In Summary
  • The springs of Eliye are there –one in a forest of doum palms that l step in to enjoy the natural shower with little fish swimming around me.
  • The derelict lodge that in the 1960s and 1970s was a high-end establishment is back on its feet as Eliye Springs Resort fashioned as a Turkana village complete with the doum-thatched huts that look like enormous beehives perched on the sand.
  • The road to Lodwar is a tapestry of sand drifts, dry river beds, plains dotted with towering termite mounds, thorn trees and doum palms – thick along the Turkwel River.

This is the world’s largest permanent desert lake and the world’s largest alkaline body, officially known as Lake Turkana. It sits on the northern reaches of Kenya’s once wild Northern Frontier District.  It’s now a World Heritage Site.

It’s no hardship arriving here now on a flight via Kapese, the latest dot on the flight path of aircraft to Turkana.

This previously unheard of Turkana village is now the home of the recently-discovered oil deep in the ancient desert soils. Under the midday sun, there are no fishermen around at Eliye Springs that’s on the west side of the lake, sixty kilometres north of Lodwar.

As recent as ten years ago, the Turkana fished on rafts made of tightly bound doum palm logs and with marked accuracy speared the huge Nile perch and crocodiles.

The springs of Eliye are there –one in a forest of doum palms that l step in to enjoy the natural shower with little fish swimming around me.

The derelict lodge that in the 1960s and 1970s was a high-end establishment is back on its feet as Eliye Springs Resort fashioned as a Turkana village complete with the doum-thatched huts that look like enormous beehives perched on the sand.

The road to Lodwar is a tapestry of sand drifts, dry river beds, plains dotted with towering termite mounds, thorn trees and doum palms – thick along the Turkwel River. Pastures of hardy grass break the monotony of brown sands that camouflage everything – the camels and the homesteads. We keep our eyes trained to the volcanic rubble of Loima Hills that line Lodwar in the absence of any signboards on the forked trails.

 When we stop for a picnic under the shade of an acacia tree, a Turkana woman laden with beaded finery and wearing little else besides a shuka emerges with her four children. In 1887 and 1888 Count Teleki, a Hungarian aristocrat hungering for adventure, and Lieutenant Ludwig von Hoehnel, armed with an armoury and a few hundred porters, took to the northern reaches of today’s Kenya in search of the last of the big geographical mysteries of East Africa – the “great black lake,” or the “Empasso Narok” that the intrepid Joseph Thomson had heard about at Lake Baringo from the Samburu visiting from Mount Kulal in 1883. Teleki and company reached the lake on March 5, 1888; almost half-dead were it not for finding some water in a dry lugga.

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