Lake Turkana

A visit to Lake Turkana is a “must-do”. The lake, which is the largest permanent desert lake in the world, measuring 6410 km2 and stretching for about 260 km in length, presents a remarkable contrast to the searing deserts around it. The lake is fed by three rivers: Turkwel, Kerio, and Omo; with the latter supplying 85% of the water from the Ethiopian highlands. The lake has no outlet but loses its waters through evaporation, which makes it the world's biggest saline lake. The alkalinity is not too high, hence fish, crocodiles and hippos are found in plenty --- though, stunted growth of the crocs may be an indirect consequence.
The lake was previously called Lake Rudolf; a name bestowed on it, in honour of the 19th century Crown Prince of Austria, by Count Teleki and von Höhnel, the first Europeans to gaze on its waters (1888). Sometimes, the lake is referred to as the Jade Sea due to its bright turquoise-coloured water. Central and South Islands, together with Sibiloi, have been collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Over the millennia, the lake, which was in ancient times connected to, and a source of, the White Nile, has been shrinking in size. An ancient beach level can be discerned on the east side, immediately behind the present beaches but 100m higher. The rock carvings of pre-historic humans are found here at a number of sites. This same beach level can be found on the west side, but only after a gently ascending walk inland of 4 km, or more, over the sandy dunes.
The geographic inaccessibility of Lake Turkana, and the aridity and high temperatures of its surroundings, give it a wild and untamed character. The rocks of the surrounding area are predominantly volcanic. Rocky shorelines and outcrops are found on the eastern and southern sides of the lake, while sand dunes, spits and flats are typical of the west and north.
As the huge lake warms and cools more slowly than the land, on-shore and off-shore winds are daily occurrences. Sudden, violent storms are frequent. The off-shore wind that sweeps down onto the Lake from Mount Kulal is particularly fearsome.

At the south end of the lake is the Suguta Valley, a lunar landscape of dormant volcanoes and lava fields that was once a southward extension of the lake. It is difficult to reach and extremely inhospitable. Although the southern lake shores and hinterland have been the destination of occasional expeditions under the leadership of rangers and local guides, they certainly must be considered hazardous for unguided tourists. The rocks are home to scorpions, cobras and carpet vipers; caution must be taken while exploring such places.

The Lake sustains over 50 fish species which are much sought-after by anglers, including Tiger, Cat and Puffer fish, Tilapia and Nile perch.
The lake has the largest crocodile population in the world. There is no doubt that the Turkana crocodiles are stunted in their growth as compared with those in the Nile River ---- but, it is unknown whether this is due to diet or other factors. Both Central Island and South Island have many legends and stories associated with them. Many strange and tragic things have happened there. Both, together with Sibiloi on the north-eastern mainland, are national reserves. There is also a North Island, situated not far from the mouth of the Omo River.