Lake Elementaita was profiled as a Ramsar site and a Wetland of International importance in 2005.
Elementeita is derived from the Masaai word muteita, meaning "dust place", an attributes of the dry and dusty quality of the area, especially between January and March. The town of Gilgil is located near the lake. In the south-to-north sequence of Rift Valley lakes, Elmenteita is located between Lake Naivashaand Lake Nakuru. The major Nairobi-Nakuru highway runs along the nearby escarpment affording motorists a spectacular view of the lake.
At the southern end of the lake lie the "Kekopey" hot springs, in which the Tilapia grahami breed. Very popular for bathing, the local Masai claim that it can cure AIDS. The reed beds nearby are fishing grounds for night herons and pelicans.
The Lake Elmenteita area saw its first white settlement when Lord Delamere (1879-1931) established his Soysambu, a 48,000-acre (190 km2) ranch, on the western side of the lake. Delamere gifted the land nearest the lake to his brother-in-law, the Honorable Galbraith Lowry Egerton Cole (1881-1929), part of whose "Kekopey Ranch", where he is buried, is preserved today as the Lake Elementaita Lodge. Thus the lake retains early colonial home features that include a red brick building with shady terraces, an internal courtyard, paneled walls and a sitting room with a library and log fires.
The nearby Soysambu estate is still occupied by Lord Delamere's descendants.
Over 400 bird species have been recorded in the Lake Nakuru/Lake Elmenteita basin. Elmenteita attracts visiting flamingoes, both the Greater and Lesser varieties, which feed on the lake's crustacean and insect larvae and on its suspended blue-green algae, respectively.
Recently the lake level and number of flamingoes has receded as increased human activity has dried up catchment areas.
Tilapia were introduced to the lake from Lake Magadi in 1962 and since that time the flamingo population has dwindled considerably. The tilapia attract many fish-eating birds that also feed upon the flamingo eggs and chicks. Over a million birds that formerly bred at Elmenteita are now said to have sought refuge at Lake Natron in Tanzania.
The lake's shores are grazed by zebra, gazelle, eland and families of warthog.
The lake is normally very shallow (< 1 m deep) and bordered by trona-encrusted mudflats during the dry seasons. During the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, Lake Elmenteita was at times united with and expanded Lake Nakuru, forming a much larger dilute lake. Remnants of the former joined lake are preserved as sediments at various locations around the lake basins, including former shorelines.
The lake is strategically situated from a cliff on the Nakuru- Nairobi highway 30km from Lake Nakuru and 120km from Kenyacapital city Nairobi . Overnight visitors can spend at lake Elementaita Lodge, Sunbird Lodge, The Sleeping Warrior Camp or Elementaita Country Lodge. The lake is a Mecca for bird lovers as the Lake is a stop-over for over 350 bird species with a population of 3,000 Pelicans and 200,000 Flamingos though the numbers increase when environmental conditions like food resource base are limited in other saline lakes.
Soysambu Wildlife Sanctuary gives an opportunity for visitors to spend time on the shores watching the incredible variety of bird species, Buffalo, Gazelle, Water buck, Jackal, Lion, Zebra, Leopard, Eland and Cheetah among other species of Wildlife. In addition to the bird walk and the scenic drive, visitors can interact with the local peasants who eke out a living by scooping the salty sedimentary deposits on the shores selling the salty deposits to cattle owners. The picturesque view of this lake is simply enthralling.