A Guide to Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve

A Guide to Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve :  Samburu national reserve is one of the beautiful protected areas in Kenya and an excellent option for a Kenya safari if you are looking for a more of an off – the beaten path destination with plenty of creature and nature comforts. Samburu national reserve is a very rewarding safari destination offering unique safari experiences and excellent game viewing adventures.

If you have plans to visit Samburu national reserve on a Kenya reserve, here is the guide to this safari gem and this article highlights more on the

·         Things to do and see in Samburu

·         Why Go?

·         Where is It?

·         Wildlife

·         When to Go

·         Where to Stay

Top Things to See and Do in Samburu

There is a batch of thrilling activities and breathing taking things to do and see in Samburu national reserve as listed below

1.      Spot the Samburu special 5 that are Gerenuk, Beisa Oryx, Grevy’s Zebra, reticulated giraffe and Somali Ostrich

2.      Spend the nights in beautiful accommodations ranging from Bedouin – style tents to safari lodges built into and around a giant volcanic rock faces

A Guide to Kenya's Samburu National Reserve
Kenya wildlife

3.      Visit the local Samburu people and learn how they live their lives a Samburu way which differs from the Maasai people

4.      Do birding activity spotting over 450 bird species including Kori bustards, vulturine guinea fowl and secretary birds among others

5.      Take a guided walk through a hilly landscape dotted with magnificent outcrops with Samburu guides

6.      Have a drink in a spectacular night sky and unblemished Milky way

7.      Ditch the 4X4 and have a saddle ride on a camel as you explore the scrub land

8.      Be charmed by the real-life tale of a bereaved lioness adopting and protecting an orphaned gazelles, you can read the full true story at the entrance to Samburu national reserve. 

Why Go to Samburu?

Samburu national reserve is considered a kenya safari gem among the discerning safari goers mostly for those who prefer uncrowded destinations. Unlike other Kenya safari destinations such as Amboseli national park and Maasai Mara national reserve, Samburu national reserve attracts a few numbers of self – driving visitors over  the weekends and during school holidays, even in the peak season, the population of tourists in Samburu national reserve cannot be compared to that of Maasai Mara and its private conservancies.

Though you might try harder to find the wildlife species and sightings in Samburu national reserve, when you find them it is a very rewarding experience as you are likely to have few other tourist vehicles around you. In the semi arid plains of Samburu you will be able to sot the big cats as well as the unusual species such as the gerenuk.

Samburu national reserve is a very satisfying destination for seasoned travelers who are on a safari to Samburu for specific wildlife species, for example if you are interested in reticulated giraffe, Samburu is the perfect destination for a special giraffe safari.  While on a Kenya safari in Samburu national reserve, you will also have an opportunity to enjoy the sophisticated atmosphere and nature.

A Guide to Kenya's Samburu National Reserve
A Guide to Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve

Where is Samburu?

Samburu national reserve lies in the north of Kenya where the flat green plains of the rest of Kenya start giving way to arid scrubland, Kopjes and immense rocky outcrops, all centered on the meandering Ewaso Ng’iro river  which transverse through the reserve. The reserve has an extraordinary landscape supporting a variety of wildlife which have adapted to the semi arid (drier and rockier) conditions.

Samburu national reserve is located in

Samburu national reserve is named after the Samburu people who are the residents of this area, these people are nomadic pastoralists with traditional finery which is among the most beautiful and delicate in the world. The Samburu people have not yet been affected by technology or modernity, they still live in the manyattas (Villages) that easily be moved to follow fresh grazing for their live stock including donkeys, goats, and camels which were introduced at some point when the Arab traders arrive in the area. These camels are desert creatures and they can thrive in the in the semi-desert environments which is similar to that of Samburu, this area is one of the few places in Africa where you can undertake a camel trek while on a game viewing adventure. Camel adventures in Samburu national reserve are led by capable and knowledgeable Samburu guides.

Wildlife in Samburu

(Which Animals Will I See in Samburu?)

 Samburu national reserve is a haven for abundance of wildlife and birdlife including the Samburu Special 5, predators like lion, leopard and wildlife and abundant Samburu birdlife with over 450 recorded species such as vulturine guineafowl, lesser kestrel and Taita Falcon among others.

 Samburu national reserve is a perfect destination for animal and safari lovers, one of the biggest and most exciting reasons to visit Samburu national reserve is to have an encounter with the quasi-endemic species found in the area. These species have adapted to the more arid and hillier conditions, while Kenya safari destinations such as Amboseli national park are known for the impressive herds of elephants and Masai Mara national reserve known for the millions of wildebeests experienced during the Great Annual migration, Samburu national reserve is known for its Special 5 who are cousins to the world-famous Big 5.

 The Samburu Special 5

Samburu national reserve is famous known for the Samburu Special 5 which are sisters of the Big 5, the Samburu Special 5 include Gerenuk or giraffe gazelle, Somali Ostrich, Grevy’s Zebra, Beisa Oryx and Reticulated giraffe.

 Gerenuk or giraffe gazelle

The Gerenuk also known as the giraffe gazelle is named after a Samburu language meaning long necked and these species have comical long necks, the gerenuks have massive ears when compared to their small heads which makes then undeniably cutes. Previously they were known as Wallers gazelle, to the Samburu people these animals are considered to be very humble creatures that are willing to come to aid of fellow gerenuks.

The Gerenuk or giraffe gazelle have very strong hind legs which enables them to stand for long periods while grazing leaves which cannot be too short or giraffes too tall to reach.

 Somali Ostrich

The Somali Ostrich has a difference appearance from the normal ostriches, they have pink necks and legs and grey – blue skin, during the mating season, the legs and necks of the males turn bright blue which make them easy to spot.

A Guide to Kenya's Samburu National Reserve
 Somali Ostrich

 Grevy’s Zebra

Grevy’s Zebra also known as Imperial Zebra are beautiful species known for being able to live for 5 days without drinking water in a row, sadly these animals are on a high demand and they are poached for their beautiful hides which makes them the most endangered of all zebra species.

 Beisa Oryx

Beisa Oryx are beautiful species with scimitar – like horns both in male and female, these horns can reach nearly a meter or 3 feet in length. Males will embark on ferocious battles with their horns during the rutting season to win the favor of the females. Because of the battles it is very common to find a male Beisa Oryx with one horn and the other having snapped off during a fight.

 Reticulated giraffe

Reticulated giraffe are easily visible creatures in Samburu national reserve because of their liver-colored rosettes that are very different to the lighter and smaller patches of their southern cousins.

A Guide to Kenya's Samburu National Reserve
Reticulated giraffe

When to Go

The Best Time to Visit Samburu

 Samburu national reserve is a year round destination and this is attributed to the fact that it does not have extremely rainy season, also there is a low risk of Malaria, however it is advisable to consult your clinic about prophylactics.

 Samburu national reserve is cooler and drier during the mid-year winter which coincides with peak safari season which is from June to October, the dry conditions make the animals easier to find and are easily spotted around Ewaso Ng’iro River as it is the permanent water source in the area thus A Guide to Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve. 

Where to Stay in Samburu

In Samburu national reserve there is some of the most spectacular accommodation in the all of Kenya and this is attributed to rocky outcrops and unusual combination of Samburu and Arabian influences.  Accommodations in Samburu national reserve include

·         Sasaab camp

·         Saruni Samburu

·         Elephant Bedroom Camp among others

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