The name “Turkana” describes a district of Kenya, a lake and a tribe of people. Whatever it refers to, the name evokes a sense of “bigness”. Turkana District is a large wilderness --- almost 67000 km2 --- demarcated on 3 sides from almost identical wilderness by artificial boundaries that were created by colonial powers drawing arbitrary lines on maps. To the north is Sudan. To the west is Uganda. To the south are the lands of the Pokot and Samburu. Only in the east is there a natural boundary; this is Lake Turkana, the “Jade Sea”, the largest desert lake in the whole world, with a length of 260 km and a width varying between 10 and 50 km.
The Turkana people who inhabit this land are larger than life; tall, tough, egoistic, loud-talking, nomadic pastoralists with a well-deserved reputation for fierceness in war. Their brashness is part of their survival package in a hostile environment where each individual and family is a truly independent entity.
Yes, Turkana is something special. But, it is not for the faint-hearted; go there expecting some pain mixed with the pleasure; go there when you are not pressed for time; and, last but not least, go there with a good, reliable vehicle and someone who is familiar with the region.
Yes, Turkana is more than a safari. It is simply an unforgettable experience: an experience of bright white sunlight, from a cloudless, azure sky, reflecting from limitless expanses of sand and rocks; an experience of searing heat in the middle of the day and dehydrating winds laden with fine dust that penetrates every crevice of ones clothing, ones bedding and ones food. Turkana is rolling waves of brown water crashing onto a lonely beach of white sand, inhabited only by straggling Doum Palms and shaggy cormorants drying themselves on an isolated rock. It is beautiful sunrises over the lake; an island silhouetted black against the red-gold curtain in the East; and warm, balmy evenings with sounds of brief activity fading gradually into the songs and laughter of the people --- and then, imperceptibly, into surreal silence.