Omorate - Lodwar: Western shore of Lake Turkana route now possible





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  1. #1
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    Default Omorate - Lodwar: Western shore of Lake Turkana route now possible

    The bridge over the omo river at omorate , Ethiopa is now complete ( though not officially open). We were able to cross it ( with a letter of permission from the county admin office in omorate, jyst behind tge immigration office), and cross the border to Kenya coming down the western shore of Lake Turkana. The road is initially hard to find, but isnt bad at all. We followed the track alongside the lake after checking in (but not completing kenya customs and immigration) at both the ethiopian army checkpoint, the kenyan army point about 8km later, AND the kenyan poluce checkpoint, where you complete a register. We then wilcamped for two nights on the lakeshore, before spendigd two nights at the very pleasant Eliye Springs where there are a number of campsites and a resort. So far so good, and no diesel worries. From the springs to lodwsr was a sandy but ok track. Lodwar has supermarkets and reliable diesel.

    So far so good. Unfortunately the lodwar-kitale road is atrocious, easily the worst of our trip. The last remnants of tar useful only to cause damage the few times you get above 35km/h. There is 200km or so of this before an improvement after the Marich pass.

    This route is great in that you have no fuel worries, excellent access to the lake, but the terrible lodwar road may put you off, though it certainly makes sense if coming from or going to Uganda. We are planning to complete imigration in Eldoret.

    Pix and co-ords and gpx from kitale tomorrow. Right now im working off my phone in a small backyard welding shop somewhere near Marich pass,trying to rescue my trashed shocks housings so i can limp back to nairobi later this week . Both my defender and our friends mercedes truck lost our front left shock housing on this road. The road is rather ironically called the A1....
    Matthew de Gale
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  2. #2
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    That sounds great. Well done. Be sure to camp at Barnleys near Kitale - also called Sirikwa Safaris - and send Dick Barnley our salaams. If you are interested in birding, Dick and his mother are leading ornithologists in East Africa. The birds in their garden, the nearby Saiwa Swamp, and in the nearby Cheranganis are incredible.

    Safari njema!

  3. #3
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    Thanks Wazungu. It was a fun trip - broken shocks notwithstanding...

    Some pix of the route while i clean up the GPXs back in Nairobi:

    The route takes you through Turmi and and Omorate: you need at least a week in the South Omo valley...



    Ethiopia actually has really good roads. There are some exceptions - Woyda to Turmi is one...



    After the Omorate bridge we really battled to find the track - lots of irrigation construction made it very hard. So we grabbed some guides to get us to the border, about 28km away...



    It was *this* dusty...



    which you can live with if your first night of wildcamping by Lake Turkana looks like this:



    There are not many shops around, but we managed to find some dinner...



    Wildcamping Night 2....



    Central island View...



    Lake Turkana Sunrise...

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    Matthew de Gale
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    Great stuff, Matthew, Chalbi Desert dust and all!
    Edit: Just remembered you came down the western bank, so almost but not quite Chalbi...
    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 2015/07/02 at 04:18 PM.
    Tony Weaver

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    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  5. #5
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    Default GPX File for the Route

    anyone interested in the route, please find attached a fairly rough GPX (zipped as i din't seem to be allowed to post GPX files as attachments) file from Turmi (Nice campsites - we slept our last night in Ethiopia there - to Eldoret where we did our custom and immigration formalities.

    The routes shows our initial confusion in the beginning (not very useful, sorry!) and our wildcamping spots etc (perhaps more so..)
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Matthew de Gale
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Omorate - Lodwar: Western shore of Lake Turkana route now possible


    I was asked some questions over email about this route, so I thought I'd share my responses here for search and archival purposes.

    Why did you choose the west route of the lake over the east one?
    We didn't want to travel alone, (we were inexperienced and travelling with a 5yo). Luckily we met a German couple in Harar and agreed to travel with them They were in a truck and were a bit worried about sand and our Landy would have been of limited value in pulling them out because of the size of the truck. When we got to Turmi we found out that the bridge at Omorate was "sort-of" open so we decided to try that route

    How long did it take?

    We spent two nights wild camping before getting to Eliye springs where we stayed for two nights before leaving for Lodwar

    Would you do it again?

    I'd try the eastern route next time - but glad we did it this time.


    Would you do it alone?

    Yes. There are no really difficult bits and only the first day is remote - didn't get a sense we were likely to get stuck at all. We wild camped which i might hesitate doing on my own. There are options (sleep next to the catholic mission for eg) But the wild camping was lovely so it would be nice to be with someone. Not that its necessarily dangerous but there are some people around and camping by the lake is fairly exposed.

    What are the main pitfalls to look out for?

    Lots soldiers in the no-man's zone - no problems but still unnerving. MAKE SURE YOU STOP at both the army checkpoint and the police check point at Todonyang. We got arrested because we thought stopping at the army point was enough.


    Also the road form Lodwar to Marich Pass was horrible - easily the worst of our 7 month trip. I see there are some reports that its being repaired but not sure of progress. There are not many spots to stop on the route, so leave Eliye very early and drive very, very slowly. Both our vehicles lost shocks and shock housings on this route.

    Its a long, slow drive, but we did Eliye springs to the Marich field and study centre (which is a lovely campsite). I would recommend this. The national parks (South Turkana national reserve) indicated along this route were not options when we were traveling (the army had taken over the campsites). I need to emphasize that the road is so bad that you need to drive very slowly and so should start the day as early as possible and not be tempted to risk your shocks/tyres.

    Were you able to do immigration and customs at eldoret?

    Yes, this was no real problem.


    We'd like to do either route, though for whatever reason, people prefer the east side (why is that, do you know?), but unless we bump into people soon, or find them online, we may well be on our own.

    The eastern route sounds more remote and wild. This was actually quite populated and less wild. But its only been open since 2015 ( I believed we were the first overlanders apart from bikers who could ferry across) since the bridge was repaired, so thats one reason fewer people do it. But given the choice and circumstance I'd go Eastern too.

    Matthew de Gale
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  8. #7
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    Default Re: Omorate - Lodwar: Western shore of Lake Turkana route now possible

    Thank you, Matthew, for this excellent post on the pros and cons of the western Lake Turkana route. I have only done the eastern Lake Turkana - three times over the years (first time in 1978 and last time in 2014). In the past, the whole of the former Northern Frontier District was a restricted area and one had to get permission to travel to these remote areas - hence the reason us Kenyans couldn't go north of Maralal and/or Marich prior to the late 1970s. It still remains a hard, remote area and one should be ready and prepared for all eventualities.

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