The Scenery Of Northern Kenya
The ‘Big North’ or ‘The Northern Frontier District’ as it was referred to in the colonial days, is a place where rich cultures meet the exotic wilderness to create quite an epic adventure. This region remains to be one of the most exciting and adventurous parts of Africa: a vast tract of territory, crisscrossed by ancient migration routes, and still tramped by nomadic Samburu, Boran, Rendille, Gabbra, Turkana, and Somali herders. The cultures in Northern Kenya are just as diverse as the wildlife and habitats of this region are.
This part of Kenya always leaves true to what it promises and there are some amazing destinations across the region. For a traveler seeking to enjoy exotic wildlife and rich African cultures, this is the place to be. Below are some destinations that should entice you to visit soon.
The most obvious attraction in northern Kenya is the Laikipia plateau region of the hilly savanna. Lying northwest of Mount Kenya and more than 9000 square kilometers of land encompassing the well-watered central highlands to the south and the semi-desert grazing steppe of the Samburu in the north. Second in wildlife density only to the Maasai Mara, Laikipia boasts more endangered species than anywhere else in the country, (including Kenya’s biggest population of black rhinos) alongside some very successful examples of mixed ranching and conservation, and some very upmarket boutique lodges and camps.
A great chunk of this land on the east side of Ewaso Nyiro river is managed as the Naibunga conservancy comprising swatches of conservation land ceded by eight community-owned group ranches in the area: Il Motiok, Kijabe, Koija, Kuri-Kuri, Morupusi, Nkiloriti, Tiemamut, and Il Polei.
Laikipia is increasingly recognized as one of the jewels in Kenya’s safari crown. The district contains a wealth of endangered species including black rhinos. Apart from the rhinos, elephants undertake a seasonal migration during the long rains from Laikipia northwards into the Samburu rangelands. The district also supports the population of the Grevy’s zebra and several packs of African wild dogs.
The distinctive flat-topped shape and high sheer cliff drops of the 2,000m high Mt. Ololokwe towering over the Samburu plains, a short distance past Archers Post in Northern Kenya, never fail to turn heads. The mountain is commonly known as the Ol Donyo Sabache. It has over the years drawn the attention of visitors looking for hiking and rock climbing adventures off the beaten track and the views of the surrounding semi-arid plains and distant mountains from the top are breathtaking. You could start hiking up Ololokwe from Sabache camp nestled along a seasonal riverbed at the base of the mountain at an elevation of about 1,000m above sea level or from any other location close to the mountain. Most of the trails on Ololokwe were created by elephant herds as they periodically migrate up the mountain in search of water during the dry season. The Samburu herdsmen also use them when taking their livestock to the permanent water springs at the top. The vegetation along the trail is primarily dry land bushes consisting of different species of Acacia and Euphorbia plants. Along the trail, you’ll also find large rock clearings that provide excellent views of the small rocky outcrops near Nkadoru Murto and Mathew’s range.
If you walk to the South Western edge of the mountain top, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and the tarmac road as it disappears into the horizon towards Isiolo. The Southern end of Mathews range is also visible from this location.
The Chalbi Desert is a stretch of coarse sand spiced up with pure rocks and immense clay where there are also ash-gray ridges and broken clusters of tiny huts. There are pans of salt in the desert which are picked up by many pastoralists and used as a natural animal’s salt lick. The desert is surrounded by volcanic hills that create a magical panorama with only selected animals and vegetation that can withstand hostile climates in the entire Sub-Saharan region.
The southern part of the desert is home to the Rendille while the eastern part which is towards the Ethiopian border is home to the Gabbra People. It’s believed that there was a lake in the Chalbi Desert that dried up a thousand years ago, therefore it was named the Chalbi Desert which means bare and salty.
The Chalbi Desert offers a lot in picturesque sceneries and tranquil oases. While there, you can hop on a Landcruiser and enjoy a perfect short desert safari drive or explore the desert on the back of a camel.
Ewaso Ng’iro is a river in Kenya that rises on the west side of Mountain Kenya and flows north then east and finally south-east passing through Somalia where it joins the Jubba River. It is the backbone of the pastoralist communities, wildlife, and the entire flora and fauna. The river has a continuous water supply due to the glaciers on Mount Kenya. Ewaso Ng’iro feeds into Lake Ol Bolossat, the only lake in Nyandarua county and the larger Central Kenya. Ewaso Ng’iro crosses seven arid to semi-arid landscapes. The river’s name is derived from the local community’s language. It means the river of brown or muddy water. It is also called by some the “Ewaso Nyiro.” In the arid north of Kenya, water means life. The waters of this great river draw wildlife in great numbers to its banks, creating an oasis of green. Samburu, Shaba, and Buffalo Springs National Reserves in Northern Kenya with wildlife in an otherwise arid land, because of the water of the river. Ewaso Narok river is one of its tributaries. Thomson’s Falls near Nyahururu town is located along Ewaso Narok. The Ewaso Ng’iro watershed stretches over a diverse variety of ecosystems from the high regions of Mount Kenya to the lower arid to semi-arid regions of land.