Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve is situated on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The Park is located 350 kilometers from Nairobi and spans an area of 165 square kilometers. It is located in Samburu County at an elevation of 800 to 1230 meters above sea level. River Ewaso Ngiro flows through Doum palm groves and dense riverine woods in the center of the reserve. It aids in the availability of water to the animals, ensuring their survival in the parched region.
Elsa the Lioness, who was celebrated in the best-selling book and award-winning film Born Free, was raised by preservationists George and Joy Adamson in one of two places, including the Samburu National Reserve. Samburu National Park is home to Kamunyak, a lioness well known for cradling Oryx calves.
History of Samburu National Reserve
Once a portion of the broader Marsabit National Reserve, the current Samburu National Reserve land was designated as a wildlife nature reserve in 1948. Subsequently, Rodney Elliott, a senior ranger of the National Reserve, advised the Samburu District that the region to the north of the Ewaso Ngiro River needed to be given its own reserve status. The African District Council of Samburu was chosen to oversee the reserve by the then-Minister of Local Governments when the reserve was formally formed in 1962. Under a centralized local council, the Samburu communities in the Reserve have conserved and governed the area as a community-based wildness.

Attractions or what to see in Samburu National reserve

Samburu Special Five
Samburu National Reserve is well-known for its special fives, including reticulated giraffes, gerenuks, Somali ostriches, grey zebras, and Beisa oryx. These animals are uncommon on other African safaris and are best viewed here during game drives and nature hikes. These species are found in riverine forests and wide savannah grasslands.


The Samburu National Reserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, wild dogs, greater and lesser kudu, in addition to the Samburu Special Five. Samburu national reserve is one of the top destinations in Kenya for game viewing because of the region’s realistic animal population. Due to the absence of vegetation in Samburu National Reserve, it is simple to see wildlife there. You can also see wildlife along the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, that is the only stable water supply in the area.


With approximately 400 bird species, including indigenous species, resident species, and migratory birds, Samburu National Reserve is among Kenya’s top locations to go for birdwatching. African palm swift, bare-eyed thrush, acacia tit, and other birds can be seen in Samburu National Reserve. Cisticola, Ashy Sunbirds with a black belly, sociable weaver with a black cap, Rock chit with a brown tail, Chestnut weaver, chestnut-headed sparrow lark, The sparrow-weaver of Donaldson-Smith, Starlings from Fischer, Golden-breasted starling, golden pipit, larger kestrel, Black-throated bluebird, Sunbirds of Hunter, Mariqua sunbird, Lanner falcon, regional brownbul, the palm-nut vulture lark with a pink breast, tiny bats, Red-winged lark, Red-bellied parrot, Red-necked falcon, Seedeater of Reichenow, bush shrike with rosy patches Director Bird, Bush larks that sing Somali ostrich, Somali bee-eater, palm-thrush spots Hornbill of Von der Decken Among them, Yellow-vented eremomela, White-headed mousebird, and Vulturine guineafowl.


Several rivers pass through the park, with the Ewaso Nyiro serving as its major interstate. Both the residents and the wildlife in the area get their water from the river. Particularly during the rainy season, when the water level is high, the residents organize boat rides on the river. The river descends from Kenya’s highlands and goes over to the Lorian wetlands.

Samburu People

The Samburu people are well renowned for their propensity to herd livestock, and when tourists arrive, they can ride camels. As per African heritage, they dress in a distinctive manner, painting vivid designs on their faces to draw attention to their attractive facial characteristics. Noting that Samburu means butterfly, many tourists who visit the reserve are appreciating.

The mountains

Samburu National Reserve is one of the greatest places to go while on a safari in Kenya provided you enjoy hiking. The reserve has a number of mountains, including Koitogor and Ololokwe. The beauty and features of the reserve, such as the plant and bird species, rivers, and some fauna, are well seen from these mountains. With rugged ridges, Koitogor Mountain is fashioned like a pyramid.

