“The Cradle of Mankind”
Sizzling with coos, chirps and a blend of bird melodies, South Island is a haven for water bird species and serves as a stopover for rare migrants. Some of the bird species that breed locally include Goliath heron, African skimmer, white open African billed stork, duck and congregatory birds such as lesser flamingo.
This island is also a UNESCO, Man and the Biosphere (MAB) reserve and Kenya’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) as defined by Birdlife International, as it is a key stopover for 34 species of Palearctic migrant water birds. The lake is a major breeding ground for the Nile crocodile most prevalent in the numerous surrounding sandy beaches, a variety of reptile species including endemic lizards, and including fish.
The Loiyangalani desert museum located 2KM from South Island on top of a hill bears a backdrop of the picturesque Lake Turkana with a display of rich cultural splendor of the eight communities living around Lake Turkana. Lake Turkana Cultural Festival is also a great attraction. This is an annual festival held to celebrate the diverse and rich cultural splendor of the communities living in the area. These include El Molo, Rendille, Samburu, Turkana, Dasanach, Gabbra, Borana, Waata and Burji.
The island offers exciting views of some of the giant crocodiles in history and age old traditional lifestyles. Visitors can enjoy game viewing, camping, walking safaris, picnicking and boat safaris.
Area: 39 sq.km
Location: Lodwar, Turkana County
Distance from Nairobi: 733KM
‘Skull 1470’, Homo habilis
Known as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ Sibiloi National Park was created to protect the sites of the many remarkable hominid fossils finds revealed by its searing winds. The park yielded its most striking treasure in 1972 when a 2 million year old fossilized skull was discovered by eminent paleontologist Dr Richard Leaky and his team. The almost complete skull (labeled ‘1470’ by the National Museum of Kenya) confirmed the existence of a sophisticated evolutionary hominid named Homo habilis, the direct ancestor of Homo sapiens. Evidence of Homo erectus was also unearthed along with some 160 additional finds relating to the early hominids.
The Koobi Fora Museum,
At Koobi Fora which is to the north of Allia Bay, extensive paleontological finds have been made, starting in 1969, with the discovery of Paranthropus boisei. The discovery of Homo habilis thereafter is evidence of the existence of a relatively intelligent hominid two million years ago and reflect the change in climate from moist forest grassland when the now petrified forest were growing to the present hot desert. The human and pre-human fossils include the remains of five species, Austrolophithecus anamensis, Homo habilis/rudolfensis, Paranthropus boisei, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens all found within one locality. Koobi Fora deposits, rich in mammalian, molluscan and other fossil remains, has contributed more to the understanding of human evolution than any other site in the continent.
Sibiloi national park is home to an elephant fossil dating 1.7 million years back and is one of the most magnificent archeological findings.
It is a 1.6 million year old fossil of an extinct tortoise. This is the shell and limb bones of a giant tortoise which is lying upside down and may have died by falling from a river bank on its back.
The tempestuous ‘Jade Sea”
Lake Turkana is an isolated chloro-carbonate alkaline giant; Prolific Birdlife covering 6,400 sq Km. Its mercurial blue-green color has earned it the title ‘The Jade Sea’.
Survivors of an epoch long before mankind, Lake Turkana’s estimated 12,000 crocodiles have not changed in 130 million years. Despite their monstrous size and formidable appearance they are generally inoffensive creatures living in perfect harmony with their environment and feeding on the lake’s prolific fish.
The largest areas of petrified wood lying around Sibiloi are the remains of a once-great cedar forest, which covered the Lake’s shores 7 million years ago.
Sibiloi’s avian highlights include: Somali ostrich, Kori and Heuglin’s bustard, northern carmine and Somali bee-eater, chestnut-bellied sand grouse and fox kestrel. The Park is also famous for the European migrants that sweep across its skies between March-May.
Protected Area Type
When to go
What to take with you
- Drinking water, picnic items and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight.
- Also useful are: binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and guidebooks
How to get there
- Distance: from Nairobi is 733km North of Nairobi.
- By air: There are 2 all weather airstrips in the park. Other airstrips are also found in Marsabit, Loiyangalani, Kalokol, North Horr and Lodwar. Commercial flights however only operate on the Lodwar airstrip.
- Gates: There is one main gate (Karsa gate); other gates are Alia bay and Koobi fora
- Road: The roads connecting the park with the major town has both tarmac and murrum sections. Long distances are however rough roads. High clearance 4WD is essential all year round. Travelling in convoy is recommended.
- The park is a three day drive from Nairobi via Marsabit and North Horr, or Maralal and South Horr
- Alternatively travel by road from Nairobi to Kalokol on the lake’s western shores , via Kitale and Lodwar. From Kalokol boat hire services are available across the lake to Aliabay.
- The major attractions include Lake Turkana which is the most saline of the Africa’s large lakes. It is the world’s largest permanent desert lake and world largest alkaline lake. The soda lake owes its lovely nickname to algae particles which shift with changes of wind and light causing Lake Turkana’s color to change from blue to grey to jade.
- The area is also characterized by semi-desert habitat and open plains flanked by volcanic formation including Mount Sibiloi, the site of the remains of a petrified forest possibly 7 Million years ago.
- Turkana is an outstanding laboratory for the study of plant and animal communities. The park serves as a stopover for migrant waterfowl and is major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes. The park also has other terrestrial wildlife like Zebras, Grant Gazelles, Lions, Leopards, stripped Hyenas, Beisa oryx; Greater kudu, cheetahs and Northern Topi among others. A total of over 350 species of aquatic and terrestrial bird have been recorded in Lake Turkana.
- At Koobi Fora, extensive paleontological finds have been made, including the evidence of the existence of a relatively intelligent hominid 2 million years ago.
- These human fossils include the remains of Australopithecus robustus , Homo habilis , Homo erectus and Homo sapiens . Other findings include a wide diversity of ancestors of modern animal species. There are over 100 archaeological sites.
- Community: The site is surrounded by communities with very rich and unpolluted traditional cultures. i.e. The Turkana, the Gabra and the Dassanach. During extreme dry season nomads such as Samburu and Rendile are found within the surrounding areas.
KWS Self Catering
Park Entry Fee
Sibiloi National Park
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