User Reviews – Lake Turkana
Email Jeffrey de Visser (The Africa Expedition) | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
The last bit of Africa from childhood dreams
I have driven nearly 60,000 kilometres around Africa through 32 different countries. Nevertheless, it is the Turkana region that still stands out in my mind. This area is the cradle of humankind. Not only have some of the earliest humans been found here, but also the oldest complete human skeleton (1.5 million years old). In some strange way, the place just feels like home. The surroundings are ever changing, but always rough and unspoiled. Very much like James A. Michener describes the Khoikhoi (San) people in Southern Africa in the first chapter of his book "The Covenant", the Turkana people are, to me, the true Africa, along with the Masaai. They are, as you might expect, barely clothed, unable to speak any common language and largely untouched by modern ways.
We drove unsupported, stacked with supplies and fuel and, according to some, a great deal of courage, through the Turkana region from the border with Ethiopia. For some 700-800 kilometres we didn’t come across a mechanic, supermarket or petrol station. We camped in the bush, found leopard tracks where we slept, spotted a cerval cat eyeballing us from a hill and watched the largest group of camels that I had ever seen. The terrain is, unfortunately, not ideal for spotting a lot of game, or perhaps that was just due to the drought. Nevertheless, we saw hartebeest, eland, duikers, bush pigs and a few other animals. Huge termite hills are dotted all over the landscape. And it was here that I was witness to the most astonishing African sunset I have ever seen.
Do realise that by travelling through this region you are representing a world that the people who inhabit it do not know. A modern world. Do not give into begging, for it kills any entrepreneurial spirit and causes people to lose their dignity and traditional values. Instead, trade with them so they can learn and explore the world beyond their dry savannah. One Turkana man, about my age (early 20s), came up to our vehicle and properly saw himself for the first time in our side mirror. That, to me, was the Africa as you imagine it in childhood dreams. Unfortunately, in the most accessible parts of the continent, that world no longer exists. Tread lightly, but never stop exploring.
Lake Turkana tribes
Lake Turkana is not a conventional 'safari' destination. It is a place where you visit the tribes that live there and not so much look for wildlife. If you want to see wildlife, you better visit the parks in the south of Kenya. Although if you want to visit both the east and west side of Lake Turkana, you could drive from Loiyangalani on the east side, through to South Horr and Maralal to Lake Baringo. You will have great views of the Lake Turkana when leaving Loiyangalani. Lake Baringo is a great place for bird watching and there is a good lodge in the park. As mentioned before, Lake Turkana is a place to visit the tribes that live there. The Turkana, the Pokot and the Rendille tribes. The terrain they live in is pretty rough, so you will need a 4x4 to travel around. You will need to go off the beaten track to find some villages that are still living in an original way. Also if you go camping, bring all your supplies with you, there is not much available in the villages. If you stay in the lodge in Loiyangalani, the food is good and the beer is cold. The owner is a German that married a Turkana woman lives there already for decades. It is a good place to relax in the middle of your trip. The Turkana and Rendille that live here are already changed a lot to 'modern' live. The more original Turkana live on the west side of the lake. You will need to go to the area between Lokichar and Lodwar to find them. The winter months are the best time to go to the Lake Turkana area, as it will be very hot in the summer time.
its a great scene especially considering its the longest lake on desert.
Along lake Turkana, there is a unique place called Eliye springs. there is a spring with very clean water that drains its waters into lake Turkana- just 50 meters away. There are two lodges where we usually sleep over. Swimming in the waters on a hot day is a great experience.
50-65 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
Paradise at Lake Turkana
A magic place at Lake Turkana: Eliya Springs. After quite a rough 1.5 hr trip from Lodwar, the arrival at Lake Turkana is amazing. A few (in 2009 still only 1) beautiful Turkana style hut, with nicely decorated facilities and a great double bed with a magic view over Lake Turkana and its sunset. All placed on the Lake Turkana beach. Yes a real beach that can easily match the famous Diana beaches in quality of sand and views. The place is surrounded by beautiful massive sand dunes. Strolling along the shore gets you to great encounters with very friendly local fishermen. The lodge has its own hot water spring, that makes a great warm water swimming pool. The food in the lodge is basic but tasteful, enjoyed in a simple hut on plastic chairs, the real Turkana way. And they have cold beers!
The best of all are the nights, where one should enjoy laying on the beach and, on one of the many clear sky nights, watch the most beautiful star-lit skies one will ever see in his/her lifetime.