For decades, the Turkwel area on the border of West Pokot and Turkana counties has made headlines as a hotspot for cattle theft.

Lake Turkana has now earned itself quite a reputation as a tourist attraction in the entire Rift Valley region.

The lake boasts various attractions, including crocodiles, hippos, and birds.

Lake Turkana is one of the lakes created by humans and features stunning natural scenery that attracts tourists both locally and internationally.

The Turkwel Dam within Lake Turkana also holds significant importance in electricity generation and contributes to irrigation water for farming and sustaining fishing activities. All these attract tourists, whether for leisure or educational purposes.

It was constructed between 1986 and 1991 and serves as the third-largest hydroelectric power plant in the country, producing 106 megawatts of electricity.

During the construction of the dam in the eighties (1980s), many residents in the area faced numerous challenges such as displacement, crocodile attacks, and mosquitoes.

However, the lake and the dam have begun to bear fruit, with boat transport thriving. Operators ferry tourists attracted by the beauty of the area.

The mountainous and valley landscape and beautiful scenery, with birds and crocodiles basking in the sun at Tipett Bay along the lake, are sufficient attractions to lure visitors to spend money in the county.

Tourists enjoy watching crocodiles with their mouths wide open and even crawling.

Sometimes, you might be lucky to witness crocodiles laying eggs on the hills and even hatching.

Other tourist activities include boat rides, mountain climbing, camping, fishing, bird watching, participating in group games, and observing animals, especially hippos.

Tourists also interact with indigenous residents and learn about their culture in the Tipett area. They learn a lot, including dances, songs, traditional customs, and indigenous foods.

While on the lake, you’ll also see the fascinating Riting Hills.

Joel Lokomol, a boat operator, says Lake Turkwel has been a blessing to him. He has moved from a small boat to buying a large one and now supports his family while people pay to cruise in his boat.

“Many young people have found meaningful jobs and businesses, while cases of cattle theft have come to an end,” says Lokomol.

He says hundreds of visitors, including students and adults from various organizations, arrive at the area every week.

“It has helped us make a living unlike before when we had no jobs. We have greatly benefited from boat operations,” he says.

Domestic tourist Edwin Naitale says he has traveled over 80 kilometers from Kapenguria town to the area to enjoy the view and cruise on the lake.

He advises Kenyans to visit the area.

“It’s fun to travel by boat. Those who have tried it cannot forget,” says Naitale.

Another resident, Peter Tout, says when he visited Turkwel, it was his first time enjoying a boat ride and he felt great.

The area chief, William Lomada, says the dam has brought many activities since residents can travel and transport goods from one place to another, and locals welcome visitors.

Near Turkwel Dam, there is also a small palace being renovated by the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA).

KVDA owns and manages the dam after it was out of use for a long time.

KVDA Managing Director Sammy Naporos says the small palace will accommodate over 3,000 people during government activities.

He says the plan will boost development in the area and enable residents to interact with government officials.

West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin says opening up the area through tourism will help increase revenue for both the county and the national government.

“West Pokot County has hidden treasures. The county will benefit from the dam. Boat competitions will create job opportunities for youth who have abandoned cattle theft,” says Governor Kachapin.

Kachapin says these activities aim to boost the economy of the area.

“We welcome tourists with open arms,” he says.

He says these activities will provide revenue to both county and national governments and reduce security incidents.

Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto says there is a need to introduce the use of boats on Turkwel Dam as an annual activity that will attract tourists to the area.

“The boat will help attract many people who want to learn and familiarize themselves with the Pokot community’s culture,” says Moroto.

He advises residents to visit the area and see the hills surrounding the dam, urging investors to visit the area and see the scenery surrounding the dam, even building restaurants in the area.

“In the Turkwel area, there is the Nasolot tourist park, which has the largest elephants in the world. There are also Nasolot hills,” he says.

The presence of tourists has contributed to thriving business at the Riting trading center and improved peace in the area.