Lodwar is a special place. The capital of Turkana County, which is also known as the cradle of humankind, it is the warmest town in Kenya with a temperature average of 29 degrees Celsius per year. It is one of the sunniest places in the world, receiving an average of 3,600 hours of sunshine annually.
It’s not easy to journey to the town located approximately 700 kilometers from the capital, Nairobi. No bus company services that route, so one has to travel to the town of Kitale to get a connecting bus.
Upon arriving in Kitale, I realize that there are only two bus companies that operate in Lodwar; Eldoret Express and Dayah Express. I buy a ticket for Dayah and wait 2 hours before we leave. The heavily loaded bus brawls as it climbs and navigates through the steep slope near the Kapenguria junction at a pace of about 10kph for an hour. Then we suddenly sped off down the hill, the driver carefully negotiating the sharp bends. He seems to have gained momentum from descending and maintains the speed, the bus moving at about 30kph all the way, journeying through breathtaking, rolling landscapes. We cover close to 160 kilometers in 5 hours and it is evident that the journey will take longer than expected.
We stop off in Kainuk, border town between the Pokot and Turkana, for refreshments. We hop back onboard and journey through Lokichar, a small center with plush upland vegetation seen over the horizon, then cross the Turkwel River and into Lodwar town.
I had heard stories of its magnificent sunrise, and so woke early to capture it. The hot desert climate meant that the heat could already be felt at the crack of dawn.
Being an enthusiast of history, our first visit for the day is the detention houses that was used for imprisonment of Kenya’s first President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, together with fellow freedom fighters during the Colonial period.
The community in Lodwar is known for their mastery of basket weaving and my next stop is the basket market where they sell their elegantly woven products alongside other souvenirs and cultural artifacts. The market is abuzz with activities and women adorned in colorful ornaments who sing as they weave. I make a quick trip through the market and bargain for a few wares to take back to Nairobi to remember this African hotspot.