Lake Turkana

Oct 28, 2013 View Comments by


As Nick and I crest hill after hill, we wonder how much further we should go for the day. It’s getting late, but we’re really hoping to get to the lake to camp. We have been driving through desert for the last three days, so camping next to some water would be a treat. Finally, with about 30 minutes until dusk, we spot it. It’s not a mirage—it’s Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world. This salt-water lake in Kenya, Africa is home to Nile crocodiles, large turtles, and various fish species. Its remote location, surrounded by desert and barren land, keeps tourists far away and the local traditions alive. We pass a small gathering of huts. I wouldn’t know whether to call it a town or not, but the structures appear permanent and are made from scrap wood and aluminum. We pull up to the huts on the motorcycles, and try to communicate. It feels awkward, a few of the women are topless, and everyone else is in robe-like clothing. We leave this group and continue on, searching for a closer place to camp by the lake. It’s so odd seeing no grass or other forms of life here. The rocky terrain stretches all the way down to the water with no flora to be seen. The fauna comes in the form of goats, with shepherds leading them somewhere for the night. A few miles down the road, we spot a lone tent closer to the lake. For whatever reason, we decide to ask if we can camp next to them for the night. The people are happy and say it is no problem, so we set up camp for the night. It appears that this family fishes for a living as they have African-looking fish hanging up to dry on a makeshift rack. Nick gets to cooking and we are offered a fish to eat. We kindly decline as we have eggs, potatoes, onion, and hot sauce to eat for the night. I do pass out some cookies and bread that we can spare. Once our food is prepared, Nick and I join the family for dinner. We can’t communicate well, but we try. Spirits are high as this is about as real as it gets. The family starts singing and dancing, so I pull out the video camera to film the activity. The kids especially love watching themselves on the camera screen, running up to me and then diving into their papa’s arms, wiggling around with glee. We are camping on lake Turkana for the night, but for this family it is not camping. It is life, and the smiles on their faces prove that you don’t need more than a tent to have a home.


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About the author

Commercial fisherman to pay the bills. Adventure Rider for the smile on my face. Documenting it all as proof that anyone can live this dream.