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On a Wednesday morning, just before dawn, we set out on a journey to Northern Kenya — a trip covering over 600 kilometres — to the shores of Lake Turkana, in Marsabit County.

That meant spending 10 hours on the road but that did not deter me. 

The road through Karatina, Nanyuki, Isiolo and Archers Post up to Laisamis is very good and clearly marked.

FLOOD EFFECTS

We turned off on the 200-kilometre road that takes you through Lengima, Namarei and past Africa’s largest wind farm, the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) farm in Sarima.

This road was graded to facilitate the movement of the 365 wind turbines.

It is on this road we saw the real impact of the heavy rains that the metrological department had warned Kenyans about.

The rains in early May left Maralal town flooded, and thousands of livestock dead.

DROUGHT

Along the Riverbeds we found drowned goats, their death having left families that had endured a long drought hopeless.

Here were a people who were doomed if it rained and doomed when it didn’t.

The story was told of a local herder who trudged back home with nothing but his walking stick after 200 of his goats were washed away by the floods.

Mr Benedict Orbora, a 51-year-old businessman in Loiyangalani, told us of how he had lost over 200 goats and 20 cows during the drought.

When the rains came, he continued counting his losses after more than 20 of his goats drowned.

“Many were already frail from the drought and could not survive,” he said.

HOTEL BUSINESS
For this father of five, livestock is not only a source of livelihood, but like for many of the people in this county, it is also a source of cultural pride.

Mr Orbora is the owner of Palm Shade Camp & Resort, an oasis in the middle of Loiyangalani, with doum palm trees offering a shade from the scotching heat.

It offers clean, self-contained accommodation, with about 10 bandas built to look like manyattas.

When we passed by his establishment, business was booming, driven by the annual Loiyangalani Cultural Festival.

DOMESTIC TOURISTS

Almost every patch of grass in his camping area was covered by a tent.

He was charging Sh700 per tent per night, Sh200 more than the low season rate.

This is one of the few places one can get a cold drink. Mr Orbora cooler runs on wind power.

“We are seeing more local tourists coming to visit this area and not only for the festival,” he said.

The greatest challenge remains the poor state of the road between the Lake Turkana Wind Power farm and Loiyangalani.

Although it is designated as a national road, it is bumpy and very narrow.

ANTI-FGM CAMPAIGN
Along the shore of the lake is the recently refurbished desert museum, which showcases a rich history although the presentation of the artefacts could have been done in a much better way.

When we visited, the Anti-FGM Board, which sits in The Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, was educating the local community on the illegality of Female Genital Mutilation.

Most of the communities from Marsabit County – the Borana, Turkana, Samburu, Rendille, Somali, Gabra and El-molo among others – were represented at the talks where cultural practices were discussed openly.

BEAUTIFUL SCENERY
Later, during a visit to Mt Kulal, we spotted the bird of prey, the Tawny Eagle, gliding through the canyons.

A suitable hiking spot, the habitats of Mt Kulal have more permanent structures and farms due to the favourable weather.

If not hiking one can go up the mountain to Gataab Town and even further into the forest by car, or plane as there is an airstrip near the town.

From here one can enjoy the beauty of Northern Kenya with Lake Turkana on the east and the wind turbines dotting the landscape at the bottom of the mountain.

DIVERSITY

Standing on Mt Kulal and coming down to Sarima, one gets to understand why a wind farm was built here.

The wind is constant and often very strong.

After three nights and two days in the country’s biggest county, we set out on our journey back to Nairobi.

The sunrise was one of the most beautiful I have ever witnessed, the dawn of a new day and a new landscape boasting a lush green.

Its on the trip back that I appreciated the contrasts that make up Kenya.