Samburu National Reserve, one of the most well-known wildlife safari destination in East Africa, is a top game reserve situated on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River in Northern Kenya. This enormous tract of lonely, untouched wilderness is 165 square kilometers in size, and the Ewaso Ng’iro River, which divides it from the Buffalo Springs National Reserve, runs along its southern boundary. The Grévy Zebra, Somali Ostrich, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, and Beisa Oryx are just a few of the many endangered species that call the Samburu Reserve their home.

There are also about 900 elephants living in the reserve. Large predators such as the lion, leopard, and cheetah are popular (Kamunyak, the famous lioness who adapted to a baby Oryx, lives in the reserve).In fact, Samburu national reserve is one of the best places in Kenya to see leopards. This distinctive protected region is home to over 450 kinds of birds, and wild dog sightings are another frequent draw. The main reserve of Samburu is now bordered by other conservancies and group ranches, including the Kalama Conservancy, West Gate Community Conservancy, and Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy. The Samburu Reserve is regarded as one of the best wildlife reserves not only in Kenya but also in all of Africa.

Animals in Samburu national reserve

The Samburu “Special Five” animals, which include the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, and Beisa Oryx, are abundant in the reserve. These animals are rarely seen in other commonly visited reserves in Kenya, such as Masai Mara national reserve or Amboseli national park, and are mostly found in Samburu and Northern Kenya. Elephants are the most frequented and easily spotted mammals and are found in great numbers throughout the reserve.

Samburu National Reserve
Game Drives in Samburu

Grant gazelles, Impalas, Waterbucks, Dik-dik, Hippos, Olive Baboons, Warthogs, Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Cape Buffalo, Hyenas, Elands, Jackals, Klipspringer, Mongooses, and bats are also found in the Samburu-Laikipia Ecosystem. The reserve is also home to groups of wild dogs, though sightings are uncommon because of the animals’ extensive range and continual movement. The number of recorded bird species exceeds 450.

Tourist activities: Things to do in Samburu national reserve

One of the most fascinating tourist activities that Samburu has to offer is safari game viewing through game drives and walking safari and bird watching. The location and temperature of Samburu allow for year-round observation of top-notch wildlife. Another well-liked activity is the Samburu cultural tour, which gives tourists an intriguing look into the distinctive way of life of the illustrious Samburu people, a pastoralist and warrior tribe situated in Kenya and other regions of East Africa. As a visitor to Samburu National Reserve, you may also take advantage of other well-liked activities, including nature walks, camel trekking safaris, bush lunches, and sundowners.

  • The Samburu Special 5 includes the Spot gerenuk, Beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, and Somali ostrich.
  • Stay at lodging that includes everything from lodges carved into and around enormous volcanic rock faces to tents a la Bedouin.
  • Find out how Samburu culture varies from Maasai culture.
  • List all 450 known species of birds, including secretaries’ birds, vulturine guinea pigs, and Kori bustards.
  • Join Samburu guides as they lead you through a steep region filled with stunning outcrops.
  • Enjoy the stunning night sky and spotless Milky Way.
  • Instead of using a 4×4, ride a camel to explore the scrubland.

Helicopter Safaris

Get a bird’s-eye view of Samburu national reserve and its volcanic geology by riding in a helicopter, starting with the Ololukwe monolith, the Suguta Valley, Silale Crater, and Lake Logipi, places that are rarely accessible by game drive vehicle. Before arriving on the sacred Samburu Mountain, Ol Donyo Sabachi (Ol Lolokwe), which climbs 1,000 m above the surrounding plains, you will get a bird’s eye view of the Samburu’s infamously massive herds of elephants.

An early-evening trek to Sundowner Rock for panoramic views of the reserve and wildlife below might cap off the remarkable experience. For a one-day helicopter safari for a group of 1 to 5 people, you may anticipate paying between $5,000 and $7,000, as helicopter rides are considered a premium activity.

Camel Safari

Explore the African wilderness like the Samburu national reserve through horseback riding, an unforgettable safari experience. An excellent substitute for the standard game drive is a camel ride, which allows you to get up close and personal with Grevy’s zebra, ostriches, and giraffes while viewing wildlife that you might otherwise miss during game drive. Camels are relatively calm animals that have long been a staple of life in northern Kenya. Safaris with camels can be quite flexible. You can choose to have a lengthier camel safari and fly camp in the jungle, or you can do a two-hour round trip with sundowners in between.

Visiting Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

One of Kenya’s earliest community-run wildlife organizations is the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, which is located in the neighboring Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy. The rescue, rehabilitation, and rewilding of orphaned and abandoned elephant calves, as well as other species, are the sanctuary’s top priorities. The hours for visiting are 8.30 am to 10 am, followed by 11.30 am to 1 pm.

You may observe the elephants as they arrive from their stroll to take their bottles and then play in the mud hole from a unique viewing platform. You will be partnered with a keeper for the duration of your visit, who will accompany you and give you a behind-the-scenes tour while discussing their profession.

Guided Nature Walks/ walking safaris

Explore the region around your chosen camp on an hour-long guided nature walk, or travel farther to one of the nearby conservancies for a longer trip of 2–5 hours. This is a fantastic opportunity to see some of the 450 bird species that have been identified here, as well as the unique Samburu five, and learn more about the fascinating plant life and its roles in regional customs.

Pack plenty of water, a good hat, light pants and long sleeve tops (to protect your arms and legs from prickly plants), protective sunglasses, and sturdy walking shoes because the Samburu region is semi-arid and it can get very hot and dusty there. Walking safaris outside is advised in the early morning or late afternoon when it’s not too hot.

Why go to Samburu National reserve?

Samburu National reserve is regarded as a jewel among discerning safari visitors due to its lack of crowds. It does not see the same level of interest as the Masai Mara national reserve during the great wildebeest Migration, when thousands of people go there to see the spectacle, and it draws far fewer self-driving tourists on the weekends and during school breaks than Amboseli national park does. Finding sightings might require more effort, but if you do, the prize is all the more sweet because there are probably not many other vehicles in the area. Both huge cats and uncommon species like gerenuk can be found here.

Samburu National Reserve
Game drives in Samburu

When to Go: The Best Time to Visit Samburu national reserve

Samburu National Reserve is best visited between July and September and December to March during the dry season. The ideal times to see wildlife are during these months since the grass is short and the animals are drawn to water sources, particularly the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River.

Avoiding the lengthy wet season from March to May and the short rainy season from October to November is often suggested. During these months, access becomes more complex due to muddy roads, animal viewing is more difficult, and scheduled excursions may be impacted by severe rains.

 Getting There

Samburu National Reserve is 355 kilometers (220 miles) north of Nairobi city (or roughly 6 hours). If you’re driving, you can break up the drive by stopping at various national parks and conservancies along the way.

The quickest route to the reserve is by air. From Nairobi, there are two daily flights that take slightly under an hour. However, flying is the most expensive alternative; during the busiest times, you may anticipate paying around $400 per person.

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