PARKS AND RESERVES
05-05-2023 by Leni Frau
In 1972, the Kenyan Government declared the area east of Lake Turkana, between the Tulor Bor River to the north and Allia Bay to the south, a national park under the name Sibiloi.
Sibiloi National Park stretches for about 20 km on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana and for over 50 km from north to south, encompassing more than 1000 square kilometres of land formed mainly by layers of sedimentary rocks and volcanic ash and other breathtaking landscapes.
The area is characterised by a semi-desert habitat and open plains flanked by volcanic formations including Mount Sibiloi, where the remains of a petrified forest believed to be some 6 million years old can be seen.
One of the park's main attractions is Lake Turkana, which is not only the most saline of Africa's great lakes but also the largest permanent desert lake in the world.
Turkana is an exceptional laboratory for the study of plant and animal species. The park serves as a stopover for migratory waterfowl and is an important breeding ground for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes as well as 350 varieties of water and land birds.
The geological features and proximity to Lake Turkana make Sibiloi Park a pristine and unique site for the preservation of prehistoric fossils and artefacts, concentrated in the area of the Koobi Fora peninsula.
Numerous palaeontological discoveries have been made at Koobi Fora, and these discoveries have proved fundamental to understanding the evolutionary history of the human species.
The first person to realise the palaeontological importance of Koobi Fora was Richard Leaky, and it is thanks to the various expeditions organised after his 'discovery', in which extraordinary fossil finds were unearthed, that palaeontologists were able to reconstruct the complex enigma of human evolution more and more precisely.
Initially, numerous remains of Australopithecus Robustus were found, followed by fossil remains attributed to Homo Habilis and Homo Erectus. Other ground-breaking fossil finds included the remains of a 3-million-year-old giant tortoise, the skeleton of an elephas recki - a pachyderm ancestor, and a 45-foot-long crocodile called "Behemoth" (there are more than 100 archaeological sites).
The impeccable treasure trove of human history is complemented by a spectacular variety of flora, such as commiphora, euphorbia and desert rose forests.
The site is surrounded by communities with very rich and unspoilt traditional cultures: the Turkana, the Gabra and the Dassanach. During the extreme dry season it is possible to encounter other nomadic tribes such as the Samburu and Rendille in the surrounding areas.
How to get there:
Sibiloi Park is located about 800 km north of Nairobi.
By air: Commercial flights operate from Lodwar airstrip.
Other runways operate at Marsabit, Loiyangalani, Kalokol and North Horr.
The main entrance gate is Karsa gate, other secondary gates are Allia bay and Koobi fora.
The park is a three-day drive from Nairobi via Marsabit and North Horr, or Maralal and South Horr, alternatively, one can travel by road from Nairobi to Kalokol, on the western shores of the lake, via Kitale and Lodwar. Travelling by convoy is recommended.
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