Samburu National Reserve Budget Travel Guide

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Samburu Reserve is considered one of the most untamed wilderness areas 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. 

Location of Samburu Reserve

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 Ewaso Nyiro River of Samburu

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. 

Fame & Fauna of Samburu Game Reserve

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.

Tribal Samburu People

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. 

Samburu Area & Climate

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. 

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Tours Focused on Samburu National Reserve

Lake Turkana & Northern Kenya Camping Safari

Duration 10 Days, Travel Style Camping Safaris
Priced from pps R35667 $2470 £1898 €2199 A$3506 C$3314 NZ$3630 Full pricing info
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Traditional culture A real African camping adventure in remote and wild northern Kenya where we explore Lake Turkana, Chalbi Desert, Mount Marsabit, Samburu Reserve and Ol Pejeta Conservancy on game drives, nature walks, boat rides and more. Go wild and get off the beaten track on this unusual East African journey!

Trip Style Samburu National Reserve Budget Safari Packages

Lake Turkana, Chalbi Desert & Samburu Camping Safari

Duration 08 Days, Travel Style Camping Safaris
Priced from pps R28475 $1972 £1515 €1755 A$2799 C$2646 NZ$2898 Full pricing info
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Landcruiser Experience the fascinating traditional cultures, rare wildlife and stunning scenery of Northern Kenya on this real camping adventure! Journey from Nairobi to scenic Lake Turkana and the remote Chalbi Desert, then explore the lush Marsabit and rugged Samburu national reserves.

Trip Style Samburu National Reserve Budget Safari Packages

Masai Mara, Samburu, Nakuru 4x4 Kenya Lodge Safari

Duration 08 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R36923 $2557 £1964 €2276 A$3629 C$3431 NZ$3758 Full pricing info
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Gerenuk in Samburu Adventure into Kenya's game reserves in a 4x4 safari vehicle, staying at high-quality lodges, all meals and game viewing drives included. Explore Samburu, Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara on this affordable tour.

Trip Style Samburu National Reserve Budget Safari Packages

Masai Mara & Northern Kenya Game Parks 4x4 Safari

Duration 08 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R35291 $2444 £1878 €2175 A$3469 C$3279 NZ$3592 Full pricing info
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Mara cheetah and cubs Embark on 4x4 game drives in northern, central and southwestern Kenya, exploring Samburu, Aberdare, Lake Nakuru Park and Masai Mara National Reserve - staying full board at top-quality lodges.

Trip Style Samburu National Reserve Budget Safari Packages