To this day, Lake Turkana remains safe from overexploitation and unmanageable numbers of visitors. The rough roads and its general distance from major towns and cities could be the reasons for this. However, this does not take away from its engulfing beauty and richness. Save for its cultural abundance, Lake Turkana carries several interesting facts that should make you place it at the top of your bucket list when visiting Kenya. They include:
Largest Permanent Desert Lake in The World
Lake Turkana neighbours the Chalbi desert. This factor alone should make it hard for any river, let alone lake to exist. But somehow the Lake Turkana continues to thrive through the years.
Largest Alkaline Lake in the World
Alkaline or soda lakes are lakes whose waters have a pH of between 9 and 12. Lake Turkana happens to be the largest alkaline lake in the world in physical size. However, by volume, it is the 4th largest, which makes it a wonderful phenomenon.
Largest Lake in East Africa
Lake Turkana is 290km long, 32 km wide and 109 meters deep. This makes it the largest overall lake in Kenya and East Africa. It is such a wonder how a desert lake could take this title.
It is thought to be the Origin of Man
Some of the fossils of earliest man were found around Lake Turkana by Mary Leaky. The oldest fossil believed to be over 4 million years old. Thousands of fossils have been collected over time with the earliest evidence of human warfare also registered to have been around the lake.
Has 3 National Parks
The Lake houses three separate National Parks thanks to its size. The Sibiloi Park, Central Island Park and the Southern Island National Park. All three parks are run and managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Largest Nile Crocodile Concentration
All year round the Lake Turkana is home to hundreds of Nile Crocodiles. However, between April and May, there is a particularly large concentration of the reptiles since this is their mating season. During this time, the Central or Nile Island is recorded to hold the largest concentration of Nile Crocodiles in the World.
The Central Island also holds an active volcano in its perimeters. The volcano emits volcanic ash, vapour and sometimes sulphur in the air all year round. It has not erupted in recent past.
Three Inflows but no Outflows
Lake Turkana is fed by three rivers namely; River Turkwel, River Kerio and River Omo. There is no outlet however and this explains its high levels of alkalinity.
Sometimes known as Jade Sea
In calm conditions, green algae finds its way to the surface of the lake thus giving it a green appearance from a distance. This has caused people to call the lake the Jade Sea.
Since there is no physical perimeter wall, the Borana, Oromo and Rendille use the lake as their boundary line. There has been several intercommunity disputes over land and so the lake acts as a peaceful agreement as to which community stays where.
Apart from being large and beautiful, the lake carries an extensive array of biodiversity. Although it is in a predominantly desert area, the lake is surrounded by small green bush in some parts of the year. This varies with the lake levels and amount of rainfall the area gets.
There are however permanent animals that grace the lake and its shores. They include the Nile Crocodiles, great water turtles, the greater flamingos, zebras, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, scorpions, snakes and over 50 species of fish.