Northeast Kenya

The most remote part of the country is the northeast, a vast wilderness with almost no sign that humans have ever been here. Part of the attraction is the immense scale and vast emptiness of this remote wilderness. Endless blue skies and flat landscapes produce a sense of solitude that is hard to experience anywhere else. The landscape is made up of tracts of desert and semi-desert barely broken by settlements and with almost no public transport. Its inaccessibility combined with security problems around the Somali border make this area unappealing to even the most intrepid travellers - no tour companies operate in this region.

Background

Physically, the area is very flat with two important rivers flowing through, the Tana River and the Ewaso Ng'iro. As you would expect, it is around these waterways that settlement is greatest and the national parks are based. The
Tana River Primate National Reserve
is based near Garsen though it is hard to reach. It was set up to protect the red colobus and crested mangabey monkeys (both endangered species). The reserve is more easily accessed from the coast, north of Malindi.

The majority of people living in this area are Somali and before the creation of country boundaries pastoralists roamed the area freely. In fact in colonial days, the area was known as Somali country. As countries in the region gained independence, Somalis unsuccessfully tried to claim this area as part of Somalia. Shortly after, the area was closed to visitors by the Kenyan authorities who wished to drill for oil. Years of neglect and almost no development leave it one of the poorest areas of the country. These problems have been exacerbated more recently by the civil war in Somalia resulting in a huge influx of refugees into northeast Kenya. There are a number of refugee camps now set up for them (and for Somali-Kenyans who can no longer support their way of life in this barren area). Somalis are blamed for most of the poaching in the region.

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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