Lakes Baringo and Naivasha: Endorheic Freshwater Lakes of the Rift Valley (Kenya)



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Springer, Dordrecht


Lakes Baringo and Naivasha are among the Great Rift Valley lakes that were formed about 25 million years ago by violent separation of two of the earth’s continental plates floating on the molten magma of its core. Lake Baringo is a freshwater lake in the eastern arm of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, with surface and catchment areas of approximately 130 and 6,820 km2, respectively, and a mean depth of 5.9 m. The lake is shallow and is virtually a wetland in its entirety, with submerged Ceratophyllum demersum occurring in the deepest portions of the lake. However, larger marshes are found at the river mouths to the south and east. Lake Naivasha has a surface area of approximately 119,130 km2, a catchment area of 3,200 km2, and a mean depth of 4.1 m. Lake Naivasha’s water level has experienced great fluctuations sometimes as much as 7 m over many years attributed to large-scale climatic influence, also causing changes in water geochemistry. The main lake has a fringing vegetation of Cyperus papyrus and other macrophytes and the lake body supports a diverse macrophyte community. In addition to the lakes’ high biodiversity, they provide water to the local communities for domestic, irrigation, and industrial purposes. Fish in these lakes contribute to the diet of the local communities and are a source of income. Due to their unique scenery and biodiversity, the lakes are destinations for both local and international tourists. Lakes Baringo and Naivasha are faced with numerous threats and challenges including an increasing human population, deforestation and erosion, pollution, impacts associated with tourism, human–wildlife conflict, impact of invasive species, and climate change. Investments around these lakes need to be balanced against the threats to biodiversity and the human population.




Omondi, R., Ojwang, W., Olilo, C., Mugo, J., Agembe, S., Ojuok, J.E. (2018). Lakes Baringo and Naivasha: Endorheic Freshwater Lakes of the Rift Valley (Kenya). In: Finlayson, C., Milton, G., Prentice, R., Davidson, N. (eds) The Wetland Book. Springer, Dordrecht.