What to do in Turkana, Kenya | A 3-day itinerary

The Northern Kenya Frontier is made up of two major towns, Marsabit and Lodwar. This post will give you at 3-day itinerary to Lodwar town in Turkana as well as give you information of other places to explore in Marsabit another lesser known Kenyan town.

Rio Statue in Turkana

Marsabit town is located to the North of Lake Turkana. It is also known as the highland in the desert while Lodwar town is known as the cradle of mankind. At Marsabit you can explore Koobi Fora, a world-famous archaeological site where the largest collection of well-preserved hominids is kept at a museum in Sibiloi National Park.

For wildlife lovers, Marsabit has the world-famous elephant, Ahmed, the largest elephant ever found in Africa and the Grevy’s zebra, a rare zebra species. Make sure you visit the Marsabit National Park. Other places to explore in Marsabit include the Lake Paradise, Bongole Resort and a tour of Marsabit Town.

Read on how to spend 3 days in Turkana .

Day 1: Lodwar Town

Begin your first day with a tour around Lodwar Town. Visit the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar where you will see a huge sculpture that resembles the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. The Catholic church here named it the Jubilee Shrine, however, it has become a popular tourist attraction and a sanctuary of the people of Lodwar town who have nick-named it Rio.

The views from the top are spectacular. You can see the vastness of Turkana including River Turkwel and the Lodwar airstrip. The tour should take you about 2 hours which includes walking to the top where the statue is located. Touring the church is free of charge.

Lodwar Town in Kenya

Walking to the top of the hill will keep you occupied with other similar miniature statues that are inspired by biblical characters and besides these are slabs of concrete with Bible verse inscriptions. These miniature statues and bible verses symbolize what the Catholic faithful call the Way of the Cross. This, according to them is the route that Jesus followed on his way to the crucifixion. The shrine was built when the Catholic church commemorated 50 years since its inception in Lodwar. The statue is located on a 700-meter hill that overlooks Lodwar town.

Lodwar is a very hot town and it is advisable to visit the church in the evening when the sun begins to set to get the most out of your tour. Lodwar can get hot, to about 35 degrees Celsius. Visiting during the day when it’s hot will only get you thirsty and dehydrated. It is therefore advisable to book a flight from Nairobi that leaves at 2pm so as to arrive in the town at around 4pm and then do the tour between 4pm and 6pm.

From here drive back to Lodwar town and spend the night at one of the hotels in Lodwar town. I recommend staying at Stegart Hotel before heading to Eliye Springs on the shores of Lake Turkana the following day.

Day 2: Central Island National Park

Before heading to Central Island National Park, pass by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) office, notify them about your trip to Central Islands and pay the necessary park fees so that they can allocate a guide to you. You will also need to hire a boat that will take you to the island.

This is a highly recommended trip to one of the most unique destinations in Kenya. Central Island is both a park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only about 6% of Kenyans have been here and this is because of its location. Central Island is located in the middle of Lake Turkana with 3 crater lakes inside it. The first crater lake is inhabited by crocodiles, the second one has tilapia fish while the third crater lake is home to flamingoes. Most of Central Island is taken up by these three crater lakes.

Central Island National Park in Kenya

Dress appropriately as the vegetation on the island is thorny and bushy. Follow the directed trails, however, it is important to go there with a guide. Carry enough water and a hat as it gets very hot! There is barely any shade except at the shores of the lake as you get into the island, so bring sunscreen.

If the adventure bug bites you, can opt to spend the night at a campsite on the island. Here you can enjoy the sight of the lake’s waters as they wash up to the beach while seeing the moon rising over the craters.

If you choose to go back to the shores of the lake, spend the night at Eliye Springs Resort. Relax in your room as the afternoon gets extremely hot. Take a swim in the evening in the lake and enjoy the alkaline waters of Lake Turkana.

Day 3 Turkana Village and Culture

The last day of your trip should include a visit to a village at the shores of the Lake Turkana - Fergusson Island. A visit to this village comes highly recommended. You will learn about the fishing community, see the way of life and the culture of the people of Turkana. The Turkana people have a rich traditional culture that they practice to date. They inhabit one of the most hostile environments on earth in terms of weather. Turkana is a semi-arid region that is full of volcanic rocks and sandy plains. The temperatures here can get to as hot as 45 degrees and rainfall in this area is scarce. Their villages stand out, as they live in huts made of wood and covered with animal skins and reeds.

Turkana Village in Kenya

The women dress in simple yet unique attire which includes short skirts made of leather and adorned with pieces of ostrich eggshells. Men dress up in a cloth that is knotted on the shoulder. Some unique aspects of their lifestyle include cleaning themselves with animal fat mixed with red ocher and scented leaves of local trees to protect their skins from the harsh sun and insects. The area has a lot of insects especially at night, in this regard remember to pack an insect repellent. Water is scarce therefore the locals use animal fat to clean their skin and water is only used for drinking purposes.

How to Get to Lake Turkana

From Nairobi board an aircraft from Wilson airport for a two-hour flight to Lodwar town. From Lodwar town, hire a car that will drive you to Lake Turkana, Eliye Springs Resort which is another two hours away.

You can also opt to take a road trip. The road trip from Nairobi takes two days. On the first day of travel, drive from Nairobi to Kitale town. Spend the night at a hotel in Kitale and then leave early next morning to Turkana, stopping over along the way, sight-seeing and taking meal breaks. Taking a road trip to Turkana will take longer than a three-day itinerary. For a longer itinerary via road, here is a 7-day road trip itinerary.

Where to stay in Turkana

You can use the interactive map below to find a place to stay in Turkana based on your budget.



In general, Turkana is an area that is off the tourist track and a lesser-known town because of its location and under-developed infrastructure. However, I recommend any adventurous traveller to visit this beautiful and less visited town in Kenya.

For more about travelling in Kenya, visit Sharon's blog.

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