Worldwide Photographic Journeys

KENYA’S FAR NORTH: Lake Turkana, the Ndoto Mountains and the Chalbi Desert

Saturday 20th August – Sunday 4th September 2022

Leaders: Inger Vandyke and highly skilled local ethnographic guides

16 Days Group Size Limit 7
Sunday 20th August – Monday 4th September 2023

Leaders: Julie-Anne Davies and highly skilled local ethnographic guides

16 Days Group Size Limit 7

KENYA: TRIBAL PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS WITH WILD IMAGES

Kenya’s wild northern frontier. with its stunning regions of Lake Baringo, the Ndoto Mountains, Lake Turkana and the Chalbi Desert, is home to some of the most spectacular tribal people in East Africa.

Wild Images’ inaugural 2021 expedition across this isolated region of northern Kenya was extremely successful.  We not only visited groups of infrequently visited Dassanech people near the border of Ethiopia, we spent an extended amount of time visiting incredible family homesteads of Gabra camel nomads in the most far flung corners of the Chalbi Desert.  During  the trip we also met some of Kenya’s lesser known and most vibrant ethnic people.

This unique photography tour is the first of its kind to visit ten different tribal groups of people in Kenya. It starts with the beautiful Njemps and Pokot people near Lake Baringo before travelling through the breathtakingly scenery of the Ndoto mountains to visit communities of Rendile people.

Travelling further north we will arrive at Lake Turkana, or the Jade Sea as it is sometimes known, a starkly beautiful region of arid, rocky landscapes dotted with Sodom Apple trees and spindly Acacias. In areas with regular water, oases of Doum Palms shelter small towns like Loiyangalani, our base for our exploration of this picturesque region.

The first people we will meet here are the El Molo, one of the most endangered cultures of Africa. We will also visit communities of Turkana people with their spectacular many stranded necklaces and vibrant traditional dances.

From there we travel further north towards the border between Ethiopia and Kenya where we will explore remote Kobi Foora, the site of Richard Leakey’s excavations on Australopithecus and the world’s first hominins. This isolated corner of northern Kenya is home to some of the least visited groups of Dassanech people in Africa.

As our journey continues further east across the Chalbi Desert, we will spend time with the nomadic Gabra people visiting their homesteads, drinking camel milk tea and walking with them to water and milk their camels. Our tour has been timed to coincide with the month of weddings for the Gabra and if we are lucky we will chance upon a nuptial celebration involving beautiful Gabra women constructing a house for newlyweds. Crossing a large salt pan in the Chalbi we may also find Gabra salt miners labouring away in this starkly beautiful place.

Other borderland tribal groups we will meet include the Borana whose beautiful clay Tukul houses are hand painted by Borana women and also the vibrant Burji people who split their communities between their beloved agricultural regions in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.

Finally we will enjoy meeting and photographing the magnificent Samburu people and enjoy two nights of relaxing wildlife safaris in Samburu National Reserve before we head south towards Nairobi where our tour will conclude.

Peoples of Lake Turkana and Northern Kenya we will visit

Njemps

A lesser known group of the Maasai, the Njemps are a group of island and lakeside dwelling people that resemble the Maasai in appearance but not in habit. Known for their fishing prowess and beautiful wooden canoes called Kadich, the Njemps live in the region around Lake Baringo.

While fishing is key to the survival of Njemps communities, they will also keep goats, sheep and chickens on their islands as well as harvest honey from the trunks of trees.

During times of drought, smaller animals are taken to the islands on boats but cows must reach the island grazing areas by swimming so when the time comes all of the cows must follow a lead cow to the right island. Perhaps selected for their navigational prowess, these head cows are never slaughtered for their meat.

The islands and land of Lake Baringo feature volcanic rocks and thermal springs. They are unusually harsh for agriculture yet the Njemps manage to grow crops by hand ploughing through the rocks to reach the soil. Their villages feature stumpy acacia trees, prickly pear, desert roses, aloes and moringa trees. Used in medicine, the Njemps will harvest the seeds of Moringa and place them in a kalabash to use as a gift of good luck for travel. The fruit and leaves of prickly pear and aloes are eaten. Holes are made in the trunks of acacias and desert roses to create beehives and chicken eggs are often taken to thermal springs in order to be boiled and eaten.

