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The beauty of Kenya keeps surprising me. If you have been following my travels, you would be misled to think that I have been everywhere in Kenya. Truth is that I keep discovering beauty after beauty. Recently, Safiri Nasi took me to an island in the far North West of Kenya that left me awed. I have been to Chale Island, Lamu Island (recently), Crescent Island, etc., and all these are unique in their own way.

Lamu Island dominated my mind since November 2020, but Central Island was not happy with that relationship. The magnificence it showcased is worth talking about. Sit back and discover the beauty of Central Island.

Central Island is a National park that can be accessed by boat from Kalokol or Eliye springs. We used the Kalokol route. Kalokol is a town center at the shores of Lake Turkana popularly known for fishing. Our boats were waiting. We got our safety jackets and we were ready to roll. I have never understood why boat captains never wear those jackets. Do they know something that we don’t? Or are they experts in swimming?

central island

Central Island is an hour’s ride away from Kalokol. There are specific times of the day that are safe to ride a boat because of the changing tides. The boat I was in, stalled barely after we left. We stopped at the next village to fix it. I got an opportunity to assist fishermen pull a net full of day’s catches. The boat was fixed and we were back on the ride. The tide had changed and became fierce.

Up and down was the norm. We got free and mandatory shower. At that point, I was only worried about my camera. The captain (standing at the back like nothing was happening) kept assuring us that we would be okay. Well, I felt the ‘okay’ part when I saw the island from a distance.

central island

This Island looks small from a distance. You wouldn’t think it harbors three lakes and a campsite. We arrived at the campsite safely. Our chef was already doing what he does best to fill our hungry stomachs. Instead of waiting for lunch seated around the kitchen area, we decided to go swimming at the lake.

Yes, the lake has crocodiles and no, they don’t show up at the shores that hour. Well, at least that is what we were informed. However, every time something touched my leg underneath, I thought of the worst. The water was very refreshing. The sun rays were hitting ruthlessly; therefore, the water gave a worthwhile cooling effect. We enjoyed the water until food was ready.

After lunch, we got lazy. The sun was still hot and now with a full stomach, the body was having a race. To kill the boredom, we started playing board games. Others went for a walk while others slept away.

The idea was to kill time and then go for a nature walk late evening. A few minutes past 6pm, we left the campsite for Crocodile Lake. This lake is about 300m from the campsite. When you are there for the first time, you can’t tell there is a water body that is close by.

We weren’t lucky to spot any crocodile at the shores. However, the view of the lake was something to write home about. We then proceeded for a hike up the hill to catch the sunset. I was literally pacing so that I don’t miss any moment of glory. Arriving at the top got me emotional. I never expected to see such beauty. I got a 180 degrees view of Lake Turkana, Crocodile Lake (below my feet) and the sun glittering in the horizon.

Before I could recover from that surprise, the sun turned orange. The rays stroke the Lake with pride. The clouds formed an umbrella above the sun. The sun was moving down majestically like the beauty it was. My goodness! I was over the moon. My heart was beating fast. You should have seen how fast my fingers moved while setting the camera. To understand my feeling better, see below images. Enjoy…..

After taking in all that magical moment, we hiked down and back to the campsite. Now, sit back and listen to this. The campsite has no structures apart from a toilet and a small makuti shade. The ground is sandy and the lake shore is behind the shade. Because of the heat in this Island, no one needs beddings and housing. You sleep outside and in the open. The only thing provided is a mat and a mosquito net anchored well to fit one person (too bad for couples). For this reason, we had left all our belongings at Kalokol save from toiletries, the cloths we were wearing and swimming costumes.

As our chef was busy preparing dinner, we continued playing board games. Moonrise blessed our night and gave us the much needed light. Nothing beats an island experience with moon and stars shining bright. We had dinner and our entertainment chair engaged us with games for the night. Some people slept as the games continued.

You see, God works in mysterious ways. Nature, being God’s work is so unpredictable. At around midnight, the moon disappeared; stars were nowhere to be seen guess what? Showers!! Remember, we hadn’t carried any extra cloths, blankets or sleeping bags. Nothing! The chef had converted the shade into a kitchen, but we had no option other than to converge there. I felt for those who had slept already. You know that feeling of being woken up rudely and this time by water drops?! The showers stopped after an hour. Some people went back to their nests.

The rest of us spread mats at the shade and slept like bread slices. As if the torment was not enough, the rain came back at around 4.30am. This time it had no jokes. It was accompanied by strong winds. Nobody wanted to think that we are in an island and the worst could happen with water. Again, all of us converged at the shade. No one slept anymore. We stood there waiting for the sky to clear up.

The day’s plan was to hike early morning and catch sunrise uphill. The clouds were a lot and there was no hope for sunrise. The showers continued. After sometime, the sky started to clear. Our team leader insisted that we do the hike despite clear evidence that sunrise wasn’t happening. To make the matters worse, it was still raining. We braved ourselves and left the campsite for the hike. Because what was the point of just standing there with all the cold?

Being adventurous is sometimes suicidal. Who leaves shelter to hike in a rainy and windy weather? I had left my waterproof camera cover at Kalokol. Quick thinking and I found myself with a bread polythene bag to improvise. I covered the camera and put it in a back pack. Off we started the uphill task. Going up wasn’t a walk in the park. The wind made the rain drops hit the body hard. We went round the crocodile lake; walking at the rim. Flamingo Lake came second, but we had no time nor will to look at it. Because,…… the rain! We paced uphill as the views started to get better and better. Finally, we were at the summit.

I mentioned earlier that God works in mysterious ways. As we were walking along the summit to check the Tilapia Lake, the rain stopped. What a relief!

This is where the Magic manifested itself. First, we did not catch sunrise. However, Caleb and Joshua were running errands in heaven with a torch. They had no idea that we could see it.

Secondly, we got a 270 degree view of the island. You can’t make this stuff up! What my eyes saw, the camera couldn’t even come close. Tilapia Lake is small and very close to the main Lake.

The aerial view of Crocodile Lake was amazing. It’s like the rain wanted us to absorb the views from the top downwards.

We started hiking down while drying. The first aerial view was of Tilapia Lake. The second was Crocodile Lake from a distance. The third one was flamingo lake. Now this is where the beauty was. This lake is like a jewel. It’s the only part of Lake Turkana that has flamingos. They come all the way from Lake Bogoria and then go back on a daily basis.

We enjoyed the beauty and a short distance ahead, the Crocodile Lake appeared. It gave us a totally different view from the one we had the previous day.

Isn’t this Island magical!

At this point we had dried up. The struggle, the effort, the torment was all worth it! I would have regretted big time if I missed the hike because of the rain. At the campsite, breakfast was ready. The tide was high and we had to wait. At around 11am, we left the island for Eliye springs with a promise to go back someday.

The rain gave us a surprise that wasn’t pleasant. On the other hand, it chased away the island’s notorious mosquitoes. All in all, the island experience was something to remember for a long time. I will be back!


Until next time, keep travelling….

Photography by TravelWithEliud

Safari / Travel Consultant

Eliud Ndungu


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