Leave the tarmac and city lights behind on this unusual journey into the remote and sparsely-populated northern region of Kenya. Here you will meet the unusual traditional tribes of Kenya, experiencing Samburu, Gabbra and Turkana cultures amongst others. Driving along bumpy African roads in a 4x4 Land Cruiser we visit isolated small villages, Rift Valley lakes and wild places that few get to see, taking in spectacular scenery on our travels.
Take a boat trip on Lake Baringo and an overnight camel safari with Samburu herders in Tuum. Go to the Jade Sea, as Lake Turkana is known, before venturing into the desolate Chalbi Desert and lush Marsabit National Park. End off with excellent game viewing in rugged Samburu National Reserve and the renowned Ol Pejeta Conservancy!
Setting off from Nairobi, where you are collected from your pre-safari accommodation, we travel north into the Great Rift Valley. Soak up the rural scenery as we drive, stopping to admire the views of Mount Longonot and Suswa in the distance. We have lunch along the way and arrive at our first camp this afternoon.
On our first night, we set up camp on the shores of Lake Baringo. End the day off with a drink at the camp bar and enjoy the peaceful gardens. Lake Baringo is home to over 450 species of birds, a variety of which can be spotted at the camp, including weavers and sunbirds. As darkness falls hippos often emerge from the lake to graze on the lawns, sometimes with calves, and if you keep an eye on the lakeshore you may see crocodiles and lizards.
On day two we wake up early and embark on a morning boat ride on beautiful Lake Baringo. The boat ride is ideal for spotting hippos, crocodiles and plenty of birds. Verreaux’s eagle owls, hammerkops, storks, hornbills, and African fish eagles are frequently sighted at the lake. We may also see the unique Njemps people fishing in their traditional boats as we cruise along. The northernmost of Kenya's Rift Valley Lakes, remote Baring is a less-visited gem, off the main tourist track. One of two freshwater lakes in the Rift Valley, Lake Baringo is flanked by the Laikipia Escarpment and dotted with small islands.
After our boat ride, we break up camp and head to the frontier town of Maralal, the unofficial capital of the cattle-herding Samburu tribe. The semi-nomadic Samburu remain strongly traditional and are known for their elaborate beaded accessories. The Maralal International Camel Derby is the biggest annual event here, attracting camel riders and spectators from across the planet between July and October. We spend the night in Maralal at a campsite with ablution facilities.
Day three starts with an early breakfast before we dismantle the camp and continue our journey north through Kenya. We take a scenic drive to the village of Tuum in the Samburu District near Mount Nyiro. Along the way, we stop for a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery.
This afternoon we meet up with local Samburu guides and their camels for a walk in this stunning natural area. A few hours of walking takes us to the foothills of Mount Nyiro where we set up camp in the middle of the bush. Tonight we bush camp with only bucket showers and latrine toilets, out in the wilderness with the Samburu guides and camels.
Wake up to a glowing African sunrise in the bush on day four and have breakfast before setting off on foot in the cool morning hours. Back at camp we load up the vehicles and hit the road again. The rocky road takes us along a pretty route across volcanic plains formed by lava flows and on to the fringes of the arid Kaisut Desert.
Passing through the small town of Baragoi we make our way to Lake Turkana and our next campsite in the hamlet of Loiyangalani. We arrive at our camp on the southeastern shores of Lake Turkana this afternoon and set up camp amongst the palm trees. Unwind in the shade, have a drink in the bar and enjoy the lakeside scenery in this remote region of the Jade Sea, as Lake Turkana is known. Lake Turkana is the largest alkaline lake on earth and the largest desert lake too. The lake covers an area of about 7000 km² in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. It is about 288km's long, stretching across northern Kenya and slightly into Ethiopia.
Please Note: You have the option of upgrading to traditional bandas fitted with beds (at an additional cost) for extra comfort in the heat.
Today we relax at picturesque Lake Turkana and explore. The lake is surrounded by stark volcanic and desert landscapes dotted with several traditional villages where the unique cultures of northern Kenya can be encountered.
