At Koobi Fora museum fossils have survived the years to tell tales that are millions of years old, writes ALLAN OLINGO
It will take you three days by road, covering about 800 kilometres from Nairobi to get to Sibiloi National Park. It is only two hours by air but there is no airstrip anywhere near the park.
Starting from Loiyangalani on the second day after we were marooned by heavy downpour, the rocky terrain is a daring challenge to any good four-wheel drive vehicle. As we drove across the desert from Loiyangalani through to Sibiloi, the scenery is amazing. The sand dunes form a harmonious backdrop giving one a perfect picture opportunity.
When we got into the main entrance, I noticed the change in vegetation, from the sandy dunes to a grassy plain with yellow spear grass and ragged palms.
Though extremely windblown and arid, Sibiloi National Park has a surprising variety of wildlife including the rare Grevy’s zebra, ostrich, oryx and a unique sub-race of topi called the Tiang. These animals, I was informed are only found within this northern tourism circuit, quite a rarity.
The parks boundaries extend a kilometre into Lake Turkana, encompassing many of Turkana’s huge population of Nile crocodile. The crocodile population, which numbers around 15,000 is the largest single surviving community.
It had been almost 250 kilometres of scorching sun, dust and uncomfortable heat, and the packed lunch was a welcome break. We then drove to the Petrified Forest, where the first wonder of Sibiloi unfolded.
Nationals Museums of Kenya’s Sharon Kyungu, noted that unlike today’s dry and harsh desert climate, Lake Turkana’s shore was once a well-watered forest land teeming with wild animals that included prehistoric elephants, three-toed ancestors of the horse, cats, antelopes, giant baboons and many other ancestors of modern species.