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The central island National Park also known as Crocodile Island (commonly known as Chooro by the local community) is located in northern Kenya ( about 800 km from Nairobi) in the middle of Lake Turkana.
Central Island is made up of three active volcanoes that belch sulfurous smoke and steam. Three crater lakes, Crocodile Lake, Flamingo Lake, and Tilapia Lake, provide breeding grounds for the world’s largest concentration of Nile crocodiles. The island is relatively small, which means it’s possible to explore all of the scenic lakes in one single visit.
Central Island National Park is almost in the middle of Lake Turkana, The Jade Sea. Otherwise known as Crocodile Island because of its prolific Nile crocodile population, Central Island encompasses a mere 5 km2 of exquisite territory. Lake Turkana formerly Lake Rudolf and otherwise known as the Jade Sea is 265 km long with an average width of 30km.
An isolated and stunningly beautiful jade green, the Lake appears as a mirage from the depths of the Chalbi desert in Northern Kenya. Central Island is one of three National Parks (the other two are the Sibiloi National Park and Southern Island National Park) situated on Lake Turkana, and together these three parks provide an incredible storehouse of archaeological and paleontological sites.
The park is situated at an altitude of 355 m above sea level. The park is a major drawcard for birders, fishermen, and those with a penchant for geographical marvels. Lake Turkana is the most saline of Africa’s great lakes and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest and most impressive alkaline desert lake in the world. The floor of the lake is so far down that it sits close to sea level.
There are 60 recorded species of fish in the lake including Nile Perch, and large Tilapia. It’s quite possible to see pufferfish in the lakesùa saltwater fish species. This is a clear indication of an ancient connection to the Red Sea, where these fish are abundant.
Central Island National Park is renowned for its prolific concentration of Nile crocodiles and houses the world’s largest population of these reptiles. In addition to crocodiles, there are abundant hippos, bats, and mud turtles in the area.
There are over 350 birds in the area, such as flamingos, pelicans, sandpiper, African skimmer, and Heuglin’s bustard. Small creatures are found throughout and include everything from scorpions to the deadly carpet viper. On the interior, it’s possible to spot Grevy’s zebra, topis, oryx, and Grant’s gazelle. Lake Turkana is home to some of the world’s venomous reptiles including the saw-scaled viper, puff adder, and cobras
The vegetation is scant, but some of the sheltered areas are overgrown with thick grass and bushes for a short period each year. The park is scorching hot and arid, especially December-March, June, and July are the coolest months. May-September very strong winds blow both morning and evening.
The rainfall is less than 250 mm pa and in some places, it may not rain for several years. You can visit the park island all year round. Central Island National park activities include; Sportfishing, Game viewing, Camping, Boat ride, Canoeing and Lake exploration, and Nature trail hiking.
Others include Birds and reptiles watching, Kite Surfing, Stargazing, Leisure swimming, white sand beach sun-basking, Donkey, Camel, Bike tour, Prehistoric site tour, Turkana Cultural Village visit, Evening traditional songs and dances, and Sightseeing.
Central Island National Park Highlights, Activities & Attractions
Safari and boat trips are the main activities for tourists who come to visit Central Island, National Park. You can choose among many different kinds of things to do, from birdwatching to game viewing. Visitors can enjoy boat rides from one of the lakes and an ecstatic viewing of aquatic animals and water birds. The lake supports the world’s largest colony of Nile crocodiles, with an estimated population of 14,000 individuals breeding on Central Island in 1968.
Between April and May, the crocodiles procreate on the shorelines of the island’s crater lakes. Lake Turkana also holds some of the world’s most lethal reptiles, including the Saw-scaled Viper, the Cobra as well as the Night and Puff Adder. The Lake is also home to various species of fish including huge the Tilapia, the Pufferfish, and the Nile Perch.
Rare and endangered mammals include hippopotamus, Monitor Lizards, Oryx grant gazelles, Caracal, Dik-dik, topis, Olive Baboon, Lesser Kudu, and Hyena, Wild dog, Lion, Cheetah, Grevy’s zebra, and Lelwel hartebeest. You are advised to go with an armed guide because of the high population of crocodiles on the island for your safety.
On the Island, there is a profusion of birdlife with over 350 recorded species including 84 waterbird species and 34 European migrants which include; African open-billed Stork, Goliath heron, Grey Heron, African skimmers, Egyptian geese, Great Egret, Sacred Ibis, fewer egrets, Osprey, Swallow-tailed Kite, Gull and a significant flock of flamingoes.
The best viewing months are March and May when they return to the island to rest and breed.
Guided Nature Walks
This is a thrilling experience done hiking along the island as you will be able to have great views of the magnificent lakes and scenery. Visitors can also hike to the top of the fantastic flamingo volcano crater where you can land on interesting sites on the way as you enjoy a breathtaking view of the park.
Butterflies, dragonflies, and insects are also to be expected.
