The Nguruman Escarpment, towering to about 2,000m altitude, is located near the Kenya-Tanzania border; in between Lakes Magadi and Natron. The roughly 50km long escarpment holds treasures of beauty not hosted by many destinations. Bordering the escarpment are the famous Loita Hills, that tower behind this magnificent landform. Together, they stretch a long way forming a seemingly unending wave of geographical features. The plains below are about 700m above sea level, getting lower as you near the lakes (Magadi and Natron).
At its foothills are two big wildlife conservancies (Olkirimatian and Shompole) that help the local community manage their biodiversity more sustainably. The entire area has about 60,000acres of conservation land. Water is key to life here. River Ewaso Ng’iro South serves as a lifeline for the ecosystem, as it flows to Lake Natron. It offers some of the best landscape spectacles of any river on earth as it meanders through the plains. Other small rivers, streams, springs and swamps also support life in the area. Most of these emanate from the escarpment.
River Ewaso Ng’iro South, near Mud River Camp
Wildlife is abundant in the area, with members of the big five being well represented. Many elephants use the area as a corridor between the famous Masai Mara and Amboseli ecosystems. Lions are also here in plenty, with the Olkirimatian-Shompole ecosystem having about sixty individuals in seven prides. Leopard and Cheetah populations are also doing well, without forgetting the local Buffalo population. Other wild animals include Blue Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Gerenuk, Maasai Giraffe, African Wild Cat, Grant’s Gazelle, Olive Baboon, Common Impala and Cape Eland, among others. Some interesting bird species of this area include: Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Ashy Flycatcher, African Golden Oriole, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Red-billed Quelea, Collared Pratincole, Verreaux’s Eagle, Pearl-spotted Owlet, African Reed Warbler, Northern Brownbul, Kori Bustard, Secretarybird and Black-necked Weaver. The invasive shrub, Prosopis juliflora, has also taken residence here, slowly carpeting some sections of the landscape.
The nearby Lake Magadi has its own uniqueness to offer, from the soda ash mining industry to the wonderful biodiversity. The rare Chestnut-banded Plovers are common here. Others include the Gerenuk, Maasai Giraffe, Dimorphic Egret and White-throated Bee-eater, among many other beautiful species.
Lake Natron, on the other hand, is the breeding paradise for the Lesser Flamingos. Huge flamingo flocks are common here and predators take note of this too. Often an African Fish Eagle will be seen flying about, as it locks on a weak flamingo. Pied Avocets, Cape Teals, among many other bird species are a common spectacle here.
Take time to hike the Nguruman Escarpment as well as the nearby Loita Hills. The experience is always memorable. The sun may be scorching at most times of the year, but the beauty soon takes over and you forget the “oven” above your head. The magical views of River Entasopia will remain in your memory for many years to come.
River Entasopia along the Nguruman Escarpment
It is a six hours drive from Nairobi to the base of Nguruman Escarpment. Take Magadi Road to Magadi town and then take the murram Nguruman Road. The terrain requires a tough vehicle. You can stay in camps or lodges in Olkirimatian or Shompole. Accommodation facilities to consider: Lentorre Lodge and Mud River Camp.
Shompole at a glance