Lake Turkana Attractions
Extinct volcanoes and lava beds surround Lake Turkana, also known as the Jade Sea. The nickname for Lake Turkana is due to algae particles which shift with changes to the wind and light, so the water surface moves from blue to gray to jade.
Turkana is the largest desert lake in the world and the surroundings are steeped in prehistoric history. In 1888 an Austrian explorer came across human skulls and bones in Turkana. Richard Leakey excavated fossil remains, eighty years later that dated back three million years.Lake Turkana is home to thousands of crocodiles, hippos and more than 40 different species of fish. Enormous Nile perch have been spotted in the lake and the Nile tilapia are caught for commercial purposes. Many species of birds have been sighted around Lake Turkana, including many migratory species from Europe as they travel home between March and May.Several tribal groups have adjusted to the harsh climate around Lake Turkana including the Turkana, Rendille, Gabra, and El Molo. The Turkana are semi-nomatic while the El Molo live as hunter-gatherers.
Sibiloi and Central Island National Parks
Sibiloi National Park is located on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana. This area known as the 'Cradle of Mankind' has many captivating prehistory, archeological and fossil sites. Although Sibiloi is Kenya's most remote national park, the heritage of the area makes it well worth the visit. The human fossils have been removed but there are three fossil sites that have been enclosed. A giant tortoise, over 3 million years old, an ancient crocodile and a big-tusked behemoth, an ancestor to today's elephant, are located within the enclosures.Over 300 species of bird life have been recorded in Sibiloi National Park, the most diverse collection is found along the shores of Lake Turkana. Water birds and birds of prey include Osprey, African fish eagle, snake eagles and Harriers as well as herons, spoonbills, flamingoes and storks.The dry landscape offers panoramic views of expansive wilderness and this climate attracts many animals including the oryx, the rare lesser kudu and Grevy's zebra.Central Island National Park is a scenic island with an extinct volcano that rises out of the middle of Lake Turkana. The three volcanic craters created lakes and there are active sulfur and steam vents. Central Island provides refuge to breeding crocodiles, April to May are the best months to see hatchlings.Migratory and other bird species are abundant on Central Island, with herons, egrets and storks using the steep cliffs on the north side as their nesting sites.
Loyangalani (the place of the trees) was settled on the southeast shore of Lake Turkana. The settlement is an oasis fed by fresh spring water. The El Molo tribe lives on the lakeshore near Loyangalani and because of tourism they have become more commercialized, which means visitors will pay a fee for taking photographs.Within the area of Loyangalani is Mount Kulal, a grand volcanic mass with a landscape of volcanic rock and scattered boulders near the base. Ascending to the north peak leads you through evergreen forest and lush pastures on the higher levels. Gatab, a small Samburu settlement nestled high up near the southern peak of Kulal offers panoramic views of the landscape below.
Marich Pass is a deep, rocky area where the Moruny River emerges from the Cherangani Hills onto the dry plains of the Lake Turkana Basin.South of the Cherangani Hills, some of the best hill walks in Kenya can be enjoyed. Excursions range from half-day to weeklong safaris and can take place by vehicle or on foot.Within Marich Pass is Mount Sekerr, which can be climbed in three days and provides awe-inspiring views from the top.Many small caves with significance to the local Pokot tribe can be found around the hills of Marich Pass. Lomut is located at the foot of the escarpment and every Saturday a market is held with evidence that much of the local Pokot culture remains untouched.
Maralal is a frontier town and a thriving center for the local Samburu people. Open space between Maralal and Turkana is ideal for adventure seekers.The Maralal Game Sanctuary surrounds the town of Maralal, home to a variety of plains wildlife that can be seen from the road leading into the town. Resident wildlife includes impala, eland, buffalo, baboon, warthog and zebra.The main attraction is the camel safaris and the Maralal International Camel Derby, which takes place annually from July to October. Riders and spectators come from all over the world, the race is open to anyone.
Marsabit is situated on an isolated extinct volcano, which rises above the desert and is surrounded by Marsabit National Park and Reserve. The views from the summit of the volcano include an area dotted with extinct volcanoes and craters. Marsabit National Park has thick forests and rivers that attract plenty of wildlife and great herds of elephant. Marsabit is true elephant country. It was once home to Ahmed, a famous tusker whose majestic ivory tusks are now on display in the Nairobi Museum.The people of Marsabit are an ethnic mix of Rendille, Boran and Gabra. The streets are a showcase of the many Northern tribes and cultures.
Marsabit National Park
Marsabit National Park is another of Kenya's remote national parks. The extensive forest supports animals that would not normally be found in arid northern Kenya. There are elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, wart hogs, Grevy's Zebra, reticulated giraffe, hyena and antelope.Abundant rare birds are found within Marsabit National Park, many water birds hang out at Lake Paradise and a variety of raptors can be seen on the shaggy cliffs and in the treetops.Marsabit National Park was home to Ahmed, an elephant that was given 24-hour protection by a presidential order. Ahmed, who boasted some of the biggest tusks ever recorded, died at age 55.
South Horr and Surroundings, Kenya
The village of South Horr is situated on the road that runs parallel to the shores of Lake Turkana. South Horr is set in a lush canyon surrounded by mountain peaks. The peaks are Mount Ngiro, Mount Porale and Mount Supuko.Horr Valley is a lush area that gives way to reddish dust and sand on the way to Lake Turkana, with its lava beds. Over a nearby ridge is the Jade Sea, a highly saline environment and almost totally barren except for a few trees. Swimming is possible if you don't mind the salty taste or the possible visit by a Nile crocodile!
Lodwar is the only base for excursions to Lake Turkana from the western side. Lodwar began as an isolated outpost but is now connected to Kitale and the Central Highlands by a bitumen road.The market in Lodwar is perfect for watching local women weave baskets.The sunrise over Lodwar is worth a walk in to the volcanic hills before dawn.Tour guides offer to take travelers to the lake, into the hills or to other local communities.