Great Rift Valley


One of the Earth’s most well known rift valleys, the splendour of the Great Rift Valley is a sight that many look forward to on their journey across Africa. The Great Rift Valley runs for 6,400 km from Jordan to the coast of Mozambique. The valley is 48-64 km wide on average and reaches nearly 480 km at its widest section in the Danakil Desert, north-east of Africa. The valley’s steep walls rise around 900 m from the floor and there are some cliffs that reach 2,700 m high.

The valley was formed on the Kenyan Dome- an upwelling caused by the natural geography of the Earth and as a result of three major tectonic plates; the Arabian, Nubian and Somalian. Many visit the Cherangani Hills and the volcanoes that are found there. Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro are the result of the movement of the three tectonic plates. The Tugen Hills are located to the west of Lake Baringo and fossils preserved in lava have been found dating back from 4-14 million years ago. Along with fossils, the remains of the first humans have been found in this area. In 1974, bones belonging to early humans (hominids) were found in Ethiopia in the area of the Great Rift Valley. The skeleton was female and the fossils were found to be 3 million years old.

The East African Rift is the one guests on our Rovos luxury rail journey will be greeted with. The East African Rift is home to the African plate, which splits into two. The Nubian plate carries most of Africa while the small Somali plate carries the Horn of Africa. The East African Rift includes many geological features such as smaller rift valleys, lakes and volcanoes. There are two main divisions. The Gregory Rift occurs from the Red Sea as far south as Mount Kilimanjaro. The Western Rift houses many of the African Great Lakes including Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Kivu, Lake Edward and Lake Albert.

The Kenyan Lake system is a hotspot for bird migration as they make their way from breeding grounds in the north and to wintering locations in Africa. Around the lakes, black rhino, giraffe, greater kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs graze and drink against the steep escarpment of the gorgeous Great Rift Valley.