How long can you float?

As rivers go in Kenya, the name Ewaso Nyiro is a little confusing. Not because Ewaso Nyiro translates to brown river (in Masai) and almost all the rivers in Kenya are brown but because there are two totally different rivers with the same name.

While the Northern Ewaso Nyiro originates from Mount Kenya and drains into Somalia, the Southern Ewaso Nyiro originates from the Mau Escarpment, flows south through the Great Rift Valley to Nguruman Escarpment, past the Shompole Volcano and crosses over into Tanzania, where it empties into Lake Natron.

One of my favourite camping spots in Kenya is by the banks of the Southern Ewaso Nyiro near Olkoromritian which is accessed via Lake Magadi. Here, the river lazily meanders her way across the semi-arid landscape of Narok/Kajiado districts, lining the river with an avenue of fig trees.

As early as 9am, the sand gets unbearable to step on with bare feet making the river a welcome reprieve for man and beast alike. Monkeys dart from tree to tree, occasionally jumping into the river for a quick dip as different bird species like Egyptian geese float around on the unhurried river.

Floating on a tyre tube on the Ewaso Nyiro in Kenya
A sturdy stick is helpful for steering and punting while tubing on the Ewaso Nyiro

On my recent visit, the water was around 6ft at its deepest and the flow was calm enough to get on an old car tyre tube and spend a few days leisurely floating up and down the river. With good planning, you can set off from a spot overlooking the Nguruman escarpment and lazily saunter down to your camp in about 45-60min. Camping is in the bush and wild animals do frequent the area but the river is devoid of crocodile or hippo making it safe to swim but security at night is recommended.

Getting there takes a little planning ahead and with the current COVID restrictions mean your passage through Magadi (lake and town) will need to be pre-arranged. Call Mike on +254 712 293 634 and tell him you are a friend of mine and want to go tubing – and he will make the necessary arrangements. He will even come with a boda if you like and it will greatly help with the trek between your tubing starting point and camp (for a small fee).

How long will you float?

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