Jade Sea Explorer

Jade Sea Explorer

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 14 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Kenya has long been one of the most established safari destinations in Africa, a country rich in wildlife that offers some of the best game viewing on the planet. What few people know is that the country is also incredibly diverse, both ethnically and geographically, with landscapes ranging from lush forest to searing desert. On this trip we venture to the little visited northern regions, an arid land home to a number of different ethnic groups including the Samburu, Gabbra, El Moro and Rendille, all of whom adhere to very traditional and unique ways of life. We explore the haunting Chalbi Desert, an ocean of volcanic sand where only the toughest species survive, and continue to Sibiloi National Park and the mighty Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world. Here we find the El Molo, who hunt the hippos and giant crocodiles that they share their home with. On our return south we visit the stunning Rift Valley lakes with their superb wildlife. This tour offers travellers the chance to explore parts of Kenya which see very few visitors, giving a glimpse into ways of life that have disappeared in most parts of the world.

Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●○○ | Adventure ●●●●● | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●○○ | Wildlife ●●●●○

Tour Pace


Tour Highlights

  • Explore little visited regions of northern Kenya, home to several ethnic groups
  • Visit the Chalbi Desert where only the toughest species survive
  • Opportunity to see diverse wildlife in Sibiloi National Park and the Rift Valley
  • Visit the mighty Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Mix of hotels, camps and guesthouses
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunch (L) and dinner (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum of 12
Start Point: Nairobi
End Point: Nairobi - departure flight must be after 10pm on the last day
Transport: 4WD
Countries: Kenya

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

Day 1 – Nairobi (approx. driving time 20 mins, 25km)

Arrive in Nairobi and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax after your flight. Overnight at Hotel Boulevard or similar.


Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, was established at the turn of the century by the Europeans as a stores depot during the building of the East African railway. Without plan or design it established itself as the capital of the British protectorate, and today has a population of around three million people comprising a mixture of Africans, Asians and Europeans. While the predominant tribe is the Kikuyu, the city does not have one single dominant ethnic group. Its accidental choice as capital, located where the territories of three important tribes meet, has been fortunate for the economic growth of the country.

Day 2 – Samburu National Reserve (approx. driving time 6-7 hours, 350km)

Head north to Isiolo village and encounter the colourful nomadic tribes who reside there. We then continue on to our accommodation for the night, enjoying a game drive en route and spotting exotic wildlife commonly seen in this region, such as the reticulated giraffe, oryx, and gerenuk. Overnight at Samburu Sentrim Camp or similar. (BLD)

Samburu Tribe

Throughout this region, local Samburu tribespeople can be seen wearing their traditional dress, and ornate jewellery. They are pastoralists, who live to the south and east of Lake Turkana. The social structure is essentially a gerontocracy - rule by elders - assuring the elders first choice among the young unmarried women. Men are usually about 30 by the time they marry, but the women marry at about 17 years of age.

Day 3 – Samburu National Reserve

The early morning finds us out on a game drive, a great opportunity for photographs and tracking rare wildlife. We enjoy a further game drive in the afternoon on the dry ochre plains hopefully encountering herds of dusty elephants drinking at waterholes, crocodiles lurking in the shadows and tracking the paw prints of lion, leopard and cheetah amidst dramatic bushveld. Overnight at Samburu Sentrim Camp or similar. (BLD)

Samburu National Reserve

This reserve covers an area of 104km² and lies in the fascinating semi-desert northern frontier area of Kenya. Samburu is famous for its reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra and long-necked gerenuk, which are quite commonly spotted here, though rarely in the southern parks. Lion and leopard live in the reserve but are not always seen. Crocodiles are present in the Ewaso Nyiro River that flows through the park.

Day 4 – Marsabit National Park (approx. driving time 6-7 hours, 300km)

Drive approximately 250 km on a rough road towards the extinct volcano of Marsabit. The peak is surrounded by lush forested hills, forming a welcoming oasis rising high above the dry heat of the surrounding desert lands. This afternoon we have a guided walk around the nearby lake with a visit to Marsabit National Park. Overnight at Jirime Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 5 – Chalbi Desert (approx. driving time 4-5 hours, 135km)

Visit Marsabit town in the morning, where we can see the nomadic Rendille warriors, roaming the land wearing their traditional dress of purple and red robes, combined with feathers, beads and goat skins. We continue our journey through the land of crater lakes and volcanoes and enter the Chalbi desert, a flat plain formed by a age old crater lake which fills up to form a shallow body of water during heavy rainfall. Kalacha Dida is an oasis on the edge of the desert and a nourishing watering place for nomadic tribes, mostly Gabbras who are on the move. We set out on a guided walk meeting various tribes living in this harsh yet abundant environment. Overnight Missionary Guest House or similar. (BLD)

Day 6 – Sibiloi National Park (approx. driving time 5 hours, 150km)

A long day of driving through the shifting landscape of the north. Although rather demanding the journey to Sibiloi National Park and the beauty of the remote and wild plains is well worth the effort. Enjoy an evening game drive before dinner. Overnight Allia Bay Guesthouse or similar. (BLD)

Please note that accommodation here may be a mixture of camping and rooms, as the guesthouse has a limited number of rooms.

