Samburu National Reserve: Kenya’s Most Unique Safaris Destination

Samburu National Reserve

If you’ve been to Kenya before or are searching for a more remote location with access to modern conveniences, the Samburu National Reserve is a great choice. It’s a safari location that provides interesting experiences and fantastic wildlife viewing, making it highly worthwhile.

There are direct flights from Nairobi’s domestic Wilson Airport, and a road transfer is an option if you’re traveling from Lewa or Laikipia (although it is fairly lengthy). Compared to driving, flying between locations allows for more time spent on Kenya safaris starting from Nairobi.

It is the most visited park in northern Kenya despite being hot, dry, and relatively remote. The Ewaso Ng’iro River, the major supply of water for the park’s animals, is located in a rough region with a climate similar to a desert.

Lion, leopard, and cheetah are among the big cats that can be found in this area. And many of the larger grazers, like impala, buffalo, and hippos, can be found during the safari in scenic Samburu Reserve.

Elephants? Samburu has approximately 900 of these calm creatures… the herds congregating around the life-giving river. Meanwhile, a large population of Nile crocodiles may be seen lurking beneath the river’s filthy brown waters, looking for prey.

Why Visit Samburu National Reserve

Samburu National Reserve safaris continue to be popular with both safari novices and seasoned travelers to Africa due to its first-rate animal watching and cultural value. Additionally, the fact that it was the home to two of the most well-known lionesses in the world—George and Joy Adamson’s Elsa, immortalized in the best-selling book and critically acclaimed film Born Free, and the stunning Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting oryx calves—certainly adds to its appeal. Kenya Safaris starting from Nairobi wouldn’t be complete without a trip to this stunning destination.

Samburu is also noted for some unusual species that is rarely seen elsewhere. A visit to the reserve will allow you to see animals such as Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, and Beisa onyx. In addition, this is one of the few parks where you can see African wild dogs.

Today, a trip to Samburu National Reserve offers the chance to see one of the largest and most varied densities of species on the continent as well as learn about a location where the local Samburu people have long coexisted with the animals. Discovering a Samburu hamlet offers the chance to get to know these colorful people and learn about their nomadic, pastoral, and isolated way of life.

Because it is relatively uncrowded, Samburu is regarded as a hidden gem by discerning safari goers. Unlike Amboseli, it draws few self-drive visitors on weekends or during school holidays, and it never reaches the fever pitch of the Masai Mara during the Migration, when thousands flock to see the spectacle.


Samburu National Reserve located 350 kilometers from Nairobi and covering 104 square kilometers, offers a lot as a safari location.

It is located on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, which flows from the glaciers of Mount Kenya and provides water to wildlife all year! This dependable water source is what initially drew herders, today known as the Samburu people, to the region.

The Samburu are still present today, and it is a luxury for visitors to experience their methods of living, which are close to but separate from Maasai culture.

A large acacia woodland and doum palm plantations found along the river’s banks, offering both food and shade. Other than that, the reserve is a sandy savanna that produces long grasses in response to the April and November rainfall.

In order to avoid the crowds, it is advisable to stay in regions that are close to the main reserve in Samburu and Buffalo Springs. Shaba National Reserve, Kalama Conservancy, and West Gate Conservancy are the closest conservancies to Samburu and Buffalo Springs. Each of these places is worth visiting and great for getting away from the busier areas for a little while.

Wildlife in Samburu National Reserve

The reserves’ most famous animals are their own Big Five – Grevy’s zebra, with their smart pin-stripe pattern; gerenuk, with their impressively stretchy neck; Beisa oryx, with pointed horns and distinctive markings; reticulated giraffe, clad in attractive coats; and Somali ostrich, a feathery delight.

The rhino, one of the traditional Big Five, has been poached, but there are plenty of lion and leopard, as well as elephant – in fact, elephant are the most dominant species here, with over 900 individuals in residence at the last count!

Cheetah, hyena, and even the occasional wild dog can be found around Samburu and Buffalo Springs, though these big cats are quite rare. The savanna supports a diverse range of herbivores, while the river is home to hippopotamus and crocodiles. Grant’s gazelle, Kirk’s dik-dik, impala, waterbuck, warthog, and olive baboon are among the other species to look out for!

The reserve’s nearly 450 species of birds provide a never-ending show of fascinating avian life for bird watchers. There will be many opportunities to see kingfishers, marabous, vultures, guinea fowl, Somali ostrich, egret, falcon, and eagle during game drives over the savannah, through acacia forest, and riverine vegetation.

The Best Time to Visit Samburu

Because Samburu does not experience particularly harsh rainy seasons, it is a year-round destination. Mid-year winter is milder and drier, and it falls roughly between June and October, when safari season is at its busiest. Because they won’t go far from the Ewaso Ngiro River, one of the few sources of water, the animals are simpler to locate and observe in the dry conditions.

Where to Stay in Samburu

Because of its rocky outcrops and odd combination of Samburu and Arabian influences, the reserve boasts some of the most stunning housing in all of Kenya.

If you are staying for more than three nights, consider relocating to a different lodge to see a different area of the park and get a different perspective during safari in scenic Samburu Reserve.

Author’s Bio: The writer is an experienced travel consultant with Masai Africa Safaris – Experts in private safaris to Kenya’s wildlife destinations, including famous Masai Mara, Amboseli and Samburu. More on website:

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