Central Island National Park, Small But Stunning!

Central Island National Park is one of the most stunning National Parks in Kenya, located on the shoreline of one of the largest permanent desert lakes in the world, Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, about 800 km from Nairobi. The Park is made up of three active volcanoes that surface starkly from the blue-green waters of Lake Turkana. Central Island National Park, covering only 5 km2, is one of the smallest National Parks in Kenya.

Lake Turkana wfeiden Licence: CC

Scenery

The main part of Central Island is occupied by three crater lakes, the Crocodile Lake, providing procreation grounds for the world’s largest concentration of Nile crocodiles, the Flamingo Lake and Tilapia Lake which houses a primordial species of Tilapia. Flora on the Island is scarce though thick grasses and shrubbery flourish for short periods each year.

Flamongos on a lake Ray in Manila Licence: CC

Wildlife

Central Island National Park is famed for holding the world’s largest crocodile nursery with the world’s largest Nile crocodile population with an estimation of 12 000 monstrous sized crocodiles. Between April and May, the crocodiles procreate on the shorelines of the island’s crater lakes. Lake Turkana also holds some of the world’s most lethal reptiles, including the Saw-scaled Viper, the Cobra as well as the Night and Puff Adder. The Lake is also home to various species of fish including huge the Tilapia, the Puffer fish and the Nile Perch.

Grey Heron’s Tilapia Dinner Ray in Manila Licence: CC

On the Island, there is a profusion of birdlife with over 350 recorded species including 84 water bird species and 34 European migrant. For those that breed on the Island, there is the African open-billed Stork, the African Skimmer, the Goliath and Grey Heron, the Duck, the Flamingo, the Bat, the Great Egret, the Sacred Ibis, Osprey, the Egyptian Goose, the Swallow-tailed Kite as well as the Gull.

Other forms of life found in the Park include the Hippo, Grant’s Gazelle, the Caracal, Dik-dik, Gravy Zebras, the Olive Baboon, the lesser Kudu and the Hyena.

Male spotted hyena davida3 Licence: CC

Getting There

The Park is accessible by road from Nairobi on a three day drive through Marsabit and North Horr, or Maralal and South Horr. One might also drive from Nairobi to Kalokol on the Lake’s western shores, through Kitale and Lodwar then from Kalokol there are boat hire services to Central Island available.

Central Island National Park can also be reached by air from Nairobi to the two closest two all-weather airstrips to Lake Turkana.

Accommodation

Central Island National Park doesn’t have accommodation services available. Visitors could opt to stay in any one of the lodgings on the shorelines of the Lake. These include the Oasis Lodge, set on the southern end of Lake, Lobolo Tented Camp, located on the western shoreline of Lake Turkana, Allia Bay Guesthouse, a self-catering guesthouse set on the shores of Lake Turkana as well as the Eliye Springs Resort also located along the shores of Lake Turkana.

Eliye-a beach resort on the shores of Lake Turkana Peter Etelej Licence: CC

Best Time To Visit

Central Island National Park can be visited at any time of the year. However, June, July, December and  February are the best months of the year to visit the Park.

Weather and Climate

The Park experiences very hot and arid climate in the months of December to March as well as low temperatures in the months of June and July. From May to September, very strong winds are experienced both in the mornings and evenings.

A hippo flowcomm Licence: CC

Other Safety Considerations

As Kenya is prone to Malaria, visitors to the Central Island National Park are still urged to take precautionary measures against the ailment to stay safe. These include the use of malaria prophylactics, sleeping under treated nets, using mosquito repellent sprays and creams as well as covering bare skin at dusk. To avoid heat stroke, visitors are also urged to carry with them light clothing, wide brimmed hats, good sunglasses, sunscreen as well as to stay hydrated all the time.

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