Kenya Birding at  Ferguson’s Gulf

Kenya Birding at  Ferguson’s Gulf : Ferguson’s Gulf could be the best-kept secret in Turkana. From the gulf, you can get to Long’ech beach, which is the sole location where you can see the whole of Lake Turkana without any obstructions. It’s a perfect beach with clear water for swimming and a wide stretch of sparkling white sand while on a Kenya safari.

But it’s not easy to get here, especially if you’re driving. Buses, station waggons, motorbikes, speed boats, and then more motorbikes are just a few of the ways that people get around on this seemingly endless but very fulfilling journey.

You can choose between two routes. The eastern route goes through the farmland of Samburu County, stopping at either Baragoi or Laisamis on the way to Loyangalani township on the lake’s eastern shore. If you go west, you’ll go through Kitale and then on to Lodwar. From there, you can choose to get to the lake through Eliye Springs or Kalokol, which are further down. This is not a day’s trip either way.

Because of this, Kalokol is clearly the better choice. This area is known as the “fish capital of the north” by locals. It seems like everyone here is involved with fish in some way. There is a sailing boat here, a native raft there, and sometimes you might even see a canoe with an outboard engine. Most of the boats are full of fish.

Even though Tilapia are widespread, catching the incredibly big and rare Nile Perch, which the Turkana people in the area call “Idgi,” is the highlight of a safari to Ferguson’s Gulf. Tigerfish are also pretty common.

They saw that this place could be good for fishing in 1965 and helped set up the facilities for industrial fishing through the Norwegian International Development Agency (NORAD). There are 47 kinds of fish in Lake Turkana, and 7 of them are endemic. They chose the Nile Tilapia, which breeds by the tonne in the shallow water of Ferguson’s Gulf.

Fishing nets and boats were given to local sailors. After that, they learned how to fish in a modern way. The Turkana Fishermen’s Cooperative was set up by the fishermen to help them sell their goods. A ship that had been brought all the way from Norway to Mombasa showed up to help with the study. To link the main roads in Kenya to Lodwar, they even built a road that can be used in any weather.

By the early 1980s, NORAD had built the Cooperative a fish processing plant worth KES 30 million. Nearly 20,000 fishermen, including many who had moved from the shores of Lake Victoria, worked at the plant. After that, things went wrong.

For example, it turned out to be much more expensive than planned to freeze fish pieces. The price of diesel-generated energy was higher than any money the plant made. To make things even worse for the project, the fish could not be cleaned in Lake Turkana’s salty water. There wasn’t much hope left for the fish project when the terrible drought from Ethiopia finally hit. While the rains were supposed to have fed the Omo River, they didn’t. One of the two main rivers that flow into Lake Turkana is this one.

The shallows in Ferguson’s Gulf quickly dried up. The shore then moved away 2 km. The fish went to deeper water or to a different area with better places to breed. The processing plant shut down for good in 1986 and hasn’t been opened again since. It is now just a place for tourists to visit.

People come to Ferguson’s Gulf for more than just the fish, though. A lot of birds live there, some of them from other countries. Birds from Europe stop here on their way north in March and April.

In the spring, a lot of black-tailed godwits and spotted redshanks come here. You can only see them here in Kenya. There are also a lot of flamingos living here. Crocodiles and hippos are also likely to be there.

The strange Namoratunga spot can be seen if you still have time. The spot is marked by 19 stone pillars that look like bags of charcoal at first glance. The Turkana believe that Namoratunga has a spiritual meaning, but no one, not even the Turkana, knows what its original aim might have been.

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