Kitale to Lake Turkana

If you are coming up into Northern Kenya from Kitale, you travel a glorious route through the highlands, close to the Saiwa Swamp National Park. Continuing through the northern gorges of the Cherangani Hills will bring you to the desert plains through the Marich Pass. This is a dramatic deep rocky cleft at an altitude of 3000 m carved by the Moruny River between the heavily wooded Cherangani Hills, opening out to the arid plains of the Lake Turkana basin below. The views are incredible, looking down onto the plains from the lush highlands. At intervals the road passes close to the Morun River, and at two points crosses it. The first glimpse of Lake Turkana, at the end of the road, doesn't disappoint
.

Ins and outs

The Marich Pass is about 70 km from Kitale. The most direct route is going north along the tarmacked A1 road, which goes via Kapenguria towards Lodwar and Lokichokio and on to the Sudanese border in the extreme northwest of the country. You can also reach it from Eldoret or Kabarnet via Iten and then on through the upper Kerio Valley joining the Kitale-Lodwar road near Kapenguria. The third way is via the unmade road from Lake Baringo through the Kito Pass, across the Kerio Valley to Tot, although this route involves travelling a track through the northern face of the Cherangani Hills that becomes impassable after heavy rains, when the streams flood the road. This route is only manageable with a 4WD. Just north of the pass is a police post where a convoy of vehicles collects with armed guards to continue north to Lodwar - mostly trucks carrying relief supplies to the refugee camps and famine-stricken areas. Note the road is surfaced all the way to Lodwar, but the heavy traffic has completely broken up the tarmac north of the Marich Pass so it's now a long and uncomfortable ride of about eight hours between Kitale and Lodwar by bus or
matatu
. Once through the pass the road levels out into the endless scrub where you'll see nothing but a few lonely Turkana goat herders.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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