Lake Turkana Sport Fishing
Central Island is a National Park and attracts some Kenya Wildlife Service entry fees, and fees for fishing, and camping. Besides an unforgettable fishing experience, you will enjoy the wild beauty of the Islands and their abundant birdlife! Fishing is normally done around Central Island, Kampi Turkana on the east side, and around the Alia Bay area in Sibiloi National Park.
At times and on request it can be done on South Island. The expected catch is Nile Perch, Tilapia, Tiger (Hydrocynus vittatus and Hydrocynus forskahlii) fish, and catfish to mention but a few.
Explore Lake Turkana Shore & Village
The semi-nomadic Samburu, Rendille, Gabbra, Turkana, and El Molo people are far lesser known than the Maasai. They roam with their camels, goats, sheep, and cows the arid regions of Northern Kenya, between the Ndoto Mountains and Lake Turkana (the world’s largest desert lake) as well as in the Chalbi Desert, northeast of the lake.
Head to el Molo and Loyangalani town or one of the other local villages of Turkana to see how the locals live and gain insight into life in this harsh environment. To find out more about the indigenous local cultures and natural heritage of Lake Turkana.
How to Get to Central Island National Park
By Air: Access to Lake Turkana is usually by air and there are two all-weather airstrips, Loiyangalani Airport and Lodwar Airport. From lake Turkana, visitors take boat rides from Sibiloi national park or Lodwar. Visitors can also fly to two airstrips at Sibiloi
By road: Lake Turkana is a three-day drive from Nairobi via Marsabit and North Horr, or Maralal – Loiengalani through Baragoi and South Horr.
Alternatively travel by road: The park is a two-day journey by road from Nairobi to Kalokol on the lake’s western shores, via Kitale and Lodwar. From Kalokol, boat hire services are available to Central Island.
2022 Aberdare National Park Entrance Fees
Citizen/ Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
Non-Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
|Adult||300 Kenya Shillings||25 US Dollars|
|Child||215 Kenya Shillings||15 US Dollars|
* Child refers to persons from three years but below 11 years
* Resident refers to persons of other nationalities residing in Kenya with valid documentation from the Kenyan government
* Citizen – A native or inhabitant of East Africa Countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and SouthSudan) with valid identification documents or passport
* Daily – Fee paid for a single entry to a national park, national reserve, or sanctuary and which shall be valid for no longer than twenty-four hours
Central Island National Park Accomodation | Hotels | Lodges
Central Island National Park doesn’t have accommodation services available. Currently, the park doesn’t offer self-catering accommodation but available are the Chooro public campsite and Central Island Campsite. Visitors intending to camp for the night are advised to carry with them tents and appropriate camping gear. For this category, standard amenities are provided; water, toilet/ bathroom, and kitchen area.
There are suitable, pleasant, and peaceful hotels that are located near Central Island Park. They include Eliye Spring Resort, Lodwar Acacia Residences, Stegra Hotel, Solmar Gracious Hotel Lodwar, Malabo Resort Loiyangalani, Oasis Lodge Loiyangalani
Lake Turkana accommodation options; There are privately run tented camps at the western shores of Lake Turkana. These include Lobolo Tented Camp, The Jade Sea tented journeys camp at Lobolo, Napak and Christine’s tented camps at Eliye Springs, and Eliye Springs Resort.
Others include Cradle Tented Camp Lodwar, Allia Bay Guesthouse, Tortoise camp, Bahamas resort camp, Jade sea tented camp, St. Teresa catholic tented camp at Eliye, and the Fimbo campsite at Kalokol Impreza Beach.
Central Island National Park Climate & The Best Time to Visit
The average temperature for the year in Lodwar is 86.0°F. The warmest months, on average, are March and October with average temperatures of 88°F. The coolest month, on average, is July with an average temperature of 84°F. Also, the temperatures are very constant throughout the year.
Scorching hot and arid (especially December-March) June and July are the coolest months. May-September very strong winds blow both morning and evening. Rainfall is less than 250 mm per annum and in some places, it may not rain for several years.
The best time to visit Central Island National Park is in the months of June and July when the temperatures are moderately cooler. From December – to March, it is scorching hot and extremely arid. Visitors are advised to carry plenty of drinking water and snacks.
April and May are the best months to visit the lake during the breeding time. You can hear hundreds of baby Crocodiles squeaking in their eggs under the sand. Their parents buried them here as a safeguard against the Monitor Lizards. The voracious lizards lurk in the vicinity waiting to devour them.
If you are timely, you may catch the dramatic moments when the parents hearken to the cries of their babies. They dig them up and transport them to the shallow parts of the lake. Here, they will spend the next few months of their lives under close watch from the adults.
Once you finish your crocodile business, you could try hiking to the top of “Flamingo Crater”. Here, you will not only catch spectacular views of the surrounding scenery. You will also see the beautiful pink lesser flamingos. Sometimes they are in their thousands on the opal-colored waters of the alkaline Flamingo Lake on the crater.