Lying on the edge of northern Kenya’s arid savannahs, the Samburu National Reserve is a destination that will appeal as much to the safari first-timer as it will to the veteran. The most rewarding of the three national reserves that cluster around the life-giving Ewaso Ngiro River (the other two are Shaba and Buffalo Springs), The Samburu National Reserve is situated on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river in Kenya. On the other side of the river is the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. The park is 165 km² in size and is situated 350 kilometers from Nairobi.
The Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George Adamson and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness made famous in the best selling book and award winning movie Born Free.
Samburu’s savannahs and forests make for diverse big game country. Home to all the big cats, it’s especially good for leopard as well as providing a haven for super-rare wild dogs and large numbers of elephants. The 450 bird species will delight birders while it’s also the best destination for wildlife enthusiasts who want to see unusual animals that don’t occur in Kenya’s more well-known reserves. Top of the list are the ‘Samburu Big 5’ – Grevy’s zebra; the long-necked gerenuk; reticulated giraffe; besia oryx; and Somali ostrich.
But a Samburu safari also offers the opportunity to explore on foot and by mountain bike as well as the chance to visit Samburu villages and gain an insight into local life. Most often a fly-in destination, there are several superb lodges in the area. Some are family-friendly while others are perfect for an off-the-beaten-path honeymoon safari, but all offer a wide range of activities such as big cat tracking at Saruni Samburu; camelback safaris at SaSaab Camp; and bush breakfasts at Elephant Bedroom Camp – where elephant really do wander through camp on a fairly regular basis!
Generally a region of hot days and cool nights, the best time to go on a Samburu safari is during its two dry seasons: from December to March and again from June to October. The rains begin in late March and run through until May with a second rainy season in November.