Samburu National Park is a community-based wilderness that is preserved and operated by the resident Samburu communities under a centralized local council. The vegetation is concentrated along the Ewaso Nyiro River, the primary source of water in the reserve. Although this mighty river normally courses through the reserve without impedance, the waters stop during the most extreme droughts. When this happens, the animals and communities depend on the Isiolo River that the reserve shares with the neighboring Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
The three-game reserves of Shaba, Buffalo Springs, and Samburu plus Kalama Conservancy offer such surprisingly distinct topography, vistas, and wildlife sightings from the rest of Kenya and even from each other, no wonder they are a popular tourist destination.
Things to do in Samburu National Park
These can be done in the morning, afternoon, evening, and night time. Game drives offer chances of viewing special 5 species that are found in the reserve like the reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, Beisa Oryx, Somali ostrich, and Grevy’s zebras which are the unique animal species in the reserve. Other species include Elephants, Cape buffaloes, and Hippopotamus as well as all three big cats; the Cheetah, African Leopard, and the Lion. Game viewing can be done in the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. Buffalo Springs takes its name from the pools and springs of fresh clear water, which bubble in its midst, and act as a magnet for large congregations of wildlife, especially during the dry season. The Ewaso Ng’iro River is the lifeblood of this dust-dry desert region, the Ewaso Ng’iro River is home to plentiful pods of snorting hippos, while on its raised sandbanks immense Nile crocodiles bask.
Tick off at least 450 recorded bird species, and look out for the Lesser Kestrel and the Taita Falcon which are global conservation concerns and are found in the park. Other bird species 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, Yellow-billed oxpecker. Birding hot spots include Buffalo Springs which offers chances of viewing the blue-shanked Somali Ostrich, Von der Decken’s hornbills, and Verreaux’s eagle owl among others.
Nature walks and Bush walks in Samburu
Nature walks in Samburu National are great for nature lovers. Nature walks in the reserve are a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of this place. There are two types of nature walks offered while on your safari at Samburu National Reserve; Nature walks within the camp and one outside the wildlife reserve. The duration for this walk within the camp is approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. The duration for walks outside the wildlife reserves is approximately 2 .5 to 3 hours covering a distance of 9 – 15 km and includes a packed breakfast/lunch depending on the timings, preferably done early mornings or late in the afternoon when the sun is not too hot. From spotting wild animals and birds to admiring the spectacular views while exploring the reserve and its surroundings.
Community-Based Tourism / Cultural Tours
The Samburu are Nilotic, semi-nomadic shepherds who live in north-central Kenya. Samburu Community speaks the Samburu dialect of the Maa language, which is a Nilotic language. Getting to interact and visit the traditional homes of the Samburu people offers 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. The community huts/ manyattas are built by women using interwoven sticks, mud, and cow dung; they can be easily dismantled and transported, and mounted elsewhere. This 1-hour village walk is done with Samburu guides through a hilly landscape dotted with magnificent outcrops.
Where to stay in Samburu National Park
Samburu National Reserve offers tourists the most comfortable accommodation facilities to the tourists that are categorized into Budget, Mid-range, and luxury.
Ashnil Samburu Camp
Ashnil Samburu Camp features thirty guest tents with almost 360-degree views from the inside, as well as open views from your private verandah. The 19 exclusive luxury tents are spread out along the shady banks of the river under a thick stand of doum Palms and each guest tent is situated along the Ewaso Nyiro River so you can watch the wildlife drink, bathe and graze. Other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, lounge, restaurant with a view of the river and bar, Business facilities, and Spa and Wellness Center.
Elephant Watch Camp
This is an eco-luxury camp also situated along the river and is constructed out of reclaimed logs, thus fashioning a rustic setting within the bush. Each of the six guest tents features an en-suite bathroom built around or close to indigenous trees, and a bucket of water for your shower is heated by solar panels.
Saruni Samburu is a luxury lodge sitting on the crown of the hill, in the midst of the private Kalama Conservancy within the Samburu wilderness, the Saruni Samburu offers you magnificent views of the surrounding landscape with the lofty Mount Kenya dominating the horizon. This luxury lodge is built around the natural rock of the hill and its living spaces incorporate canvas, tree trunks, stone, and other fused materials to create an elegant lounge in the main Kudu House and guest villas. Saruni Samburu has 6 luxury villas that can be reached from the main house with a short walk over the stone pathway. The villas each have exclusive patios, private lounges, and dining areas. Other facilities include Restaurant and Bar, 2 infinity swimming pools, a lounge area, and a gift shop.
Samburu Sopa Lodge
Located inside the Samburu National Reserve in Northern Kenya, Samburu Sopa Lodge is built atop high ground allowing panoramic views of the vastness of Samburu shrubland and the hills beyond. There are 15 spacious cottages, each with 2 airy and comfortable, tastefully furnished guest rooms, each with two queen size beds; a large dressing table; a lavishly appointed bathroom; and an open-air veranda that overlooks the waterhole. The lodge is built to reflect the architectural heritage of the local communities. Other facilities include a bar, lounge, restaurant, outdoor dining area, swimming pool, children’s pool, and a gift shop.
Samburu Serena Lodge
Samburu Serena Lodge is a large safari-style hotel located in the heart of Samburu. It is popular with large groups and families. Situated on the banks of the Uaso Nyiro River offering 62 luxury en-suite rustic guestrooms with private verandas. Other facilities include a restaurant and bar area, lounge, swimming pool, spa, and wellness center.
Best time to visit Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve is open to tourists all year round but the best time to visit Samburu National Reserve is during the dry season which is between the months of July to October and December to March. These are also the months when it’s dry, warmer with clear skies and lower rainfall. This is when there is a large number of wildlife in the reserve that congregates along the River Ewaso Ng’iro due to the fact that it’s the main source of water to the entire reserve and that’s where the animal drink water from during the dry season. However, for birding, the wet season of April, May, and November is perfect to enjoy birdwatching as many migratory birds come here during this season.
Getting to Samburu National Park
The national park is located at a distance of 345 km from Nairobi whereas the reserve is also accessible by road via Isiolo and Archer’s Post taking 6 hours.
By air, there are three airstrips that have daily and sometimes twice daily flights from Wilson Airport in Nairobi that take approximately 90 minutes, with guests flying into either Buffalo Springs, Samburu Oryx Airstrip, or Kalama Airstrip.
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