Turkana Hills

The Ranges of hills that rise above the plains provide some protection from strong winds and are often associated with sources of water. They sometimes create the conditions for a settlement or trading center. Such were the origins of Lokichar, Lodwar and Lokichogio.
Many hill ranges are very isolated and rarely if ever ascended, even by locals. However, those close to main centers and roads can offer a hot and dusty challenge to the adventurous and a rewarding view.

The hills at the northern end of the Kakurotom Range are prominently seen just beyond Kalimarock, 34 km before Lokichar on the A1. They are close to the road and one hosts a wind-turbine on its top which powers communications equipment. Lokichogio nestles below a rocky outcrop of the Mogila Range. The summit (1693m) lies to the north, close to the Uganda border; because of this, check with the local police before starting the hike. The Ngapoi Hills enfold the northern side of Lodwar. A prominent, pyramidal hill can be scrambled up in a short time and gives a fine view of the town and the surrounding plains.

The highest point of the Pelekech range is reported as 1584m, but it certainly looks higher when viewed from the A1 road just before Kakuma. There is no ready information about getting to the top, but locals are ready to act as guides.
This is definitely an isolated and unfrequented region and any visit to the hills should only be done with local guides and after consultation with the local chiefs and other administration.

[North Rift Tourism Association would welcome more information about these hills and how to reach them.]

Nasalot & South Turkana National Reserves

Nasalot

Nasalot is a small (92 km2) Reserve located in the hills to the south of the Lower Turkwel Dam. The Reserve is located in the district of Pokot, but is administered by the KWS as part of the far larger South Turkana National Reserve.
The Sarmach Gate to Nasalot lies on the Turkwel road 23 km from the junction (with A1). Besides being a reserve for wildlife, it borders on part of the Turkwel lakeside, helping to protect the slopes from human encroachment and erosion.

The Reserve offers some fine views of Turkwel Gorge and its lakes and the prominent, rocky Nasalot Hill. Significant species to be found here include those of: buffalo, bushbuck, lion, leopard, hyena, baboon and the Lesser Kudu and Fringe-eared Oryx. There is no accommodation in the immediate vicinity at the present time, but some bandas are in the process of construction in the compound of the KWS headquarters (just north of Kainuk).

South Turkana National Reserve

STNR is 1100 km2 in area, much larger that Nasalot its close neighbour to the west; but, in fact the two are really one eco-system divided by the A1 main road. Migrating animals, such as elephants would still like to keep to their traditional routes and cross the A1. The Reserve includes the Masol Hills, Laiteruk and Kailongoi, and some interesting landforms between and around them.

Much of the STNR is dense thornbush which is a fine refuge for birds and animals, but there is some riverine forest (along the banks of Kerio River), some salt springs and views of the Hills. There is abundant bird life. Animals include elephant, buffalo, giraffe, eland, kudu, leopard cheetah, gazelle and hyena, with crocodiles in the river. There are absolutely no facilities for visitors and no accommodation. Visitors would have to bring their own camping /cooking
equipment and stay at the KWS Ranger Post north of Kainuk.


 

How is it that Turkana is always mentioned last and the inormation about it is less.
Why is it that always, hanging in the air, is the impression Turkana is only for crazy people ?
Ladies and gentlemen, Turkana is a unique and important part of the tourism maps of Kenya and the world.

Rolf Gloor


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.