Extreme sport has put the quiescent Chalbi desert on global sporting map. Not so many people knew about the ‘bare and salty’ gem in north Kenya.
Chalbi desert is a forsaken expanse in Marsabit County. Kenyans don’t see its value but surprisingly foreigners do.
Kenya has produced the best athletes in the world in as far as marathon and middle-distance running are concerned. But what about other sports like climbing, diving, gymnastics, rowing, sailing, surfing?
Who thought Chalbi desert could be a paradise for desert kiting? Sometimes in 2011 a group of foreign Kite land-boarding enthusiasts in collaboration East African Board Riders (EABR) descended upon Chalbi desert to take part in desert kiting.
For starters, kite landboarding also known as land kiteboarding or flyboarding, is a sport where a rider on a surf-style board is pulled over land by a kite.
The foreigners who took part in Kite landboarding at the Chalbi desert set a record as the first people to cross Kenya’s largest desert.
The local Gabbra community gathered in numbers to watch foreigners take part in the sport. The foreign board riders spent four days in Chalbi desert, they slept in their makeshift camp as there were no hotels nearby to host them.
The national and county governments have done little to promote desert kiting at Chalbi desert. Locals who wished to take part in the sport have been hindered by lack of goodwill from stakeholders.
Imagine the number of tourists and desert sports enthusiasts who would be steaming into Chalbi desert if the infrastructure existed.
Desert sport is a big deal in US; Ivanpah Dry Lake just outside Las Vegas, Nevada receives thousands of kite buggiers, landboarders, land sailors and other wind enthusiasts from around the world who gather to fly kites and enjoy the desert terrain.