desert view


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A paradise located on the Northern Side of Kenya near the border with Ethiopia. It’s approximately 500 Km from Nairobi and approximately 50km from Marsabit. Surrounded by volcanic remains. Chalbi Desert is the aridest and hottest place in Kenya. It has incredible huge sand dunes and beautiful natural sceneries.

Having more to offer in picturesque and tranquil oases for some worthy moments. That and the fact that it is almost a sheer miracle that such a cool and vegetative spot can exist in such a vast region of nothing but sand and bareness.

The equator on the east of Great Rift valley passes through Nanyuki town, which marks the beginning of a swathe of Climatic Extremes. Starting with the immediate snow capped Mount Kenya, to the Lowlands of Samburu along the tarmacked A2 highway. All the way to Lake Turkana, Kenya’s largest lake and world’s second largest desert lake.

On the East of Lake Turkana is Chalbi Desert, Extreme heat strangles the towns of North Horr through the Desert where the elements reign absolute. To the periphery where you can find the Oasis at Kalacha that’s the lifeline support for local communities and their herds.


Turkana people - Photo Credits: Ruro Photography
Turkana people – Photo Credits: Ruro Photography

With its traditional nomadic routes, in the region is also home to Kenya’s last nomadic tribes, such as the Turkana, Samburu, Marakwet, Pokot, Rendile, El Molo, and the Gabbra tribes. The Gabbra people of this area are a hardy race, and adaptation to a nomadic way of life ensures their survival.

They build temporary structures called manyattas, that are easy to demolish once time to move to the next stop arrives. In most cases, women and children are the ones left to build manyattas, while the men and young boys are out to graze and take care of their livestock.


1.Grevys Zebra.

Grévy’s zebra, also known as the imperial zebra, is the largest living wild equid and the most threatened of the three species of zebra, the other two being the plains zebra and the mountain zebra. Named after Jules Grévy’s, it is found in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Zebra Grazing Near Lake Turkana


Oryx is a genus consisting of four large antelope species called oryxes. Their pelage is pale with contrasting dark markings in the face and on the legs, and their long horns are almost straight.

<a href=''>Nature photo created by wirestock -</a>
Beautiful shot of three oryxes running on a desert


  • Chalbi desert is a stretch of coarse sand spiced up with pure rocks and immense clay where they are also ash gray ridges and broken clusters of tiny huts.
  • There are pans of salt in the desert which is picked up by many pastoralists and used as natural animal saltlick.
  • The desert is surrounded by volcanic hills that create magical panorama with only selected animals and vegetation that can withstand harsh climate conditions in the entire sub-Saharan region.
  • The southern part the desert is home to rendille while the eastern part which is towards the Ethiopian border is home to grabba people.
  • It is believed there was a lake in the Chalbi desert that dried up a thousand years ago, therefore it was name Chalbi desert meaning bare and salty.

All you need to know about Chalbi desert.

1.How to get there.

From Nairobi you take a long trip approximately, there will be lots to see on the road trip from Nanyuki to views of mount Kenya.


Chalbi desert is the hottest and the most arid region in average daytime temperature ranges hifrom 43°to 46°,whereas during night it drops to 14°.The area experiences to dry season and two rainy season. The long dry season takes place from June to October. And short dry is between January and February and parts of march. Long rainy occurs between April to and may while short rainy is between November and December.

3.Best time to visit.

Best time to visit the Chalbi  desert is during the dry seasons. It is when the animals gather around the few remaining water sources and the dry terrain is much more conducive to game Drives and safari walks.


1.Desert Safari.

Chalbi desert has a lot to offer. While being there, you can hope on a land cruiser and enjoy a perfect short drive desert safari.

The vehicles are excellent for sand dunes racing and surfing.

2.Camel Ride.

Exploring the desert on a back of a camel is quite impressive.

It is an ideal way to enjoy and the desert and to know ancient civilizations and some modern desert people transport.

It is a unique experience.

3.Culture Tour.

A desert safari in Chalbi desert gives tourists/visitors a chance to interact with community people living in the desert mainly the Rendille,Samburu,Turkana among others. It is a way to explore their culture and to know their traditions and lifestyle.


1.Plan to beat the heat.

If you’re planning a desert trip in the summer, you’ll want to be prepared for scorching conditions. Opt to recreate in the evenings or early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. One popular trick is to wear cotton. Although cotton is often the sworn enemy of outdoor recreation, in the desert, cotton can help keep you cool.

2.Pack sun protection and dress in layers.

When packing, consider protecting yourself beyond just sunscreen. Bring a long-sleeved hooded shirt that breathes well and offers UV protection. Take a wide-brimmed sun hat, wear sunglasses or even use a reflective hiking umbrella. Lightweight pants are another way to not only protect you from the sun but from the scratchy, needle-ridden plants that call the desert home.

One thing people don’t realize about the desert is that it can be cold. In fact, 30-degree swings are quite common. At higher desert altitudes, snowfall is normal, so make sure you are prepared for all kinds of conditions. Pack plenty of warm layers, a rain layer, and even a beanie and gloves, and check the weather before you head out.

3.Stick to the trail.

Regardless of your outdoor activity, stick to the trail and walk on durable surfaces.

Crypto biotic soil, or small built-up spires of black soil, are an essential part of the desert ecosystem. These unassuming lumps are actually living organisms that play a vital role in erosion control. Crypto biotic soil fields take years to develop, so be sure to stick to trails and avoid busting the crust.

4.Watch the weather.

Hiking in rainy weather is dangerous in the desert, especially if you are in a canyon or wash (a ditch where water runs after the rains). Flash floods come out of nowhere and endanger hikers every year. Never hike in a slot canyon if the forecast calls for rain, and keep in mind that canyons can flood if a storm dumps moisture up-canyon, far from where you may be hiking. Be sure to check the weather where you plan to hike and give the local land manager or ranger a call to make sure conditions are safe prior to heading out.

5.Protect Your hand and feet.

In the desert, almost everything has a defense mechanism. Animals are quick to bite or fight and plants often have spikes or use irritants to keep critters at bay. Always watch where you are walking and don’t stick your hands in holes. Keep an eye on kids and pets, as they may be more likely to run into unhappy critters. It’s a good idea to carry a pair of tweezers in your first-aid kit, in case of an unwanted encounter with a cactus. And if you need to use a rock to secure your tent, use your foot to kick the rock over first to avoid putting your hands in harm’s way.

<a href=''>Background photo created by wirestock -</a>
Close shot of a broken camel thorn tree in the desert with sand dunes and a clear sky

A visit to the Chalbi desert is a worthwhile adventure. It is a perfect place for safaris, motorsports, camel derbies and caravans, nature treks, and filming, among other experiences. To the further north, discover the Huri Hills, which liss the sweating traveler with moderate temperatures and distant vistas over a boiling country.

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