Introduction Landscape Lake Turkana Central Island

IBILOI IS APPROXIMATELY 900 KM NORTH OF NAIROBI, an easy two and a half hour flight in a light aircraft. The Park lies on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana and its northern boundary is only some 40 kilometers from the Kenya/Ethiopia border. The Park covers an area of 1570 km2 and contains some of the world’s most important palaeontological and archaeological sites. Although it is one of the more remote and therefore less visited of Kenya’s parks, Sibiloi has plenty to offer alongside its rich palaeontological and archaeological heritage (see the Prehistory section).

Sibiloi was declared a National Park by the government of Kenya in 1973. The reasoning behind this action was two fold: firstly the action was taken to ensure the protection of the wealth of important fossil sites in the area and secondly, to ensure the preservation of the wildlife and natural habitat. The area includes an important offshore zone, protected for the conservation of crocodiles, bird life and fish breeding grounds. This inclusion of an offshore zone as well as the combination of interests (wildlife and palaeontological) makes Sibiloi National Park unique in Eastern Africa and is the reason for its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National Park is administered under the Kenya Wildlife Service. [ return to top ]

The landscape of Sibiloi is dry, arid and hot but startlingly beautiful and well worth a visit. It offers panoramic views of scenic landscapes set in expansive areas of wilderness. The park contains several different types of habitats, from lake shore with water vegetation, hippos, and crocodiles to arid, desert-like lava rock terrain; savanna plains to riverine forest. For naturalists, Sibiloi National Park is a refuge to a number of dry country wildlife species including gerenuk, oryx, the rare lesser kudu and Grevy's zebra. Furthermore, an abundance of tiang (a subspecies of topi), and the more common Burchell’s zebra can be seen grazing along the shoreline. Carnivores include both the striped and spotted hyena, the side-striped and golden jackal, cheetah, lion and other small cats including caracal. Sibiloi is also a birders paradise with wonderful water birds along the shoreline including pelicans, numerous species of Heron, ducks, flamingos, gulls and the African Skimmer. There is also an incredible diversity of birds of prey and other bird species including those endemic to the area such as the Heuglin’s Bustard and the Crested Lark. For a more complete listing of the plants and animals populating Sibiloi, se the Fauna and Flora section. [ return to top ]

Previously Lake Rudolf after an Austrian prince, the lake was renamed Lake Turkana in 1975 post-independence after the Turkana people who inhabit its western shores. However local people living around the lake use a variety of local names for it.

Sometimes referred to as the "Jade Sea" because of its striking green hues, it is the largest alkaline lake in the world. The lake is 265 kilometers long, has an average breadth of 30 kilometers and is not particularly deep, with a maximum depth of just less than 140 meters. According to geological records of the last several million years, the lake existed for approximately one hundred thousand-year periods, separated by intervals where the ancestral Omo River meandered its way through the basin. There have been three Lake phases in the past four million years.
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Central Island is an extinct volcano that rises out of the middle of Lake Turkana. It is a scenic and dramatic island, some 5 km2 in size. A footpath skirts the perimeters of the three crater lakes and follows the shoreline in places. The path also leads up the northeastern flank of the volcano, past active sulfur and steam vents. Although there is no risk of the volcano erupting today, the smells of sulfur provides impressive indication of the volcanic activity below.

The island is an important breeding ground for migratory and other bird species. The crater on the northern part of the island is appropriately named flamingo crater after the colourful pink flamingos that are often found feeding on the abundant green algae in its waters. Herons, egrets and storks use the steep cliffs of this crater as their nesting sites. The island still provides refuge to breeding crocodiles, although the crocodile population has declined on the island in recent years due to the increased presence of fishermen. One of the three crater lakes is home to an endemic subspecies of cichlid (tilapia) fish. [ return to top ]

For a summary of park fees and other expenses, as well as available tourist facilities, please refer to our Visitor Info section.

  Karari Escarpment [enlarge]

Petrified Forest [enlarge]

Lake Turkana Sunset [enlarge]


Central Island [enlarge]