Lake Turkana Festival Tour

Kenya – Lake Turkana Festival Tour – a 9 day Small Group Tour.

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 appreciate is that the country is also incredibly diverse, both ethnically and geographically, with landscapes ranging from lush forest to searing desert and local people characterised by a rich range of origins and traditions.

On the Lake Turkana Festival tour we venture to the little visited northern regions, an arid land that is 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.

The primary purpose of our adventure is to reach the shimmering expanse of Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world, and there to luxuriate in the convivial atmosphere and vivid colours of the Lake Turkana festival which annually brings together many different indigenous cultures in a spirit of reconciliation.

Here we find the El Molo, who hunt the hippo and giant crocodiles with which they share their home. This exciting and off the beaten track tour lends travellers the chance to explore parts of Kenya which see very few visitors, offering a glimpse into enduring ways of life that have not survived in most parts of the world.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour Pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Arrive in Nairobi where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax after your flight. Overnight at Hotel Boulevard, or similar. No meals or guided activities are included today.

(Approximate driving time: 6.5 hours)

After an early breakfast and tour briefing with your guide, you embark on your adventure north to the village of Isiolo. Along the way you may encounter nomadic tribes inhabiting the intervening bushland. Wildlife may also be in evidence, and species commonly seen include reticulated giraffe, oryx, and long-necked gerenuk antelope. Your destination this afternoon is Sabache Camp, a resource wholly owned and operated by indigenous Samburu people and an excellent model of sustainable eco-tourism. On arrival and after a short rest, take a tour with the local community to learn about existing projects and the cherished customs of the Samburu. Overnight Sabache Camp or similar (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: 4 hours)

This morning there will be two options to choose from, both involving early starts: either enjoy a very early start to hike up Ololokwe Sabache from the start-point, nestled along a seasonal riverbed at the base of the mountain, to an elevation of about 1,000m above sea level. Arrive at the top for simply magical views at sunrise. The total hiking duration to the top can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours and, whilst a steady ascent, should only be attempted by those in good physical condition. Alternatively, for those that do not wish to hike, you can opt for an early game drive in nearby Samburu Reserve, hoping to observe some of the Big Five species, although of course sightings of large mammals can never be 100% guaranteed. After the morning’s activities, you travel north on a mixture of rough, sun-beaten, red-earth roads and tarmac, passing through increasingly arid conditions with thorny scrub punctuated by rising domes of barren rocky upland in a landscape well-worth watching for wildlife. Your next stop off is the extinct volcano of Mount Marsabit. The peak is surrounded by surprisingly lush forested hills, a welcoming oasis rising high above the dry heat of surrounding desert plains. In the afternoon, if time allows, you will take a guided walk around Lake Paradise, an idyll of a crater lake in Marsabit National Park, and a reserve known in particular for its excellent and diverse birdlife – over 500 species are recorded here and the forest is alive with song and the skies awash with raptors – whilst it is possible for the lakeside to be visited by noble huge tusked elephants and myriad antelope varieties. Overnight at Jirime Hotel, or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: 7 hours)

This morning you pay a short visit to Marsabit town, a settlement of around 5,000 inhabitants. You may encounter nomadic Rendille warriors who roam the land wearing their flamboyant traditional dress of purple and red robes, combined with feathers, beads and goat skins and the flashes of colour from the women of the tribe whose abundant kaleidoscopes of beads relate their personal histories. Thereafter, you continue your journey north, passing the harsh expanse of the Chalbi Desert, an ancient lake-bed which stretches east and north as far as Ethiopia, and then onwards to the shores of Lake Turkana itself, stopping at any points of interest on the way. You may encounter nomadic tribes along the route and watch out for the occasional incongruous shadow that emerges from the mirages as an ostrich or passing oryx. Overnight Palm Shade Camp, or similar (BLD)

You explore the shimmering turquoise hues of Lake Turkana from Loyangalani, a location for John Le Carre’s ‘The Constant Gardener’ and its subsequent film. Our primary purpose is of course to imbibe the atmosphere of the Turkana festival, but you will still find time for exploring the lake shore where you can be on the look-out for the hulking prehistoric forms of Nile crocodiles, and observe the incredible desolation of this magnificent landscape. You should encounter the El Molo people, Kenya’s smallest tribe and its last remaining true hunters. During these two days, as well as enjoying the festival, you will also visit the excellent Desert Museum, an El Molo village and also possibly and optionally (see note below) enjoy a boat trip on the shimmering expanse of the Jade Sea itself lake across to isolated and haunting landscape of volcanic South Island. Overnights at Palm Shade Camp or similar. (BLD)

Note – The optional trip to South Island cannot be organised in advance and is not a guaranteed activity. Your guide will do their best to organise it locally. It is also very much weather dependant. There is no fixed price and payment will need to be made locally.

(Approximate driving time: 5 hours)

After your experiences of Turkana, you take a stony road south, traversing coarse lava flows and sand fields and leading towards the jagged peaks of Mount Nyiru. Despite being surrounded by dry desert the slopes are thickly forested and now form Mount Nyiru Forest Reserve, rising to a sensational phalanx of 2,500m high peaks. You stop at the small hillside market town of Maralal, first inhabited by Somali settlers in the 1920s and now dominated by Samburu tribes. Curiously, the town is renowned for its camel racing spectacles! In the afternoon, you explore surrounding bush where you may see small game such as gazelle, zebra and antelope, as well as plenty of ground birds, ox-peckers, and mighty raptors circling the thermals overhead. Overnight Ngari Hill Guesthouse, or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: 6 hours)

After a leisurely morning relaxing at the guesthouse, you return to Nairobi, returning in time for sunset. Overnight Hotel Boulevard or similar (BL)

Note – If you wish it is possible to depart on late evening flights out of Nairobi. Please do not book flights before 10pm.

At the appropriate time, transfer to the airport for your departure. (B)

Note – please contact us if you wish to extend your stay in Kenya for some excellent big game safari options, from the rhino heartlands of the rift valley lakes and the intimacy of a stay on the cool slopes of Mount Kenya, to the huge herds that thrive in the vast expanses of the Masai Mara and Tsavo. We are also able to add extensions in neighbouring Tanzania or Uganda to see the mountain gorillas!

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

Please note that tour dates for 2024 are still provisional and may change by a day or so.

Return flights from London to Nairobi start from around £500 per person. Please contact us for a quotation.

Airport transfers are included if you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation at the hotel mentioned in our tour dossier.

Extra night accommodation pre and/or post tour in Nairobi costs from £57 per person, per night sharing a twin/double room and £83 per person in a solo occupancy room.

Please note that the prices quoted above are for the category of accommodation and hotel used for this particular tour. Depending on the hotel eventually confirmed there may be some difference in the rate advertised by the hotel, and the prices available through Undiscovered Destinations. It should be noted we will not apply a surcharge should more expensive accommodation be used. At the same time in the event that a lower rate is available for the confirmed hotel we are unable to offer a refund.

Please contact us if you wish to extend your stay in Kenya for some excellent big game safari options, from the rhino heartlands of the rift valley lakes and the intimacy of a stay on the cool slopes of Mount Kenya, to the huge herds that thrive in the vast expanses of the Masai Mara and Tsavo. We are also able to add extensions in neighbouring Tanzania or Uganda to see the mountain gorillas!

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Transport throughout in 4WD (except for airport transfers)
  • All accommodation as per the itinerary or similar standard
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
  • Entrance/park fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

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