Visiting Turkana: Underrated Paradise
Updated in July 2021
Photography by Mwenda Gitonga.
First things first
Temperature: hot…really hot …you might want to pack light clothing else roasting is real people!
Do take anti-malaria drugs before travelling. Mosquito repellent or bug spray will help too.
Few places can boast of being as vast and diverse as Turkana. Turkana though hot is abundant in every sense of the word. From Kapedo to Eliye Springs it is hard not to fall in love. Despite all the negative publicity out there, Turkana is neither war-torn nor poverty-stricken and no Kenyan citizen; you don’t need a passport to visit Turkana.
Getting to Turkana
If travelling by road, the journey to Turkana is long, no lie. Thankfully, the roads were fixed and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery. Travelling by road from Nairobi takes roughly 16 hours. It is wise to spend the night either in Eldoret or Kitale town and then proceed to Lodwar on the following day otherwise you’ll end up sore and grumpy and ain’t nobody got time for that! The views are out of this world. They make the ride worth it.
If you are not up for hours on the road, daily flights to and from Lodwar are available. Turkana is really a world on its own. Time seems to standstill. The scorching sun welcomes you to Turkana land and for a weak moment you want to turn back but the smiles on the traditionally clad women reassure you that indeed you are at the right place.
There’s not much to see in Lodwar town. One or two nights spent in Lodwar would be sufficient. A place of interest would be catching sunset by the Turkwell River, visiting the houses of five of the Kapenguria six where they were held under house arrest in Lokitaung and take a picture at the Christ the Redeemer statue minutes away from the airport.
Some artefacts and jewellery
Where to stay in Lodwar
Ateker Hotel, Lodwar Acacia Residences, The Cradle Tented Camp and Ceamo Prestige Lodge are some of the best places to stay while in Lodwar.
Lake Turkana is a MUST visit. It is the largest saline lake in East Africa, the largest desert lake in the world and has three national parks which are UNESCO Heritage sites. These islands are home to large avi species and the major breeding grounds of the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and venomous snakes in the world. Oh yeah, did I mention how beautiful it is! It’s spectacular! There is something magical about the Jade Sea.
At the shores of the lake, sits a beautiful oasis Eliye(Ille )Springs.
While at Eliye Springs, you can stay at Napak Camp and Eliye Springs Resort which are both located at the heart of Eliye Springs.
The rooms are built to mimic Turkana bomas.
We slept at Napak Camp. It is clean, simple and affordable. Perfect for a road trip. Camping by Lake Turkana is a different experience altogether. The stars gather in multitudes and the cool air is just right.
Waking up to this
A little bit more
There is much more to Turkana of course. Other places to visit in Turkana are national parks and reserves, museums, archaeological sites such as Central Island, Nariokotome, where remains of the Turkana boy were found, Lokori and Koobi Fora. Speaking of, Fossils found in Turkana. Kalokol Standing Stones in Namorutunga on the way from Lodwar is also an interesting place to visit- the tale behind the stone people is unforgettable.
The best time to visit would be during festival months; the second weekend of August, when there is the Tobong’u Lore which is the Turkana Tourist and Cultural Festival and in December when there are the Ataa Nayeche celebrations( held to celebrate the Turkana ancestral mother), when the county is buzzing with activity, filled with colour, laughter, food, song and dance.
The beautiful land, the warmth of the Turkana people and their culture will remain in your heart forever.
It is baffling that such beauty could remain hidden, misunderstood and sometimes forgotten.
For more info check out,Visit Turkanaland
Turkana should be #1 on your bucketlist!
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and travel, you never know if you don’t go!