Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve, which derives its name from the local Samburu community who have occupied this area for a long time, is located in Samburu county in the northern part of Kenya, about 350km from Nairobi. The area is appr. 165 km² of rugged hills and low lying semi-arid plains with an altitude of between 800 and 1230m above sea level. The host community are the Samburu ethnic group, a group known for their remote culture, pastoral and nomadic way of life.
Samburu National Reserve was gazette in 1974 and was one of the areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness. Their story was made famous by the bestselling book and award-winning movie “Born Free”.
The Ewaso Ng’iro river is the lifeline of the area. The river flows through doum palm groves and thick riverine forests, with one side being the Buffalo Springs National Reserve and the other side of the river the Samburu National Reserve. It provides the much needed water in this arid area, without which the animals in this region can’t survive. Crocodile and hippo share the river with many small herds of elephant who bathe in the muddy brown waters during the heat of the day, before returning later to browse the lush vegetation of the riverine forest. In the dry season the elephants use their tusks to dig into the dry river beds, unearthing precious water.
The reserve’s topography is mainly open savannah (grassland) with clusters of acacia trees, thorn trees , grassland vegetation and narrow riverine woodlands.
Weather and Climate
In this semi-arid zone, the days are extremely hot while nights are cool. The annual mean temperatures range between 18ºC and 30ºC, while the mean annual rainfall is 354mm with peaks in November and April. The dry season starts in late May, and goes up to early October during when large concentration of wildlife is found in the reserve due to availability of lush vegetation along the Ewaso Ng’iro River.
Things to see
Due to its remote distance and the fact that it was inaccessible for many years, the reserve has retained a natural serenity and quiet feeling. Besides the numerous wildlife found in this game reserve, the park is also a bird haven.
Game viewing:The reserve is unique and rich in wildlife. It is home to the endemic rare Northern species including the long necked gerenuk or giraffe necked antelope, reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich, Grevy’s zebra and Beisa oryx. The reserve is also popular with numerous elephants. Large predators such as the Lion, Leopard and Cheetah are a notable attraction
(Kamunyak the Miracle Lioness that adapted the baby Oryx is a resident in the reserve).
Buffalos and other plains game are found here. On rare occasions, packs of African wild dogs are sighted passing through the reserve.
Bird viewing:The reserve is also considered a bird viewing paradise by ornithologists. Birdlife is abundant with over 350 species of bird. These include grey-headed kingfishers, sunbirds, beeeaters, Marabou storks, tawny eagle, Verreaux eagle, Bateleur eagle, vulturine guineafowl, yellow-necked spurfowl, lilac breasted roller, secretary bird, superb starling, northern red-billed hornbill, yellow-billed hornbill and vultures. Lesser Kestrel and the Taita Falcon are species of global conservation concern and they both utilize the reserve. Five species categorized as vulnerable have been recorded in the reserve. These are African Darter, Great Egret, White-headed Vulture, Martial Eagle and the Yellow-billed Ox-pecker.
Cultural Tours: A visit to the local Samburu villages will help you get a chance to interact with the colorful Samburu people in their traditional setting and experience their culture.
There are two notable mountains, Koitogor and Ololokwe.
The reserve can be accessed by road, 350km from Nairobi,a drive of about 5hours and enter through the Ngare Mare gate, Chokaa gate or Archer’s Post gate. By air it is only 45minutes and you’ll land at airstrips located in the reserve.
You can contact Nomadic Holidays and Safaris to help you book your Samburu Safari.
Accommodation in or near Samburu National Reserve:
Samburu Intrepids Camp
Elephant Bedroom Camp
Ashnil Samburu Camp
Samburu Simba Lodge