Lake Turkana expedition, tribes, deserts
AND wildlife 13 days tour
Experience the Northern region of Kenya on this Lake Turkana Expedition Safari Tour. This very special area is mainly in Marsabit County and covers 66.923 km2 partly bordering Ethiopia. You will drive over 2.000 km on good and partly rough roads (most are currently in good condition).
You will see mountain forests, different kind of deserts – stone, lava, sand, the beautiful Lake Turkana. Meet with several of Kenya’s 42 tribes. Many still live very traditional and they gladly show you their lifestyle and their typical dances. You will endure hot temperatures, strong winds and maybe even some rainfall.
One of the highlights is Lake Turkana, also called Jade Sea due to its turquoise colour. The reward for reaching here are amazing sunsets and meeting the smallest tribe in Kenya – the El Molo.
Crossing Chalbi desert is fascinating! Since it has so many different landscapes and you can see the mountains in Ethiopia in the distance. Sand dunes are at North Horr and part of the desert on the way to Lake Turkana.
While driving through the deserts and semi deserts the view keeps on changing. Volcanoes and eroded ancient rocks with all different shapes mark the often flat landscape. River beds dry or with water cross the areas.
This tour is more an expedition than a safari and good health is required. You should also be ready to live without luxury for this period. But what you get to see is more than rewarding!
If you like to see more photos of the Lake Turkana expedition please click here – the text is in German
The 42 tribes of Kenya belong to 4 different language groups: Nilotes (Maa speaking), South Nilotes, Cushites and Bantus. You will see different tribes from all groups. The village guides will be very happy to show you their traditional lifestyle while dancers will encourage you to dance with them their traditional dances.
You will meet with fishermen at Lake Turkana and pastoralists keeping goats, cattle and dromedaries (camels). Their huts are made from different materials and also the shape varies.
The decoration on woman is not only for their beauty but shows their status in the society. Is she married, does she have a boy child, is the boy child circumcised and so on.
During the journey on our Lake Turkana expedition through the deserts and semi deserts you can spot some antelopes. At the end of the expedition you visit Samburu National Reserve which is most of the year full with wildlife – Reticulated giraffe, Grevy zebra, Gerenuk, Beisa oryx, elephant, leopard, cheetah, lions and many more. Buffalo Springs and Samburu are divided by Ewaso Nyiro River. A gallery forest fringes its bank. It is also a river that can have a few puddles fed by the permanent springs in Buffalo Springs or be a wide and wild torrent.
Lake Baringo is a large fresh water lake and a well known bird paradise.
Lake Turkana is a soda lake partly in Kenya and partly in Ethiopia.
Chalbi Desert is a large area with very hard life conditions and still there is live as you will see.
Marsabit is a range consists of several volcanoes sticking out of the flat brown region. Most part of the range is covered by forest and you will visit Lake Paradise. It is here where Jomo Kenyatta had a 24/7 armed protection for the elephant Ahmed.
Samburu National Reserve is one of the best wildlife areas in Kenya in a wonderful landscape. Ewaso Nyiro River and its gallery forest are the boundary to Buffalo Springs Reserve. Here you find the typical Northern mammals like Beisa Oryx, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk and Grevy Zebra.
For ornithologist we would slightly change the itinerary. The region is home to some special species best and safest found in Northern Kenya – Jackson’s Hornbill, Northern Masked Weaver, Little Weaver a.o. at Lake Baringo
The Crested Lark is very common at Lake Turkana and so is the Somali Sparrow. You might also spot a Western Reef Heron.
In the desert you can find the White-crowned Starling, Brown-necked or Dwarf Raven, Somali Fiscal, the rare Heuglin’s Bustard a.o.
Photos by Elvira Wolfer.
Itinerary Lake Turkana expedition
Day 1 – Arrival in Nairobi
You will be awaited at Jomo Kenyatta international Airport and taken to the hotel 30 minutes drive away.
Hotel Rudi, breakfast
Day 2 – Nairobi – Lake Bogoria – Lake Baringo
After breakfast your driver/guide will meet you and you are heading into the Great Rift Valley. From the rim you can see the volcanoes Longonot and Suswa. After passing Lake Naivasha, Lake Elementaita and Nakuru town you turn north. At the equator you stop for a photo or buying a souvenir.
Should Lake Bogoria still have the high water level as it has now you are driving straight to Lake Baringo since a visit is not worth it. Lake Bogoria is famous for the millions of Greater and Lesser Flamingos colouring the lake pink.
You carry picnic lunch boxes with you to be time independent
and so the program can be flexible.
Sandai Resort or similar, full board
Day 3 – Lake Baringo
The large fresh water lake is nestled in-between the Tugen Hills and the Laikipia Plateau. You will also see tall basalt lava walls as witness of the volcanic history.
Early morning a boat will take you for an hour onto the Lake
to see hippos, crocodiles and water birds. The highlight is the Fish Eagle
shooting down to catch its fish.
Lake Baringo is a birder’s dream land! For those who like they can hire one of the guides know to us and look for owls, Slender-tailed nightjar and Heuglin’s courser.
After the boat ride you will visit the Njemps. This tribe has adjusted to fishing but are also pastoralists. They belong to the Nilotes and are one of the smallest tribes in Kenya. If you like (please preorder) they can prepare a fish meal for you.
In the afternoon you reach the village of Tugen people. They belong to the subgroup of the Kalenjins which are South Nilotes. They do farming and keep goats, sheep and cows.
Sandai Resort or similar, full board
Day 5 – Maralal – Loiyangalani / Lake Turkana
After about a 1 hour drive you will reach a place called “World’s end”. Here the walls of the Great Rift Valley are extremely well visible, steep and eroded.
