Marsabit National Park is one of Kenya’s best kept secrets in regards to wildlife sanctuaries. Lying in Northern Kenya more than 600 km from Nairobi and close to 300 km from Isiolo, the park is a 369m sq. wonder of green flora and several classes of fauna.
(Message from 1st President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta)
There are not enough adjectives I can use to describe to you dear reader the kind of beauty that resides within the gates of Marsabit National Park. I will try to explain below.
You see, a couple of years back my GHC (Geography, History and Civics) teacher made me believe that Northern Kenya was a boring, dry, non-worthwhile, why does anyone even care, land. I held this silly notion for several years until I found myself standing in the middle of towering green forests, clean, cold air washing over my face and the welcoming sight of several tiny butterflies flying low and free. These tiny creatures don’t see a lot of fresh faces here, they were undoubtedly excited to welcome the Kenya Tourism Board team to their beautiful untouched home.
Marsabit National Park is internationally known for housing elephants with the longest recorded tusks in Africa. Ahmed the Elephant is one such creature who died due to natural causes at the age of 55. His descendants roam the fields of the park up to this day.
Visitors are not allowed to access the park on foot. You will require a 4WD vehicle to drive through the park especially during rainy seasons. We drove almost an hour with nothing but green forests on either side, no billboards, no crowds, no traffic, but only the soundtrack of bird sounds until we reached this watering hole at Marsabit Lodge. The lodge is noticeably empty with a few members of staff peeking outside to see if they can finally welcome some guests.
(Welcome to Marsabit Lodge. Your Home in The Wild)
Marsabit National Park contains more than 400 species of birds- a wonderful paradise for any discerning bird watcher. It’s also home to baboons, giraffes, 300 elephants, lions, zebras, Oryx, kudus and more.
Every dry season, almost by decree, like clockwork, as if it’s the happening spot in all of Marsabit County, the animals congregate at Lake Paradise- a crater lake in the park. The best time to view this fete is in drier months such as January to March or July to October.
(We spotted a herd of buffaloes at Lake Paradise.)
There’s a camping site by the lake known as the Lake Paradise Special Campsite. Visitors can camp here. You’ll get a front row seat to one of the rarest occurrences in the park- the cast of Lion King right at your tent-step. Camping charges are as follows;
350 Ksh for citizens
$35 for non-residents
500 Ksh for residents
*Daily charges may apply. These charges are not inclusive of meals, tents or any other facilities. For more information, contact +254 20-2502005/+254 69-2102028 or send an email to email@example.com
(Sunset beside Lake Paradise)
The Marsabit National Park is quite a sight, but sadly we didn’t get much time to explore it. It also doesn’t get a lot of visitors. This is probably the reason why we had to wait more than 30 minutes for our guide. But then again, he told us he was held up wrestling a puff adder.
To get to the park from Nairobi, you will pass through Nanyuki to Isiolo, a distance of more than 500 km. This section of the Great North road is smooth all the way up to a rough patch of 30 km murram that can only be accessed by 4WD. The reserve is 2 hours away by air from Nairobi and is served by a tarmacked airstrip 1km away from Marsabit town. There is an airstrip located 4 km away from the Park’s main gate. You can use the Ahmed Gate or the Abdul Gate. Ask the locals if you think you’re lost, they’re very helpful.
If you’re ever in Marsabit, make sure you experience the Marsabit National Park. If it isn’t Wangari Maathai’s hummingbirds that will get you, then it’s the squealing baboons, the shy buffaloes, or the blankets of green leaves clinging to beautiful towering trees. To Marsabit National Park, I have but 3 words: I’ll be back.
Photos taken using LG Nexus 5