This close relationship the Njemps people have with the waters of the lake extends to the African Fish Eagle, one of the continent’s most charismatic birds. On an early morning we will travel out by canoe to meet Njemps fishermen and watch them feeding a share of their fish to some of the lake’s resident eagles in spectacular display.

 

Pokot

Pokot people are one of the last in Kenya who are relatively untouched. They belong ethnically and linguistically unique to the Kalenjin people of East Africa and they can only be found in the Pokot area of Karamojong in Uganda plus the region around Baringo in Kenya.

Pokot women wear extremely elaborate disk necklaces called Karen. As young girls these take the form of woven branches but after initiation they are given large necklaces made from colourful glass beads. By the time they marry they also wear large loop earrings made from brass called Tawuyi.

Men and boys go through a series of life stages starting with Karachona, or young boys, then Muren as young men and Poi as elder men.

As agropastoralists, the Pokot don’t build villages. Instead family groups live in a shared boma with a series of simple huts that have been built in a clearing of acacias. We will visit one of these pretty Bomas to learn about Pokot culture and watch a Pokot dance where the necklaces worn by the women bounce to the beautiful rhythm of drums and singing.

 

Rendile

Deep in the spectacular Kaisut Desert of northern Kenya, the beautiful Rendile people have created villages through this region’s most outstanding natural features, the high granitic peaks of the Ndoto Mountains. We will travel into the mountain town of Ngurunit, located in the heart of many Rendile villages to meet and photograph these beautiful people.

The name “Rendille” is a colonial misinterpretation of the word “Rertit” meaning ‘separated’ or ‘rejected’. After descending from Cushitic family lines shared by Somalis, the Rendile split off to live in the deserts of Kenya, instead of joining their Somali relatives in finding better grazing grounds in Somalia.

Today they principally occupy the regions of Lake Turkana, Ndoto and Marsabit in Kenya.

Rendile women are intricately adorned with jewelled headdresses and large necklaces made from many strands of glass beads. These colourful necklaces replace a more simple red necklace that is worn by young Samburu girls called Morans until they come of age.

Skilled craftsmen, the body adornment of men includes a distinctive ‘visor-like’ headdress worn over hair that has been died with red ochre. This crowns a look that includes a variety of different ornaments including necklaces, bracelets, anklets and belts.

It is quite something to explore these rugged mountains where we will encounter Rendile people shepherding their livestock to their grazing grounds. We will enjoy a sunrise photography shoot with a small group of Rendile Morans (warriors) during our stay and then we will spend the rest of our time visiting Rendile villages to learn about their way of life and photograph them with their beautiful decorations.

 

El Molo

Perhaps one of the smallest and most critically endangered cultures of Africa, the El Molo people of Lake Turkana in Kenya now number only around one hundred people who can truly claim to be El Molo. Restricted to two villages on the shores of Lake Turkana and living a life of subsistence fishing the lake, the El Molo may disappear in the next twenty to thirty years due to intermarriage and modernisation.

The El Molo language, which is closely related to the Dassanech is already extinct with no fluent speakers remaining and no education of young people. Instead modern El Molo people speak the Nilo-Saharan languages of their tribal neighbours.

Their newest threat comes in the form of a wind farm which is planned for construction on the land between the two main communities of El Molo people near Loiyangalani.

Living in beautifully crafted huts made from thatched palm fronds, the El Molo use beautiful rafts made from Doum Palm logs to ply the waters and catch fish with spears, nets and harpoons. Crocodiles were once a staple food source for the El Molo but with recent conservation measures the hunting of crocodiles is now a restricted activity for special occasions. Traditional spears were fashioned from the horns of Oryx and used in these hunting expeditions for large fish and crocodiles.

Visiting El Molo communities today it is still possible to watch women engaged in the intricate weaving of baskets or drying fish. Men sit in the shade mending nets and getting ready for their next fishing trips.

During our trip we will meet a community of El Molo people for photography. Meeting and learning about the El Molo first hand is a glimpse into a world that is quickly disappearing from existence.

 

Turkana

Crossing into the rocky desert from the Ndoto mountains we will get our first glimpse of Lake Turkana or ‘The Jade Sea’ as it is sometimes known. This large stretch of turquoise water is actually the largest desert lake in the world and is home to four different ethnic groups living alongside each other – the Samburu, Rendile, El Molo and Turkana.

