The Great Rift Valley, formed about 35 million years ago, is a 6.000 kilometer fissure on the earth’s crust that runs from Lebanon to Mozambique with most of it found in Kenya. The term ‘Valley’ is a misnomer since the course of the Great Rift Valley is invaded by mountains and plateau.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a single fissure, although the name continues in some usage, it is rarely used in Geology nowadays as it is considered an imprecise description of separate though related rift and fault systems. The Great Rift Valley constitutes of the Lebanese section of The Dead Sea Transform, The Jordan Rift Valley, The Red Sea Rift, and The East African Rift – considered as one of the geological wonders of the modern world.
In Kenya the valley runs from north to south and is deepest to the north of Nairobi. It is part of the Gregory Rift, the eastern branch of the East African Rift extending southward from the Gulf of Aden through Ethiopia and Kenya into Northern Tanzania, Albertine Rift being the western branch covering parts of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
Great Rift Valley is many things; cradle of humankind, wildlife sanctuary, and a scenic wonder. The relics of many hominids, ancestors of humans, were found here. Some of the enchanting landscapes that are absolutely guaranteed to ‘catch an eye’ are Lake Naivasha, Mount Longonot, Mount Suswa, and Ng’ong Hills.
Lake Naivasha, a freshwater lake, is at the highest elevation of the Kenyan Rift Valley at 1884 meters and almost 13 kilometers wide, but its waters are shallow with an average depth of 5 meters. The name Naivasha was derived from the local Maasai name Nai’posha, meaning “rough water” because of the sudden storms that can arise. Apart from the transient streams, the lake is fed by the perennial Malewa and Gilgil rivers. With no visible outlet, and the lake water being relatively fresh, it is assumed to have an underground outflow.
The lake is home to a variety of types of wildlife including over 400 different species of birds – earning Naivasha the recognition as a world class birding destination, and a sizeable population of hippos. It is however interesting to know that between 1937 and 1950, the lake was used as a landing place for flying boats on the Imperial Airways passenger and mail route from Southampton in Britain to South Africa. It also linked Kisumu and Nairobi.
Rising from the floor of the Great Rift Valley at 2776m above sea level like a monolith, Mount Longonot, is a stratovolcano, though extinct, that formed some 21.000 years ago. Thought to have last erupted circa 1860, it is characterized by a crater rim/circular caldera over a kilometer in diameter. The name Longonot was derived from Maasai word Oloonong’ot, meaning “steep ridges”.
The entire mountain is a National Park within the jurisdiction of Kenya Wildlife Services and is home to various species of wildlife, notable the plains zebra, giraffe, Thomson’s gazelle, buffaloes and hartebeest. To the south of the mountain is the Longonot Satellite Earth Station.
Mount Suswa a shield volcano, has a unique double crater and summits at 2356 meters in the Great Rift Valley located between Nairobi and Narok. It is known for its lava tubes on the north eastern side of the outer crater. It is also home to a variety of wildlife including zebras, giraffes, mongooses, turtles, hyenas, and leopards.
Ngong Hills are peaks in a ridge along the Great Rift Valley and tops at 2460m above sea level. Enshrined in the Karen Blixen’s film Out of Africa, Karen Blixen suggested the name “Ngong” came from Maasai word for knuckles and indeed the row of hills do look like a set of knuckles.
Aerocruise is delighted to offer you this exciting expedition where you will enjoy some panoramic views over these marvelous wonders. The flight is expected to take you from Wilson airport and along the Great Rift Valley to lake Naivasha then to Mt Longonot circle and then to Mt Suswa for some great aerial views and then route to Ngong hills on your way back to Wilson.
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