You can walk around and enjoy a refreshing swim at the nearby lodge, or take part in some of the optional activities available here at extra cost (payable directly). Hire a boat to see more of the lake and spot Nile crocodiles and birds or visit el Molo and Loyangalani town or a Turkana village to learn about the local people. To find out more about the indigenous cultures and natural heritage of Lake Turkana visit the Desert Museum or visit the rock art sites of the area with a guide.
This evening we have dinner back at camp sharing tales of our adventures at the lake.
We wake up early on day six and have breakfast before breaking up camp and hitting the road. Our drive takes us through the outskirts of the Chalbi Desert via North Horr to the oasis of Kalacha. The isolated small village of Kalacha is set around an oasis on the edge of the Chalbi Desert. Kalacha is home to the Gabbra people, a fascinating semi-nomadic group of camel herders. Here you can see camels grazing and take in the isolation of this remote village surrounded by stark desert terrain.
Watch a spectacular desert sunset and in the evening enjoy an optional (extra cost) performance by the local Gabbra. Tonight we stay in traditional Gabbra huts offering shelter from the harsh sun and wind typical of the desert. Facilities include showers and latrine toilets at the desert camp.
On day seven we are up early for a beautiful sunrise over the Chalbi Desert. After breakfast, we break camp and proceed into the Chalbi and Kaisut deserts. Along the way, we often pass camels and camel herders so keep an eye open for their bright outfits. This part of Kenya is inhabited by Samburu and Rendille people, known for their colourful traditional attire complete with ornate beads and earrings.
Our next destination is Marsabit National Park. We have lunch en route and pause to survey the desert landscapes and view the large crater of Gof Redo. The hilly area of Marsabit is surprisingly cool and lush compared to the hot desert plains surrounding it. The name Marsabit means 'place of cold' given the lower temperatures in this lush, higher-lying region.
Reaching Marsabit National Park we make our way to scenic Lake Paradise (road conditions allowing) on Mount Marsabit. We may also visit one of the lodges where buffalo and antelopes are often sighted. In the indigenous rainforest of Marsabit we may come across a variety of wildlife and bird species, including large-tusked elephants, lions and kudu. After exploring the haven of Marsabit National Park we head to our camp at the foot of Mount Marsabit for dinner. The nights are often cold and misty here so remember to bring along warm clothes.
Begin the day with breakfast before we break camp and set off for the small town of Marsabit. Pausing in Marsabit you can take a short walk around the rural town which is almost entirely surrounded by the national park.
Then it is time to drive south along the trans-African highway to the rugged Samburu National Reserve. We have lunch along the way, reaching Samburu in time to embark on an afternoon game drive in the national reserve. This 165 km² game reserve offers excellent game viewing, hosting abundant animal and bird life, including large predators, herbivores and raptors. Samburu is home to several rare species of northern Kenya, namely Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk antelopes, Somali ostriches, reticulated giraffes and Beisa oryx, as well as cheetahs, lions and elephants.
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 washing away the dust after an adventure-packed day.
This morning we have breakfast and set off on a final game drive in Samburu National Reserve. With some luck, we encounter an array of birds and animals in this lesser-known game reserve before continuing our journey to the famous Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Arriving at Ol Pejeta Conservancy this afternoon we head out on a game drive in this compact wildlife sanctuary. In Ol Pejeta Conservancy we get a closer look at some of the large mammals of Africa. Ol Pejeta hosts the largest population of black rhinos in East Africa and is Kenya's only chimpanzee sanctuary. The reserve boasts high densities of wildlife including the Big Five of Africa (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard) and plains game.
On our last night, we set up camp in the cool foothills of Mount Kenya. We have dinner at camp and celebrate our African adventure together.
Our final day begins with breakfast in the chilly foothills of Mount Kenya. This morning you have the option of embarking on a nature walk, horse ride or boat trip in the Mount Kenya area, at extra cost (payable directly). After a leisurely start, we break up camp for the last time and set off south for Nairobi. Arriving in Nairobi late this afternoon our Lake Turkana & Northern Kenya Camping Safari comes to a close and we part ways with the memories of a lifetime.