KV003 - KENYA - LAKE TURKANA & CHALBI DESERT

12 Days safari (Nbo/Nbo) 9 nights camping 2 nights bungalows

Northern Kenya has always carried a mystique of the remote & unexplored. To travel there is still an expedition where we need to be fully independent for food, water & fuel. Meetings with different tribes people & spectacular landscapes will leave you with the wildest memories. There has been little development in this ‘forgotten’ land in the past years & the people live still in a traditional manner. The arid beauty of the giant Lake Turkana spreading out in the desert landscape will impress you. Then game viewing in Samburu Reserve will give you the chance to see all of the big game.

SAFARI HIGHLIGHTS

  • Lake Bogoria flamingoes and geysers -
  • Semi desert landscape of Northern Kenya -
  • Lake Turkana, Africa’s Jade Sea -
  • Chalbi Desert and Gabbra Camel Caravans -
  • Ndoto and Matthews Mountain ranges -
  • Samburu Game Reserve with its unique wildlife

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ITINERARY

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Day 1 NAIROBI/LAKE BOGORIA Your first contact with African soil is in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Nairobi was established in 1896 due to the construction of the Mombasa - Lake Victoria railway line. It was on this plateau at 1600m altitude that the Masai grazed their cattle along the small river called the 'Enairobi', which means in Masai, 'cool' or 'cold'. Nairobi is now a modern city with a cool and healthy climate and a population of almost three million. It's difficult to imagine that early last century we could have come face to face with a lion or rhinoceros whilst walking down Moi Avenue. 

We leave Nairobi in the direction of the Rift Valley. Our first vision of this magnificent fault in the earth's crust is certainly most impressive. After only half an hour's drive from Nairobi we plunge suddenly into Hemingway's Africa.Lake Bogoria is a small reserve of only 100 square kms. Formerly known as Lake Hannington, this is one of the most beautiful of the Rift Valley lakes. The Laikipia Escarpment drops sharply into the lake on the eastern side, and along the shore we find geysers spurting high in the air, and pools of hot water bubbling from the ground. It is shallow soda lake which was established as a National Reserve in November 1983. The reserve covers the whole lake and its surroundings. 

It is a geological wonder no-one can afford to miss. Jets of steam and boiling water shoot out of geysers and fumeroles indicating the sort of volcanic activities which created the Great Rift Valley a very long time ago. Masses of pink flamingos line the shores of the lake. This reserve is a birdwatchers paradise with flamingos, pelicans, avocets, ducks, cranes and hornbills, just to mention a few. It is the best place in Kenya to see the greater kudu which lives on the western shores of the lake. Camping FB

 

Day 2 MARALAL Departure after breakfast back on the main northern road we pass briefly through Pokot country, a tribe of the Kalenjin group. The Pokot are a very independent tribe who have preserved their deep social traditions. Along the track we meet the warriors with their elaborate hairstyles. With an exchange of greetings and some tobacco we may manage to take a few photos, but never without some heated discussion.

Climbing up onto the Laikipia plateau with far reaching views over the spectacular landscapes we have just crossed, we find herds of zebra and cattle grazing together under the watchful eyes of the Samburu warriors. We visit the colourful town of Maralal where the Samburu people come to purchase their wares. Maralal Game Sanctuary is a dense forest and is home to herds of elephant, buffalo, eland and many other animals. Camping FB

 

Day 3 PARSALOI/SOUTH HORR From Maralal the descent into the valley is steep and direct and we are now heading into the `Northern Frontier District'. During the colonial days this was a prohibited area except to government officials and professional hunters. The hand of the law had not then taken control of this area inhabited by wild and aggressive tribes, where raids and theft of herds of goats, cows and camels was not an uncommon occurrence. Twenty-five million years ago the vast plateau of Kenya was pushed up into a dome by immense volcanic pressure. These violent eruptions created the volcanoes we know today as Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro and Elgon. The rise in highlands caused a depression in the west, creating Lake Victoria. This depression continues in a north-south direction and forms the Rift Valley, which extends from Mozambique all the way to the Red Sea. Our route is traced before us by the Great Rift Valley which we follow to the north. We follow the track with its corrugations and pot holes, crossing many dry river beds before finally arriving at Baragoi. Here is a crossroad for the local tribes, and a very colourful market place to stroll around.

