Chalbi Desert in Kenya

Chalbi Desert in Kenya

Chalbi Desert in Kenya : Between Mount Marsabit in southern Ethiopia and Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, there is a small desert known as the Chalbi Desert. The Gabbra pastoralists who live in this region of Kenya refer to it as Chalbi, which is a dry, salty location. About 100,000 square kilometres of desert sit at an altitude of 370 metres above sea level. It is the only area in Kenya that can be considered a real desert. It’s one of Kenya’s hottest deserts and driest areas.

A lake that was created by damming lava flows from volcanic activity near Mount Marsabit once spanned the immense desert. This region’s lowlands are made up of a sizable lava plateau and volcanic hills. The terrain is dotted with Inselbergs of all sizes and shapes, ash-grey ridges, fragmented groups of tiny houses, and dunes. Sand and silt particles are being moved north-westward by dust storms across Chalbi, while camel lines shimmer in the background like reflections in a mirage. Massive clay animates the bleached stretch of coarse sand, and storms in the desert frequently hit the clear rocks.

The Climate

The Chalbi Desert has temperatures that range from over 36°C in February, which is the hottest month, to as low as 18°C in July, which is the coolest month. The daytime highs are very high, and the night-time lows are very low.

A rain-shadow desert is Chalbi. The region experiences irregular rainfall, with some years seeing little to no precipitation at all. The average annual rainfall is roughly 150 mm (or up to 350 mm) and occurs during two rainy seasons. Meanwhile, there will probably be more than 2,600 mm of evaporation. There are numerous springs along the border of the desert, which produce oases of water and vegetation.

Occasional severe downpours of rain cause the water to flow off the hard desert surface and collect in surface depressions. A transient lake that can last a few months forms in years with exceptionally heavy rainfall. For instance, in 1978, a temporary lake with a depth of 50 cm was created and maintained for long enough for ducks to use it.

High winds are a constant in the Chalbi desert. In fact, the region features some of the world’s fiercest and longest-lasting wind systems. The region regularly experiences winds that gust over 50 km per hour. Sandstorms are a common occurrence in the area.

Animals found in Chalbi Desert

Oryx, African elephant, Somali ostrich, Grevy’s zebra, and reticulated giraffe are among the herbivores present in the area. Black rhinoceroses once inhabited the region, but they were killed to extinction. African lions are among the area’s huge predator species.

Only a few plant species may be found there because of the excessive salinity. The Chalbi Desert is mostly vegetated-free and arid. After the seasonal rains, one of those places where plants do develop is typically along the tributary stream exits. In the vicinity of Chalbi’s drainage system, Salvadora persica, Acacia tortilis, and Cordia sinensis can thrive, however the majority of desert plants are annuals. The plant Drakebrockmania somalensis is one of the species. These places can be observed covered by grasses like Aristida adscensionis and A. Mutabilis during years of heavy rainfall. The former lake bed is another location where certain flora can be found. One can discover Lagenantha nogalensis there. Last but not least, there are other plants that may be found on the outskirts of the desert, including Dasysphaera prostrata or Hyphaene coriacea.

Around here in Kenya, there are Gabbra pastoralists. These nomadic people mostly herd camels, goats, and livestock. There are also a few other pastoralists in the area, including the Rendille, Dasanech, and Turkana.

Chalbi Desert in Kenya
Chalbi Desert in Kenya

Things to Do in Chalbi Desert

Desert Safari rides

The Chalbi Desert has a lot to offer in terms of beautiful landscapes and serene oasis. You can board a land cruiser there and do a short desert safari while you’re there. The cars are great for surfing and racing down sand dunes.

Camel rides

Impressive isn’t it, riding a camel through the desert? It is the perfect approach to take in the desert and learn about how ancient civilizations and some contemporary desert dwellers moved around. It’s an individual experience.

Nyiri Desert

Southern Kenya is home to the Nyiri Desert, also known as The Nyika, Taru Desert, and Taru Desert. It is situated between the Amboseli, Tsavo West, and Nairobi National Parks and lies east of Lake Magadi. The Nyiri Desert covers a large amount of Kajiado County’s land area. The rain shadow cast by Mount Kilimanjaro is what makes it so dry.


The trees have green leaves and blossoms during the brief wet season, but during the dry season they are barren and covered in horn-like fronds of thorny euphorbia and greyish green creepers. Except for a few major springs and widely separated riverbeds, water is rare. The plain is peppered with rocky hills that sit on top of much older rocks. Baobab trees can be found in the desert; some of them are more than 2000 years old, and their grey boles can measure up to 10 feet (3 metres) in diameter. Elephant, giraffe, rhinoceros, lion, leopard, lesser kudu, and impala are examples of fauna.

In some parts of the desert, tiny trees, many of which are prickly and poisonous, are densely planted. There are also markers that point to game trails. The foliage and blossoms of the trees are green throughout the brief wet season. The thorny euphorbia fronds and greyish-green creepers that cover them during the dry season, on the other hand, leave them bare and twisted. In the deserts of Kenya, this is typical.

There aren’t many significant springs and riverbeds in the area, therefore water is scarce. Rock hills, some of which are constructed atop even older rock, are scattered throughout the plain. Many different baobab trees, some of which are over 2,000 years old, can be found in the desert.

Kaisut Desert

One of Kenya’s lesser-known deserts, the Kaisut Desert, is a hidden gem that is frequently disregarded by travellers. A wide area of sand dunes, rocky outcrops, and prickly shrubs may be found in the northern region of the nation. Sand dunes, rocky outcrops, and dry riverbeds are all features of the Kaisut Desert’s rugged landscape. Visitors can learn about the region’s distinctive flora and animals, including as Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk, and lesser kudu, by hiking across the desert.

One of the most outstanding characteristics of the Kaisut Desert is the presence of the Turkana people, who have lived in this area for thousands of years. The Turkana are nomadic herders who have maintained their traditional way of life while adapting to the desert environment. Exploring the desert on foot or by camel offers breath-taking views of the arid landscape and its distinctive flora and animals. Interacting with Turkana’s allows visitors to learn about their unique culture and traditions.

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