Turkana is one of my top places to visit in 2017, right there at the top of the list. My first list ever. But that is besides the point. Turkana is beautiful. The Northern part of Kenya is. Basically, when most people say they are going to visit Turkana, the destination is Lake Turkana. One beautiful place, that is the reward of a challenging but also equally rewarding journey. Lake Turkana is a beautiful lake. In fact it is one of a kind. When I decided to make my “places to visit in 2017” list, I decided to read in depth about several places that elicited even the slightest of interest in me to find about the minutiae of their attractiveness. Here is what I found out about Lake Turkana, and if, like me, you didn’t already know this, prepare to have your mind blown away.
- It is the world’s largest permanent desert lake
Those are two facts that are exceptional even as stand alone points: It is a permanent desert lake. It is the biggest desert lake. The lake neighbours neighbours Chalbi desert. Its shores are outcrops, rocky shores and dunes.
2. It has three National Parks
Sibiloi National Park lies on the eastern shore of the lake Central Island National Park is located on Central Island,also known as Nile Island. It consists of craters and cones. Three are filled by small lakes. It is considered the largest breeding ground for the largest concentration of Nile crocodiles in the world. Crocodiles breed on the shores of the Island’s crater lakes between April and May. It also has a large population of water turtles. The island has a campsite, from where visitors can watch the sun set over the lake, a much recommended activity.
Then there is Southern Island National Park. Together, the three form the Lake Turkana National Parks, which are run by Kenya Wildlife Service.
3. It is the world’s largest alkaline lake & the world’s largest salt lake by volume and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sidebar: When I did this piece, I didn’t have photos to make it look this awesome. However, my good friends at turnup. travel had just returned from a visit up north. They graciously shared way more images than I needed that I felt like I need to bless you with a slide of some of them. Here you go.
4. It has an active volcano
Central island, which is home to Central Island National Park, Nile Crocodiles and water turtles, is made of three active volcanoes which emit sulphurous smoke and steam.
- Has no outflow
The lake is fed by three rivers, Turkwel, Kerio and Omo. Omo provides 90% of the inflow. However, it has no outflow. It’s only form of water loss is evaporation.
Note: Ethiopia completed construction of an hydroelectric dam on River Omo which environmentalists say will have adverse effects on the lake and the communities living on its shores in Kenya.
- It is Kenya’s largest lake
Despite its northern tip slightly being in Ethiopia, Turkana, whose size is 7000 sq km is regarded as Kenya’s largest lake. Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake, but as you are aware, it is shared between Kenya and her two neighbours, and only 6% of Lake Victoria, which is 4,100 sq km., falls under Kenyan territory.
- It is regarded as the birthplace of humanity
You may know it as the cradle of mankind. We grew up knowing it as the place associated with a few Leakeys and terms like pre-historic tools, and Turkana boy. It is a great place to visit, especially for evolutionists. However, even for creationists, it’d still be interesting to visit to see this place those who do not believe in the Garden of Eden believe life began. See, there is an element of faith in evolution as well!
8. It is an imaginary boundary of the Rendille, Borana and Oromo to the Turkana land.
- The lake has jade deposits, whose green colour can be seen from a distance. This colour gave birth to the term the Jade Sea in reference to the lake.
Bonus: It Features in the novel Dust, under its Turkana name
The Turkana refer to it as Anam Ka’alakol. The reference made its way into Yvonne Owuor’s debut novel, Dust as parts of it are set in Turkana, particularly near the lake’s shores. The term means the sea of many fish.