The Great Rift Valley, Kenya - Stein Travel
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The Great Rift Valley

Millions of years ago the earth's crust was weakened and it tore apart, creating a split thousands of kilometres long down the continent of Africa up to 62 miles (100km) wide in places. Volcanic eruptions on either side caused the floor to sink into a flat plain creating the Great Rift Valley. It is one of Kenya's characteristic features and divides the country in half, from north to south, with stunning panoramas and beautiful escarpment backdrops. The wide valley is scattered with a few volcanoes and several lakes; it is inhabited by grazing animals, Masai herders and small-town dwellers.

The string of alkaline lakes known for their stunning scenery and variety of bird life include Lakes Naivasha, Elementeita, Nakuru, Bogoria and Baringo. The uniqueness of these lakes lies in their high concentration of sodium carbonate from the surrounding volcanic rocks. This creates an ideal breeding ground for algae and a thriving environment for fish, which in turn attracts millions of birds to feed on the abundant food supply. Each of the lakes has a different water composition ranging from freshwater to very saline and brackish, with different bird life attracted to each.

The freshwater ecosystems at Lake Naivasha and Baringo, the nature reserve at Lake Bogoria, and the Nakuru National Park are a source of endless fascination, teeming with an incredible diversity of birds and large concentrations of animals. Hell's Gate National Park allows visitors to walk or cycle among the wildlife, and nearby Elsamere Conservation Centre provides a look at the life of Joy Adamson and the lioness Elsa, of 'Born Free' fame.

Information & Facts

Language

English is the official language but Swahili is the national language, with 42 ethnic languages spoken.

Money

The unit of currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES), divided into 100 cents. It is not advisable to take Kenyan Shillings out of the country, as they are difficult to exchange elsewhere. Travellers cheques in Sterling or US Dollars are recommended for your trip to Kenya. US Dollars in particular have become commonly used in many of the country's main hotels and safari lodges. Foreign currency can be changed at banks, bureaux de change and hotels; easiest to exchange are US dollars, pounds sterling or Euros. Street exchange merchants should be avoided as they are operating illegally. Banks open Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm and on the first and last Saturday of the month. Banks and bureaux de change at the international airport stay open 24 hours. Credit Cards (American Express, Visa and MasterCard) are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, and some camps and lodges. ATMs are widely available in Nairobi and the major towns.

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