Resting comfortably on the northeastern shores of the emerald blue Lake Turkana, is the Sibiloi National Park in Kenya. Set up to protect the wildlife and significant palaeontologist sites, Sibiloi spills across 1600 square kilometres of semi-desert terrain surrounded by volcanic mountains. The landscape is predominantly dry wilderness, lakeshores and riverine forest. The volcanic Mount Sibiloi stands proudly over the arid landscape and houses a fascinating petrified forest, further enhancing its reputation as being a park of the ancients.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sibiloi National Park is one of the world’s most important areas for understanding the evolution of man. One area in particular—Koobi Fora—has a fascinating story, one that earned the reputation of being the cradle of mankind. Koobi is where a fossilised humanoid was first discovered.
The park is ideal for visitors with a pioneering attitude and keen interest in evolution. The area is remarkably scenic and historically significant, ideal for an untraditional safari experience. The park is very arid, apart from Lake Turkana which provides the only source of water in the area. Visitors can expect to see migratory waterfowl, plains game and marauding predators.
The national park lies north of Nairobi. Getting there requires considerable effort. A connection flight from Nairobi to one of the airstrips in the park is required.
Sibiloi National Park is a major wilderness area comprising savannah territory, volcanic landscapes and thick riverine forests. The diverse biome provides a range of habitats for a variety of wildlife, including migratory birds using Sibiloi as a stopover. There are over 350 species of bird in both the national park and Lake Turkana. Flamingos, pelicans and two endemic species—the crested lark and Heuglin's bustard—occur in the area.
The arid savannah and availability of water on the lake’s shores support populations of oryx, kudu, zebra, Grant’s gazelle, hyenas, lions, leopards, cheetah, jackal, caracal, and topi. The national park is a prominent breeding ground for the Nile crocodile and hippo.
The weather within in the national park is fairly consistent year-round and in line with the weather patterns within all Lake Turkana's parks. Sibiloi National Park is excessively hot and arid. June/July is the only time of year when the temperatures ease slightly - this is probably the most comfortable time of year to visit.
Safaris in the national park offer a diverse array of activities, ranging from birdwatching on the shores of Lake Turkana to guided nature walks through the petrified forests. The best way of spotting wildlife and experiencing this part of the northern safari circuit is to join a pre-arranged tour with a qualified guide. Most safaris are guided fly-in expeditions or rugged overland trips that utilise the local camping facilities.
There are plenty of attractions in the park, a few of which include boat trips and fishing tours on Lake Turkana, Koobi Fora the home of fossilised humanoids, walks through the petrified forest on the slopes of the volcano, and game viewing at the freshwater waterhole. There are plenty of archaeological and excavation sites to explore, some of which are more than a million years old. Those that stray from the traditional safari route and opt for a more adventurous safari option are encouraged to visit the park.
There are abundant accommodation options available in the park, including everything from self-catering to guest houses, privately owned campsites to luxury tented camps. Lodges and tented camps all have the amenities and comforts of home. There's something for everyone in the national park.