake. The views of the lake and hills as you approach are hard to forget!
It takes about 2 hours to reach Lake Magadi from Nairobi. The journey itself isn’t too bad, especially once you are out of Nairobi on Magadi road, having left the traffic of Rongai behind. As I did my research for this trip, I came across a prehistoric excavation site and museum about half way between Nairobi and Lake Magadi. According to Google maps, the turning off the main road is at Oltepesi, in reality it is past Oltepesi, but feel free to ask the local residents, we got directions from them when we weren’t sure. Anyway, Olorgesailie Prehistoric site and Museum is REAAAAALLY interesting and I would recommend visiting there as a day trip (Click on the name to read my blog post about it).
At Lake Magadi
On arrival at Lake Magadi, you will have the option of picking up a local guide at the entrance. There are usually many masaai’s there with immense knowledge of the area. We were approached by a guide who wanted to take us to the hot springs immediately, but we wanted to check out the sports club first. He told us that the sports club is closed for renovations, we doubted that so told him we would come back after we check….and surprise surprise, it was open. Lol!
Lake Magadi Sports Club
The lake magadi sports club has a swimming pool, bar, restaurant and accommodation. I didn’t look at the rooms, but the food was very very good! This is also where I noticed that the Gecko’s around Lake Magadi are well fed and thick (There are lots of mosquito)…YUCK! Anyway, we opted to place our order,visit the hot springs and eat after.
Lake Magadi Hot springs
We picked up our guide (The same one who lied about the club being under renovation, but one must give second chances) and we were off to the hot springs. After driving for about half an hour, I realized that we made a smart decision to visit the springs before eating, or we would have arrived at the hot springs in the dark, its quite a distance from the Sports club, I would say a bit over an hour’s drive. Our guide gave us plenty of information about the area’s topography, history, culture and traditions of the local masaais, as well as the masaais who come from Tanzania. Apparently, according to our guide, locals are able to walk from Lake Magadi to Tanzania in under an hour…Talk about speed walking.
The journey to the springs is rather interesting and you DEFINITELY need a guide…you will not find the springs on your own. While there, you are able to enter the springs, which are extremely hot! Masaai ladies will also come to sell you jewelry. Our guide informed us that some adventurers like to set up their tents near the hot springs and spend the night. The water is HOT! After a few minutes it is slightly unpleasant and as you dry, there will be a layer of white powder (soda ash/salt) that will only come off if you wash it off. Your hair will also solidify, so don’t try and comb it after visiting the hot springs, it will break right off and you will cry! You can shower at the Sports Club.
Although I have visited lake Magadi in my younger years, I had a splendid time and really would like to visit again and spend the night. I imagine the sunrise over the lake is quite beautiful. After visiting, I had a lot of friends ask for additional details so they can plan their own trip, below it the link to the main website for tourism at Lake Magadi. I used this website to get contacts and call in advance for details on the various payments due (Guide fee, entry fee etc).
There is so much to say about Lake Magadi. It is a saline, alkaline Lake which basically means that it is a salty landlocked lake. The lake is charged (filled) by saline hot springs that can reach temperatures of up to 86 °C. There is a soda ash factory next to the lake and only one species of fish exists in the lake. Also, there was a time in its history that Lake magadi was a freshwater lake and a time when it was united with Lake Natron (Tanzania) as one huge lake. I will stop there…there is a lot I have left out or forgotten. Go see it for yourself!