TURKANA ELIYE SPRINGS – EVE D’SOUZA
Way before the excitement of finding oil in Turkana, the Travel Diaries crew were determined to showcase and film the attractions in that area. My business partner Lucy, who also produces our TV show, had told me she heard there was a beautiful beach in Turkana. Pardon my ignorance, but I had always pictured Turkana as no place to think of taking a holiday unless you love the smell of burnt bare feet, and swimming with pesky crocodiles! What in the world was she thinking sending me to Turkana for a beach holiday?!
I reluctantly clicked on the link Lucy sent me on email, that she swore would change my mind set. And then….two words totally transformed my sulk into wide eyed wonder – Eliye Springs. My jaw dropped and smacked the keyboard when I had a look at the pictures of the resort! “Are you kidding me?” was my first thought. “Why haven’t I heard about this before?”
At first glance, you would think Eliye Springs is another ‘Mombasa’, okay I lie, as much as I hate to admit this being a Mombasa girl myself, it looks ten times better than any beach along the Kenyan Coast. An oasis in the desert of North Kenya on Lake Turkana just waiting to be explored. Along one of the biggest desert lakes, Eliye Springs is a breathtaking palm resort with endless and unspoiled beaches.
I continued to read up on the lodge with much excitement. Eliye Springs lodge includes 6 luxury and unique turkana bomas, a well stocked bar with cold drinks, an open dining room, the Palm tree bar, the massage corner, a swimming pool, motor boats and fishing equipment. Book my room right now!
A boma contains a main house (the biggest ever built Turkana hut) with double bed and beautiful furniture, a verandah facing the Lake, a tiled bathroom and a space for relaxing and sunbathing.
The huge compound provides a lot of space for camping. You can pitch a tent between the sand dunes, under palm-trees or wherever you want. The camp-site has a shop, toilets and bathrooms, a small dining-area and a kitchen with staff.- Full equipped tents can be rented, as well as small Turkana huts (Manyatta) with double beds or the self contained spacious rooms with 2 double beds each.
So far so good. But what does one do exactly in Turkana, apart from sit in the sun and burn to a crisp? I was quite pleased with the list of activities outlined by the lodge, apparently ideal and safe for all sorts of water sports (I guess I wont be swimming with the crocodiles after all!) Plus you can take boat rides along the lake by speedboat or fishing boat. “Aha! Fishing!” I thought to myself. I developed quite an inflated ego following my successful fishing trip in Lamu last year – okay I only caught one fish! But I was looking forward to making it two in Lake Turkana.
A 45minute boat ride across the lake from Eliye will get you to Central Island, a National park protected by KWS. On this island awaits a 4 hour hike around the rim of the crater, and the sight of the three crater lakes below is breathtaking! The first crater lake is crocodile infested, the second full of tilapia and the last one, a breeding ground and home for flamingoes. A marvel of nature!
You also get to visit the local Manyattas and learn more about the fascinating Turkana way of life
The final question on my mind is how to get there. Whilst most people opt to fly, I was keen to document a road trip, although I was told it would take two days of travel by road. I studied the route to Eliye springs. You take the road from Kitale-Kapenguria-Marich Pass-Kainuk-Lokichar-Lodwar-Eliye Springs. The distance from Kitale to Eliye Springs is 350 km.
Eliye Springs signboards keep you informed all the way from Kainuk to Eliye Springs. The road is mainly a rough road from Marich pass all the way to Lodwar. The last 46 km before Eliye Springs has few sandy parts, especially after Eliye airstrip which is about 8 km from the Eliye Springs Resort. When it rains you need a 4WD vehicle.
Sounds like a unique adventure of a beach holiday to me! In Turkana no less. I’ve already started packing! Race you there!
Photos: Maina Ndirangu Travel Diaries, Eliye Springs