Chalbi Desert- Kenya’s Enchanted North

Chalbi Desert
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Chalbi Desert is a permanent desert in the Eastern part of Kenya. Enjoy a safari to this dry but pristine region. Find out more about the communities that live here when you visit North Horr.

The Sandy North

The most popular destinations in the northern part of Kenya are Samburu, Marsabit and Isiolo. Samburu National Reserve is home to the rare five species that bring tourists to the north in droves. Beyond the county of Marsabit, a stretch of sand goes all the way to the country’s North Eastern border with Ethiopia. This is Chalbi Desert, which is an expansive sandy desert that starts east of Lake Turkana. The desert was part of the lake and sometimes when it rains, pools of water form in the sand. The only inhabited area is Kalacha, in North Horr, which is home to the Gabbra community.

Archeological findings in the sandy desert show there were lava flows in the area. The fossils found here reveal that the desert was actually a lake thousands of years ago. What remains is clay and salt and it is no wonder the Gabbra people called it Chalbi, which means bare and salty. Temperatures can go as high as 36 Degrees Celsius in February and as low as 18 Degrees Celsius in July. Nevertheless, for the rest of the year, it is so hot that you might wish to go fishing or swimming in Lake Turkana just to cool off. Lake Turkana, also known as the Jade Sea, is the largest desert lake globally. This lake is one of the attractions that draw people to the arid north of Kenya.

Therefore, you can attend the annual Lake Turkana Festival in Loiyangalani and combine it with an expedition of the Chalbi Desert. Essentials for this safari are four wheel drive vehicles and armed security because some warring communities in the north have heightened insecurity levels there. You most probably will stay in Kalacha, which is an enchanting oasis with mature doum palms and acacia forests. Kalacha Camp has four tented cottages with twin beds and en-suite bathroom facilities. It is situated in the oasis, which means great scenery and serene atmosphere.

While there, take part in the Kalacha Cultural Food and Music Festival to learn about communities in this frontier such as the Gabbra, Rendille, Turkana, the El Molo and the Dasanaach.

Map of Chalbi Desert- Kenya’s Enchanted North

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