Desert Safari Experience in the Chalbi Desert, Kenya
Going on a Desert Safari in Kenya is not something we often hear. In fact, what exactly is a desert safari? A few lucky chaps who have been to Dubai may be quick to offer an explanation but even they may be a bit puzzled as to where this takes place in Kenya. All the same, it is a quick mental calculation to guess that most likely this kind of safari takes place in the northern region of the country. Ah, northern Kenya.
A place rumored to be full of potential with the oil and all but very few would dare venture that far away from urban comforts and the lush green fields of our villages. For those who do, it is probably for a job with lots of allowances especially the so-called hardship allowance – never for a relaxing holiday or an adventure. Even so, northern Kenya is indeed a diamond in the rough and more and more Kenyans are beginning to realize this.
When going on a desert safari in Kenya one first has to make their way to the Chalbi Desert which is relatively close to Marsabit. If the journey starts in Nairobi there are lots to see on the road trip. Most notable is a stop at Nanyuki for the equator crossing as wells as splendid views of Mt. Kenya. All in all, it is about 8 hours from Nairobi to Marsabit so buckle up for a long trip. A little did-you-know fact is that the word Chalbi in the Gabbra language means “bare and salty.”
What to expect in the Chalbi desert
The Desert Safari
Once in Marsabit, the real adventure begins. One hops onto a Landcruiser for the fairly short drive to the Chalbi Desert. The vehicles are ideal for sand dune racing and sand surfing – activities that are quite similar to the ones in UAE. The feeling of the cruiser giving in to the whims of gravity and the sand is unrivaled and should definitely be a staple in any worthwhile bucket list speaking of which here are 9 Bucket List Items You Can Complete in Africa.
The Chalbi Desert has more to offer in picturesque and tranquil oases for some worthy moments. That and the fact that it is almost a sheer miracle that such a cool and vegetative spot can exist in such a vast region of nothing but sand and bareness.
Camel Ride and Local Culture
For those who fancy a camel-ride then these “ships of the desert” await your captaincy. Traversing the desert on the back of a camel gives a real perspective on how ancient civilizations and some modern desert communities get from one point to the other. It is also quite relaxing.
Speaking of desert communities, a desert safari in Chalbi desert also affords one the chance to interact with local communities such as the Rendille, the Turkana, the Samburu, and a few others. Learn from their traditional way of life by visiting their villages and exploring their culture.
Unlike in Dubai, going on a desert safari in Kenya comes with game drives in the Lake Turkana National Park. To sum up such an experience, it is like having the deserts of Dubai and the Masai Mara in Kenya mashed up in one region. The crystal clear streams that run into Lake Turkana are also a sight to behold.
If someone once promised you the moon they probably were alluding to a trip to Turkana. Why? Turkana region is a world-famous spot for observing solar eclipses due to its all-year-round clear skies. This fact seems more familiar to curious international travelers than Kenyans as they are the ones who mostly flock to this region for solar eclipse events.
Cost of the Chalbi Desert Safari
We could just say it is significantly more affordable than a trip to Dubai and just leave it at that. Determining the cost of such a safari is a bit puzzling owing to the fact that not many travel companies in Kenya offer this type of safari.
However, ballpark figures start at around KES 25,000/- for a couple of days. Factors such as the number of people and length of the trip would last also come into play. All the same, we reckon it would prove to be quite a bargain for such a novel adventure.
In conclusion, going on a desert safari in Kenya is a nice way to tread off the beaten path and discover more of what this magical country has to offer.
This is a Guest post by Stephen Mathenge, a Travel Consultant at Starluck Travel