Samburu, a lesser-known but unique wilderness destination
Located in Samburu County of north-central Kenya, the 165 Km² park was established in 1985 and is managed by the county government. Samburu Reserve lies along the doum-palm lined Ewaso Nyiro river that is the lifeblood of the region. The terrain varies from grasslands, to semi-desert, rolling hills and marshes. Samburu Reserve is connected to Buffalo Springs and Shaba Reserves, and is surrounded by several private wildlife conservancies
In the reserve you can view the rare “Samburu 5” species: Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk antelope and beisa oryx. Samburu is home to the colorful, culture-rich Samburu people who have herded their livestock here for generations, in tangent with the natural cycle of life.
Samburu National Reserve is about 350km by road from Nairobi. It is a 6-hour drive on the A2 highway (Nairobi-Isiolo road) with entry through Archer’s Gate. If you leave Nairobi very early in the morning, you can be in Samburu by lunchtime. By air, it is a 1.5 hour flight from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport. Safarilink and Airkenya Express fly twice daily into Samburu.
Samburu experiences hot and sunny weather throughout the year, with daytime temperatures reaching 32°C/90°, though it is cooler when it rains. The average rainfall is low, and the rainy months are usually April, May and November when afternoon showers are typical. The Ewaso Nyiro river rises considerably from upriver volumes during the rainy season and occasionally overflows its banks.
Best Time to Go
What to Do
Samburu has good wildlife viewing and you are guaranteed to see elephants, different antelopes including greater and lesser kudu, and a plethora of birdlife. It is home to the rare “Samburu 5” species: Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk antelope and beisa oryx. Among the ‘big cats’ lions and leopards are frequently spotted. Early morning and late afternoon are the best hours for wildlife spotting.
The Samburu people are a semi-nomadic community whose way of life is closely linked to livestock and the rangelands where they live and graze. The Samburu are closely related to the Maasai people, their languages are similar, both communities are Nilotic, and they originated from South Sudan. Visit a nearby Samburu homestead for an authentic culture experience, to view daily life firsthand.
Reteti Elephant Sanctuary
The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is only the second facility in Kenya for the care of orphaned baby elephants. It is a partnership between the Kenya Wildlife Service, the government, and various local sanctuaries. Members of the local community work at the sanctuary and the ultimate goal is to release the young elephants back into the wild. The sanctuary guides are very knowledgeable about the animals and conservation efforts. It is a 3 hours by road from Samburu National Reserve but well worth the drive.
Places to Stay
Samburu Reserve has a variety of accommodation options, from safari lodges to exclusive tented camps.