Samburu National Reserve in Kenya
A year-round destination for the more discerning safari lover, the Samburu National Reserve is unlike its more popular counterparts, but offers nature lovers a truly unique experience in a pristine, diverse landscape – home to some endemic animals found nowhere else in the world.
Everything you need to know about Samburu National Reserve
Despite being one of the lesser-known parks in Kenya, the Samburu National Reserve is a must for discerning safari-goers, seeking a more off-the-beaten-track destination that offers unique experiences. It is less crowded than Kenya’s more popular parks like Amboseli and the Maasai Mara, but still provides excellent game viewing, and a unique opportunity to spot some rare northern specialist species, found nowhere else in the country. It is a vast expanse of truly pristine wilderness, home to the Samburu people, and features Kenya’s biggest river – the Ewaso Ng’iro.
Where is the reserve located?
The Samburu National Reserve is situated in the north of Laikipia – one of the less frequented regions of Kenya – in the Samburu County, 350 kilometres from the country’s capital, Nairobi. It is located on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river, with the Buffalo Springs National Reserve to the south.
What can you expect of the terrain?
Unlike the sprawling green open expanses of the rest of the country, the north is characterised by more arid and semi-arid ecosystems, including dry scrubland and rocky outcrops, as well as riverine forests and large doum palms that can be found along the edge of the river. The wildlife is plentiful, and unique to this extraordinary landscape.
About the reserve
What type of wildlife will we see?
Home to wildlife such as elephants, wild dogs, and the larger predatory cats like lion, leopard, and cheetah, the Samburu National Reserve is also home to five rare and endemic animals to this particular ecosystem. Known as the ‘Samburu 5’, these animals include the Grevy zebra, the Somali ostrich, the reticulated giraffe, the Beisa oryx, and the gerenuk. Found nowhere else in the world, these unique animals have made this craggy, rugged, romantic region of Kenya their home, and are a real treat for safari lovers. The reserve is also a haven for bird lovers, with over 450 recorded species including the Taita falcon, and vulturine.
Top experiences to enjoy in Samburu National Reserve
Like the Maasai, the Samburu tribe are nomadic pastoralists who move around following rainfall patterns in search of water for their livestock. Visiting the local tribes, and cultural villages, as well as the Samburu caves to witness the historical rock art that dates back centuries, is a truly enriching experience. Another highlight, and something truly unique to experience, is a camel safari. Ditch the game vehicle, and ride a camel through this pristine wilderness for an opportunity to get really close to the games plain, and, if you’re up for an even more thrilling adventure, stay overnight at a camel camp within the reserve for a truly authentic bushveld experience.
When to visit
Because it is a more arid region in Kenya, Samburu doesn’t experience the kind of intense rainy seasons like the rest of the country. June to October is considered peak safari season and falls during the cooler, drier months, which make animals easier to find as they don’t stray too far from the water sources. The reserve is also a truly spectacular place to visit from November to April during what is referred to as the Green Season. During this time, the gentle rains create a lush, flourishing landscape – great for bird lovers.