Surviving in some of the harshest landscapes of Kenya, the Turkana people in particular, are reliant solely on the sustenance provided by the water of Lake Turkana and its surrounding wells. It is a hot, harsh and dry place where every available shade is utilised to take respite from the searing temperatures.

Turkana people live in tiny villages of huts made from thatched palm leaves. Turkana women are instantly recognisable by their thick necklaces that are woven around a cylindrical framework and by their heavy silver jewellery. Married women wear large silver leaf earrings to indicate their status. Turkana men mostly dress in western clothes every day, however, during ceremonies they will wear a high headdress fashioned out of ostrich feathers and adorned with beads.

We will enjoy a sunrise photography session with elderly Turkana men and also visits to Turkana villages where we will witness an athletic traditional dance performed by both Turkana men and women.

 

Dassanech and Kobi Foora

Leaving the shores of Lake Turkana to drive inland, we will leave behind a small number of Turkana communities in order to cross the rock desert of northern Turkana towards the isolated national park of Sibiloi. This adventurous day drive will see us taking a small break from people photography as we stop to photograph some of the wild landscapes around Turkana. We will visit one of Africa’s last remaining petrified forests, complete with its huge trees that now lie in the desert as stones that have been decorated with amber coloured quartzite. From the petrified forests we will make our way over to Kobi Foora, the research site used by Dr Richard Leakey for his excavation work on the early hominins of the Turkana region. Located on a narrow spit-like peninsula jutting southwards into Lake Turkana, Kobi Foora is a series of stone buildings with basic and clean accommodation that will be our base as we explore this isolated area visiting remote communities of Dassanech people.

We have always enjoyed visiting Dassanech people as part of our Omo Valley tours at Wild Images. Northern Kenya, and Lake Turkana region in particularly, is the true home of these warm and welcoming people. During our drive north to Kobi Foora it is very likely we will encounter roaming Dassanech shepherds taking their livestock to the lake to drink. It is also possible we may see Dassanech people heading to the lake to fish.

Our biggest highlight of this region will be to visit remote communities of Dassanech people living more authentically than they do over the border in southern Ethiopia. The main differences lie with the size of Dassanech houses, which are considerably larger than those in Ethiopia and the more intricately decorated women who, like their sisters over the border, still wear tightly woven braids in their hair but in Kenya their jewellery is more elaborate and beautiful.

 

Gabra

From Kobi Foora we will travel eastwards towards the edge of the Chalbi in northern Kenya. En-route we will visit a singing well and meet our first Gabra people.

Sometimes herding animals up to their thousands, the Singing Wells of the Gabra people are known for the songs sung by Gabra men as they fetch water from deep wells for their animals including goats, sheep, cows and camels.

These incredibly beautiful camel nomads of the Chalbi desert live their lives under the main tenets of protecting land, animals and fellow Gabra. Their most symbolic identity lies with “a poor man shames us all” and as such they practice the mutual survival that is characteristic of many desert nomads. No Gabra may be allowed to go hungry, go without animals or be refused hospitality or assistance, therefore visiting these people is one of the true high points of our expedition. Not only do they live in beautiful ‘homesteads’ or “iolas” with huts constructed from fabric and sapling wood by Gabra women. These are separate from smaller huts built in groups by Gabra men at the foraging grounds. The reason for two separate village constructions is simple. The Gabra believe that camels are unpredictable, won’t forage near their own dung and they destroy the vegetation within nine miles of their home, hence smaller animals are allowed to stay in family villages while Fora are established elsewhere to look after camels.

Visiting communities of Gabra people we will get to experience life as they know it while we learn about milking camels, husbandry and how they survive in Kenya’s harshest desert region. We will enjoy meeting these remarkable people over drinks of camel milk tea or fresh camel milk, both of which are delicious!

Leaving them from our base in North Horr we will travel out onto one of the largest salt pans of the Chalbi where, with luck, we will see more Gabra people harvesting salt to sustain their animals.

Burji

At the turn of the 20th century, the Burji community arrived in Kenya from Yavelo Province, Ethiopia, courtesy of the then-commissioner of the Marsabit District in northern Kenya. To encourage farming in his administrative area and feed the colonists and inhabitants – the Borana, Rendille and Gabra – who were predominantly pastoralists, the British colonial official decided to ask his Ethiopian counterpart to send a few Burjis, renowned for their farming and entrepreneurial skills, to initiate farming in Marsabit. Experience had shown that the local communities could not rely exclusively on livestock as their sole source of livelihood. The British Consul at Mega in Ethiopia agreed to the request and sent a few Burji to Kenya, where an administrative post was set up in Marsabit to oversee the growing of crops.

