Treks & Safaris

Planning a Trek

The precise planning of a trek in the remote regions is critical. Many key factors and variables have to be considered before setting out to ensure its success.

Weather

In northern Kenya weather follows the essentially equatorial pattern consisting of two rainy seasons (March to May and October to November) and two dry seasons (June to September and December to February). Though rainfall can be infrequent and sometimes non existent during the ‘rainy seasons’, when it does arrive, it can come with such destructive force to wash away the few roads and tracks that exist. These roads and tracks ultimately facilitate your arrival to, and collection from, the start and finishing stages of your trek, thus the preferred time to travel is during dry seasons when the potential of being marooned is significantly reduced. In addition to this, planning a walk during the dry season eliminates the need to bring along a tent. Sleeping under the stars is highly recommended especially in the many arid areas where mosquitoes don’t exist.


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Water

Turkana/Samburu district is distinguished by its extreme aridity. Vast swathes of land dominating the region can best be described as either scrub, semi-desert or pure desert with only the upper reaches of the volcanic mountains providing release. As a consequence, knowing where your next source of water lies is of immense importance. The course followed by most of the routes detailed are dictated by their proximity to sources of water along the way, whether they be ancient wells, oasis, mountain springs, or merely deep holes sunk in dried river courses. These are essential, because although a camel or donkey can carry say, 60 litres of water, one must remember that they too need their own supply of water (donkeys more so than camels) to sustain themselves in the extreme heat. The law of diminishing returns then becomes relevant when deciding how many pack animals to employ on a trek.


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Tribal Boundaries

Cattle rustling between tribes in the Turkana/Samburu district is endemic and is exacerbated during times of drought which are frequent. As a consequence of this, during the longer treks, when passing from one territory into another, it is sometimes necessary to change your retinue of travelling companions if they belong to the opposing tribe, to reflect the territory you are now moving in. Either that, or plan your trek so that it stays within the confines of one particular territory. In particularly sensitive areas the authorities stipulate the requirement to travel with an armed home guard as a precaution. That said, it is very rare that westerners are at risk because essentially they pose no threat to the local nomads with regards to the acquisition of their cattle. Westerners in general are regarded with hospitable curiosity.


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Setting off points

Trekking per se is an alien concept to most of the local inhabitants in Turkana/Samburu district. In this respect you can consider yourself somewhat as a pioneer. However, because no established trekking infrastructure exists, the setting off points are limited to the communities where reliable contacts have been established.


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Local contacts

The good will of the local elders is of paramount importance in conducting a successful trek. Without their blessing difficulties can occur when trying to recruit your travelling companions. These travelling companions should essentially consist of: an experienced guide with full knowledge of the outlying area which you are to traverse, an accomplished headman (camel or donkey handler) and, of course, the animals themselves, donkeys or camels, the choosing of which will depend entirely on the terrain you are to cover.

During a period of over 10 years trekking experience in the district, the author, with initial assistance from the renowned explorer Wilfred Thesiger (who lived for 30 years in Maralal and conducted frequent expeditions in the area) has established and fostered a trust with the many nomadic people who have accompanied him on his walks. This trust is an essential element to make real the concept of ‘Wandering Nomads’, for it is these people based in Loyangalani, South Horr, Baragoi and Wamba who will be called upon to assist yourselves.


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Need to know

Need to know

Everything from what to wear to important medical advice. Also recommended reading to help inspire your trip of a lifetime.

Important Info

North West Kenya

North West Kenya

This region is the Lake Turkana district of North West Kenya. It is a place of wild beauty and bewildering contrasts.

About the Region

Nomadic People

Nomadic People

This area of Northern Kenya is populated by the Turkana, Samburu and Rendille.

About the Tribes