Lake Turkana National Parks – UNESCO Heritage in Kenya

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Lake Turkana National Parks are constituted of Sibiloi National Park, the South Island and the Central Island National Parks, covering a total area of 161,485 hectares. The most saline of Africa’s large lakes, Turkana is an outstanding laboratory for the study of plant and animal communities. The three National Parks serve as a stopover for migrant waterfowl and are major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes. The Koobi Fora deposits, rich in mammalian, molluscan and other fossil remains, have contributed more to the understanding of paleo-environments than any other site on the continent. In  1997 , listed in UNESCO Heritage list.

Location

Located within the Lake Turkana basin whose total surface area is 7 million ha.

About Lake Turkana National Parks

1. The Lake is the most saline lake in East Africa and the largest desert lake in the world, surrounded by an arid, seemingly extraterrestrial landscape that is often devoid of life. The long body of Lake Turkana drops down along the Rift Valley from the Ethiopian border, extending 249 kilometers from north to south and 44 km at its widest point with a depth of 30 meters. It is Africa’s fourth largest lake, fondly called the Jade Sea because of its breathtaking color.

2. Represents unique geo-morphological features with fossil deposits on sedimentary formations as well as one hundred identified archaeological and paleontological sites. There are numerous volcanic overflows with petrified forests. The existing ecological conditions provide habitats for maintaining diverse flora and fauna.

3. The geology and fossil record represents major stages of earth history including records of life represented by hominid discoveries, presence of recent geological process represented by volcanic erosional and sedimentary land forms. This property’s main geological features stem from the Pliocene and Holocene periods (4million to 10,000 years old). It has been very valuable in the reconstruction of the paleo-environment of the entire Lake Turkana Basin.

4. Lake Turkana National Parks features diverse habitats resulting from ecological changes over time and ranging from terrestrial and aquatic, desert to grasslands and is inhabited by diverse fauna. In situ conservation within the protected areas includes threatened species particularly the reticulated giraffe, lions and gravy zebras and has over 350 recorded species of aquatic and terrestrial birds.

5. Remoteness has preserved the area as a natural wilderness. On the grassy plains yellow speargrass Imperata cylindrica, Commiphora sp., Acacia tortilis, and other acacia species predominate along with A. elatior, desert date Balanites aegyptiaca and doum palm Hyphaene coriacea in sparse gallery woodlands. Salvadora persica bush is found on Central and South Islands. The muddy bays of South Island have extensive submerged beds of Potamogeton pectinatus which shelter spawning fish.

6. The adjacent Mount Kulal Biosphere Reserve serves as a water shed for the Lake Turkana Basin and as a wildlife dispersal area. It thereby assures the protection of the biological and natural processes making it an important site for avian habitation and migration, particularly water birds.

Best Time to Visit

If you are planning a Travel to Kenya then Kenya is a year-round destination, with good game viewing throughout the year, although arguably the best time to visit is during the migration which usually occurs between July to August. The warmest months in Kenya are from December to March. During the dry seasons, the animals gather around the few remaining water sources. Additionally, the lack of rain means that the vegetation is sparse, and the dry terrain is much more conducive to game drives and safari walks, as well as excursions to the many archaeological, cultural and historical sites, especially around Lake Turkana. All of these variables translate into the best ecological observations because the viewing sites are better accessible. Due to these excellent conditions for game viewing and exploring the Northern Frontier, visitor levels slightly increase during the dry seasons.

 

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