Sadly, and while it was well intentioned at the time, the British action helped to create a minority culture of the Burji in Marsabit and they are now suffering from marginalisation even today.

Of all the groups of people we will meet on our tour, the Burji are perhaps the most vibrant. They have superior agricultural skills and we will learn that they can almost grow anything they need including plants used in medicine and even coffee! We will visit a community of Burji people living in the region around Marsabit who will educate us about their specific traditions while we take photographs and sample some of their amazing home grown fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Borana

Another group stemming from Ethiopia, the Borana are one of the largest sub-ethnic groups of Oromo speaking people in northern Kenya. Ethnically they are closely related to the Gabra people we will also meet on our trip.

Borana women are known for their beauty and for keeping their hair using a ‘butter’ made from animal fats. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of their culture, however, comes with the naming tradition for their children. For the first two to three years of their lives, Borana children run around unnamed. Unlike other African children who are named either before or at birth, Borana children are named during a ceremony that can last for three days in specially constructed houses for the event.

We will visit a small Borana community at sunset to learn more about their traditions and take photos.

Samburu

Our final group of people we will meet on our tour is probably one of the most beautiful. Kenya’s stunning Samburu people are related to the Maasai and Njemps, sharing their incredibly decorative jewellery that is worn by both Samburu men and women. We will stay in a beautiful tented camp at the base of Mount Ololokwe, a mountain that is sacred to the area’s elephants who will actually climb up the steep slopes of the mount on their knees in order to drink from the freshwater spring on the summit!

The Samburu revere elephants as part of their folklore, believing that god made elephants and humans as brothers. For them elephants not only clear paths through the bush, the broken wood and dung they leave behind help the Samburu to build fires.

Sometimes known as the butterfly people of Kenya for their brightly coloured traditional dress, the Samburu are stunningly beautiful to photograph. We will visit a family boma at the base of the mountains to witness Samburu life and also enjoy a sunset shoot with a friendly group of Samburu Morans nearby.

 

On Safari in Samburu National Reserve

In the heart of Samburu county, the stunning Samburu National Reserve is our final stop on the tour and our place to relax and enjoy some final wildlife safaris before we return to Nairobi.

Spanning both sides of the Ewaso Ng’iro river, Samburu is home to some unique wildlife including Grevy’s Zebras, Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk and Reticulated Giraffes. It also features a stunning diversity of birds including pretty Vulturine Guineafowls that we may see while we are out on safari searching for other African wildlife including elephants, lions, leopard, buffalos and antelopes.

With a relaxed schedule of sunrise and sunset safaris based at our luxury lodge, we will have time in the middle of the day to have a siesta and enjoy nature or download some photos from the trip.

Our tour will end with a final safari in Samburu before a drive to Nairobi airport.

Why travel to the Ndoto Mountains, Lake Turkana and Chalbi Desert of Northern Kenya with Wild Images?

Currently there are few photographers and photography tour companies offering trips to northern Kenya.  We have decided to offer a unique alternative to the more standard itineraries on offer in this region by combining visits to ethnic groups like the Njemps and Pokot people in the region of Lake Baringo with an adventurous traverse of the borderlands between Ethiopia and Kenya exploring the Chalbi Desert and remote Sibiloi National Park.

By joining a Wild Images tour we work with an unrivalled level of ground expertise and local guides who are well connected to the various tribal people of northern Kenya.  Our leader has almost thirty years of travel experience in Africa and knows Kenya extremely well.  As we travel through remote villages we believe that the best images come from photography of people in a two way situation.  We encourage our guests to chat to local people through our interpreters, laugh with them, engage with them and simply enjoy the experience of being immersed in their world.  As the body of work from our tour shows, we don’t just simply pass through villages spending less than an hour to get photos. We stroll around enjoying places, we sit in the shade with local people and drink tea with them.  Join us on a journey where friends are made alongside beautiful images in one of the most spectacular tribal regions of east Africa.

