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Samburu National Reserve Kenya

Samburu National Reserve Kenya, Attractions & Best Time

Samburu National Reserve is situated in the arid plains north of Laikipia in Northern Kenya, on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River (meaning brown water) is Samburu National Reserve. The reserve is about 165 square kilometers in size and is located 350 kilometers from Nairobi city. It is also the traditional homeland of the Samburu people (cousins of the Maasai) who were lured to this area due to the availability and reliability of the Ewaso Ng’iro River that provides water for their herds. The crocodile-infested river is also a thirst-quenching point and attracts an abundance of wildlife from the surrounding savannah plains.

Samburu National Game Reserve
Samburu National Game Reserve

The park’s further distance from human encroachment as well as inaccessibility has helped to keep its beauty intact with very evident natural serenity.

Attractions in Samburu National Reserve


The reserve is rich in wildlife with an abundance of rare northern specials such as the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, and the Beisa oryx. These are also known referred to as the Samburu Special Five.

The reserve is rich in wildlife with an abundance of the rare Northern special five species-the Somali ostriches, gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, grevy’s zebra, and the Beisa oryx. These are also known as the Samburu Special Five 

Several noticeable large game species found in abundance include elephants, Cape buffaloes, and hippopotamus as well as all three big cats; the cheetah, African leopard, and the lion (Kamunyak, the famous miracle lioness that adopted a baby oryx resides in this remote pristine wilderness). Other mammal species frequently sighted include Grant’s gazelle, Kirk’s dik-dik, impala, waterbucks, and olive baboons. Wild dogs sightings are also a common attraction in this reserve. 


For the bird lovers, over 350 bird species have been recorded in this majestic wilderness including Sunbirds, Bee-eaters, Secretary bird, vulturine guinea fowl, Superb Starling. Lesser Kestrel and the Taita Falcon are global conservation concerns and are found in the park. Other bird species in the park include the African Darter, Great Egret, White-headed Vulture, Martial Eagle, Tawny eagle, Yellow-necked spurfowl, Lilac-breasted roller, Secretary bird, Superb sterling, Northern red-billed hornbill, Vultures, and the Yellow-billed oxpecker.

Cultural visit

An exciting visit to the traditional homes of the Samburu people will offer you an enormous experience of the traditional lifestyle of these desert pastoralists whose traditions have quite moved from that of their Maasai cousins. More captivating is an opportunity to see and enter the traditional Manyatta. 

Cultural visit in Samburu National Reserve
Cultural visit in Samburu National Reserve


Game Drive

Game drives will allow you to explore the park and see a myriad of wildlife, most notably the rare Northern special five which are the Somali ostrich, gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, grevy’s zebra, and the Beisa oryx. Other sightings in this dusty reserve include leopards, large herds of buffalos, cheetahs, and lions.

Game drive in Samburu National Reserve
Game drive in Samburu National Reserve

Best time to visit Samburu National Reserve

The best time to visit Samburu National Reserve is during the dry season between July to October and December to March when a large concentration of wildlife is found in the reserve especially along the Ewaso Ng’iro River due to the availability of lush vegetation and it is also the main source of water to the reserve and the nearby communities. However, the reserve is open to tourists all year round.

Kenya is the typical magical safari destination because of the hidden and less explored gems that tourists can witness. Visiting the Samburu National Reserve is one of the ways of having authentic African trips during Kenya Wildlife Safaris.

How to get to Samburu National Reserve

By road

Samburu National Park is only 350km from Nairobi city and therefore can easily be accessed by self-drive or hired car, a drive that takes about 6 hours.

By air

International flights can arrive in Nairobi through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport. From here, you can then take a charter flight to one of the airstrips within the reserve. 

Where to stay in Samburu National Reserve

The reserve offers accommodation options for visitors and some of which include Elephant bedroom camp, Sasaab, Joy’s Camp, Samburu Intrepid, Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, Saruni Samburu among others. 

While in Kenya, visits to the popular Maasai-Mara National Reserve is a perfect way to have a glimpse of the world’s largest wildlife migration known as the Great Migration where over 2 million wildebeests and Grant’s Zebras cross between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. 

Jewel Safaris has expertise in planning all kinds of East African combined trips with recommendations to the best and hidden gems in the countries. We help customize Tanzania Safaris to all of the popular and less-visited destinations.

One of the most thrilling and recommended tours in East Africa are the primate tracking trips, these include Uganda gorilla safaris, Rwanda gorilla tours as well as chimpanzee trekking in Uganda. These offer a very unique experience from the regular African safaris and can be combined into a trip to Kenya.

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