From the south to the north, we explore places to stay with something to suit every budget. We start with South Horr on the southern tip of the lake, before heading up the eastern shore to Loiyangalani. For those who make it that far, check out the places in Sibiloi national park, too.
This little town, situated on the southeastern shore of the lake, is the site of the annual Turkana festival, and a number of hotels have sprung up here. Factor in two days to reach here
Like pretty much everywhere in Loiyangalani, this place doesn’t have much in the way of shade, and feels hot and dusty. But for those looking to stay in a room rather than a tent, it has decent little rondavel rooms that are probably among the most comfortable in the town. It also has slightly cheaper rondavels that are less elegantly furnished, as well as a campsite. But the campsite is unshaded, and there are better camping options in town. Ksh 2,500 per room, B&B. www.malaboresort.co.ke
Palm Shade Resort
Without a doubt, the nicest place to camp in town, but the wind gets gusty, so tents need to be well pegged. Campers can make use of a shaded, grassy area in which to pitch their tents, clean and decent ablutions and covered huts for preparing food and cooking. Food is also prepared on request, and served up in the camping grounds. Rooms are available here, but are nothing special. Trips on the lake and to Mt Kulal can be arranged. Ksh 500 per person camping; Ksh 1,000 for a rondavel. www.palmshaderesort.co.ke
This hotel, once the priciest place in town, has changed ownership in the past couple of years, but is still overpriced for what’s on offer. Although less basic than Palm Shade, its bandas are a little pokey and rustic, and the garden quite run-down. Its selling point is the swimming pool (empty when we visited, but usually filled, we were told) and a large, inviting bar area, where you can get Western-style food. The website contains old information, particularly on prices. Ksh 7,500 pp, bed and breakfast, Ksh 10,000 full board. www.oasis-lodge.com
The drive to South Horr from Nairobi is (just) doable in a day, taking about 11 or 12 hours from Nairobi via Laisamis. It’s a good base for exploring the lake, roughly an hour’s drive away, and the surrounding region.
This is a welcome new (and affordable) addition to the northern Kenya scene. Owned by the Taylor family, originally as a family retreat, this self-catering property is one of the nicest places to stay in the area. A selling point is the small pool with a shade, and adjoining barbeque area. Sleeps six in three beautifully-furnished tents. Ksh 5,500 pp, or Ksh 35,000 for exclusive use of the camp. Activities offered include excursions to the lake, and guided walking in the area. Contact the owners directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or through East African retreats. www.eastafricanretreats.com
This top-end lodge on Mt Nyiru has been around for a while, and remains pretty much the sole luxury option in these parts. The lodge consists of five cottages of varying sizes, and boasts exceptional views over northern Kenya. Cool off in the pool, and retire for the evening to a cosy sitting room with logfire. Activities include flying safaris over Lake Turkana (a chance to see the calderas on Central Island), fishing excursions on the lake, walking in the nearby Ndoto Mountains, or camel trekking through the wild, desert-like terrain. Resident rates start at $375 pp sharing. www.desertrosekenya.com
SIBILOI NATIONAL PARK
It’s another full day’s drive to reach Sibiloi from Loiyangalani, but a worthy trek for archaeology enthusiasts, even if there’s not much wildlife these days. Koobi Fora, the museum with many of the finds in the area, is another two-hour drive from the main gate.
Kenya Museum Bandas & Alia Bay Guesthouse
In a rugged spot deep inside the park, the Koobi Fora museum offers very basic accommodation overlooking the lake on on a self-catering basis. There is a dining area and kitchen. Camping, with access to the facilities, is also available. Rooms cost ksh 1,000 per person, camping Ksh 300. Near the main gate is Alia Bay Guesthouse, the KWS-run cottage, sleeping five. It has a living room and kitchen with gas stove. Guests must bring their own water. Ksh 5,000 for the whole house. To book Koobi Fora, go to www.museums.or.ke For the guesthouse, visit www.kws.go.ke or call its reservations’ team on 0726 610 533