The big three cats

The reserve is well-known for its three big cats, leopards, lions, and cheetahs, which combine to make Samburu a true safari wilderness. They can be found looking for water along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River.
Best time to visit Samburu national Reserve
The best times to visit the park, that is located in a remote region with a mid-environment, are from December to March and late March to May. During these months, the area experiences very little rainfall, the roads generally accessible, and this allows for clear game watching in the park.
Activities done in Samburu National Reserve

Game drives

Among the best spots in Kenya’s northern region for watching wildlife is Samburu National Reserve. The Samburu Special Five and numerous other wildlife species that are used to living in the dry plains are what render the reserve famous. Game trips are never accomplished without sighting some of the Samburu Special 5, who are the centerpiece of the viewing experience. The uncommon animals that make up the Samburu Special 5; Grevy’s Zebra, Beisa Oryx, reticulated giraffe, Gerenuk, and Somali Ostrichcan be encountered no other place in Kenya.
In the semi-arid landscape of the Samburu National Reserve, game drives are done on numerous demarcated trails. From the comfort of your safari vehicle with open windows, you may observe a variety of species, including the Samburu Special Five, lions, leopards, and cheetahs.
The Ewaso Ng’iro River, which serves as the area’s main water source and is frequently frequented by several animals who come to drink and cool off in the water, is where you may find the most game in Samburu National Reserve.

Bird watching

Samburu National Reserve is one of the best places in Kenya to go birding. The reserve is home to much more than 400 different bird species, many of which dwell in the park’s diverse ecosystems, including the acacia savannah and gallery forests next to the Ewaso Nyiro river. Although it shares habitat with Ethiopia and Somalia, the Samburu National Reserve is home to a variety of north-eastern African dry-country bird species, making birding there particularly enjoyable.
While birding at the Samburu National Reserve, some species to watch out for include the Acacia tit, Bare-eyed thrush, African palm swift, Cisticola, Ashy Black-capped social weaver, Black-bellied sunbird, Rock chit with a brown tail, Chestnut weaver, chestnut-headed sparrow lark, The sparrow-weaver of Donaldson-Smith, Starlings from Fischer, Golden-breasted starling, golden pipit, larger kestrel, Northern brownbul, Hunter’s sunbird, Lanner falcon, Grey wren-warbler, the palm-nut vulture Pygmy batis, pink-breasted larks, and among others.

Nature walks

The Ewaso Ng’iro River, the region’s main supply of water, cuts through the semi-arid landscape of Samburu National Reserve in Kenya, making it an intriguing place to go for nature excursions. The majority of nature hikes are done along the banks of the river, where you can observe animals including hippos, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of birds. At the Samburu National Reserve, nature hikes are always led by an expert guide and an armed ranger for safety reasons. On several pathways that wind around the reserve, this activity is done.

Cultural tour

During your safari in Kenya, you can visit the beautiful Samburu people in the Samburu National Reserve. The Samburu are a Nilotic people who graze cattle, sheep, goats, and camels while maintaining a semi-nomadic pastoral lifestyle. The Samburu people, who speak Maa and still practice their ancient customs and traditions, reside in communities near the reserve’s borders and are explored for a cultural life. While visiting orphanages and other local charitable institutions, take in their tales and cultural customs from the nearby communities.

Camel Ride safari
This particular traditional method of exploring the park entails riding a camel through the Samburu bush. You will be able to appreciate the park’s ecosystem in lovely landscape, as well as a habitat for many elephants and other creatures, as a result.

Location and how to get there

In the southeast of the Samburu District, in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province, is where you’ll find Samburu National Reserve. It is around 345 kilometers from Nairobi and is bounded to the south by the Ewaso Nyiro River, that divides it away from the Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
The national reserve can be accessed by both road and air means of transport;
Samburu National Reserve is roughly a 6-hour trip from Nairobi by road. The route goes past a number of towns and an escarpment. The alternate route, although takes an extra hour relative to the winding road, ascends through the east slope of Mount Kenya via Embu, Chuka, and Meru.
By air; Domestic chartered flights to Samburu National Reserve can be arranged from Nairobi’s Wilson airport to one of the reserve’s three airstrips: Buffalo Springs, Kalama, and Samburu Oryx. Both Safari Link and Air Kenya fly to Samburu National Reserve.

