Samburu Reserve is considered one of the most untamed wilderness areas left in Africa, with much of it being completely inaccessible until recent years. The vast breathtaking landscapes and countless intriguing inhabitants of Samburu have remained largely unaltered by man. Samburu offers visitors an authentic bush experience, off the beaten safari track of East Africa. Whether you are a first time safari-goer or a seasoned adventurer, this region's stark, wild beauty will stay with you.
The lesser-known Samburu National Reserve lies in the Samburu County of Kenya, on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River in Northern Kenya. It is spread over an area of about 165 km² some 350 km north of the vibrant city of Nairobi. One of Kenya's three northern parks (including Shaba and Buffalo Springs), Samburu is part of the spectacular Great Rift Valley and reaches altitudes of between 800 and 1230 metres above sea level in some places.
The reserve is centred around the permanent water source of the Ewaso Nyiro River that lazily winds through the length of the park, giving rise to doum palm groves and thick riverine forests which attract a wide variety of animals, big and small. The shade of the lush vegetation along the water's edge is a haven for animals seeking shelter from the equatorial sun and those coming to drink. Animals trek to this life-giving water source from an otherwise bone-dry landscape and the natural serenity of the river banks provide prime wildlife spotting and game viewing opportunities.
While being a relatively unknown travel destination it is famous thanks to two very special lionesses that caught the public's imagination over the years. The one is Joy and George Adamson's lioness Elsa, on which the book Born Free is based and where the film was made, and the second is a lioness known as Kamunyak who adopted and cared for oryx calves within Samburu Reserve. Besides these two famous residents Samburu is home to Africa's Big Five, a long and fascinating list of other animals and over 450 bird species.
Large herds of elephants still roam freely enjoying the vast beauty of Africa and often have a reddish appearance from the red earth that they use to have dust baths. Sadly, there are alarmingly few rhinos left in this area due to the unscrupulous poaching activities plaguing much of Africa's wild spaces. The very peculiar Gerenuk gazelle can be spotted here. Also knows as the giraffe-gazelle, this long necked antelope stands up on its hind legs to feed and is wonderful to watch going about its daily business. Other special sightings include the shy Oryx and some of the biggest crocodiles in Africa.
Samburu derives its name from the Samburu people who live in this region. The Samburu tribe are a clan of the better-known Maasai people and have a unique culture, leading a semi-nomadic existence as herders of camels, cattle, sheep and goats across the parched African terrain. They have themselves become a popular tourist attraction and have so far avoided the negative impact of mass tourism, retaining an authentic and genuine openness to visitors. Their singing, dancing, colourful and intricate beadwork, along with their immeasurable wealth of knowledge about the animals and environment, make meeting these gentle people a very special experience.
Other places of interest in this area include the Lake Lokipi hot spring, which is also a spectacular flamingo breeding ground, and Lake Turkana (also known as the Jade Sea). Fun activities include seasonal river rafting, camel riding safaris, the ships of the desert, and a visit to the Sarara Singing Wells, where you can witness the very special ritual of singing men drawing water from wells for their animals. Samburu is also the headquarters of the Save the Elephants Organisation that works relentlessly to fight poaching, as well as tracking and monitoring individual and groups of elephants.
Although the climate in this equatorial region is pleasant at any time of the year, the drier months (from December to March and July to October) are best for game viewing.
Use the Google map to explore Samburu National Reserve. Feel free to Print the Street Map when you're ready.