Accommodation & Road Transport

In Nairobi we will stay in hotels of a very good standard. Accommodation on the tour varies from safari lodges to tented camps and basic guest houses that are clean with functioning electricity and plumbing in ensuite facilities. Shared facilities only are available on three nights of the tour at Kobi Foora and at our tented camp in Samburu.

Road transport is by converted 4×4 vehicles with inverters for charging batteries and numerous sockets. A fridge is also included in the vehicles to keep drinks and other items cool.

Walking

The walking effort is easy throughout.

Climate

Most days in northern Kenya will be warm or hot, dry and sunny.

Photographic Equipment

For most photography of the people in northern Kenya, a travel lens of around 24-105mm on a full frame DSLR or mirrorless body will be essential. Sometimes a 70-200mm (on a full frame) will be useful for such things as a a dance or ceremony, should we witness one.  A wide angle lens of around 16mm or  smaller will be perfect for working with the people inside small huts.

If you prefer to photograph people from a distance, then please consider bringing a larger zoom or telephoto lens. It is our experience that sometimes people can feel a bit intimidated by large cameras and lenses so you may wish to bring a smaller sized zoom lens like a 100-400mm which doesn’t appear as intimidating as a large fixed focal length telephoto lens.

Such a lens can also be useful for any wildlife we encounter during the safari part of our trip. Since there are no weight restrictions for small flights on this tour you may wish to bring a large prime to photograph the wildlife we will see on our safaris inside Samburu and also for the bird photography opportunities around Lake Baringo.

If you bring a good quality bridge camera instead of a DSLR or mirrorless it will be best if it has an optical zoom of 18-20x or more, combined with a reasonable wide-angle at the other end of the zoom range.

If you have a phone or tablet that can be used for photography, you may find these quite useful around people.

Similarly if you have a Polaroid camera like the Leica Sofort or an Instax Mini, these are wonderful to have on hand when you spend time with tribal people. If you decide to bring one of these, please bring lots of film with you as the photographs you produce will be quite popular!

Drone photography is permitted on this tour. If you plan to bring a drone with you there are some flying limitations that we can brief you on before you join us and while we are travelling.

If you would like to talk over suitable equipment, please contact our office. We will be happy to advise.

 

Photographic Highlights

  • Meet and photograph no less than 10 different tribal groups of people in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District (NFD)
  • Visit the stunning Kenyan regions of Lake Baringo, the Ndoto Mountains, Lake Turkana and the Chalbi Desert
  • Game safari drives in one of Kenya’s most beautiful national parks - Samburu
  • Attend vibrant and colourful traditional dances across the entire tour
  • Sunrise and sunset photo sessions with Samburu and Rendile Morans (Warriors)
  • Experience the Singing Wells of the Gabra people
  • Sample the numerous food delights of the delightful Burji people near Marsabit
  • A dramatic crossing of the Chalbi desert and its largest salt pan
  • Learn about Richard Leakey’s discovery of ‘1470’, a 2 million skull of Homo Habilis in Koobi Fora, the cradle of mankind
  • Sip tea and chat while photographing Gabra people, homesteads and camel oases
  • Numerous opportunities for portrait photography of some of Kenya’s most spectacular tribal people

