Come next month and all (rough) roads will lead to the town of Loyiangalani in Marsabit, Kenya where the Marsabit-Lake Turkana Festival is back for the 10th year from 4 to 6 May.
Bring out the Land Cruisers and overland trucks, for the three-day event is a spectacle for culture and adventure lovers. It takes place on the southeastern shores of Lake Turkana in the country’s desert north, and festival participants will brave unforgiving terrain and climatic conditions in this cradle of mankind.
The cultural treats will include sampling local foods and medicine, a visit to the desert museum, music, dance, boat rides, a rock-art tour, a trip to a shrine, shows of local fashion and costumes, camel and donkey races, visits to cultural villages and a show by neighbouring Ethiopia’s guest musicians and exhibitors.
It’s a chance to meet, interact, dance and learn the ways of life of the many communities that populate the Lake Turkana area, Chalbi Desert, Mount Marsabit and the Moyale Escarpment. They are the Turkana, Samburu, Rendille, Burji, Gabbra, Sakuye, Konso, Dassanach, Borana, Garee, Wayu, Somali and the El Molo – Kenya’s smallest tribe.
Initiated in 2008, the festival was proposed by communities and is organised by the local government in partnership with the Kenya Tourism Board, Kenya Wildlife Service and National Museums of Kenya.
Beyond entertainment, the festival also serves to foster cross-cultural interaction, harmony, cohesion, trading and integration in an area afflicted by cattle rustling and conflicts over land and natural resources.
The journey from Nairobi to Loiyangalani takes three days of traversing breathtaking grasslands sparsely occupied by pastoralist communities, semi-desert scrubland, hills and mountains dotted by herdsmen and their cattle, goats, sheep and camels.
Travel and accommodation options are available on the festival website.