Mesmerising Marsabit

Marsabit is small town that has grown up riding the tourists. It has basic facilities like post office, bank, petrol stations, restaurants, lodges and shops.

Marsabit has a lot to offer in terms of untapped tourist destination. It is home to the picturesque Chalbi Desert. 

Marsabit town is overshadowed by the image of the Marsabit National Park and Reserve.

The town is located on an isolated extinct volcano jutting out of the vast stretches of a desert. The view of the park, and the desert, from the summit of the volcano, is marvellous. Extinct volcanoes can be spotted over the whole area.

Packed park

One of the most remote national parks of Kenya, Marsabit National Park, is an extensive forest, surprising for it is in the region of a desert. The park is home to lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, warthogs, giraffes, antelopes and hyenas. That the national park is a forested mountain rising up out of the surrounding desert makes it a special place.

Plains game, including northern endemics such as Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and oryx are often seen as well as large herds of elephant.

This reserve was once home to a great elephant named Ahmed. He was a bull who carried Africa’s largest ever recorded ivory. Ahmed’s blessing became a curse as he became a target for poachers, and Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta placed him under special security until his death from natural causes. Ahmed was considered one of Kenya’s national treasures, and he is now preserved in the forecourt of the Nairobi National Museum.

The riverine forests of Marsabit are good birding country. Leopards have been known to frequent these forests, and have been sighted here at sunset. The slopes surrounding Marsabit are an excellent place to see Greater Kudu, the large antelope with distinctive curved horns.

Hot attractions

 Lake Paradise, Ahmed Paradise and the Marsabit Lodge are one of the nice places to camp in the national park. Apart from the Marsabit lodge, you should not expect a lot of accommodation facilities in Marsabit.

You will part with Sh3,500 per night on a full board basis but the prices go way down lower in other lodging facilities; and so does the quality.

Marsabit has an airstrip four kilometres from the main park and Marsabit Lodge supports chartered flights. As for surface transport, it is accessible from Nairobi via Archer’s Post and Isiolo.

However, to explore the place to the fullest, it is better to have your own transport and you need to tank up your vehicle in Isiolo for it is the last place where you would get a petrol station or a bank before Marsabit. You also need an off road vehicle because the tarmac road ends at Merille.

While in Marsabit, you can enjoy game viewing, and a visit to the ‘singing well’ as women sing songs while they draw water.

 You can also enjoy hiking, bird watching, nature walks and even the camel walks to the neighbouring village that is normally a favourite of the western tourists.

Just outside Marsabit are a series of Borana wells. These deep wells are used to water herds of cattle.

The depth of each well means that several men have to descend into the well and use a chain of buckets to transfer water up to the waiting herds.