Set alongside the Ewaso Nyiro River, Kenya’s biggest northern river, Samburu has the lion’s share of wildlife. Besides big cats and African wild dogs, you’re likely to see some of the rare northern species such as Grevy’s zebra, the Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, the long-necked gerenuk, Guenther’s dik-dik and the beisa oryx, known as the Samburu Special Six.
Samburu is one of Kenya’s lesser-known national parks, yet it is one of its most rewarding. It may be fairly small in size, but it more than makes up for it with its wealth of wildlife.
The mighty Ewaso Nyiro River is a huge drawcard for the wildlife from the surrounding savannah plains. Some of the rare northern species have made this area their home, and you’ve got a great chance to see Grevy’s zebra, the Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, the long-necked gerenuk, Guenther’s dik-dik and the beisa oryx, aka the Samburu Special Six.
It’s also home to elephant, and the larger predators like lion, leopard, and cheetah. Sightings of wild dogs are also fairly common. Samburu is a birding hotspot with an impressive recording of over 450 species.
At Samburu, you’ll have the opportunity to explore this vast, arid region on foot as well as by mountain bike. You can also get a taste of local culture and traditions by visiting one of the local Samburu villages.
Samburu is generally a fly-in destination with a choice of several excellent lodges, from family-friendly lodges to remote honeymoon hideaways. Some also offer unique safari experiences like tracking big cats on foot, camel-back safaris and guided bush walks.
By and large, the nights are cool and the days are hot and dry. The best seasons for game viewing are from December through to March and from June to October. There are effectively two rainy seasons from late March until May, and again in November.
Wildlife & Safaris
There is an abundance of plains game here, together with the endemic northern species such as the closely striped Grevy’s zebra, the giraffe-necked gerenuk antelope, the tawny beisa oryx, the blue-tinged Somali ostrich and the dramatic reticulated giraffe. The big cats, lion, leopard, and cheetah are present, and large numbers of elephants roam the reserve. The riverine bush also attracts a wealth of birdlife. Some unusual but fairly common species include helmeted and vulturine guinea fowl, martial eagle, pygmy falcon, various bustard species, weavers, woodpeckers, shrikes, and colorful fly-catchers.
On the southern side of the river is the Buffalo Springs National Reserve and not far away is the Shaba National Reserve. A day pass enables you to comfortably visit all three reserves.
The local Samburu people, close relatives of the famous Maasai and similar in many ways, including traditional garb, beadwork, and lifestyles, are generally less nomadic and often adopt the more western practices of farming and trading.
It’s an excellent destination to spot these lesser-known northern species and the wealth of birdlife.
Great game viewing with only a few lodges and tented safari camps makes Samburu an ideal choice if you have a crowd aversion.
With abundant populations of elephant, lion, giraffe, zebra and other large plains game as well as some 450 bird species, Samburu National Reserve is a popular destination if you’re looking for a unique safari experience in one of Kenya’s smaller wildlife parks. There are only a few accommodation options within Samburu; two safari lodges and several tented safari camps with varying levels of luxury.