Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya
Lake Turkana, otherwise known as the Jade Sea, is 265km long with an average width of 30km (map). An isolated and stunningly beautiful jade green, the Lake appears as a mirage from the depths of the Chalbi desert in the Northern district of Kenya.
A deep alkaline green and surrounded by cliffs, gentle beaches, deserts and dark outcrops of volcanic rock, Lake Turkana is scenic beyond belief. Incredibly desolate, the area is superb for photography and offers a rare chance to explore an untouched area of the world.
Extremely arid, the Turkana area may receive rainfall as seldom as once every five years. The Lake is the only permanent source of water in the area and the Gabbra and Merille tribes in the area are utterly reliant upon the lake and the camels with which they live. This is one of the few areas left in the world where one may visit a true practicing desert tribe, unaffected by the Twenty-first century.
The El Molo tribe also live in this area. This tiny tribe is the smallest in Kenya, at one point in the 1980s they were reduced to less than 200 people. The El Molo live on the shores of the lake and are superb fishermen, trading the fish with the camel herders in order to survive.
A rock hounds’ joy, the area is rich is geodes, meteorites and semi-precious stones such as amethysts and garnets, all of which are easily found when walking near the lake shore.
The area contains three National Parks, Sibiloi, Central Island and South Island. Each of these parks offer stunning scenery, excellent bird watching and fascinating glimpses into the history of Earth and its creatures.
Sibiloi National Park was established to protect unique prehistoric archeological sites. In the 1960s, Richard Leakey led expeditions to this area, discovering some the earliest known hominid remains including specimens over 3 million years old. The Koobi Fora site is open to visitors; the museum and research center provide excellent information.
In addition to the hominid remains, some of the unique finds include a set of crocodile jaws over 5 feet long belonging to a 45 foot long prehistoric creature, a 3 million year old giant tortoise shell and a huge tusked ancestor of the elephant.
The game in this area includes the very rare Striped Hyena, leopard, lion, hippo, Lesser Kudu, and crocodiles. Some of the more drought resistant antelope such as the Grant’s Gazelle are also found in this area.
The Central Island National Park offers beautiful scenery with its crater lakes and is an important crocodile breeding ground and the South Island National Park is an excellent bird watching area with numerous flamingo, pelicans and other waterbirds.
Isolated and unvisited by the common tourist circuits, Lake Turkana offers a unique experience to those willing to travel a little further off the beaten track.