Accommodation in Samburu National Reserve

Accommodations in the Samburu National Reserve are divided into mid-range, luxury, and affordable lodging. The following are some of the selected lodging facilities and tented camps but there are more various options for one to choose from depending on your budget and plan.

Samburu Sopa Lodge

Samburu Sopa Lodge is located near to the brand-new Oryx airstrip in Samburu National Park. The resort has a picturesque view of Mt. Kenya and the Samburu hills since it is positioned on a hill. The Samburu people, who are related to the well-known Maasai people, are among the local populations that contributed to the design of Sopa Lodge. The fifteen arch-style cottages at Samburu Sopa Lodge are arranged around a watering well where animals congregate to cool down and swim. Each cottage features an own veranda with such a panoramic view of the huge Samburu plains, two en-suite bedrooms, and a fireplace. The public space is sizable and has views of the neighborhood. The architecture fits the local Samburu people’s dwelling design by blending in with the surroundings.

Ashnil Samburu camp

The luxurious Ashnil Samburu camp is situated directly in front of the Ewaso Nyiro River, with the majestic Mighty Ol Olokwe mountain serving as a stunning backdrop. Behind a thicket of doum palms, the camp’s 30 unique luxury tents are dispersed along the river’s shaded bank. In addition to a garden and a lounge bar with vistas of the African savannah, it includes an outdoor swimming pool encircled by sun loungers. The restaurant offers views of the river and serves a range of dishes made up of oriental, traditional, and international cuisines. Every tent has a covered balcony with views of the Ewaso Nyiro River. A variety of activities, including wildlife drives, nature hikes, cultural excursions to Samburu villages, bush meals like bush lunch and dinner, and sundowners, are offered here upon request.

Elephant Watch Camp Safaris

The most eco-friendly tented camp in the Samburu National Reserve is Elephant Watch Camp Safaris, which is situated nearby. Your desires for a no-compromise African adventure are realized here as you spend unforgettable days with wild creatures and their affable, knowledgeable guides, getting to know top conservationists in the industry.

Elephant Watch Camp Safaris provides laundry, parking, airport transfer, en suite bathrooms with safari showers, in-room tea and coffee makers, 220-volt charging outlets, local refreshments such as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and other conveniences.

Elephant Bedroom Camp

Elephant Bedroom Camp is positioned on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve, enclosed by lush indigenous vegetation. Elephant Bedroom Camp is 347 km far from Nairobi. Samburu is a 1.5-hour flight away from Nairobi. Twelve luxurious tents, each furnished in a traditional African style and outfitted with all the comforts expected of a luxury camp, are available at the modest exclusive Elephant Bedroom Camp (hot and cold running water, electricity, and a writing desk herbal products). The tents are equipped with luxurious king or twin beds, a coffee table, a writing desk, and lounge chairs.

Umoja camp

Umoja camp is a low-cost accommodation located on Nanyuki Masarbit road, just 7 kilometers from the entrance to Samburu National Park. The camp is an all-female village camp that was built to protect resource-poor women, widows, abuse victims, and many others who are controlled and operated by the neighborhood.
The camp features 12 fully equipped cottages with river views that are self-contained, well-serviced, and built in the local architectural style with grass thatched roofs. Also, they provide tent camps for campers that have room for up to 30 people. The rooms are cozy and include private bathrooms with amenities like mosquito netting, separate showers, clean flushing toilets, and wooden chairs and tables. Umoja Camp offers amenities and services like a well-stocked bar with a wide selection of local, cocktail, wines, spirits, and worldwide beers as you relax on the sundeck while taking in the breathtaking view of the Samburu wilderness, buffet breakfast, picnic lunch, and various choices of dinner in the main house served by the well staff.

Sasaab Camp

On Kenya’s northern border, Sasaab Camp is situated within the Westgate Community Conservancy. It provides a beautiful view of Mount Kenya and the Laikipia plateau and is situated on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River in the dry region of Samburu. Sasaab Camp Samburu is constructed with an innovative Moroccan flair using local resources. Its 9 unique en-suite rooms, each with a plunge pool from which visitors may observe wildlife in its natural habitat and birds perched on trees, are all unique. Nature walks, wildlife drives, camel rides, bush dinners, swimming, and interactions with the Samburu people are all available to visitors.