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Early evening tour start at Nairobi
  • Day 2: Drive to Lake Baringo for lunch and afternoon photo shoot with Pokot people
  • Day 3: Early morning canoe cruise to photograph Njemps fishermen and African fish eagles before we return to the lodge for breakfast. During the morning we will visit a local Njemps community before returning to the lodge for lunch and a rest. In the afternoon, we will enjoy a cruise on the lake to photograph the resident waterbirds
  • Day 4: A long day drive from Lake Baringo into the Ndoto Mountains with a stop for lunch en-route in Maralal
  • Day 5: This morning we will enjoy a sunrise photography shoot with a group of young Rendile Morans (warriors) in the foothills of the Ndoto mountains. During the afternoon we will explore the local Rendile villages to photograph people and learn about the Rendile way of life
  • Day 6: Today we will leave the Ndoto Mountains stopping for scenic photographs if time allows. We will drive north towards beautiful Lake Turkana and after checking into our basic lodge we will enjoy a sunset photo shoot with local El Molo people on the shores of the lake
  • Day 7: A full day of photography with the Turkana people starting with a dawn shoot of Turkana elders. We will then witness the beautiful traditional dances of the Turkana and spend the rest of the day visiting Turkana villages for photography
  • Day 8: Leaving Lake Turkana briefly we will drive through the rugged rock desert that skirts the north east of the lake. After registering our entry at the gate of Sibiloi National Reserve, we will visit the petrified forest and then slowly make our way to Kobi Foora. When we have settled into our accommodation we will visit the museum of Kobi Foora to learn about the work of Richard Leakey in this region
  • Day 9: Today we will drive out to visit a remote community of Dassanech people living close to the border of Ethiopia. If time permits we will return to the lodge in time for sunset and some local bird photography close to the lake
  • Day 10: Today we will leave Kobi Foora and head east towards the Chalbi desert. We will start to see the first singing wells of the Gabra people today and as we make our way towards North Horr we will also pass many Gabra homesteads
  • Day 11: We will spend sunrise and sunset visiting small communities of Gabra people as they herd and milk their camels and other livestock. We will also watch a Gabra traditional dance
  • Day 12: After crossing a large salt pan in the heart of the Chalbi Desert we will turn south and drive towards Marsabit, arriving in time to enjoy a sunset photography session with some local Borana people
  • Day 13: Our morning will be spent visiting a community of lively and colourful Burji people near Marsabit before we head south towards Samburu where we will enjoy a sunset shoot with Samburu Morans (warriors) in the foothills of Mount Ololokwe
  • Day 14: Sunrise and an early morning photo shoot with a family of Samburu people at their boma. We will enjoy a brunch at our secluded tented camp before packing up and leaving for Samburu Nature Reserve. Arriving in time for lunch and a break, our first afternoon game drive will take place until sunset
  • Day 15: Today we will enjoy sunrise and sunset game drives in Samburu with time to rest and enjoy lunch at the lodge
  • Day 16: After a final morning game drive in Samburu we will return to Nairobi where our tour will end in the early evening at Nairobi airport

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.

KENYA’S FAR NORTH AND LAKE TURKANA PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR:

PRICE INFORMATION

Wild Images Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, all photography, driver and guide gratuities and national reserve entrance fees.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)


2022: £5460, $7490, €6440, AUD10260. Nairobi/Nairobi
2023: provisional £5460, $7490, €6440, AUD10260.

Single Supplement: 2022: £380, $530, €450, AUD720.
Single Supplement: 2023: £380, $530, €450, AUD720.

If you are travelling alone, the single supplement will not apply if you are willing to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

KENYA: NORTHERN KENYA AND LAKE TURKANA PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 1

Our Kenya tribal photography tour starts in the early evening at our Nairobi hotel. We will stay overnight at the comfortable Four Points by Sheraton, close to Jomo Kenyatta airport.

Providing you are arriving at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport today, a transfer to our hotel will be provided.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 2

This morning we will drive to Lake Baringo in western Kenya.  This beautiful lake is home to the Pokot people and the Njemps, a smaller group of fishing and agropastoralist people who are related to the Maasai.  On our first afternoon we will visit a community of Pokot people at their family boma in a grove of Acacia trees.

Our lodge for the evening is perched high on a cliff overlooking the lake.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 3

After a sunrise canoe trip with Njemps fishermen where we will watch them bringing in fish and sharing it with local African Fish Eagles, we will return to the lodge for breakfast. During the morning we will venture out onto the lake in canoes to visit an island community of Njemps people for photography.

Returning to the lodge for lunch and a break, our afternoon will be spent cruising the lake in motorised canoes to photograph the resident Nile Crocodiles and waterbirds near to the lodge.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 4

After breakfast we will drive north via Maralal into the spectacular granite peaks of the Ndoto Mountains. These stunning peaks are dotted with fertile valleys, waterfalls and beautiful communities of Rendille people. We will settle into our beautiful tented camp in time for dinner.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 5

At sunrise we will be joined by a group of Rendile Morans (warriors) for photography in the foothills of the Ndoto Mountains. Returning to the camp for a late breakfast and lunch we will enjoy a rest before we spend the afternoon visiting beautiful Rendile villages for photography until sunset.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 6

Today we will leave the Ndoto Mountains and drive north towards the turquoise waters of Lake Turkana. The landscapes will change dramatically here as we leave the relatively fertile valleys of Ndoto to drive over the harsh rock desert towards the lake. Stopping for lunch beside the lake we may see our first Turkana people nearby. After lunch we will drive to Loiyangalani where we will check in to our basic lodge and enjoy a sunset photography shoot with a community of El Molo people living on the lake shore.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 7

