Here’s what many people don’t tell you often; you can experience Dubai’s sand dune thrill right here in Kenya! Desert safaris are increasingly becoming the thrill factor among local and foreign tourists. The Chalbi Desert in Marsabit County is one of the famous deserts in Kenya. Located in the northern part of Kenya, the Chalbi desert is currently a phenomenal tourist attraction. It borders Ethiopia on the south, Lake Turkana on the East, and covers the whole of the North Horr sub-county. Marsabit Town is the closest urban center to the Chalbi Desert.
Deserts in Kenya
Kenya is an interesting tourist destination due to its diverse ecosystems. While some areas are super green, others possess semi-arid and arid climates. In Kenya, the common ecosystems include rainforests, savanna, semi-arid and arid ecosystems. Statistics show that 89 percent of Kenya is on semi-arid and arid land. Counties on semi-arid land include Laikipia, Kitui, Kwale, Embu, West Pokot, Narok, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Taita Taveta, Lamu, Makueni, Kilifi and Kajiado.
There are counties facing extreme dry weather conditions. These counties fall under arid land. They include the counties of Isiolo, Baringo, Marsabit, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Tana River, Samburu and Turkana.
Kenya currently has two known deserts: the Chalbi Desert and the Nyiri Desert. Chalbi Desert is found in Marsabit County while Nyiri Desert is found in Kajiado County.
Amazing facts about the Chalbi Desert
The Chalbi Desert is listed under the true deserts in Kenya. It covers an area of 100,000 square kilometers. It has an altitude of 370 meters above the sea level. The landscape consists of a large lava plateau, sand dunes, rocks, volcanic hills, ridges and inselbergs. The Chalbi lake basin is filled with a mixture of sand, salt, rocks and clay. The term Chalbi is a Gabbra word that means “bare and salty.”
Mount Marsabit was a volcanic site. In it’s active volcanic state, it released lave that eventually formed Lake Chalbi. Due to the intense hot and dry conditions, the water in the lake experienced massive evaporation leaving it bare and salty. The Chalbi Desert is an extension of the Lake Turkana. The salty nature of the region makes Lake Turkana the largest alkaline lake in the world.
Landscapes neighboring the Chalbi Desert include Mount Forole near the Ethiopian border and Huri Hills on the northern side.
Chalbi Desert Climate
The climate is hot and dry. Day temperatures range between 43 and 46 degrees Celsius. Night temperatures are between 14 and 15 degrees Celsius. February is the hottest month with an average temperature of 36 degrees Celsius. July records the lowest temperature of 18 degrees Celsius. There are two dry seasons in the desert with the longest season running from July to October and the shortest occurring between January and early weeks of March. The two rainy seasons are between April and May and November to December.
Desert Safari in the Chalbi Desert
The sand dunes in the desert are perfect for day time game drives. Swishing through the sand dunes gives one an exhilarating feeling similar to that found in Dubai sand dunes. Sand dune surfing, sand dune racing and safari walks are also fun activities that tourists can engage in while in the desert. Tourists interested in camel riding can take advantage of the camel caravans across the desert. Camel rides and camel derbies are well-guided to provide a fulfilling desert experience. Tourists take pictures and videos while on camel rides to document the lovely desert moments.
Wildlife viewing is often done at the Kalacha Springs. The picturesque oasis is a lovely spot for viewing oryx herds, hyenas, the Grevy’s zebra, guinea fowls, sand grouse, camels and ostriches. The vegetation around the oasis include acacia trees and doum palms.
Both animals and people quench their thirst at the Kalacha Springs. As such, the oasis is a very important feature in the region. Locals gather here to interact with one another through song and dance. Cultural festivals are some of the captivating events that tourists can attend. Despite the Gabbra being the native inhabitants in the region, you can also find individuals from communities such as the Pokot, Samburu, Rendille, Dasanaach, Turkana, El Molo and the Orma.
Visiting the Chalbi Desert
In the quest to provide you with the most captivating and fulfilling desert experience, Zunguka Africa Safaris organizes desert safaris to the Chalbi Desert in Marsabit County. Come and sample the sumptuous Gabbra cuisine; get entertained by the local art, dances and cultural festivals; learn their customs and traditions; learn and buy the local fashionable adornments. Romance airs in the desert sky at night. Watch the moon and the stars with your loved ones as you plan your future lives. It doesn’t get any better than this.