The Chalbi Desert is a small desert approximately 100,000sq Kilometers in northern part of Kenya, bordering Ethiopia. The desert is located east of Lake Turkana in Marsabit County. It is an immense of clay and sand. Chalbi is a Gabbra term meaning ‘bare and salty’
As we ascended mount Marsabit a spectacular glance of Chalbi desert resemble a real ocean, but as we came closer the mystery of mirages unfolds. The desert is surrounded with volcanoes creating a magical view. The Chalbi Desert is the harshest of the entire northwestern section and only the toughest of species survive.
Stretching from Mount Kulal from one side to Huri hills towards Ethiopian border, Chalbi resembles a boiling lake, but it is actually an ocean of hot and dry volcanic sand stretching from one horizon to the other horizon with no sign of life until you reach Kalacha – a small town which lies on an oasis. When it rains, the desert turns into a non-navigable lake forcing travellers to use a longer route to access North-horr and Illeret at the border of Ethiopian border.
Chalbi desert the only true desert in Kenya is home to the Rendille in the southern part, Gabbra who occupy the better part of the desert mainly on the eastern and towards Ethiopian boarder. These two communities depend on camels as their source of food and transport.
Chalbi desert is believed to be part of the Lake Turkana the largest desert lake in Kenya. When touring the desert, you can’t miss getting fish remains and snails on the rock at the edge of the desert.
On the horizon you can often come across herds of Oryx, ostrich or Grey zebra galloping across the desert.
For travels who which to visit Lake Turkana by road; from Nairobi or Nanyuki they can use great northern road through Marsabit (home to Marsabit national park and Lake Paradise) to Chalbi desert then to Lake Turkana.