Probably one of the most unusual safaris in Africa, Jade Sea Journeys operate a combination of boat and land expeditions into one of the wildest corners of the continent.
On Kenya's northern border with Ethiopia lies Lake Turkana, also known as the Jade Sea. From their base on the western shores of Lake Turkana, Halewijn and Joyce Scheuerman run remote expeditions across Lake Turkana, across the Omo Delta and further north following the Omo River into the lower Omo Basin of Ethiopia. Thanks to a recent agreement with an Ethiopian businessman, they now also have a base in Ethiopia, and a seasonal camp on the northern banks of the Omo River.
These expeditions are not your standard ‘soft’ adventure safari, as with the majority of tailored African travels. A journey into the Omo Basin is a kaleidoscope of culture and terrain. This is the birthplace of mankind where early hominids have been found dating back 2 million years - the crucial turning-point in the evolution of the hominids.
The Omo Delta, only accessible by boat, is a stunningly remote area of islands and marshes inhabited by the Dassanech and crocodile hunters El Molo tribes. The Dassanech villages are scattered among the islands and the villagers are delightfully untouched by the normal effects of tourism. We anticipate that only 50 people a year make it into the delta – and all of these are with Jade Sea Journeys.
The riverine forest then runs north along the banks of the Omo River further into southern Ethiopia. Travelling by boat, you pass beautiful thick forests hanging over the river, full of birds and crocodile, with villagers running to the banks to wave. You pass the Nyanyagatom, Hamar and Kara tribes along the way to the main Karo village of Duss. Further upstream from Duss you will also find the lip-plate Mursi tribe and their close cousins the Surma.
The camps that are set up along the way comprise comfortable two-man tents with simple camp beds and verandha. Separate toilet and shower tents are constructed on the perimeters of Jade Sea Safaris. Boats range from custom-made supply boats to the faster Boston whalers.
The delta is only accessible June to January but only from Ethiopia November to January. You can only cross from Turkana to Omo, across the Omo Delta from June to November.
Cultural celebrations are best in April and May, and bull-jumping in September. Long rains are March to May, with a little rain in November.
I am very sad to report that Halewijn Scheuerman recently died (2009) in a car accident on the Nairobi-Mombasa road. Jade Sea Safaris is however still operational being run by Halewijn's wife Joyce and business partner Lale. Will Jones, 2010
To find out more about Jade Sea Safaris and to arrange your tailor-made trip, get in touch with us today.