The Samburu National Reserve is a game reserve 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. It ranges in altitude from 800 to 1230m above sea level. Geographically, it is located in Samburu County.
In the middle of the reserve, the Ewaso Ng'iro flows through doum palm groves and thick riverine forests. It provides water, without which the game in this arid region could not survive.
The Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness, made famous in the best-selling book and award-winning movie Born Free. The Elephant Watch Camp, of which Saba Douglas-Hamilton is director, lies within the park.
It is hot, dry and somewhat out of the way, but Samburu National Reserve is the most popular park in northern Kenya. Those discouraging features just might be the secret to its attraction. In a rugged area known for its desert-like climate, the animals of the park are sure to frequent its main source of water – the Ewaso Ng’iro River.
And as a visitor, you are certain to witness this abundant display of wildlife, regularly sustaining itself at the river. This reserve has its share of the big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah. And you’ll find many of the larger grazers here like impala, buffalo and hippo.
But despite the active wildlife here, the reserve gives off a sense of tranquility and a peaceful feeling. Some attribute this to the fact that Samburu is relatively remote and initially was inaccessible as other parks developed.
The Samburu National Reserve is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting oryx calves.
Where is Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve is situated at the southeastern corner of Samburu County in the former Rift Valley Province of Kenya. It is bordered to the south by Ewaso Nyiro River, which separates it from the Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
Samburu National Reserve can be entered via the Ngare Mare and Buffalo Springs gates. Once inside the reserve, there are two mountains visible: Koitogor and Ololokwe. Samburu National Reserve is very peaceful and attracts animals because of the Ewaso Ng'iro river (meaning "brown water" and pronounced U-aa-so-Nyee-ro) that runs through it and the mixture of acacia, riverine forest, thorn trees and grassland vegetation. The Ewaso Ng'iro flows from the Kenyan highlands and empties into the famous Lorian Swamp. The natural serenity that is evident here is due to its distance from industry and the inaccessibility of the reserve for many years.
Access into Samburu Game Reserve
The road network inside Samburu National Reserve is in good to decent condition. On the major route through the park, washboard ripples and speeding are an issue.
There are five gates to enter Samburu National Reserve: Archer’s Gate, which is the main gate near Archer’s Post, just a few kilometres off the Marsabit highway; West Gate at the western border of the reserve with West Gate Community Conservancy; Kalama Gate in the north at the border with Kalama Community Conservancy; and Waso Bridge Gate, which is used when crossing the Ewaso Nyiro bridge coming from Buffalo Springs National Reserve, that lies opposite Samburu National Reserve on the southern banks of Ewaso Nyiro river in Isiolo County. When arriving by air, you find gate services at the central air strip. The airstrip is served daily to/from Nairobi by Air Kenya and Safarilink.
Climatic Conditions in SamburuNational Reserve
The Reserve lies within ecological zone V- which is classified as arid and semi- arid with moisture index of 42 to 57. This indicate that evapo-transpiration is greater than available moisture. The days are extremely hot while the nights are cool. The annual mean temperatures range between 18ºC and 30º.
The mean annual rainfall is 354 mm with peaks in November and April. The dry season starts in late May, and goes up to early October during when large concentration of wildlife is found in the reserve due to availability of lush vegetation along the Ewaso Nyiro River, the main source of water to the Reserve and the nearby communities.
Wildlife in Samburu National Reserve
There is a wide variety of animal and bird life seen at Samburu National Reserve. Several large game species common to Kenya's northern plains can be found in abundance here, including the following dry-country fauna: gerenuk, Grevy's zebra, oryx and reticulated giraffe. All three big cats, the lion, cheetah and African leopard can also be found here, as well as the elephant, Cape buffalo and hippopotamus.
Other mammals frequently seen in the park include olive baboon, warthogs, Grant's gazelle, Kirk's dik-dik, impala, and waterbuck. A black rhinoceros population has been re-introduced into the park after an absence of 25 years due to heavy poaching.
There are over 350 species of bird. These include grey-headed kingfisher, sunbirds, bee-eaters, Marabou stork, tawny eagle, Verreaux's eagle, bateleur, vulturine guineafowl, yellow-necked spurfowl, lilac-breasted roller, secretary bird, superb starling, northern red-billed hornbill, yellow-billed hornbill, and various vultures including the palm-nut vulture.
Things to Do in Samburu National Reserve
If you are new to the breathtaking tourist destination that is Samburu, you will be struck by the vast green vegetation that graces this dream-like tropical environment. It is a very exciting locale in the Rift Valley that is home to nomadic tribes of the Samburu community. Thus, it has earned acclaim as one of the world’s adventure destinations.
There are five top, fun things you should consider partaking during your tour to Samburu. They are as follows:
Explore the major wildlife sanctuaries in the county
Samburu County is home to a rich diversity of wildlife and it has several wildlife sanctuaries that are a natural spectacle to explore. The main reserves of interest are the Shaba Springs, Samburu National Reserve and the Buffalo Springs. In these breath-taking reserves, you will experience the thrill of a game drive, which highlights five rare species of wildlife unique to Samburu. The rare five species are Gerenuk, Grevy’s Zebra, Somali Ostrich, Besia Oryx and the Somali Ostrich.
Climb Mount OL Lolokwe
There is nothing as striking as a mount climbing adventure during a visit to the beautiful landscapes of Samburu County! The Mount Ol Lolokwe in Samburu is a magnificent splendor of undulating landscapes that are a pleasure to watch with exciting views. It is quite vast and offers a visitor the pleasure of a 5hour drive to experience the natural landscape and wildlife in a close proximity to wildlife habitats, where you can exchange an intimate interaction with the flora and fauna.
Visit the Singing wells
Interestingly, Samburu is home to the Singing Wells of Samburu. Visiting the Singing Wells might be the most exciting undertaking you ever experience in this lifetime. It is such an unforgettable experience where the Samburu nomadic communities take their livestock in the thousands and dig troughs and call their animals by tunes through them and they recognize them as a family tune as the tune reverberates round the wells. Additionally, wildlife also flock the singing wells to enjoy the water supply and quench their thirst too. This is truly, a must visit scenery.
Ride a camel
Samburu’s nomadic tribes rely on the natural waterways, especially the Ewaso Nyiro River, which provides for the flourishing lush vegetation for their livestock. The great River Ewaso Nyiro and green vegetation along its river banks provide a scenic trail to ride a camel along. In fact, camel rides along the banks of River Ewaso Nyiro are administered by Samburu guides into the local villages trekking through the Samburu National Reserve in Maralal where the camel derby takes place. A camel ride is truly one of the most fun things to do while in Samburu County.
Experience the traditional culture of the Samburu people
Just like other traditional tribes of Kenya, the Samburu people have a unique culture, which comes with different values and ceremonies. Mingling with the Samburu people is quite fun especially interacting with their art crafts work of making traditional ornaments. They also have unique rites of passage that are marked by ceremonies such as the Lmuget ceremony that involves the initiation of a Samburu man (warrior) into an elder of the tribe among family and friends! Such ceremonies are fascinating and exciting since they display a unique culture to be found nowhere else.
|Languages spoken||English, Kiswahili|
|Currency used||Kenya Shillings|
|Area (km2)||165 SQ. KM|