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Day 3: Loiyangalani

After a bumpy, muddy ride full of twists, turns and skids at nightfall, we reached Loiyangalani at 8pm.

This was a long night. We had fresh fish from the lake for dinner and checked in our manyatta-like rooms. It had rained and there were lots of insects ‘welcoming’ us to their colonies. Everyone was preoccupied swatting them, scratching embarrassingly and many got marks to show. This was nothing close to leisure. This being the second night, I really didn’t know what else to expect later in the week and almost got a feeling of despair.

Breakfast was served and the itinerary read destination: Sibiloi National park. All I wanted was to leave in the morning, possibly for better places ahead, but little did I know!

There had been a heavy downpour in the highlands and roads were impassable. Nature more or less edited our itinerary. This is the time Lagga turned out to be the most common word I’d hear all week. I’d define it as below:

     Lagga /’laggga/ ‘n – A seasonal river flowing across a road, blocking it, carrying with it mud, sand and other earth      goodies that don’t go so well with driving.

This is the ultimate test for 4X4 vehicles. It’s the Rhino Charge of Turkana. It’s also a test for the driver’s skills and passengers’ tolerance to ‘mudness’ so to say. The roads we’re so bad and after a couple of attempts, we concluded to spending another night in Loiyangalani. I just thought, “Manyattas. Finished!” However, this was a great opportunity to explore Loiyangalani in-depth. The tour started with a visit to the desert museum and later the El Molo community.

Loiyangalani Desert Museum

The museum was opened in 2008 by the Minister of State for Heritage & Culture. It’s also used by the local elders to settle communal disputes. It boasts quite a number of artifacts and information about the local communities.

The museum faces the lake. It is very peaceful with great sceneries all around as far as the eye can see. I took a moment to unwind as the wind blew gently, showing me where to look. Smiling was inevitable.

Later on we left the museum to visit a community I knew nothing about.

The El Molo Tribe

This is one of the least known tribes in Kenya. The word El Molo means “the people who eat fish” and that’s what they live on, in the eastern side of Lake Turkana. Their population is estimated at a mere 600 and is nearly facing extinction. The last pure-bred El Molo kicked the bucket last year of old age.

They’ve held on to their culture and traditions, so much that they still have shrines on an island in the lake. It’s a few minutes boat ride and this visit really made me humbled. Thoughts of civilization, traditions and religious beliefs ran through my mind. Our curator told us that when the community is attacked by other local tribes, they swim across the lake to take refuge on this island (men women and children) I was agape.

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After a complete tour of the community, and media interviews, we headed back to the town, for accommodation. There was a slight change though. Accommodation venue had been changed! We checked in at Oasis Lodge, by Turkana standards, it’s a 5 star! It has a naturally heated pool (crisp, clean, warm water from an underground spring draining into a swimming pool). This was total bliss. One hundred percent memorable. I kinda missed the manyattas, not!

Dinner was equally appealing, decent rooms with firm mattresses to go with, I slept like a baby. We caught the sunset over the lake and retired to bed well informed people: open minded and grateful. What lay ahead required this form of mindset. The expedition was turning out to being a life time lesson. The journey continues!

Related Articles:

Friends of Lake Turkana [Website] here

Kenya’s Smallest Indegenous Tribe Faces Extinction here

Kenya should stop Ethiopia from building dam here

East Africa’s Looming Famine – Gibe III here

  1. May 3, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Seems these areas are enchanting and call for a visit……! Road trip rather!

    • eGichomo
      May 3, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      Most definitely Buddy.. By road will give you the most memorable experience. Enchanting is the word to describe the areas.

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