Lake Turkana was formerly known as Lake Rudolf and is also one of the Kenyan Rift Valley lakes and its far north end crosses into Ethiopia. It is the world’s largest permanent desert lake and the world’s largest alkaline lake. By volume it is the world’s fourth-largest salt lake and among all lakes it ranks 24th.
Lake Turkana is now threatened by the construction of Gilgel Gibe III Dam in Ethiopia due to the damming of the Omo river which supplies most of the lake’s water. The water is potable but not palatable. It supports a rich lacustrine wildlife. The climate is hot and very dry.
The rocks of the surrounding area are predominantly volcanic. Central Island is an active volcano, emitting vapour. Outcrops and rocky shores are found on the east and south shores of the lake, while dunes, spits and flats are on the west and north, at a lower elevation.
Due to temperature, aridity and geographic inaccessibility, the lake retains its wild character. Nile crocodiles are found in great abundance on the flats. The rocky shores are home to scorpions and carpet vipers.
Lake Turkana region is home to hundreds of species of birds and most of them are native to Kenya. The East African Rift System also serves as a flyway for migrating birds, bringing in hundreds more. The birds are essentially supported by plankton masses in the lake which also feed the fish.
Some birds more common to Turkana are the little stint and the wood sandpiper and the common sandpiper. The African skimmer nests in the banks of Central Island. The greater flamingo wades in its shallows.
The lake formerly contained Africa’s largest population of Nile crocodiles and also has a large population of large water turtles particularly in the area of Central Island.