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Kalacha Camp - Chalbi Desert, Kenya
Kalacha Camp - Chalbi Desert

A timeless Oasis in the Northern Frontier District (NFD) of Kenya

Situated in the Chalbi Desert, North Eastern Kenya, Kalacha Camp sits on the edge of a permanent oasis. The Camp has been funded by the European Union, Farm Africa and the Estate of the late John Sutton, who used this area as a base for his bird shooting safaris. Kalacha Camp has been set up as a community based project for the Gabbra people of this area, providing them with a further source of income, and is managed by Tropic Air.

Kalacha Camp was completed in mid-1999 after 5 months of building. It is a very simple camp, built using local materials, including duom palm trunks for the poles, and leaves woven into mats which have been used for the roofs and walls.

Location
Kalacha Goda is situated on the edge of an oasis in the Chalbi Desert between Maikona and North Horr, and 40 miles south of the Ethiopian border.

There is a runway which taxis up to the oasis, within walking distance of the camp.

Kenya safari hotels and accommodation
Amongst the wide range of Kenya hotels, some make the ideal Kenya safari destination. Choose a safari lodge, safari hotel, bush camp, luxury lodge, safari camp, tented camp or bush lodge. National park accommodation usually takes the form of traditional safari lodges or tented camps, but numerous other options exist on the park boundaries. Luxury lodges and luxury camps options are also offered in the private wildlife conservancies.

Background
The Chalbi Dessert lies in the extreme north-east of Kenya. A wild and seldom district, once known as the Northern Frontier, it centres on Isiolo, the northeast's most important town and the hub for travel to Marsabit and Moyale. Southernmost of the Northern Frontier towns, Isiolo is on the border between two different worlds, the fertile highlands and the desert. The area reflects a strong Somali influence since it was here that many veteran Somali soldiers from WW1 were settled. Recruited in Aden and Kismayu, they gave up their nomadic lifestyle to become livestock and retail traders.

The north of Kenya (over half of the country's total area) is a desert - exclusively arid land, burned out for more than ten months of the year. Once known as the Northern Frontier District (NFD) is remains one of the most exciting and adventurous parts of Africa: a vast tract of territory, crisscrossed by ancient migration routes and still tramped by the nomadic Samburu, Boran, Rendille, Gabbra, Turkana and Somali herders.

The target for most travellers is the wonder jade se of Lake Turkana. Lake Turkana stretches south for 250km from the Ethiopian border, down through Kenya's arid lands, bisecting the rocky deserts. It is hemmed in by sandy wastes and black and brown volcanic ranges. The lake was discovered for the rest of the world only in 1888 by the Austrians Teleki and von Hohnel, who named it Rudolf after their archduke and patron. Later it became eulogized as the Jade Sea in John Hillaby's book about his camel trek. The name Turkana only came into being during the wholesale Kenyanization of place names in the 1970s. By then it had also been dubbed the Cradle of Mankind, due to the existence of Koobi Fora a major paleontological site. Lake Turkana is the biggest permanent desert lake in the world with a shoreline longer than the whole of Kenya's sea cost. A mammoth inland sea fed by the headwaters of the Nile, it is famous for the presence of enormous Nile perch.

Accommodation
The camp consists of 4 bandas with twin beds, and each banda has its own bathroom, with flush toilet and cold shower. The bandas have a small veranda on the front, and overlook the oasis.

Dining and Bars
The mess area is a circular building, and consists of the main living area and dining area. A kidney shaped swimming/plunge pool partly enters into the mess area - and is an extremely refreshing escape from the hot and dry desert weather.

What to do and see
Photographic opportunities are fantastic, with the beautiful and unusual desert scenery and constantly changing lights and colours. At Kalacha camp one can:
• Watch herds of livestock replenish with water at the oasis. Visit the village to gain an insight into Gabbra traditions.
• Go to Kalacha town where there is a small Catholic church - the interior lined with biblical paintings.
• Enjoy Gabbra dancers and plays, demonstrating traditional Gabbra marriage ceremonies.
• Visit the ancient 'rock art' of giraffe, elephant and antelope.
• Take sundowners in the desert on the edge of the lava flows.

The area is famous for Sandgrouse. In the early morning huge flights of Sandgrouse arrive at the water holes from surrounding desert areas. Shooting seasons are 1st February to 31st March and 1st July to 31st October


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