Lake Turkana National Parks
Lake Turkana, also known as the Jade Sea, is not only a world heritage site, but the biggest lake in the world that is situated in the heart of a desert. While this isn't a typical wildlife safari destination. Lake Turkana is a beautiful and mysterious place. Its luminous, blue-green waters sit in stark contrast to the barren desert surroundings in a breathtaking landscape. This place is a breeding site for crocodiles and hippos which are found in abundance. The crocodiles here grow to enormous sizes and can be found in impressive numbers on the Central Island. Three parks make up the Lake Turkana National Parks and a visit here offers a more rewarding experience than you would find on a typical safari trip.
Best Time To Go
June - October
Average Safari Cost
$100 - $600 pp/day. Parks' fee: $25 (adult), $15 (child)
The Jade Sea, flamingos, massive crocodiles, volcanic cones and craters, beautiful scenery and photographic opportunities, cultural experiences, Nariokotome Turkana Boy Monument, boat excursions and fishing
Why Visit Lake Turkana?
A trip to Lake Turkana is a memorable and valuable experience as it offers such unique and breathtaking scenery. Seeing the sparkling jade waters of the lake amidst the stark, empty desert land is an exquisite site to behold. This is a place of surreal natural beauty and is not like any other place you will see on safari. In addition to the stunning landscape, the Lake Turkana National Parks are a place of great historical and cultural importance. The locals are friendly and welcoming and can be seen in their traditional dress. Three parks make up the area around Lake Turkana itself. These parks are the Sibiloi National Park and the Central Island and South Island National Parks.
Central Island National Park is also known as 'Crocodile Island' because it is a breeding site for one of the world's biggest populations of Nile crocodiles. Located in the middle of Lake Turkana, this island can be reached by boat. There are three glistening lakes on the island which have formed in the volcanic craters. Climb to the highest point on the island and marvel at the unearthly landscape.
South Island National Park is also a volcanic island and is completely covered in volcanic ash. This gives it an eerie ambience as it gently glows in the night. South Island National Park also offers spectacular views of the magnificent Lake Turkana as it stretches out into the desert.
The land in Sibiloi National Park is of great historical and paleontological importance as many fossils have been uncovered here. The remains of the Turkana Boy were discovered here as well as stone tools estimated to be about 3.5 million years old! This land is also home to the more typical animals you would encounter on safari. Zebra, giraffe and different types of antelope graze the land and occasionally a lion or a leopard can be found.
Visit the Lake Turkana National Parks for unique, breathtaking views as well as thrilling wildlife encounters. Learn about the land's history and the culture of its people for a truly enriching experience.
Pros And Cons
- Not many tourists
- Stunning, unique scenery
- Beautiful flamingos
- Cultural sites
- Lots of fossils and important paleontological finds
- Great water birdwatching
- Boat trips
- Weather can be unpleasant
- Less wildlife than other parks
Best Time To Go
The best time to visit the Lake Turkana National Parks is during the dry season, from June to October. Days are bright and clear and animals are easy to see through sparse vegetation. November to May is the wet season where days are much warmer and temperatures can range between 75˚F (24˚C) and 99˚F (37˚C). 'Short rains' take place in November and December, followed by a dry period, and then the 'long rains' occur from March to May. Rainfall may be disruptive to travel plans and activities. There can also be very strong winds at Lake Turkana as well as frequent storms.
For more details about when to visit broken down by months/seasons see our Kenya Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Start your African Adventure
Popular Tours in Kenya
Great Tour of Kenya – Masai Mara, Nakuru, Amboseli, Tsavo, Mombasa - Book NOW, save 10%
1 week safari combining the best aspects of great tailor made safari for a family or an incentive group having range of interest in wildlife and beauty of Kenya and culture of different communities with a visit to Kenya’s famous parks which includes: Tsavo East, West National Parks, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara National reserve. This gives you a chance to visit the Great Rift Valley with its climax at Lake Nakuru National Park, view of Mt. Kilimanjaro from your lodge/camp while at Amboseli. Animals likely to see during game drives includes: Elephants Lions, Rhinos, Leopard, Buffalos, Cheetah, Giraffes, Zebras and different types of gazelles. For bird watchers, it’s also the best safari with lots of bird species to spot along the whole safari with its climax at Lake Nakuru National Park. The safari also combines very well with beach holiday in Kenya Coast as it starts from Nairobi and ends in Mombasa either at North or South Coast – Diani Beach.
11 Days Amazing Kenya & Tanzania Safari
Nakuru and Lake Nakuru National Park, famous for its flocks of pink flamingos. Meet the children of the East Africa Mission Organization. Rift Valley Escarpment UNESCO Listed Ngorongoro Crater, a vast unbroken caldera which is a haven for wildlife Kericho and the Gusii Highlands Masai Mara National Park and tribal lands UNESCO Listed Serengeti, Tanzania's flagship national park Musoma - fishing town of the banks of Lake Victoria Nairobi - Kenya's bustling capital. Extend your stay to explore the sites
Wildlife And Birds
- Lion, leopard, cheetah
Frequently Seen Animals
- Hippos, crocodiles, zebra, giraffe
There are over 350 recorded species of bird to see at Lake Turkana. See greater flamingos with their bright red, black-tipped wings, as well as cormorants, herons and other water-birds. Fish eagles can also be found here watching over the lake waters for fresh food.
- African skimmer, saddle-billed stork, western-banded snake eagle
Getting There And Safety
Most visitors will fly to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which is in Nairobi. From there charter flights can be booked to an airstrip within the park. There are also some scheduled flights into different sections of the park. Alternatively, you could self-drive but it would take days.
If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Kenya
If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Kenya
Several vaccinations are recommended when travelling to Kenya. These include: hepatitis A and B, rabies, meningococcal meningitis, typhoid and yellow fever. It’s better to check with your local medical authority which vaccinations are required.
There is a high-risk for malaria in Kenya so anti-malarial drugs are advised as well as insect repellent and wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs at night.
For more details about vaccinations see our Kenya Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Kenya. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.
You will need to pack clothes for both warm and cool weather as it can get very hot during the day and cold at night. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours. Other essential items are a hat, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, binoculars and camera.
For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.