Deserts in Kenya

Deserts in Kenya

Deserts in Kenya

Deserts in Kenya offer an unparalleled, unique and unforgettable adventure that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photographer, or looking to explore the fascinating cultures of the nomadic tribes, or simply seeking a unique experience, these deserts are sure to impress.

While most travelers come to Kenya to experience the rich wildlife and natural beauty of its national parks, many miss out on the unique landscapes and adventures that the country’s deserts have to offer. Kenya’s deserts are not only breathtakingly beautiful, but they also offer a chance to experience a different side of Kenya’s diverse landscape.

Below is a list of the Deserts in Kenya:

    1. Chalbi Desert

The word Chalbi means a bare, salty place in the language of Gabbra pastoralists who inhabit this part of Kenya. It is Kenya’s only terrain classified as a true desert. It’s among the aridest regions and hottest deserts in Kenya.

It is a semi-arid expanse distinguished by its extensive sand dunes and intermittent dry lake beds. This arid region presents a unique landscape, showcasing the resilience of life in challenging environments.

Chalbi Desert Location

Marsabit County, East of  Lake Turkana

2. Maralal Desert

Maralal from all directions gives a good panoramic view, and its processions of wildlife sharing land with Samburu herders is fabulous.

Related to the Masai further south, the Samburu warriors of Maralal dressed in their traditional clothing live in a mutual dependence with the environment and wildlife around them.

Maralal Desert Location

Samburu County, northern Kenya.

3. Nyika/ Nyiri Desert

Characterized by vast expanses of arid land, Nyika  showcases unique flora and fauna adapted to its harsh conditions.Sparse vegetation, including hardy shrubs and grasses, dots the landscape, while occasional sand dunes add to its striking scenery. It covers 100,000 square Kilometres

Despite its aridity, the Nyika Desert harbors a diverse ecosystem, with resilient wildlife such as antelopes, reptiles, and insects. The desert’s climate, marked by high temperatures during the day and cooler nights, contributes to its distinct ecological features, making it an intriguing and challenging environment to explore.

Nyika/  Nyiri desert location

50 miles East of Lake Magadi

4. Mambrui Desert

It is known for its beautiful beaches and historical significance. Mambrui has archaeological sites that date back to the 14th century, and it was once a thriving Swahili settlement.

Visitors to Mambrui can explore the historic ruins and remnants of ancient mosques, providing insights into the region’s rich cultural and historical past.

The region is known for its scenic beauty, making it a destination for those seeking a blend of cultural exploration and coastal leisure in Kenya.

Mambrui Desert Location

Malindi-Lamu Highway

6 km from from Malindi town

5. Kaisut Desert

The Kaisut Desert is a hidden gem that is frequently overlooked by tourists and is one of Kenya’s lesser-known deserts. It is a vast expanse of sand dunes, rocky outcrops, and thorny bushes located in the northern part of the country.

The Kaisut Desert is known for its rough terrain, which includes sand dunes, rocky outcrops, and dry riverbeds. Hiking through the desert allows visitors to discover the region’s unique flora and fauna, including Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk, and lesser kudu.

The desert can be explored on foot or by camel, with breathtaking views of the rugged terrain and the unique flora and fauna.

Kaisut Desert Location

Marsabit County,

1° 52′ 5″ N · 37° 42′ 53″ E

6. Turkana Desert

It covers approximately 70,000 square kilometers. This desert is known as the harshest of all deserts hence refered to as “Scrub land”. This is because its weather conditions become extreme leading to a limit of water and land vegetation cover.

Despite the harsh conditions, the residents of the region have adapted to the place and made it home. It has since become a tourist attraction. The desert is characterized by sand dunes that scatter around the region, rocky hills and the oases that get to be witnessed once in a while.

Turkana Desert Location

North West Kenya

7. Huri Hills Desert

Each conical hill in the distance is a small volcano, and the massif on the horizon is Mt Marsabit, a national park of entirely volcanic origin.

Marsabit rises over a thousand metres above the surrounding plains and, in its higher reaches, supports dense forests that derive their moisture from the clouds that frequently cloak the high ground.

Huri hills Desert Location

Northern part of Kenya, near the border with Ethiopia


As travelers venture into these arid realms, they are met not only with the breathtaking beauty of sand dunes, ancient ruins, and unique wildlife but also with the echoes of Kenya’s rich cultural and historical tapestry. The stark contrast of the arid landscapes against the vibrant local communities creates a profound and unforgettable experience.

While the deserts may seem inhospitable at first glance, they unveil a hidden beauty that beckons adventurers seeking a deeper connection with nature and a profound understanding of Kenya’s diverse and resilient ecosystems. As footsteps leave imprints on the soft sands, the deserts of Kenya leave an indelible mark on the hearts of those who choose to explore their enchanting mysteries.


1. What is the largest Desert in Kenya?

  • Nyika/ Nyri Desert

2. List of Deserts in Kenya

  • Chalbi Desert
  • Maralal Desert
  • Nyika/Nyiri Desert
  • Mambrui Desert
  • Turkana Desert
  • Kaisut Desert
  • Huri Hills Desert

3. Where is Chalbi Desert Located?

  • Marsabit, East of Lake Turkana



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