Samburu National Reserve
The Samburu National Reserve is a rugged and dry stretch of land that is home to many wildlife species. The Ewaso Ngiro River carves a contrasting emerald ribbon in this semi-desert land, as vegetation flourishes along its banks and animals can find relief from the heat of the sun in its cool waters. This arid, rocky land is a place to experience the natural tranquillity and true wilderness of Kenya.
Best Time To Go
January - February, June - September
Average Safari Cost
Rare animals:Grevy's zebra, long-necked gerenuk; crocodiles and hippos in the Ewaso Ngiro River, game drives and night drives, beautiful semi-desert scenery, excellent place for birdwatching, guided walking safaris with Samburu tribe
Why Visit Samburu National Reserve?
While the land may be hard and dry, it is not quite as empty as you may think. The Ewaso Ngiro River runs through the parched land, providing water and lush vegetation along its banks. This draws many wildlife species to find relief from the hot, sunny days in the shade and refreshing waters.
Samburu is also home to several rare animal species that are not found in Kenya's other reserves - Grevy's zebra, the Beisa oryx and the long-necked gerenuk. With its rugged hills, natural springs, lush river banks, and doum palm trees, the Samburu reserve is one of the most physically striking places you will find in Kenya and is well worth a visit.
Pros And Cons
- Beautiful semi-desert scenery
- Good wildlife sightings
- Excellent place for birdwatching
- Rare animal species can be found
- Many accommodation options
- Maleria Risk
Best Time To Visit
The Samburu National Reserve is best to visit during the dry season, June to October, when the wildlife gathers at the banks of the Ewaso Ngiro River and other water sources to drink and cool down in the heat of the sun. During these months there is no rainfall and the days are hot and sunny. The average daytime temperature is 90˚F (32˚C). There is also a much lower risk for malaria in the dry season.
November is the month with the most rainfall and marks the start of the wet season. Temperatures are still very hot during the day but storms are common in the afternoons, which can disrupt activities and wildlife viewing opportunities. January and February are mostly dry and very hot. Rainfall occurs again from March to May with periods of longer rains than in November and December. Temperatures average about 90˚F (32˚C) throughout the wet season, however, February can get much hotter. While the scenery is greener, the wildlife viewing is not as good as it is in the dry months as animals move away from the river.
For more details about when to visit broken down by months/seasons see our Kenya overview.
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Visiting during the prime “peak” season when the great wildebeest migration will be happening between masai mara and Serengeti make this the best itinerary to consider. You will have the first-hand experience as you witness them cross the mara river with crocodiles waiting in the river as well as lions in the savannah. A visit to the Great Rift valley will give you a chance to see the volcanic activities and hot springs during your visit to Lake Bogoria, Hell’s gate national parks as well as thousands of flamingos at Lake Nakuru National Park. At lake Nakuru you will have will see many rhinos at the same place thus completing your chance of seeing all the big 5 namely Elephant, Leopard, Lion, Buffalo and Rhino. The climax of this safari will be 2 nights at Amboseli where you will be able to see the famous Mt. Kilimanjaro just on the slopes; in fact though Kilimanjaro is on the Tanzanian side, it is easy to see very well from Amboseli.
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Samburu & Olpejeta Safari
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. Situated 350 kilometers from Nairobi while the Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 90,000-acre not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya's Laikipia County. It is situated on the equator west of Nanyuki, between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya.
Kenya off the Beaten Track
This unique itinerary starts in Laikipia where you’ll have an opportunity to explore the spectacular wilderness on foot, fully supported by camels and led by experienced Masai, Samburu, and Turkana walking guides. Next stop will be Samburuland, and then you’ll see the landscape change as you drive up towards the Sera Conservancy for a unique black rhino tracking experience. Then you’ll fly south to enjoy safari activities in the iconic Masai Mara.
Wildlife And Birds
- Wild dog
With over 450 recorded species of birds, the Samburu National Reserve is an excellent birding destination. Many birds can be seen in the green vegetation that grows along the banks of the Ewaso Ngiro River, such as the blue skinned Somali ostrich vulturine guinea fowl and palm nut vultures. Martial eagles, pygmy falcons, lesser kestrels and many other birds of prey can be spotted soaring through the skies.
- White-backed vulture
- Hooded vulture
- Egyptian vulture
- Gray-crowned crane
- Basra reed warbler
Near- Endemic Birds:
- Hildebrandt's starling
- Kenya sparrow
- Jackson's widowbird
Getting There And Safety
Samburu National Reserve is situated 220 miles (355km) from Nairobi. You can self-drive from Nairobi, which will take approximately 6 hours, or there are flights to the airstrip within the reserve. It is also possible to get a flight to Kalama, which is much closer to the reserves.
If travelling from overseas, it is easiest to fly to Nairobi and then rent a vehicle or book a scheduled flight to the reserve.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Kenya. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check the World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.
You will need to pack clothes for both warm and cool weather as it can get very hot during the day and cold at night. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours. It is a good idea to pack light clothes that you can layer and clothes that cover your arms and legs at night to avoid mosquito bites. Other essential items are a hat, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, binoculars and camera.
For more details about what to take with you on a safari see our Safari Packing List.
Several vaccinations are recommended when travelling to Kenya. These include: hepatitis A and B, rabies, meningococcal meningitis, typhoid and yellow fever.
It’s better to check with your local medical authority which vaccinations are required.
For more details about visas see our Kenya overview.
For more details about vaccinations see our Kenya Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
There is a high-risk for malaria in Kenya so anti-malarial drugs are advised as well as insect repellent and wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs at night.
For more details about vaccinations see our Kenya Safari - Complete Travel Guide.