Located between lakes Naivasha and Nakuru, Lake Elmenteita is one of the most important of the lakes of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, as it is the breeding and feeding ground for many threatened bird species. The area was declared a Ramsar site in 2005.
During the dry season, black lava islands provide the only suitable nesting and breeding grounds for the Great White Pelican in the Rift Valley region. Due to the small size of the lake, fluctuations of water level affect the salinity of the lake and therefore the conditions alter, making it an unstable place for the flamingoes to rely on for food supplies.
However, the lake is a paradise for bird lovers as it has over 450 species, including migratory birds.
The Maasai have wandered the area for centuries and the name is derived for their name Ol muteita which means "place of dust". The first settler to reach the area of Lake Elmenteita was Lord Delamere in 1897 where he pioneered farming methods and in 1906 he settled permanently at Lake Elmenteita - where his descendants still live today. The landscape around the lake is diverse, with craters, lava flows, plugs and other remnants of the area’s volcanic history.
There are also odd geometric patterns created by erosion in the very porous soil. Towards the southern end of the lake are the Kekopey hot springs, a location that is thought to be an ancient passage site involved in the yesteryear ivory and slave trades.
Now, local inhabitants depend on the hot springs around Kekopey for domestic fresh water supply, subsistence irrigation and to water their livestock. The nomadic Maasai, use the area as a grazing and natural salt lick for their cattle.