We see the Turkana taking a nap in the shade of a pepper tree with a small carved wooden stool as a pillow to protect his painted clay head-dress; the Rendille women selling their necklaces and beads; a Pastor from Nairobi trying to convert the people for his parish; the Turkana women bare-breasted wearing animal skin skirts listening vaguely whilst chewing their tobacco; and the Samburu warriors leaning on their spears in the background disapproving of the Pastor's intentions. Leaving this spectacle behind us we soon find ourselves amid mountains where the vegetation is progressively more and more adverse. We cross many dry river beds on this rather difficult track, but finally the sharp rocks of an ancient lava flow give way to sand at South Horr. Passing around Mount Nyiru we arrive in South Horr and the heart of Samburu country.

The Samburu populate a region of about 28500 square kilometres. Like other pastoralists of northern Kenya their lifestyle has changed very little over the past 100 years. They live in low huts which are carefully woven with branches and then covered with manure and mud. Their lifestyle evolves entirely around the herding of their goats, camels and cows, which represent a social symbol of wealth. Camping FB

Day 4 LAKE TURKANA Continuing northwards th rough a lava beaconed desert where the horizon shimmers in the heat, the great ` Jade Sea', the Lake Turkana, finally appears through the haze. This magnificent lake in the middle of the desert was joined to the Nile River system some three million years ago, but it was then of a much greater size than its actual 8000 square kilometres of today. It was fed by a number of rivers flowing from the high plateaus of Kenya and Ethiopia, but since the last ice age the large rivers and the lake diminished in size by evaporation due to the progressive aridity of the climate. The flow toward the Nile was cut finally some 4000 years ago, and despite the huge evaporation today, the lake maintains its level from the Omo River, one of the largest lakes in Africa. The spectacular beauty of this sea of jade and its calm waters can also be very dangerous when sudden violent winds can transform the calm waters into enormous waves. The Turkana arrived in Kenya only 200 to 300 years ago.

They are Nilotic people originally from Uganda. Although they are essentially pastoralists, they may become hunters, fishermen, or even bandits, depending on the needs of the moment. They have a reputation as the bravest and most savage warriors in East Africa and their independance is reflected in their social and political organisation. These aggressive pastoralists have a strong sense of aesthetics, which is reflected in their talents in carving wood, bone, and working with iron. Most impressive is the decoration of themselves and their sophisticated hairstyles.

At Loyengalani, we appreciate the shade of the palm trees. Loyangalani is a melting pot of tribes - Turkana, Samburu, Rendille and Somalis - all having come from afar to make their purchases and do their trading. Ten kilometres away, as the crow flies, is Mount Kulal which dominates 2000 metres over Lake Turkana. The altitude and the enormous evaporation from the lake create a microclimate with high precipitation levels on the summit of the mountain. The underground streams of w ater thus created, reappear at the surface in the desert, like here at the Oasis. Overnight in Loyengalani Bungalows FB

Day 5 LAKE TURKANA Today is a relaxing day exploring Lake Turkana. We drive to El Molo bay where live a small community of fishermen who are descendants of the most ancient civilisation in Kenya. The El Molo originates from the ancient Ndorobo tribe who were hunter-gatherers and depended entirely on fishing, hunting and collecting. They are characterised by the absence of cattle and agriculture and have survived due to their adaptability to the harshest of conditions. This adaptation has however caused them to lose much of their own identity, and the Cushite language that they spoke at the turn of the century has now been replaced by "Maa", the language of the Samburu.