The rough road continues further north and you will pass dry river beds, mountains and villages. Also herders as well as some antelopes and
ostriches can be seen. For a bit late lunch you will reach the lodge in the
shade of palms. You will enjoy the little shade and the breeze since it is very hot.
You can choose between stone house rooms or palm-leave huts cooled by the wind. Palm Shade Resort, full board
Later in the afternoon you drive for around half an hour to a hill overtowering Lake Turkana. Here a group of Samburu will perform their dances while the sun is setting. Carry a cold drink from the lodge along.
Palm Shade Resort, full board
Day 6 – Loiyangalani / Lake Turkana
Since this area is really hot you take breakfast very early and then drive for about 40 minutes to the Lake to visit the smallest tribe in Kenya, the El Molo. They only survived intermarrying with other tribes, mainly Samburu. You will visit their village, see how they dry the fish and with a bigger boat than they use for fishing you go to the island where they have put some shrines – wind and weather permitting.
Also they harvest green stones which they also sell together with bead work and very nice baskets made of palm leaves. The palm tree stem is used to make their small boats. Palm trees are very important in this region since there are not many other tree species.
For lunch and heat rest you return to Palm Shade Resort
Later in the afternoon you drive a short distance to see how Turkana build their houses and how their dances look like. Woman have a special way to treat their hair. The plastic pearl jewellery is not only decoration but indicates the status in the society. Is she married, does she have a boy child, is the boy child circumcised and so on. Turkanas belong to the Nilotes who often have very dark skin.
Dinner and a refreshing shower are awaiting you at Palm Shade Resort
Day 7 – Loiyangalani – North Horr
The road you are driving on today are sometimes good and sometimes quite rough. It depends on the amount of rain received recently. Desert and semi desert are dominating the landscape and as a surprise you might suddenly come to a place with water.
You will reach the Catholic accommodation for lunch.
The Gabra people love colours and you will see that when you
visit them and they dance for you. Very special is that they use a dried cow hide to stamp on to underline their singing. The Gabra tribe belongs to the Eastern Cushites and is far related to the Oromo in the horn of Africa.
Catholic accommodation, full board
Day 8 – North Horr – Chalbi Desert – Marsabit
Should the track be dry you will drive through Chalbi Desert and see its many faces. Black lava stones, sand and rocks and maybe a Gerenuk under an Umbrella thorn tree frindge the rough road. At wells you will see herders with their camels / dromedaries.
Should it have rained you sadly will be forced to use the transit road.
Shortly before Marsabit town you will visit a volcanic crater. Cattle
raiders used to hide stolen cattle here. Take a stroll with your guide through Marsabit town. Old and new meet here and it is developing fast since the road to Nairobi is tarred.
Hotel in Marsabit, full board
Day 9 – Marsabit National Park
You will carry packed lunch so you have time to enjoy this unique National Park. It is here Jomo Kenyatta had the elephant Ahmed guarded 24/7. He died a natural death at the age of 55 and became famous as the only individual elephant in the world protected by a country’s president.
The road leads through forest up to the top from where you can see Lake Paradise. You might be lucky and see Grevy and Plain Zebras. Often many birds of prey will fly over the lake and forest. Roads permitting you will drive down to the lake.
Later in the afternoon you return to the hotel.
Hotel in Marsabit, full board
Day 10 – Marsabit – Gurunit Ndoto
On a very good tarmac road you drive into Kaisut Desert and will notice the very strong cross winds. At Log-Logo you turn west and will see the tall rock Poi from far. That is where you are heading on a rough road.
Poi is one of the tallest rocks in Africa sticking out of the more or less flat region.
Experience the water slide and walk up the mountain in a very interesting surrounding. You also meet with the local people.
Modest accommodation, full board
Day 11 – Gurunit – Samburu National Reserve
After reaching the tarmac road you are heading south. More rock formations can be seen and so are herders who are constantly on the move in search of water and pasture for their livestock. Most of the year the river beds are dry but can change into streams after rain.
At lunch time you will check in at the lodge on the bank of the Ewaso Nyiro River in Samburu National Reserve. Keep an eye on the river since often during the hot time of the day elephants come to drink, bath and
Game drive in the afternoon.
Lodge or Camp in Samburu, full board
Day 12 – Samburu National Reserve
Morning and afternoon game drive, lunch and heat rest in the lodge.
As early as possible you start your game drive in the morning. You will look out for the special Northern mammals like Reticulated giraffes, Grevy zebra, Gerenuk and Beisa oryx. Samburu is also a cat heaven and you might be lucky and find cheetahs, lions and leopards.
Lodge or Camp in Samburu, full board
Day 13 – Samburu – Jomo Kenyatta international Airport
The road climbs to the foot of Mount Kenya where one of the corn producing area is. You might see a clear Mount Kenya. Lunch will be in a restaurant on the way and from there you are heading straight to the airport awaiting your departure.
If you wish we can book a day room for you at Four Points by Sheraton.
Price per person with 4 participants from/to Nairobi: from US$ 3.000
Included in the price Lake Turkana expedition:
- Airport transfers
- Accommodation and meals according to program
- Safari in Landcruiser with a driver/guide experienced in Northern Kenya and who knows the tribes well
- Remuneration for village visits and dancing groups
- Boat ride on Lake Turkana
- Entry fees to “World’s end”, Marsabit National Park, Samburu National Reserve and the Museum at Lake Turkana
- Drinking water in the car
- Flying doctors evacuation insurance
- Local taxes
- Flights, visa
- Covid-19 requirements
- Personal insurances (mandatory)
- Personal expenses
- Not as included declared services
- Swift transfer fees