Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve
Known for its dry landscape and its number of unique and rare species, Samburu National Reserve is a great option for those looking for a safari destination slightly more off-the-beaten-track. The reserve is located in central Kenya, north of the Masai Mara National Reserve, and can be accessed via road or small aircraft planes. The park is named after the local Samburu people, who live in this area. The Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists who herd livestock like cattle and goats. They are cousins of the Maasai people and share similar traditions, although their language and dialect are different.
The local Samburu people are very important to the preservation and history of the reserve. Local villages surround the park’s boundaries, so constant educational projects are in place to ensure there is little human/ wildlife conflict, especially with the Samburu cattle herders. During your stay in Samburu, we encourage you to do a community visit, which will often give you an insight into the way these people live in, quite often, harsh conditions.
Although you can visit Samburu National Reserve year-round, the game viewing is particularly heightened in the long, dry season between June and October. This is when the bush is at its driest, and many of the animals congregate around the Ewaso Ng’iro River – a river that borders the park and is the lifeblood of this arid terrain. On a game drive in Samburu National Reserve, you can expect to see elephants, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, giraffe, and a host of antelope among others.
The Samburu National Reserve is particularly known for its rare species that are endemic here. These include the ‘Samburu Five’ which includes the grevy’s zebra, the reticulated giraffe, the gerenuk, the Somali ostrich, and the East African oryx These species thrive in Samburu’s arid terrain, and you will hopefully be able to tick them all off your list during your time here.
Talk to the Expert
With a Kenyan father, Indian grandparents, and a Portuguese surname, travel is in my blood. I am enthralled by Africa and would happily talk about this diverse continent’s wildlife, cultures and experiences all day, every day.
Africa Specialist+44 208 004 2345
Best camps in Samburu National Reserve
There is a mix of accommodation in and around the Samburu National Reserve. If you’d like to stay inside the reserve, Elephant Bedroom Camp is a great choice which sits on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River and, as the name suggests, often has herds of elephant come to drink from the riverbanks that you can watch from the main area or your bedroom!
There are also a handful of safari camps and lodges outside the reserve, sat on private concessions. The benefit of these camps is that, as they are on private land, there is more flexibility when it comes to safari activities offered. You can often do bush walks, community visits, and night drives here. These camps also tend to be much more luxurious, offering more facilities like swimming pools, spas, and fitness centers. The only downside is that, while they will have resident wildlife in their private concessions, the reserve itself has a much higher density of animals, so you will have to drive to the park for most game drives.
When to visit Samburu National Reserve
Like many other safari destinations in Kenya, you can visit Samburu National Reserve year-round, but the best time for game viewing is in the dry season, between June and October. This is when there are little rains, so the landscape becomes even drier and more arid. The vegetation is much sparser and the animals tend to congregate around permanent water sources which makes for good sightings. The period between December and March is also a good time to visit. This is after the short rains arrive in November, and before the long rains arrive in April time. This period is also good for birdlife in particular.
Gemma our African Specialist
Can I combine other destinations with the Samburu National Reserve?
Yes, absolutely. Because the Masai Mara National Reserve is often the first place that people go to for their luxury Kenya safari (and rightly so), Samburu National Reserve is often desirable for returning clients to Kenya or alternatively, a destination that can be combined with the Mara.
Which is the best safari camp in the Samburu National Reserve?
There is plenty of choice when it comes to safari camps in the Samburu National Reserve – both inside and outside of the reserve. To decide what’s best for you, let us know what sort of experience you are looking for for your safari. Would you rather be in the densest wildlife area, or further away for more privacy and seclusion? Are you looking for something more basic and ‘canvassed’, or more luxurious with more facilities? What sort of budget do you have, and what time of year are you looking to travel? These are a couple of the factors that we take into consideration before recommending a safari camp to suit you. All of our safari trips are personalized to you.
Is Samburu National Reserve good for families?
Yes, the Samburu National Reserve is good for families but we do encourage you to do this on a private basis. This means that you would have your own 4×4 safari vehicle (a closed vehicle with a pop-up roof) and your own driver/guide. This means that you can enjoy the safari at your own pace, which is a much better option for families. While it is always important to choose your safari camp (as it needs to suit you), this is particularly true for families – be it families with small children or multigenerational families. Some of the luxury safari camps are not ‘family-friendly’, as they are unfenced or are situated on quite steep boulders or kopjes.
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