Lake Naivasha is one of the Rift Valleyís cleanest freshwater lakes, renowned equally for its great variety of birdlife, its scenic beauty, and its role as a retreat for the zany white settlers of "Happy Valley" fame. The infamous, pink painted Gin Palace still perches preposterously overlooking the southeastern shoreline, fringed with papyrus and secluded lagoons with splendid blue water lilies. The lake is little more than an hourís drive from Nairobi, using the Trans-Africa Highway.
At present the lake covers about 150 square kilometres (60 square miles)since recent rains have been good. The water level has varied markedly from year to year, having almost dried out in the 1890s. The hectarage and the fortunes of the lakeside vegetable farmers flutuate widely.
The ecology of the lake has been changed considerably by human intervention. Sport fishing was introduced in the 1920s and later, species like the American red swamp crayfish and black bass were introduced both for commercial and sport fishing. Various aquatic plants were also introduced, the most prominent being water hyacynth, which forms thick carpets of vegetation and can become a serious problem to waterways. The South American coypu, an aquatic rodent, is also present in the park, having escaped from a fur farm. The area surrounding the lake is extensively irrigated to grow fruits and vegetables. Controversy about the detrimental effects of these introductions and the irrigation schemes has been going on for years. No final conclusion has been reached.
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