When you land at the Lodwar Airport, you will see a huge hill with something that will remind you of the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil. This is because there is a huge statue of Jesus at the top of the hill.
Upon inquiry I was told that it was a religious retreat center and the place where the local Catholic got to do the way of the cross during Easter. There wasn’t anyone to give me additional information on its history or what inspired its construction, but the hike up was free and popular with the locals.
I decided to hike up after visiting the Kenyatta House in Lodwar which was meant to be open, but it was not even though it was meant to close in about 4 hours time- according to the sign outside. The driver I was using who is a local told me that it was rarely opened and that he had never bothered to visit the place since it always seemed deserted.
So on we went to the Portcaeli Retreat (I honestly would have preferred if it had a Turkana name) where Mr. Kibenei (the driver) had never been to even though he lived 5 minutes away from the place. The hike was interesting and super tiring because of the heat, and also because I am very unfit! There were the various stations of the way of the cross situated along the hike and numerous stairs to climb before getting to the top.
Once I did get to the statue, huffing and puffing my unfit self away, I got to understand why it was a popular place for people seeking somewhere to meditate and have a quiet moment. The view was amazing- River Turkwell, the lagas, Lodwar Town, the rugged terrain on its outskirts as well as the surrounding hills. It was also so peaceful and quiet and it just made me want to have more time to enjoy being there, but I was on limited time since I had to catch a flight back home.
The folks who run the place should also consider placing some benches at the top as there were none so I had to settle for sitting on the steps. If you decide to take the hike, make sure you carry water and have a hat- you can buy one from the weavers in town like the one I was wearing in the picture for Kshs 100-150. If you are in Lodwar town, visit Portcaeli Retreat if you have a moment- Turkana’s connection to Brazil (landmark-wise)!