Samburu National Reserve Kenya


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. Samburu National Reserve is 165 km2 in size and is situated on 350 kilometres from Nairobi, and ranges altitude from 800 to 1230 m above the sea level, it is located in Samburu county.

In the middle of the reserve, the Esawo Ng’iro flows through the 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 is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting Oryx calves.

Samburu National Reserve has a variety of wildlife including the gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, Oryx and reticulated giraffe and all the three big cats the lion, cheetah and African leopard can also be found here as well as the elephant, cape buffalo and hippopotamus. And other mammals frequently seen in the park includes the olive baboon, warthogs, Grant’s gazelle, Kirk’s dik-dik, impala and waterbuck and the black rhinoceros’ population has been re-introduced in the reserve after an absence of 25 years due to heavy poaching.

Samburu national reserve also has bird species which are over 400, which includes the grey-headed kingfisher, sunbirds, bee-eaters, Marabou stork, tawny eagle, Verreaux’s eagle, bateleur, vulturine Guinea fowl, yellow-necked spur fowl, lilac-breasted roller, secretary bird, superb starling, northern red-billed hornbill, yellow-billed horn bill and various vultures including the palm-nut vulture.

Attractions In Samburu National Reserve.

Shaba National Reserve.

Shaba National Reserve is a protected area in the northern Kenya to the east of the Samburu and Buffalo springs national reserve, together the three reserves form a large protected area. The Shaba reserve has dramatic scenery including river-side forests, scattered woodlands and dry grasslands dominated by the Shaba Hill Volcano, the plentiful wildlife relies on waterholes and marshes scattered throughout the reserve.

Samburu National Reserve
Shaba National Reserve wildlife

Shaba reserve is a home to the endangered Grevy’s zebra and the rare William’s lark.

The Samburu special Five.

The Samburu Special Five are the highlight tourist attraction in Samburu National Reserve, these species are cousins to the world-famous Big 5 and they are the reason to why most tourists visit the reserve. The Samburu Special Five are endemic animals to the Samburu ecosystem and they include the reticulated giraffe, the Somali Ostrich, the gerenuk, the Beisa Oryx and the Grevy’s zebra.

The Samburu People.

The Samburu people are one of the tourist attractions in Samburu National Reserve. Samburu people are the early inhabitants of the area presently known as the Samburu national reserve, these people used to graze their animals in the savannah plains in the reserve. Samburu people are Nilotic people and semi-nomadic pastoralists who had livestock mainly cattle as a way of life, they also the sheep, goats and camels.

The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary.

Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is situated in the neighboring Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, is one of the Kenya’s first community-run wildlife organisations, the sanctuary and animal keepers are committed to rescuing, rehabilitating and rewilding orphaned and abandoned elephant’s calves as well as other wildlife. This elephant orphanage is definitely worth to visit when you reach in Samburu National Reserve.


Samburu National reserve is a haven to a variety of wildlife species such as elephants, lions, leopards, wild dogs greater and lesser kudu and others. Samburu National Reserve is one of the great destinations to visit in Samburu national reserve for game viewing in Kenya, and at the same time wildlife in Samburu National Reserve can be spotted due to less vegetation cover in the park especially along of Ewaso Ng’iro River which is the only permanent water source in the region.


In Samburu National Reserve is one of good birding destination in Kenya with over 400 species and these birds includes the endemic species, resident and migratory birds. Bird species in Samburu National Reserve includes the Acacia tit, Bare-eyed thrust, African palm swift, Ashy cisticola, Black –belied sunbird, black-capped social weaver, Brown-tailed rock chat, Chestnut-headed sparrow lark, Chestnut weaver and among many others these attract the tourists in the reserve.

Samburu National Reserve
Birding in Samburu

Activities done In Samburu National Reserve.

Game Driving.

The game driving is conducted on various marked trails running through the semi-arid land scape of the park and from the comfort of your safari vehicle with open windows and you get to spot a number of animals such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, hippos, Nile crocodiles and the Samburu special five and among others.

Bird watching.

Samburu national reserve is a prime birding destination in Kenya perfect for birder who to have an exciting Kenya birding experience, the park hosts more than 390 bird species inhabiting in the variety of habitants scattered around the reserve that is acacia savannah and the gallery forests alongside the Ewaso Nyiro river, Samburu offers rewarding birding opportunities as it boasts a number of north east African-country species which are share with Ethiopia and Somalia.

Nature walks.

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 of nature walks in the reserve is approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour and the rate ranges from USD 50 to USD 75 per person.

Entry fees of Samburu National Reserve.

Category Non-Residents East Africa Residents
Adult USD 80 to 120 Ksh 1,000-2,000
Child USD 45-75 Ksh 500-1500

 Best time to visit Samburu National Reserve

The best time to visit Samburu is December through March and July through October are dry, making them by far the best months to visit the Samburu National Reserve that’s when the wildlife viewing is at its prime.

Where to stay in Samburu National Reserve.

There is a variety of accommodation facilitates to stay during your safari in Samburu National Reserve and they include the lodges, hotels, tented camps, permanent campsites, special campsites and public campsites as they are categorised into luxury, mid-range and budget for example the Samburu Game Lodge, Samburu Sopa, Saruni Samburu lodge, Elephant watch camp, Elephant Berdroom,Grey campsite, Impala campsite, Butterfly campsite, kingfisher campsite and many more in the Samburu National Reserve.

How to access Samburu National Reserve.

Samburu National Reserve can be accessed by both Road and air/flight means from Nairobi to Samburu national reserve.

By Road transport.

The distance varies from 310km to 325 km depending on which gate or entry point of Samburu you want to accesss,this takes 5 to 6 hours to Archer’s gate which is the main entry to Samburu Game Reserve.

By flight or Air transport.

There are several airlines flying from Nairobi to various airstrips in Samburu and several of these offer daily to the reserve, with a one-way flight taking approximately 15 hours. The same plane then usually turns around back to Nairobi after dropping off or collecting passengers from a number of airstrips in Samburu. Flying to Samburu is more convenient option, being about 1.5 hours’ flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to a variety of different airstrips in Samburu.

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