We will enjoy a full day of photography with the incredible Turkana people starting with a sunrise shoot by the lake with Turkana elders. Returning to the lodge for meals and for a rest in the middle of the day we will spend the rest of our time witnessing the beautiful dances of Turkana people and visiting Turkana villages for photography.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 8

After breakfast we will pack up our vehicles in preparation for our drive north into the most isolated region of our tour. Crossing the wild rock deserts of northern Lake Turkana we will see the last of our Turkana communities living in one of the harshest desert environments you can imagine. As we reach the entrance gates to Sibiloi the landscapes soften somewhat and we will enjoy a lunch at the park entry before we visit an ancient petrified forest nearby.

From there we will make our way slowly through the national reserve in search of wildlife for this park is home to the extremely rare and localised Heugelin’s bustard. We will also begin to see our first Dassanech shepherds herding their livestock through the park. Our base for the next two nights is the  research station in Kobi Foora, located on a southward jutting peninsula on northern Lake Turkana. After checking into our basic lodge we will visit the museum to learn about the archaeological work that has been performed in this region by renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr Richard Leakey.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 9

Today we will visit an extremely isolated community of Dassanech people who live close to the border of Ethiopia and Kenya. If time allows we will return to the lodge for sunset and some wildlife photography of waterbirds and Nile Crocodiles near to the lodge.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 10

This morning we will drive eastward into the Chalbi desert. We will start to see the first of a few singing wells of the Gabra people in the first few hours of the drive. These deep wells see over a thousand animals being brought to them over the course of a day as Gabra shepherds queue their herds to take turns to water their animals. We will gradually make our way into the desert arriving in the small and charismatic town of North Horr in time to check in to our basic guest house and visit a small community of Gabra people at sunset.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 11

Today we will spend the day photographing and visiting Gabra communities as we learn how they milk camels, take their livestock to graze and water and how their beautiful homes are constructed by Gabra women. During the day we will take a break at our guest house.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 12

This morning we will embark on an adventurous drive over the Chalbi desert, crossing one of the desert’s largest salt pans where we hope to find Gabra salt miners harvesting salt to sell in the nearby town of Kalacha. Leaving the salt pan behind we will drive over the rock desert to Marsabit where we will check in to our lodge and enjoy a sunset photography session with a lovely group of local Borana people.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 13

After breakfast today we will check out of our hotel and drive a short distance to meet a lively, colourful and fascinating group of local Burji people. We will enjoy some of their traditional music and dancing while sampling some of their expertly grown local produce and doing photography. With sadness we will leave them in order to drive south to Mount Ololokwe in Samburu county. Checking in to our beautiful tented camp at the foothills of the mountains we will enjoy a sunset photography shoot with a group of Samburu Morans (warriors) nearby.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 14

At sunrise we will enjoy some more photography of Samburu Morans and we will then join them in a local family boma of Samburu people for photography. After the light becomes too harsh we will return to our lodge for a late breakfast. Checking out, we will then drive to Samburu National Reserve where we will arrive in time for lunch and a rest before our first afternoon on safari in the reserve. We will stay out until sunset searching for wildlife to photograph including Beisa Oryx, Grevy’s Zebras, Gerenuk and Reticulated giraffes. With luck we may find some of the reserve’s lions or leopard on our safari.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 15

Today we will enjoy morning and afternoon safaris in Samburu searching for more wildlife. A break in the middle of the day will provide us with a chance to rest, enjoy nature, download our photos and prepare for the end of the tour the following day.

Kenya Lake Turkana Photography Tour: Day 16

This morning we will enjoy a final game drive in the reserve. After a chance to wash and change at our lodge, we will return to Nairobi. Our tour will end at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in the early evening.

Please note:  At the end of the tour we can arrange a transfer for you to any Nairobi hotel on request. Day rooms or overnight stays, and international airport transfers can be arranged, according to your requirements at an extra cost.

Kenya: Lake Turkana, the Ndoto Mountains and the Chalbi Desert Tour Report 2021

by Inger Vandyke

After three extensive years of planning a very specific and unique route in northern Kenya, I was incredibly excited to be arriving in Nairobi to start my much longed for expedition into some of East Africa’s most remote and beautiful tribal regions. We spent a day getting over jetlag and doing some antique shopping in […]

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