Samburu National Reserve

Together the  Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves protect a near-contiguous 170-square-mile tract of dry thornbush in the badlands running north from Mount Kenya. Their lifeblood is the perennial Ewaso Nyiro River, which flows along the southern border of Samburu and northern borders of Buffalo Springs and Shaba. The trio if reserves supports a diverse fauna that includes several localized dry-country specials unlikely to be seen in any other comparably mainstream safari destination. 

Discover Samburu

All the big five except rhino are present, albeit at lower densities than in the likes of the Masai Mara. The riparian forest fringing the Ewaso Nyiro River is justifiably regarded as one of the most reliable places in East Africa for leopard sightings.

Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba offer repeat safarigoers the novelty of encounters with several range-restricted dry-country mammals. These include the hefty, narrow-striped Grevy’s zebra, the geometrically-marked reticulated giraffe, the regal Beisa oryx, and the bizarre gerenuk, a type of gazelle with a unique elongated neck.

It is the most accessible place to seek out a few dozen bird species associated with the dry badlands of northern Kenya and bordering Somalia and/or Ethiopia. Among the most alluring of these are the Somali ostrich, vulturine guinea fowl, white-headed mousebird, Somali bee-eater and bare-eyed thrush.

The contrast between the region’s dominant cover of dry scrubland and the ribbon of lush forest that follows the Ewaso Nyiro is a striking feature of this safari destination. Game viewing roads along the river are the best place to look for water-dependent wildlife such as elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, waterbuck, bushbuck, olive baboon, vervet monkey, African fish-eagle and chestnut-bellied kingfisher.

Samburu National Reserve is named after the Samburu people, red-robed pastoralists who speak the same Maa language as the Maasai and share many other customs with them. A visit to a Samburu manyatta offers a fascinating insight into their pastoralist culture, as well as helping ensure that tourism benefits local communities.

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