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Central Island National Park – “Land of Smoke and Fire”

“The Gem of Lake Turkana”

Central Island National Park is just 5 square kilometres in size, but it is so visually and archaeologically unique that it is a must-see on every adventurer’s Kenya itinerary. Central Island rises starkly above the emerald waters of Lake Turkana, the largest permanent desert lake in the world, and is composed of three hissing and belching active volcanoes and many smaller volcanic cones. 

Crater lakes  

Each of the volcanoes houses a crater lake, making Central Island the only place where you have the remarkable opportunity to view lakes within a lake! Turkana basin, whose total surface area is 7 million ha. The Lake is the most saline lake in East Africa and the largest desert lake in the world, surrounded by an arid, seemingly extra-terrestrial landscape that is often devoid of life.

The long body of Lake Turkana drops down along the Rift Valley from the Ethiopian border, extending 250 kilometres from north to south and 50 kilometres at its widest point, with a depth of 30–80 metres. It is Africa’s fourth-largest lake, fondly called the Jade Sea due to its turquoise colour (blue-to-green) as seen from a distance.

The area around the property is sparsely populated due to its isolated location, inadequate freshwater, and national protection status. It is an important habitat for the hippopotamus and the world’s largest colony of crocodiles (and the largest Nile crocodile breeding ground in the world).


Physical evidence through scientific studies indicates the area’s continued support for the habitation of flora and fauna of diverse species over millions of years to the present. In addition, volcanic eruptions and extensive lava flow, geological faulting within the Great Rift Valley, and the formation of sedimentary deposits have assured the preservation of fossil remains, which are significant in understanding the history of life, especially human evolution.

The adjacent Mount Kulal Biosphere Reserve serves as a watershed for the Lake Turkana Basin and as a wildlife dispersal area. It thereby assures the protection of biological and natural processes, making it an important site for avian habitation and migration, particularly for water birds.

Heritage site.

Lake Turkana is the most saline of Africa’s great lakes and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Central Island is one of three national parks (the other two are Sibiloi National Park and Southern Island National Park) situated on Lake Turkana, and together these three parks provide an incredible storehouse of archaeological and paleontological sites, making Lake Turkana and her islands a treasure-trove of fossils and other deposits required for the study of plant and animal communities.  

In addition, Central Island provides a major breeding ground for Nile Crocodiles, Tilapia, and many species of water birds. The three major crater lakes on Central Island are known as Crocodile Lake, Flamingo Lake and Tilapia Lake respectively. Each of these provides a perfect breeding ground for the animal it is named after.

Accommodations along the shores of the lake include Kalokol campsite, Lobolo Camp and Eliye Springs Resort, among others. There are some basic guest houses in Kalokol town. There are a heap of activities that can be accomplished through organised trips

Activities include

  •         Sightseeing

  •         Boat rides, Canoeing and lake exploration.

  •         Birds and reptiles watching

  •         Nature trail hike

  •         Fishing

  •         Evening traditional songs and dances

  •         Leisure, swimming, white sand beach sun-basking

  •         Turkana cultural festival {Only in August}

  •         Beach and bush catering

  •         Donkey, Camel, Bike tour

  •         Prehistoric site tour

Key features


Scorching hot and arid (especially December–March) June and July are the coolest months. From May to September very strong winds blow both morning and evening. Rainfall is less than 250 mm per year, and in some places, it may not rain for several years.


The vegetation is scant, but some of the sheltered areas are overgrown with thick grass and bushes. This happens for a short period each year.


The islands are home to hippos, bats, and the world’s largest Nile crocodile population.


There are more than 350 recorded species, including large flocks of flamingos.


There are 60 recorded species of fish in the lake.

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