Day 7 – Sibiloi National Park

The day is spent exploring the landscape. This area is home to a large variety of arid environment species including gerenuk, oryx, the rare lesser kudu and Grevy's and Burchell’s zebra. As well as this, carnivores such as hyenas, golden jackal, cheetah, lion and other small cats including caracal can be found here. Overnight Allia Bay Guesthouse or similar. (BLD)

Sibiloi National Park

The National Park which also is a UNESCO world heritage site lies on the North Eastern shores of Lake Turkana, known for its protection of wildlife, birdlife and paleontological sites and fossil remains. The park contains several different types of habitats, from lake shore with water vegetation to arid, desert-like lava rock terrain; savannah plains to riverine forest. You will reach places where fossilized elephant, crocodile, tortoise and forests have been excavated. The local museum shows findings from the Leakey family renowned for their studies of fossils and early human in East Africa.

Days 8-9– Lake Turkana (approx. driving time 5-6 hours, 165km)

From the northernmost point of our trip we head south to the shimmering blue-green hues of Lake Turkana. We head to the oasis of Loyangalani, where we explore the crystal shores, search for exceptionally large Nile crocodiles and encounter the smallest tribe in Kenya, the El Moro, Kenya’s last remaining hunters. Overnight Palm Shade Camp or similar. (BLD)

Lake Turkana

Lake Turkana, also known as the Jade Sea, is the largest desert alkaline lake in the world and supports a complex network of fish, grazing mammals, bird life and predators. The colour of the lake is a result of algae particles, which shift with changes of the wind and light, so that the water surface shifts from blue to grey to extraordinary jade. Its lapping shores extend for 288 kilometres up to the Ethiopian / Kenyan border and its depths reach up to 140m. Said to have originated from either Somalia or Ethiopia, the El Moro reside on the “Island of Ghosts” in villages on the shores of Turkana. They live off the land, hunting water species such as fish, hippopotamus and even the cunning Nile crocodile.

Day 10 – Maralal via Mt. Nyiru (approx. driving time 5 hours, 235km)

We depart on a stony road heading further south to the jagged peaks of Mount Nyiru as we traverse across lava flows and sand fields. Despite being surrounded by dry desert the peaks of Mount Nyiru are forested. Continue to the small hillside market town of Maralal, pioneered by Somali settlers in the 1920’s. This afternoon take a walk in the nearby park with a chance to view gazelles, zebras and antelopes. Overnight Ngari Hill Guesthouse or similar. (BLD)

Day 11 – Lake Baringo (approx. driving time 5 hours, 255km)

We continue our journey south bound to the shores of Lake Baringo in its hot and dusty setting. The scenic lake is fed by several converging rivers and contains several small islands. We set out on an afternoon walk in search of a variety of bird life. Overnight Baringo Soi Safari Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Day 12 – Lake Bogoria (approx. driving time 1 hour, 50km)

Drive to Lake Bogoria, arriving around lunch time. This afternoon take a game drive. The reserve plays host to kudu as well as impalas, Grant’s gazelles, cheetahs and waterbucks. Overnight Lake Bogoria Resort or similar. (BLD)

Day 13 – Lake Nakuru (approx. driving time 2 hours, 125km)

The morning finds us exploring the surrounds of Lake Bogoria and admiring the thousands of pink flamingos which congregate on the lake during season, before driving to Lake Nakuru. Lake Nakuru is renowned for large concentrations of flamingos and is also a sanctuary for the endangered black and white rhinos. This reserve has one of the highest densities of wildlife to be found on the continent and our chance of spotting lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant and buffalo are excellent during an afternoon game drive. Overnight Elementaita Sentrim Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru is a very shallow strongly alkaline lake 118km². The park covers the lake and a land strip around the northern, eastern and western shores, and south to Makalia Falls. The shores are surrounded by swamps, which during the driest seasons disappear to give rise to huge white salt crusts. The riverine forest opens up southward in a bush and acacia tree savannah. The eastern and western shores are framed by ridges that offer splendid lookouts over the lake. At the west shore, Baboon Cliffs are the preferred habitat for some of the park's species, while in the east, a part of Lion Hill is covered by a magnificent Euphorbia, or candle tree forest, giving the landscape a prehistoric look. Several hides have been erected near the lake for bird observation, and in addition to birds and rhinos, the park is home to a large number of mammals, including lions and leopards. 

Day 14 – Lake Naivasha (approx. driving time 3 hours, 165km)

Today we return to Nairobi via Lake Naivasha, an area of spectacular scenery with good opportunities for game and bird watching. We take a boat cruise, searching for hippos, fish eagles and thirsty antelope. In the afternoon we visit Joy Adamson´ s famous Elsamere farm house. We leave Lake Naivasha at around 3.30pm for the 2 to 3hrs drive directly to Nairobi’s international airport. Check-in and depart Kenya. (B)

Please note you should book a flight to depart from Nairobi no earlier than 10pm.

Arrival and departure transfers
Transport throughout in 4WD
All accommodation 
Meals as listed in the itinerary (B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner)
Services of English speaking guide 
Entrance/park fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Items of a personal nature
Tips (discretionary)