On steep, unvegetated slopes, sands (particle sizes 0.063 to 2 mm) and gravels (2–64 mm) erode from the shoreline of Lake Naivasha (Kenya) and enter the lake basin. This occurred freely where fringing papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) swamp had been cleared in favour of landing jetties or agriculture. Gravel-sized particles have been recovered up to 60 m offshore and sands to 80 m. In an area where papyrus was undisturbed and the swamp margin was 52 m wide, gravel did not enter the lake and sands penetrated to around 35 m. Large particles are much easier to trace to source and to manage than the finer silts and clays (<0.63 μm) that form the bulk of Lake Naivasha's sediment. The pattern of mass specific magnetic susceptibilities for the <63 μm fraction of lake sediment around the southern shoreline of the lake suggests that fine particles enter open water directly from the shoreline and are not transported from the lake's only perennial inflow, the River Malewa in the north. Such particles originate from a hinterland that supports high intensity horticulture and are therefore a potential source of contamination. Mean ± SD susceptibility (χIf) immediately offshore papyrus fringe was 0.49 ± 0.08 × 10-6 m3 kg-1 compared with higher values of 1.33 ± 0.14 × 10-6 m3 kg-1 where there was no papyrus barrier (P<0.0001). The value for five sites in the middle parts of the lake was 0.45 ± 0.02 × 10-6 m3 kg-1 with 1.38 ± 0.10 × 10-6 m3 kg-1 near the mouth of the River Malewa. The results of this study are evidence, therefore, that conservation of a continuous papyrus margin of about 50 m width is a priority for intercepting particulate material.