In Kenya's Great Rift Valley is a freshwater lake approximately 22 km long, by 11 kms wide, with an area of 168 sq kms. It is situated at an altitude of 1100 meters but is surrounded by mountains rising to almost 300 meters above the ambient ground level in places. At the northern end of the Lake lies the dormant volcano, Karosi, 1449 meters high.
The water of Lake Baringo is fresh unlike those other Great Rift Valley lakes of Bogoria, Elementeita, Nakuru and Magadi which are "soda lakes." Although it is not known where the water flows out of Lake Baringo, it is reasoned that it must do so as otherwise the water would be subject to a continual process of evaporation, and the Lake would become soda. It may well do so from a submerged crevasse at its northern end, emerging 100 ks north at Karpedda.
As a freshwater Lake it is home to hippos, crocodiles and an abundance of fish and birds, but it does not have flamingoes, as these feed on the algae specific to soda lakes. Despite this, it is most famous as an ornithologist's paradise, with 500 bird species, many of which are extremely rare or otherwise only seen in this area.
The climate is warm (25 to 35 degrees) all year round, day and night. While a welcome breeze blows off the Lake in the evenings, the sensation of coldness is practically unknown here. The annual average rainfall is 640 mm, a large proportion of which falls in May-July and a lesser amount in November-December.
The peoples in the vicinity of the Lake are the Tugen and the Il Chamus (or Njempse) with the Pokot living slightly further north, and visiting the area to graze cattle or trade. A few Turkana have migrated to the area. There is very little cultivation owing to the long hot dry season, followed by the habitually violent rains in May, and most inhabitants survive on the grazing of goats, sheep and cattle supplemented by fishing Catfish and Tilapia and harvesting of wild fruits and berries.
The town on the western shore, Kampi ya Samaki (literally "Fishing camp") has a population of a couple of hundred and a reasonable array of shops and a clinic, including a post office with online computers.
Entry to the Lake Baringo area is through a County Council barrier 500 metres outside the village. All visitors need to pay an entry fee although it is a once-off and you can stay as long as you like.
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