I’m a girl from the North. Well, it doesn’t matter whether it’s North Horr or the North Frontier District (NFD) also known as North Eastern region. It doesn’t matter because in Marsabit they recognize me as their own.
The people from the North have one thing in common, they are all pastoralists. We get to move around a lot and we don’t catch feelings about who occupies the space we left. We are always in search of greener pastures for our livestock. Somewhere along archers post where the famous gigantic Mt. Ololokwe stands elegantly, I had a small chat with a Samburu man who was grazing his cattle around that area. He told me there is a belief among his people that cows are of more value to them than humans. “If by any chance a car or a truck hit his cow that will definitely cause an inter-tribal clash among the communities living around that area thereby risking the lives of the travelers on that route.
Two times I have traveled to Marsabit to hunt for stories on Female Genital Cut. The pastoral community in Kenya has the highest prevalence with the Somalis recording a high of 97.6 percent. The first time my trip was sponsored by an NGO that took care of my travel and accommodation, unlike the recent trip which I had to budget for. (I will share a list at the end of the article).
That said, there are some few stereotypes that need to be demystified.
- Marsabit unlike other parts of the North is Mostly Misty and chilly
This area is surrounded by mountains, therefore, it is always safe to pack warm clothes.
2. Marsabit embraces diversity
Marsabit is occupied by members of four different communities; The Rendille, Borana, Gabbra, and Turkana. Unlike the common stereotype that the majority of the populace is Muslim, there are as many Christians as Muslims so are the places of worship.
NB: It’s hard to tell who is who especially among girls and women since all of them cover themselves fully in deera, buibui, and hijab.
It’s advisable to respect the culture of the people by dressing modestly. Deeras are relatively cheap (they go for 600 shillings), so just try and blend in.
Those two points should be in your list of things to remember; Carry warm clothes and respect the culture of the people living in the area.
Fun fact: Marsabit is one of the cleanest towns I have seen in all my travels. Residents are conscious about their environment and the place is unbelievably clean of any kind of trash.
I sampled restaurants in Marsabit town and I came to a conclusion that food is damn expensive in this area. A plate of rice and Aleso (boiled goat meat) or Arosto (Rice and Fried goat) cost an average of 450 shillings (you can have chapati but if you are out to sample Cushitic food then you’ll have to dig deep into your pocket).
Marsabit National Park
I hope no Kenyan politician who is fond of grabbing fertile virgin land discovers Marsabit. Marsabit National Park is a densely forested mountain that has three crater lakes (I got to see only one). It provides a haven for a variety of birdlife, mammals, and reptiles. The park is a refuge for huge tusked bull elephants, diverse birdlife, and reptiles. If you have been to Nairobi National Museum, you must have seen a monument of Ahmed (the only elephant that was protected under presidential decree during Jomo’s term in office).
You can get to enjoy the view of the crater from your room which is within the park. A single room at Marsabit lodge goes for 4500 (bed and breakfast) while a double room goes for 7500.
(We were not allowed to take photos of the rooms but they looked quite decent and comfortable. The only thing I felt anxious about was the dense forest that surrounded the lodge; it can attract snakes and other funny scary creatures).
TRANSPORT TO AND FROM NAIROBI
You can book a seat with Maiso shuttle in the CBD (near where travelers book tickets to Arusha). A comfortable 14 seater. The standard price is 1500 shillings per person from Nairobi to Marsabit. When coming to Nairobi town I would recommend you book a seat with Moyale Raha (if you are planning to travel back at night by bus). The cost is the same.
PS: Please carry with you your ID or Passport. Buses are stopped at checkpoints and police demand to check identification documents for security purpose.
I slept at Imperial Dale Hotel and the price for bed and breakfast was 1500 which was fair compared to other hotels in the vicinity that charged customers 2500 for the same. What I loved the most about the hotel was the hot shower. Food was average while WIFI was excruciatingly slow.
Enjoy and thanks for stopping by.