Marsabit town is mainly inhabited by the Cushitic-speaking Borana, Burji, Gabbra and Rendille. There are also some Nilotic Turkana and Bantu Ameru residents. Additionally, there are a few Somali traders.

Marsabit has an airstrip and a mountain peak (Mount Marsabit), with “singing” wells just outside the town. Elephants can also often be seen in the local wildlife refuge that surrounds the town, occasionally breaking down fences and causing damage to local farmers crop beds.

The name is possibly from the Amharic word ‘Marsa bet’ (Meaning Marsa’s home/house) and is believed to have been named after a farmer named ‘Marsa’ (ethnically Burji) who was brought to Marsabit from Mega (in Ethiopia) by the Consul to assist in consolidation of farming and permanent settlement on the slopes of Mount Marsabit.



  • Mt. Marsabit – The land around the mountain is home to most of the people, where they do some farming.
  • Chalbi is the largest, and only true desert in Kenya, virtually uninhabited, it stretches out for 100 km2 – a dusty treeless land.
  • The desert museum, set up to celebrate the histories and the cultures of the pastoral groups living in the northern frontier.


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