Get off the trodden tourist tracks on this camping expedition to remote, isolated and wild parts of northern Kenya. Journey along rough African roads to picturesque Lake Turkana and the stark Chalbi Desert then lush Marsabit National Park and the game-rich Samburu National Reserve, travelling by 4x4 Land Cruiser or overland truck.
Encounter the fascinating traditional cultures of northern Kenya meeting nomadic pastoralists of the Samburu, Gabbra, Rendille and Turkana tribes on this rugged 1800km camping adventure. Explore beautiful scenery and natural habitats, viewing rare and endemic wildlife such as long-necked gerenuk antelopes, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx and reticulated giraffe.
Above all else, this Northern Kenya Camping Safari offers something different for the adventurous traveller looking for unique and unusual African experiences.
On the first day of our Northern Kenya Safari, we depart from Nairobi early in the morning. Leaving the capital city we drive north to Maralal, via the town of Nyahururu. Along the way, we have the option of stopping at Thompson Falls to view the scenic 74m tall waterfall (payable directly). We have lunch en route and arrive at our campsite in the late afternoon. After pitching the tents for our first night of camping we settle down for dinner and a good night's rest after our long drive.
The small market town of Maralal is mostly home to Samburu people, whom you will see going about their daily lives. The Samburu are a sub-tribe of the more famous Maasai of Kenya. These semi-nomadic people have retained their traditional ways to a larger extent than the Maasai and are known for their friendliness. The frontier town of Maralal hosts the annual Maralal International Camel Derby which takes place between July and October when camel riders and spectators gather from across the planet.
After breakfast on day two, we begin the long journey to picturesque Lake Turkana. Today's drive takes us via Baragoi and South Horr to the small town of Loiyangalani on the southeastern shore of Lake Turkana.
We arrive at our next campsite in Loiyangalani late this afternoon and set up camp. Then you are free to relax and take in the desolate scenery of this remote and hot region. Lake Turkana is the largest alkaline lake in the world as well as being the world's largest desert lake, covering an area of about 7000 km². The lake is situated in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa, stretching 288km's across northern Kenya and just over into Ethiopia. Lake Turkana, also known as the Jade Sea, is surrounded by desert terrain with the Chalbi Desert lying to the east.
Please Note: You have the option of upgrading to traditional bandas fitted with beds (at an additional cost) for a more comfortable and cool stay.
Day three is set aside for exploring Lake Turkana, its arid surroundings and the interesting local cultures.
You are free to explore on foot and take a swim at the nearby lodge, or enjoy some of the optional activities available here at extra cost (payable directly). If you would like to see more of the lake and spot Nile crocodiles and birds you can hire a boat. Head to el Molo and Loyangalani town or one of the other local villages of Turkana to see how the locals live and gain insight into life in this harsh environment. To find out more about the indigenous local cultures and natural heritage of Lake Turkana visit the Desert Museum.
This evening we meet back at camp for dinner after a fun and relaxing day at the lake.
This morning we are up early for breakfast, before setting off into the Chalbi Desert (conditions allowing). If it is dry enough we drive via North Horr to Kalacha. If the roads are too wet we take an alternative route, skirting the desert.
Our destination for today is the isolated small village of Kalacha, clustered around an oasis on the fringes of the Chalbi Desert. Here we encounter an Eastern Cushite group of people called the Gabbra. Camels play a central role in the lives of these semi-nomadic pastoralists and can be seen roaming around Kalacha.
This evening we sit back and watch the sunset over the arid landscape followed by an optional (extra cost) performance by the local Gabbra.
Today we have an early breakfast and break camp. Then we drive south towards the outpost of Marsabit. Along the way, we pause to admire the desert landscapes and the huge crater of Gof Redo. This northern part of Kenya's Eastern Province is inhabited by Samburu and Rendille people. Keep an eye out for the women of these ethnic groups, dressed brightly in traditional outfits with ornate beads and earrings.
Arriving at our campsite in Marsabit we set up camp and visit a nearby lodge inside the Marsabit National Park. The town of Marsabit is almost entirely surrounded by the green hills of Marsabit National Park and is far cooler than the low lying desert plains of the region, hence its name which means 'place of cold'. If road conditions permit then we take a drive up to the beautiful Lake Paradise and Little Lake, two of the scenic seasonal lakes on Mount Marsabit. Surrounded by barren desert Marsabit National Park is a lush oasis of indigenous rainforest rising up above the hot plains. The national park provides refuge for a rich variety of wild animals and bird species, including large-tusked elephants and kudu.
After exploring Marsabit Park we return to our camp for dinner, adding extra layers of warmth against the cold, before retiring to our cosy tents.
On day six we get up early again, hitting the road after breakfast. Today we travel south along the trans-African highway to Samburu National Reserve. We enjoy lunch along the way, reaching Samburu in time to take an afternoon game drive in the reserve. This rugged game reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife and birds, ranging from large predators to rare herbivores and raptors, so keep your eyes open for sightings!
Tonight we stay in a semi-permanent campsite, setting up camp under a canopy of trees or along the Ewaso (Uaso) Nyiro River. The campsite features refreshing cold showers for freshening up in the heat.
A full day for game viewing in Samburu National Reserve awaits! In between game drives you can take an optional trip to a nearby Samburu village (payable directly) or head over to the nearby lodge for a dip in the pool and a cold drink.
Samburu covers about 165 km² of arid and semi-arid wilderness along the Ewaso Ng'iro, meaning Brown River. Habitats are varied given the diverse landscapes of the lava plain the park encompasses, supporting a wide range of flora and fauna. As we drive through the park you will see dry river beds, thorny scrubland, volcanic-rock outcrops, steep hills and red sands, providing habitat for the animals, birds and small creatures that survive here. Keep your eyes peeled for the uncommon Grevy’s zebra, long-necked gerenuk antelopes, Somali ostriches, reticulated giraffes, cheetahs and beisa oryx (gemsbok). Of the Big Five, we are likely to see elephants, lions and buffalos. Hippos and crocodiles also lurk in the river and birdlife is abundant with over 350 species.
End the day with dinner and drinks back at camp to celebrate the last night of our adventures in Kenya!
This morning we depart from our camp after breakfast, game viewing as we leave the national reserve. Passing Mount Kenya we return to Nairobi, arriving back in the city late this afternoon.