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Lake Turkana

Also known as the Jade Sea, Lake Turkana is an extraordinary sight for someone on a Kenya safari. The shimmering colours of its surface contrast sharply with the surrounding lunar landscape, comprising of extinct volcanoes and lava beds.

The soda lake owes its lovely nickname to algae particles which shift with changes of wind and light, causing Turkana’s skin to shift from blue to grey to jade.

Turkana is the largest desert lake in the world and the northern-most of Kenya’s Rift Valley lakes. Fed by the Omo River in Ethiopia, Turkana has no outlet. As a result of this, its level fluctuates with the river and rainfall in Ethiopia.

The area is steeped in prehistoric history and is potentially the locale for man’s’ first upright steps. In 1888 an Austrian explorer came across human skulls and bones in Turkana. Eighty-years later Richard Leakey excavated fossil remains that dated back three million years at Koobi Fora.

Today the lake is home to some 22 000 crocodiles, hippos and more than 40 different species of fish. There are also large numbers of water birds. To protect the breeding grounds of birds and crocodiles, both Southern and Central Island have been declared national parks. The area also supports snakes, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffes, and camels.