Many consider Suguta Valley, also known as the Suguta Mud Flats, Suguta Marmar or Suguta Lol Marmar, one of the most remote and hottest places in the country – some travellers have referred to it as the ‘way to hell’.
Here the rule of the jungle reigns supreme and only the toughest can dare venture into its bosom. Locals have a name for it – ‘the valley of death.’
Suguta was first explored by Geologist Joseph Thomson. Part of an expedition sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society of Britain between 1879 and 1880, Thomson deduced the existence of a great fault. He returned in 1883, travelling through the Rift Valley in Kenya from Mount Longonot to Lake Baringo. John Walter Gregory later used the term ‘Rift Valley’ for the first time in his 1896 classic, ‘The Great Rift Valley.’
It was at Suguta Valley that a chopper carrying former provincial commissioner, Ishmael Chelang’a, was brought down in 1996 under unknown circumstances. In this seemingly quiet, calm and spectacularly beautiful valley, many lives have been lost in rustling-related incidences.
Since the 70s, Suguta Marmar has provided a backdrop for cattle rustlers with its infamous cattle corridor. They use the corridors to drive stolen livestock towards the south of Turkana and South Horr in Marsabit County. The rugged mountainous terrain makes it easy for the escaping rustlers to hide from the pursuing police. From this vantage point, they can easily launch an ambush. Hundreds have lost their lives in these ambushes.
Yet it is only in this valley of death you will find the rare wildflowers known as the Star of the Desert thriving. Their beautiful hues of brown are a wonder to behold.
At Suguta you will also get fantastic views of the Barrier Volcano. The broad volcanic complex forms a natural wall between the valley and Lake Turkana. The Namarunu volcano, which extends into the valley from the western wall, can be viewed from here. This volcano was active in historic times. Mount Ngiro, to the east of the Suguta valley, is also visible.
From the Losiolo Escarpment rising 2,000 M above the valley floor on the east side near Maralal, you can get the most spectacular views of the Kenyan Rift Valley and then go see Lake Logipi fill the fairly flat Suguta Valley with a floor of about 300 M (980 FT) above sea level, to the north.
But it is the ongoing separation of the Somali and the Nubian plates that is the most breathtaking. Suguta Valley lies along the axis of the Gregory Rift. The rift has been faulting in this area since the Pliocene along a belt 35 KM wide. It is actually possible to witness this amazing geological process taking place as you watch!
As for its current safety, Suguta Marmar remains a destination perhaps only for the adrenaline adventure junky. This place some call ‘Mars on earth’ has very little oxygen. You literally gasp for breath just being there.
Nowadays the valley has far fewer rustlers. Yet we would still advise you exercise caution while venturing into it, after all, the rewards are equally fulfilling!