Kenya Travel | The Great Rift Valley
About twenty million years ago, Africa was cleaved by great subterranean forces. The result was The Great Rift Valley, which separates the grass plains of East Africa from the tropical rainforests of western central Africa. This fault line - some 5,600km (3,500 miles) long - cuts a swathe north to south from Ethiopia's Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.
Lakes of every size were formed and some are very large and deep such as Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, while in Kenya they tend to be a necklace of small shallow soda lakes like Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria. Thousands of chiffon-pink Flamingoes and Pelicans are attracted to these alkaline waters to feed on algae and tiny crustaceans.
The National Parks of Kenya's Rift Valley lakes contain more than just flamingoes and you can have a leisurely game experience by just driving around Lake Nakuru, where you can witness both black and white Rhino in one place (a very rare occurrence), plus antelopes, monkeys and even Leopards.
The Rift Valley escarpment and views over the valley floor are best seen in Kenya, as the valley is at its narrowest between the Mau Escarpment and the Aberdare mountains. At Nakuru it is only about 45km (31 miles) wide. Further south is the beautiful freshwater Lake Naivasha, which is used to irrigate fruit orchards, vegetable fields and acres of fresh flowers that are exported to Europe.
This fertile rift valley became the 'Happy Valley' of Kenya in the 1930's, with a social circle intent on having as much scandalous fun as possible! British ex-patriots came to pioneer farms and the minor aristocracy came to 'play'. The film 'White Mischief' epitomized the frivolousness and sometimes the tragedy of those colonial times.
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