They have now also adopted a similar style of dress to the Samburu, particularly the women. Their housing and lifestyle has remained unchanged, and even if hunting hippos and crocodiles is now against the law, Nile Perch are still abundant and is their main diet. Loyengalani Bungalows FB

Day 6 and 7 CHALBI DESERT Departure after breakfast for another hot day driving through some amazing landscapes. We now leave Lake Turkana and slowly head east across outcrops of lava rock which litter the eastern side of the lake. We enter a land populated by the Borana, Gabbra, and Somalis. Their facial features are finer and they appear much harsher and less welcoming.

This is a difficult land where heat, drought and tribal combat teach the child to be as tough as his environment at an early age. The Gabbra are herdsmen who drive their immense caravans of camels from one watering hole to the next. `Chalbi' in Gabbra language means `bare and salty' and this desert is the hottest and most arid region in Kenya. The Chalbi is a pan totally surrounded by volcanoes and ancient lava flows. The discovery of fossilised fish vertebrae and snail shells leads us to believe that there once existed a large lake some 10,000 years ago.

Now the lake is an immense expanse of clay and white salt, where the horizon dissolves into a mirage and often we meet herds of oryx, ostrich or even Grevys zebra galloping across this great whiteness. Camping FB

Day 8 NDOTO MOUNTAINS The Chalbi Desert is now behind us and an immense plain stretches toward the south, broken only by volcanic projections. We are also on the territorial border of the homeland of the Rendille, one of the most remote desert regions in Kenya. Rendille are of Somali origin and experts at camel rearing. Over the last century they have built a very close relationship with the Samburu. Intertribal marriages are frequent and it is often difficult to tell the people apart. We see them sometimes watering their huge herds of camels at the Kalacha waterholes.
Depending on the weather, we head down the largest dry river bed of Northern Kenya. There are many wells dug into the rock and sand, and some are as deep as 10 metres or more than six or seven men inside the wells pass each other small leather buckets full of water. Hour after hour they continue to water their animals whilst singing and chanting their prayers, until the last of their herd has satisfied his thirst. Camping FB

Day 9 WAMBA Further south, and once again in Samburu country, we follow a rugged track which skirts the Matthews Range. This small chain of sheltered mountains is far off the beaten track and has some unique flora and fauna. Herds of gazell e, Oryx, ostrich, and Gravy’s zebra share the meagre pasture land with the Samburu's cattle. The only permanent river in the region, the Uaso Nyiro, has cut deep gorges through the mountains . Camping FB

Day 10 and 11 SAMBURU GAME RESERVE Samburu Game Reserve has a remarkably rich variety of fauna. It's a very pretty, although small, reserve of semi desert savannah surrounded by the foothills of Mt. Kenya to the south and the Matthews Ranges to the north, and divided in two by the river `Uaso Nyiro'. The animal life is both varied and prolific, with elephants, Oryx, lions, buffaloes, waterbucks, gerenuks, etc. The banks of the river are an excellent observation point for the animals as well as the bird life. Camping FB

Day 12 RETURN TO NAIROBI After our last early game drive, we return to Nairobi on a tarmac road which leads us through the cultivated foothills of Mt. Kenya, past plantations of tea, coffee, and pineapples, forested slopes and glaciers. In Nairobi we are confronted with the hustle and bustle of town life to which we re-adapt quickly.

2014 Departure dates

Departures on request & Private groups are welcome

Seasons

LOW SEASON March/April(Exept Easter week end)* May*/June*/Nov*/1 to 20 December
MID SEASON Jan/Feb/1 to 7 July/27 August to end of Sept/October/Easter week end
HIGH SEASON 8 July to 26 August/20 Dec to 4 January

* Beware of rain

Include

  • Transport in 4WD safari vehicle with roof hatches for game viewing;
  • Experienced driver-guide and cook; 
  • Full board except meals in Nairobi;
  • Treated drinking water;
  • All camping equipment including tables, chairs, igloo-type tents, mattress, bush toilet & shower;

Exclude

  • Drinks, sleeping bag, personal torch and personal toiletries. (all these can be provided on request)
  • Tips & items of a personal nature, ie. laundry etc.

 


AdmirorGallery, created by Kekeljevic & Vasiljevski.
 

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