Lake Magadi is the most southerly of Kenya's Lakes and lies close to the Tanzanian border, just to the north of Lake Natron. Lake Magadi is shallow soda lake in a depression 1,000 metres lower than Nairobi and is one of the hottest places in the country.

Lake Magadi is the world's second largest source of soda and Kenya's most valuable mineral resource. This explains the presence of the Magadi Soda Company and the town that has been built to cater for its workers. When approached from the south the factory and town buildings appear as if from another world as they gradually emerge from the heat haze.

Away from the town this is a harsh and barren landscape that is dominated by wide, flat, slat pans and views of distant mountains. Close to the Nguruman Escarpment and along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River there is some relief from the heat but for the most part it is a hostile place where a handful of native Maasai struggle to exist. The heat and lack of fresh water means the wildlife of the area tends to be limited to those species that are specifically adapted to surviving in dry country - animals like gerenuk and oryx can be found along with numbers of Grant's gazelle, and a scattering of wildebeest and zebra.

The lake and its shoreline is an important wetland habitat for wading birds many of which are winter migrants from Europe.