National Parks Of Northern Kenya
From the celebrated African animals of today, thriving along the Ewaso Ngiro River’s lush banks in the Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserve, to the fossilized evidence of early humans and prehistoric animals sitting beneath the scorching soils of Sibiloi National Park on Lake Turkana’s northern shore, northern Kenya’s National Parks and reserves cover a breadth of landscapes, wilderness and history unimaginable elsewhere.
Also intriguing is Marsabit National Park, whose rich forest and shy Big Five population rest on the cool slopes of a massive volcano rising gently out of the baking northern plains. Dramatic volcano-landscapes of an entirely different manifestation burst bleakly from Lake Turkana’s waters and form South Island and Central Island National Parks, which, together with Sibiloi comprise a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Daily Air Kenya and safari link services link Samburu National Reserve and Lewa Wildlife conservancy with Nanyuki, Meru and Nairobi (Wilson Airport)
Bus & Matatu Countless bus and matatu services enter northern Kenya from the central and west highlands.
Getting Around 4WD Having your own 4WD gives you flexibility, but comes with its own challenges thanks to wide-ranging road conditions. For starters you’ll need a large 4X4 (a Toyota RAV4 or Suzuki won’t do) with high ground clearance and a skid plate to protect the undercarriage.
You should have a high-rise jack, sand ladders, a shovel, a long, strong rope or chain (to hitch up to camels or other vehicles) plus enough fuel, water and spare tires (one is rarely enough). A compass and good map are also invaluable.
Bus & Matatu There’s now regular public transport as far north as Kalokol and Lokichoggio on Turkana’s west side, but it’s more limited up the lake’s east side, only reaching Mararal Via Nyahururu or Isiolo. With improved security, buses now run from Isiolo to Moyale on the Ethiopian border via Marsabit.
Hitching Hopping onto the top of a dusty transport truck with locals has long been as uncomfortable, dirty and somehow mildly enchanting way to travel around northern Kenya. However, improved bus services mean that Loyangalani is the only major destination that still requires hitching.
To enjoy the experience you must throw out your schedule and accept that you’ll spend days waiting for rides. Its no free ride either, with most drivers charging between Kshs 2 and Kshs 5 per kilometer. Security is another issue, as bandits are more interested in cattle trucks than buses, and for this reason hitching can’t be recommended unreservedly.
Northern Kenya overland Safaris & organised trips
A few kenya organised safaris and kenya overland trucks now go to lake Turkana’s west, but most still stick to the lakes east side. Average Kenya overland trips are seven-to-10-days long and they typically follow the same route.
Other options include camel safaris, although treks down into the Suguta valley should be approached with caution for security reasons.
Generally, if doing a self drive northern Kenya safari, you may need to make stops in towns between long and lonely stretches to enquire about the road and security conditions. Where possible, wait for the next departing convoy as these are given armed escort, since the police won’t have enough personnel to offer you individual escort.
A rule of the thumb here is to always consider any information gathered before hand (no matter how extensive) as outdated until updated by locals at these pit stops. You will be surprised at how friendly and helpful these local souls can be to travelers in the region.
Robert is a travel expert in Kenya east Africa and tour consultant with Landmark Safaris. Make a free enquiry on best Northern Kenya overland/self drive safari here. http://www.landmarksafaris.com/planner/?refferer=ezinearticles