Thursday, 4 April 2013

Lake Turkana and Japper - Northern Kenya

This really is a must see for anyone  in East Africa.

I first made it to the Jade Sea in the 1980’s travelling with an old friend who sadly died a couple of years ago. In his passing it was said of Japper, ‘the man - the legend’, which to all who had known him could not be more true.

He was one of the old school Kenyans who managed to have friends in every corner of the planet and a real thirst for adventure, walking camels across the Sahara into his 80’s.

The Lake is reached by some of the most difficult terrain. The heat is intense and terrific storms can suddenly blow up and turn calm waters into something you would not wish to be afloat in. The lake is full of gigantic Nile perch and another reason not to be caught afloat in a storm the largest population of Nile crocodiles in the region. All day long blows a wind straight out of a hairdryer on maximum heat.

But what a place, it is simply stunning, aptly named the Jade Sea and certainly worth the journey. It’s the largest desert lake in the world and following nearby excavations initiated by the Leakey’s, considered by many the cradle of mankind. 

The El Molo people probably Kenya's smallest tribe live by the southeast corner of the lake and exist principally on the perch they catch, unlike the surrounding tribes who are predominantly nomadic herders. The water is just about drinkable but alkaline in taste.

I've returned to the lake many times, but that first safari with Japper and Debbie was a fitting memorial to their memory. In life you rarely meet truly exceptional people and whilst both are now long departed; when I first glimpse the lake each time I return, its a vision of  the three of us and a battered Hilux all those years ago.